Music to Write Realmgard to: Matsuri

I don’t actually know what this song is about, but I dig it.

Grammy (Best New Age Album, 1999) and Golden Globe (Best Original Score, 1993) winning Japanese New Age artist Kitaro has been performing since 1975. Admittedly, I’m not very much into New Age music, so even despite Kitaro being an institution in the genre, I hadn’t really heard of him until he found out about him by accent.

I think I may have fallen down a Japanese music rabbit hole after looking into the soundtrack from Okami.

And, honestly, I’m probably still not a fan of New Age music, but at least Kitaro’s got some good pieces.

From the album Kojiki named for the ancient Japanese mythological chronicleMatsuri means “festival” or “holiday.” For example, the traditional Japanese to honour ancestral spirits is “Bon Matsuri” (also called “Obon” and usually just called “Bon”) and the annual doll festival and is also Japan’s Girls’ Day is “Hinamatsuri” (it literally means “Doll Festival”).

A Hinamatsuri display.
Hinamatsuri traditionally involves setting up a seven-tiered display of dolls recreating the traditional Imperial Court.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Released into Public Domain by the original author.

I’m not having a lot of luck finding out what, if anything, the song is actually supposed to be about. Beyond some wordless vocalising and chanting, it’s purely an instrumental.

Since it’s from an album called Kojiki, I think it might be about the attempts of the other gods to lure Amaterasu out of her cave after she got offended by Susanoo and hid herself away. Given that said attempt basically amounted to the other gods having a raucous party, I think it could be safely considered a matsuri, but I’ve found nothing to corroborate this.

A woodblock print of Amaterasu emerging from the cave, surrounded by the other Shinto gods.
Seen here. Amaterasu is the background, peeking out of the cave, Ame-no-Uzume is in the foreground, dancing on an upturned washbasin.
Origin of Music and Dance at the Rock Door: Shunsai Toshimasa (c. 1887).
Image via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Incidentally, the thing that actually got Amaterasu out of the cave was Ame-no-Uzume‘s dance, which is viewed as as the mythological origin of the Shinto kagura dance. Fittingly, since Amaterarsu is the solar deity and Ame-no-Uzume is the one who drew her out of the cave, Ame-no-Uzume is venerated as the Shinto dawn goddess.

And, well, whatever it may or may not be about, take a listen to it here:

The official Music to Write Realmgard to playlist has been updated to include this latest entry:

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