The last year, when I had been to Varanasi (Kashi), there were Japanese travelers in the plane from Mumbai airport. I wondered ‘what could be the reason that took them here?’ Then I started conversation with one of them, who coincidently had her seat next to me. Her name was Michika, a middle aged woman, who had travelled to India to visit Saarnath, about 13 KMs from Varanasi. There were more 5-6 of her compatriots in the same plane visiting the holy Buddhist place. It was a pilgrimage.
For thousands of years, India and Japan have been great friends and are engaged in cultural exchanges, when in 736 the Indian monk Bodhisena went to Japan. Indian Buddhism has been adopted by Japan and since then there is no dearth of Japanese visitors to India. In the same way, there has been a unique artistic ‘take and give’ between the small island and Indian peninsula. Buddhism and Indian culture are woven with such fine fibers that the amazing effect can be felt today also on Japanese culture.
Then I recalled the year 2006, when was fortunate enough to be an eyewitness to Kathak dancer Maneesha Sathe and Japanese musician Yasuhito Takimoto’s matchless Indo-Japanese fusion ‘Divine Confluence’ at Pune’s much acclaimed place Shaniwar Wada. It was the concert that had a fusion of two dissimilar art forms. Those were the spellbound moments when Kathak steps on the beats of Japanese music had a great applaud. Dance and music lovers had thronged for the presentation. Maneesha Sathe’s Kathak Dance Institute and her three generations (Sathe, her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter) presented this unique blend.
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Later, Mrs. Sathe elaborated the theory behind the title ‘Divine Confluence’ as “It’s like the meeting of two rivers (confluence) of two unlike traditions i.e. Indian Kathak and Japanese music.”
‘Divine Confluence’ at Pune, Shaniwarwada’ Photo Credit : Mid-Day
It was holy admiration of Shri Ganesh in the beginning that ended with the launch of of Yasuhito Takimoto’s daughters Ho ko ro mo and Amaya’s Kathak on the beats of Taiko (Japanese percussion instruments). Both are Mrs. Sathe’s disciples. Their performance of Kathak to the Taiko beats was so much merged in each other, as if both the traditions were twin siblings. Spectators were literally mesmerized to see the fusion. Then a famous Taiko player Yo Shiyo’s solo Taiko had the drumming instrument performance.
Taiko are a range of Japanese drumming (percussion) instruments. ‘Taiko’ in Japanese means any kind of drum. Taiko have their origin in Japanese folklore. Some taiko, like the kakko, have similarity to instruments originating from India. They are used for communication, armed forces action, melodramatic accessory, religious services and both festival and concert performances.
The concert ended with Traditional Japanese dragon dances, which is called as Kinryū-no-Mai in Japanese (i.e. “Golden Dragon Dance”). The dragon dancers were twisting and turning on the stage with skillful movements. The Dragon Dance symbolizes good fortune and prosperity.