Discovering Japanese drums

Random great finds are the spice of life.

I’m the type of person who jots down events that I find interesting in my planner, even if I hardly get to go to any of them.

I made it to this one. All thanks to a random Facebook post for this event because I never would have heard of it otherwise.

It’s free, it’s Japanese drums, I’ve nothing else planned for that day, and it’s good exposure for the kid. And despite having no car that Saturday night, and my companions cancelling on me at the last minute, I was exceptionally determined to be there.

Tiu Theater is a revelation to me. I wasn’t aware of the existence of this venue until that night.

It was a free show, but still, I didn’t expect such a huge turnout. The queue was long, and the place was packed. If it weren’t for the kind guy that gave us monoblock chairs, we would have sat on the floor aisles along with the other guests. Not that anything is wrong with that, by the way, we’re quite capable of making do.


A local percussion group opened the night: the Adrinka Lumads. Primarily influenced by traditional African beats and rhythms, it was impossible not to bop along to their music.


When the members of 器 -Utsuwa- entered the stage and began their performance, it got really exciting. The thing with drums is it makes you feel a pound or a throb, and it doesn’t matter whether it is fast or slow, the sound just takes you places.

The show was an eye opener in many ways. It was my first time to see Japanese traditional musical instruments played live. However, this particular Wadaiko group leans more on the contemporary than the traditional. They fuse traditional with modern styles, collaborate with other similar artists, and even play their original compositions.


Photo courtesy of The Film Traveler

Speaking of collaboration, we were also treated to the shamisen skills of Yoshiro Watabe that night.

Akira has been watching Kubo and the Two Strings since the past week. For her to see a shamisen player “like Kubo” gave her such a thrill.


Similar to 器 -Utsuwa- , Yoshiro Watabe brings a more contemporary feel to an otherwise ancient instrument. There were times I really felt he was just rocking out on that thing.

And the sound these two traditional instruments brought together? It felt like a gallop. Forgive my shameless, super geeky reference, but the theme music from Naruto immediately came to mind.

It wasn’t all about music that night, the crowd was also treated to a live painting performance courtesy of Atsuko Yamagata and 器 -Utsuwa- member, Marie Ikura. it was a spectacle.


The show, from start to finish, was riveting and a joy to the senses. It completely enthralled the audience. The timing and the harmony among the group was flawless. They brought such dedication to each piece that they performed, with some incorporating some dances and high jumps. At times they were serious and solemn, but a lot of times it looked like they were just having a lot of fun.

The interaction with their sensei and composer, Akira Hoshino, was especially touching and sweet. 器 -Utsuwa- has only one male member, and the ladies seem especially fond and careful of their “super teacher”. The title is not far off. Akira Hoshino gave quite the performance and is a charming man. We were informed that his shirt says “number 1”.


We didn’t get to finish the show, since Akira was already falling asleep. She refused to take her nap on time, and couldn’t keep up anymore. The funny thing was when she woke up as we were about to go, she said we shouldn’t leave yet and she still wanted to watch. I’m off to many great firsts with this little one.

Arigato Gozaimasu 器 -Utsuwa-, Akira Hoshino, Atsuko Yamagata and Yoshiro Watabe for an unforgettable night of music and art!

It matters a lot to me to expose my kid to diverse kinds of music, art and performances. I want her to develop a wide appreciation of both global and local things, which is why I bring her to galleries and shows, and take her traveling.

For her to behave well, enjoy herself, and see women on the center stage being their awesome selves is a gift!


Many thanks as well to the Adrinka Lumads and The Japan Foundation, Manila for this event. A big thank you to The Film Traveler for the permission to use your photo.

器 -Utsuwa is on Facebook and Instagram

TIU Theater is at the 2nd Floor, Makati Cinema Square, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City

Call them at +632 807 3920

Like them on Facebook, follow them on Instagram

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