Calgary Omatsuri 2013 Interview with Kay Toyota

こんにちは みな! Konnichiwa minna-san! At the 2013 Calgary Japanese Festival, I had the honour of speaking with Kay Toyota-san of the Kotobuki Seniors Group. The ladies of the Kotobuki performed two numbers at this year's Omatsuri. Here's a snippet of the first one, called Sumidagawa:

The dance and the Noh play are based on the same story about a woman whose son was stolen by a slave trader. A year passes and she's gone mad, searching the country for her son. A boatman agrees to take her across the Sumida River, where she discovers a crowd holding a memorial service for a young boy was abandoned by a slave trader and died along the shore.  She learns that the boy was indeed her son. You can find the lyrics here.

Here is my interview with Kay-san:

Kay-san gives a bit more detail about the Sumidagawa and the second dance they performed, the Tanko Bushi. I took some footage of dancing the Tanko Bushi with my GoPro Hero in my Highlights from the 2013 Calgary Omatsuri video.

She also shares how her mother encouraged her to connect with her Japanese roots through traditional Japanese dance. Finally, she speaks about what the Calgary Omatsuri means to her.

Kay-san is part of the Kotobuki Seniors Group. The Kotobuki Seniors Group is a highly active arm in the Calgary Japanese Language Association. They meet regularly for karaoke, choir, dancing, community work and other activities.

The kanji for "kotobuki" is a combination of two kanji characters. The first means 'praying for a good harvest', while the second means 'old'. One translation reads "blessing to one's longevity." I think this is a pretty apt way to describe this particular group.

About the featured photo: The ladies of the Kotobuki Seniors Group perform the Sumidagawa at the 2013 Calgary Japanese Festival. Photo credit: Christine Kohl. Publisher: Kathleen "Irulanne" Boucher.

Related Reading:

An Introduction to Japanese Folk Performing Arts (SOAS Musicology Series) - book

Dance in Japan: Dances of Japan, Japanese Dancers, Japanese Traditional Dance, Ayumi Hamasaki, Geisha, Arashi, Namie Amuro, Kumi Koda - book

Geisha Dances - website

Japanese Traditional Dance - website

Odori: Japanese Dance - book

Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance - book