Suijin – The Water Deity

One cold night in Tokyo Yumi Umiumare performed at Yudo, an old Japanese house in Mejiro used as an art gallery and gig space. Yudo means well in old Tohoku dialect. Water from Koshu run slowly underground to Yudo where suijin, the water god  is enshrined in its main tatami room. Mesmerised by her every movement, we gathered and watched Yumi dance to the haunting vocals of Kyoko Earthvoice, Masa Yamaguchi’s primordial percussion and Masaaki Aoyama’s meditative guitar and shakuhachi.

Mysterious energy seemed to surround us in orange glow of naked light globes and kerosene heaters with a kettle on top, steaming spring water for our tea after the show. I sat by one of the heaters at the engawa next to Yumi’s family. By the end of the improvised performance, we all danced trance like, much like what I would imagine a shamanistic tribal ceremony may be like. When the performance ended, we sat in a circle, drank tea and ate rice balls, introduced ourselves, talked about what we had just experienced, then we all went our separate ways into the cold winter night in Tokyo.

Yumi Umiumare and Kyoko Earthvoice at Yudo. Photo by Mayu Kanamori

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

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