Blackbird Flies to Japan
The Native Flute has reached far beyond our borders to countries around the globe. One of the most enthusiastic cultures to adopt the Native Flute has been Japan. They have eagerly embraced recording artists as well as learning to play the flute. The Tokyo Flute Society (circle) has a large following and last November participated in our 25- year anniversary celebration by helping us to sponsor Cody Blackbird’s performance tour in Japan.
During Cody’s 10-day tour, he performed to enthusiastic audiences and gave several flute workshops. The combination of sharing his life through stories and his warm and intimate playing style won him many fans.
On his return, Cody shared his appreciation for the Japanese people. Even though thousands of miles from home, he was made to feel welcome and embraced by their hospitality. Next to performing, sightseeing in this uniquely different culture was one of his favorite memories.
Japan has very much embraced the Native Flute. It all began in 1994 when R. Carlos Nakai toured Japan and introduced the Japanese audiences to the Native Flute. One reason the Japanese people resonated with the melodies of the Native Flute is that one of their national instruments is the shakuhachi flute. Having a romance with that instrument for centuries, the Native flute voice though uniquely different from the shakuhachi, seems to strike an emotional chord that touches the heart in a similar way.
Nakai was so well received by the audiences and traditional Japanese musicians that he was invited to collaborate on a CD with the Wind Travelin’ Band, Shonosuke Okhura and Oki Kano. They recorded in Kyoto's Hounji Temple, producing the CD “Island of the Bows”. On this project, Nakai's flute is a wonderful match to the delicate tranquility of the traditional Japanese shakuhachi, shamisen and koto (ancient traditional Japanese string instruments). They gracefully blend traditional sounds from East and West. Due to the unique combining of the cultural instruments, Island of the Bows has become one of my favorite Nakai recordings.
We look forward to continued collaborations with the Tokyo Flute Society, developing cross-cultural exchanges, and sharing the joy of the Native flute with our friends in Japan in the years to come.