Sounds of the real Japan: Chindonya
'Chindonya' drum and clarinet troupe, Shibuya, Tokyo.
Chindonya are a colorful, yet dying, tradition in Japan. "Chin" is onomatopoeic for the clash of cymbals, "don" for the bang of drums. "ya" simply means "someone who does".
A chindonya troupe consists of lavishly and/or outlandishly attired and heavily made up players who perform with percussion and wind to conjure up an appealing and lighthearted atmosphere and either walk through the town with some sort of bulletin printed and chanted, or perform outside a business and so attract people into the premises.
They are very much in the tradition of the maiko: the 'geisha' of the lower classes who, like her more sophistocated counterpart, sings, plays, raconteurs, pours drinks, and generally makes her charges feel at home, merry, stimulated and relaxed. This troupe's wind instrument was a clarinet, beautifully played, and the premises were a pachinko parlor in Tokyo's center of youth culture, Shibuya.
April 30, 2006.