Part 1: 人形浄瑠璃 Ningyo Joruri in Toyota City 豊田市

Diary 2011.10.19



(ABOVE, a robot sponsored by KAIR and developed by Toyota to play the trumpet)
Our joruri group, Yoriiza, take a trip to Toyota City once every couple of years.  This year we joined them.  Have you heard of Toyota City?  I mean Toyota is a pretty solid maker of cars but I never imagined it owned a city.  Toyota’s main automotive plant is here and the city is twinned with Detroit, Michigan and Derby, UK.  I didn’t expected everyone to drive Toyota cars but actually everyone does.  Was it all futuristic and clean or was it all dirty and dystopian?  Neither.  But, there were a lot of woods and cars and sterile hotels.  Also, our bus had powertard brakes:


In order to make this trip possible Yoriiza clearly has links with Toyota City but I’m not sure how.  I did notice that we seemed to have a lot of fans here and I swear I saw someone asking for an autograph..
Anyway, as always the journey is a little painful and took much longer than it needed to since we stopped at every single service station.  During lunch, I watched a travelling theatre group performing a ninja play.  I had goosebumps watching it.  I empathised with these 30 year olds dressed in colourful ninja outfits with fake swords standing beside the farmers market acting out some historical drama enthusiastically.  I hoped our performance would not induce the same physiological response.  A man sat watching it all, eating a grilled squid.  Next, a young lad performed some juggling, awkwardly.


I took a picture of the bridge to Nagoya.


And, after a good few hours and a couple of hundred rice crackers we arrived somewhere.  It was exactly like Kamiyama.  We got dressed up in our smocks and hiked along a road next to a stream, proudly.  Up the little slope and we were standing in front of a beautiful stage.






Paradoxically, things move fast and I have no time to take anymore pictures.  It is dark already and there are drums banging and I’m holding a little policeman and practicing dying.  Suddenly we are onstage and it’s cool and bright under the spots.  The stage is a lot more spacious than ours in Kamiyama.  This causes slight problems with timing, particularly in the fight sequence which becomes over extended and gawky.  You win some, you lose some.  We retire to the hotel which was in the back of nowhere.  It is a hotel promoted as a haven for old people.  It has free massage gadgets and everything is soft and calming and the word ‘peach’ comes to mind.

There is a lavish meal thrust upon on us and litres of beer also.  Everyone is drunk and staggering around.  They manage to totter shrieking into the onsen.  Somewhere, I remember a bear.


PART TWO to follow..



Itoi-san - Kanuma soil. Likes salmon sashimi, dislikes entrails of sea cucumber. Ru-san - Lancashire hotpot. Creative type. Likes being outdoors. Dislikes status. Together we are ITOI ARTS a project in divergent creativity in the mountains of Shikoku, Japan. 四国の山奥、多様な創作、アートとは。 //イベント時のみオープン// \\ふだんはただの家//

Articles by itoi+ru-san


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