Japanese musicians, Buddhist monks plan jazz sutra for 3/11 event in Paris

December 18, 2013

By KYOKO TANAKA/ Staff Writer

KYOTO--Japanese musicians and Buddhist monks will perform a rare collaboration of a sutra set to the soothing sounds of jazz in Paris in March to mark the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

“We hope to give a performance expressing the spirituality and pride of the Japanese,” said Hikaru Kawakami, a producer with Rag International Music Co., which is holding the event at the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris on March 7-8.

The event was inspired by “Jiai Love,” a 2010 CD featuring a Buddhist sutra and jazz, by jazz musicians Terumasa Hino and Yosuke Yamamoto and other artists. It was produced by Rag International Music in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward, which operates a live house and studios.

In addition to Hino, a trumpet player, guitarists Hirofumi Okamoto and Kumi Adachi, who are based in Kyoto, Ryuko Kimura, chief priest of Bukkoin temple in Kyoto’s Yamashina Ward, and five other Buddhist monks will appear in the Paris concert.

They will play “Sakura” (Cherry blossom), a piece on the CD, featuring the plaintive sound of a guitar accompanied by Buddhist chants in the background.

The tune evokes the image of cherry blossom petals fluttering down in spring and represents a view of life as something transient and empty.

They will also give a joint choral chanting to the playing of a guitar, and chanting of the Wisdom Sutras accompanied by a trumpet and the blowing of a conch shell.

A performance of “Never Forget 311,” a piece written by Hino for victims of the March 11, 2011, disaster, and classical Japanese dances are also scheduled.

Kawakami produced “Jiai Love” to convey the beauty of a sutra chant. The CD has apparently tugged at the heartstrings of many listeners.

A man who had his jazz cafe swept away by tsunami in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, sent a thank-you card to the company for creating the CD, saying, “We could finally feel like listening to jazz again.”

After learning of "Jiai Love," a staff member with the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris contacted the company to propose a jazz concert in the French capital to commemorate the third anniversary of the twin disaster.

“We hope to pay tribute to people who died in the disaster and express gratitude to people who helped survivors, with the combination of jazz and sutra,” she said.

Admission to the performance is 15 euros (2,100 yen, or $20).

By KYOKO TANAKA/ Staff Writer
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Jazz trumpeter Terumasa Hino, second from left, and Ryuko Kimura, far right, and other monks collaborate to create a CD featuring jazz and a Buddhist sutra in September 2009. (Provided by Kiyoshi Goto)

Jazz trumpeter Terumasa Hino, second from left, and Ryuko Kimura, far right, and other monks collaborate to create a CD featuring jazz and a Buddhist sutra in September 2009. (Provided by Kiyoshi Goto)

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  • Jazz trumpeter Terumasa Hino, second from left, and Ryuko Kimura, far right, and other monks collaborate to create a CD featuring jazz and a Buddhist sutra in September 2009. (Provided by Kiyoshi Goto)

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