Of Itchu, West, Japan and US! | india | Hindustan Times
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Of Itchu, West, Japan and US!

A unique partnership in traditional Japanese artistry came to Washington as shamisen virtuoso Miyako Itchu XIII and American artist Allan West paired up.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2006 21:45 IST

A unique partnership in traditional Japanese artistry came to Washington as shamisen virtuoso Miyako Itchu XIII and American artist Allan West paired up to bring a taste of Kyoto to the US Capital.

Itchu brought his mastery of the three-stringed shamisen to the Japan Information and Culture Center at the Japanese Embassy in December as part of a four-city tour that also took him to Boston, New York, and Middletown, Connecticut.

West served as Itchu's translator throughout the performance.

Flanked by a group of singers and musicians playing other traditional instruments, Itchu took audience members on a musical journey through ancient temples, street festivals and falling cherry blossoms -- with a detour into the red light district of Edo.

West's painting provided a vibrant backdrop for the music, complimenting the different styles showcased by Itchu and his ensemble.

In an interview with Kyodo News Itchu said, "Of course, Americans and Europeans do not understand the (Japanese) lyrics, so they really feel the music,". "Because of this, I feel like I get a better response when I play here." He added.

The son of shamisen artist Tokiwazu Nenosuke, Itchu said he began playing at the age of six, but was not pressured into music by his family.

"I was moved by the beauty of old Japanese paintings and temples. I wanted to pursue that atmosphere myself," he said.

First Published: Jan 03, 2006 12:37 IST