Free Vashon Performance of Japanese Koto Ensemble Group Seattle Miyagi Kai

The Seattle Miyagi Kai will play a free concert on Sunday afternoon, September 30, 2 p.m. at the Camp Burton Lodge, 9326 SW Bayview Drive on the Burton peninsula, Vashon. Miyagi Kai Director Kuniko Takamura studied in Tokyo with the great koto virtuoso Michio Miyagi and is a graduate of the Tokyo University of Fine Arts & Music. She taught in Japan for 10 years following World War II, came to Seattle in 1957 and established Seattle Miyagi Kai in 1960. Takamura has been teaching and playing koto and shamisen ever since.

Marcia Takamura is a second generation koto master studying the art under her mother, Kuniko, and with Kiyoko Miyagi, a living national treasure, in Tokyo. Marcia is a certified teacher of the Miyagi School and has performed throughout the Northwest. She is a regular performer with Aono Jikken Ensemble and One World Taiko.

The program will include traditional and modern Japanese ensemble pieces played by the traditional Japanese instruments:

The koto is almost six feet long, an imposing thirteen-stringed zither made of paulownia wood that sits flat, in front of the musician. The strings pass over movable bridges to change the pitch. A thin plectra, made of metal, plastic or wood, is worn on the first three fingers of the right hand and is used to pluck the strings to produce sounds.

The sangen or shamisen is a fretless three-stringed long-necked instrument with a square body. A large plectrum, a triangular shaped tool, is used to play this instrument similarly to a violin bow.

The shakuhachi is an end-blown flute made of heavy bamboo with five finger holes. Although its construction is simple, haunting and wistful melodies are created by the performer using different techniques, including head movements. A shakuhachi played outdoors can be very moving.

Seattle Miyagi Kai is a branch of the Tokyo Miyagi Koto Association, founded to promote Japanese koto music and compositions by Michio Miyagi, considered the greatest koto master of his generation and a leader in blending Western music elements into traditional Japanese music using these classic instruments. The concert on Vashon will also feature pieces by other composers.

These events are made possible through 4 Culture King County funds that support Friends of Mukai activities.

Mukai Farm & Garden and the Friends of Mukai celebrate Vashon’s Japanese American and agricultural heritage. The Mukai Farm and Garden reminds us of the influential contributions of the Mukai family and the Japanese American immigrant community on 20th century agriculture, business, and community life. Mukai shows how history lives and is relevant today.