The Riches of Japan: Performers & Collaborators

One World Taiko

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One World Taiko presents a contemporary style of Japanese drumming
that incorporates dynamic and fluid movement as well as heart pounding percussion.

Their music is drawn from Japan’s ancient tradition of lively festival drumming and One World Taiko’s own creative rhythms, arrangements and choreography, adding a modern spirit to the ancient tradition of taiko. Their repertoire includes traditional pieces, which were taught to them by the world-renowned groups Kodo and Ondekoza from Japan, and their own original compositions infused with contemporary rhythms from their love of jazz and world music. They perform on traditional Japanese drums such as odaiko (large drum), chudaiko (medium sized drum), shimedaiko (small, rope-tied drum) and incorporate the shinobue (bamboo flute) and shamisen (3-stringed banjo like instrument).

Kabuki Academy

Mary Mariko Ohno opened the Kabuki Academy in 1983 to instruct Japanese classical dancing, Naga-uta style shamisen music and the general concepts of Kabuki Arts at the Tacoma Community College, Seattle Central Community College and her studio in Tacoma, Washington (Pacific Northwest).

Mary Ohno was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and studied classical Japanese dance for 50 years, earning the professional license and title of “Hanayagi Fumiryu” in July 1966. She has also studied classical Japanese music “Naga-uta style shamisen” for 35 years and earned the professional license and its title of “Kine-ie Yanacho” in March 1974.

Mary Ohno has received “Gordon Ekvall Tracie Award” from Ethnic Heritage Council in February 22, 2002. This Award is given to an ethnic performing artist who has made significant contributions in the development and presentation of the traditional arts in U.S.A. Mary Ohno is not only as the first Japanese recipient but also the first Asian Artist to be chosen as a recipient of this prestigious award.

As an accomplished performer, she has given a number of recitals and concerts in those Japanese arts at several large theaters, such as Mitsukoshi Hall, Asakusa City Hall, The National Theatre, and Meiji-za Theatre in Tokyo, Japan.

Although she now lives in Tacoma, Mary Ohno goes to Japan to perform Japanese dancing or shamisen music at numerous theaters in Tokyo, Japan.

Besides conducting classes, Mary Ohno is also the fonder and Director of the Kabuki Academy Performance Troupe. In past ten years, several Kabuki Academy Recitals were held at the Nippon-kan Theater, Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Community College Theater, etc. presented by Kabuki Academy students and/with numbers of professional Kabuki actor/dancers, Naga-uta shamisen musicians and percussionists joined, from Tokyo Japan.

Mary Ohno also produces and directs traditional KABUKI style performances, being as a producer as well as performer herself. In 1988 at Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, TX. In 1996, at Berklee Performance Center of Berklee College of Music with Boston Conservatory, in Boston, MA. All these performances were quite unique and first attempt of Kabuki performance/demonstrate program in overseas that their achievements were highly apraised by those specialists in Boston, MA.

Sound Singers

Sound Singers Japanese Chorus was established in June 2009 to share Japanese culture with others. Sound Singers is the only Japanese mixed choir group (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) in the northern part of Puget Sound. Sound Singers has performed at many community events, including three Japan benefit events on Whidbey. Their mission is to serve as cultural ambassadors to the English and Japanese speaking communities,  through singing diverse songs in both Japanese and other languages. At NWLA’s event, they will sing “Believe,” an uplifting Japanese song which attracted many to the March 24th Whidbey Japan memorial event, a beautiful old Japanese song, “Moon Over the Ruined Castle,” and end their performance with a 1963 American hit, “Sukiyaki.”  They feel honored to be part of this wonderful event and also look forward to meeting friendly and warm Whidbey Islanders again.

Yasuko Honju Harris (Shinobue)

Yasuko Honjo Harris is originally from Tokyo, Japan. She moved toShoreline, Washington 18 years ago when her husband retired. Yasukoplays the “Shinobue” which is a thin horizontally held (transverse)bamboo flute. She has been playing this flute for over 20 years. Heroriginal teacher was Mr. Takara Sanzaemon designated as a “NationalLiving Treasure of Japan”. She plays his original solo Shinobue musicwhich she truly feels captures the sounds of Japan. Yasuko hasperformed at the National Theater in Tokyo, the Pacific NorthwestFolklife Festival as well as volunteer playing for Japanese senior citizensand schools. She enjoys hiking in the Cascades and Olympics takingalong her flute and playing by secluded waterfalls and mountainstreams. It is her wish that this music will bring peace and tranquility toall who listen.

Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant

A two-time James Beard nominee, Master Chef Shiro Kashiba has been profiled in every major cuisine periodical and newspaper including Bon Appetit, The New York Times, and USA Today. His restaurants are permanent fixtures in Zagat’s restaurant guides.

Born in Japan’s traditional city of Kyoto, Chef Shiro packed his bags as a teenager and trained with the culinary masters on the infamous Ginza in Tokyo. Years of grueling apprenticeships and early morning battles at the Tokyo fish markets infused Shiro with the passion to use only the finest, freshest ingredients and refuse to serve any sub-standard dish to his patrons.

In 1967, Shiro brought this same passion to Seattle and started up Seattle’s first full service sushi bar at the original Nikko Restaurant on King Street. After 20 years, Shiro sold the famous restaurant to the Westin hotel chain and worked as their executive consultant, starting up restaurants all over the U.S. and Japan.

In 1994, Shiro opened up his namesake, Shiro’s in the hip Belltown district of downtown Seattle.

Photo2Shiro’s blending of classical Japanese technique with the Pacific Northwest’s wealth of local seafood and ingredients has, as Zagat says, “set the bar that others aspire to.” He has catered to Japanese Prime Ministers, captains of industry, and world renowned artists and athletes. NWLA is excited to welcome Shiro’s chef Kotaro Kumita to this event!