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Honouring the Japanese Panorama Steel Orchestra

What we in TT missed to recognise at the ICP 2015

(Ref: 9th August)

 

In the general excitement of last years August International Conference & Panorama (ICP) 2015, a significant moment of Japanese cultural achievement was missed to be noted, here in TT, by our steelband observers.

 

It's all about the dates of momentous events that occurred in Japanese history.

 

For the Japanese Panorama Steel Orchestra, to come to represent Japan at the Mecca of Pan, The Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, PoS, Trinidad, for the ICP 2015 World Panorama was not only a dream to be realised, but was also perceived as an honoured privilege for the steelband.

 

To the Japanese people who are involved with the 'steelband' art-form, and who had adopted this part of our TT culture as a worthwhile social pursuit, their adoption of pan is deeply seated. All aspects of pan are greatly cherished; and pans evolutionary history treated with great and honoured respect; both for its inventors and also for its legacy; the resulting performing TT Panorama steelbands.

 

Japanese culture strongly enjoys and respects 'tradition'. To them, TT Pan is a tradition worthy of respect. For Japanese pan enthusiasts, coming to perform in Trinidad, is a sort of pilgrimage to tradition, and a 'very big thing'.

 

Arranger Yoshihiro Harada of the Japanese Panorama Steel Orchestra had done his homework, and honourably prepared his band for the Trinidad ICP visit. He had selected the tune 'Hintori', Dance of the Phoenix.

 

The first thing that we missed, is the emotive significance of this tune. The Phoenix, that great bird of the sun from Greek mythology, that could live for over a 1,000 years, and then dies in the flames, to be newly reborn in strength, and then to rise again from the ashes. A universal and fitting motif for people rising to success after a long, hard and fiery struggle.

 

And the second thing we missed, was this:

 

On the 9th August 1945, the Japanese city of Nagasaki was destroyed by the atomic flames of the 2nd atomic device ever used in warfare, causing the death of, and estimated at, 150,000 people; the event that reputedly ended the Second World War (1939-1945).

 

On the 9th August 2015, an anniversary exactly 70 years later, the Panorama Steel Orchestra, being not only the 1st large Japanese steelband to play in Trinidad, but also the 1st steelband to represent the country of Japan in a World competition in Trinidad; performed at the ICP Panorama, at the steelband Mecca, alongside and as equals with many of the iconic TT steelbands. They performed 'Hintori', Dance of the Phoenix, and with it, received an upper echelon prize that also inferred TT's recognition to this Japanese steelband as a worthy and distinguished competitor.

 

For the members of the Panorama Steel Orchestra, that also included the ill fated Japanese Lady of Pan Asami Nagakiya; for a group of Japanese youth, that performance was a hugely emotional and momentous historical achievement.

 

We take the belated opportunity offered here today, to now humbly recognise the Japanese Panorama Steel Orchestra for their exemplary performance and their fitting cultural and historic achievement at the ICP 2015.

tobagojo - August 2016

 

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