On Sunday, I took the long trip out to Tokyo to attend a gagaku performance at the Japanese imperial palace! Gagaku is an ancient imperial court music and dance form that has been performed in Japan for about a thousand and five-hundred years. I was incredibly lucky and honoured to have such a rare opportunity. I worked briefly at a major Shinto shrine last New Year’s (which in itself was an unbelievable honour), but when the chief priest of the shrine got an invitation to the gagaku performance this month, he was amazing enough to gift me one of the tickets!
I haven’t been to Tokyo in many months, and it felt like such a tremendously urban and glamorous city, especially after staying in this little town for so long. The difference was even more noticeable because I was specifically in the Ginza district which is famous for being the most posh, impressive, and high-end region of Tokyo.
I got to the city pretty early in the morning so I headed over to a nearby shrine while waiting for the performance to start. After paying my respects at the shrine, I wandered through an antique market that had been set up for the day just outside the shrine. I also spent a bit of time at a museum that was displaying old documents from the fifteen and sixteen hundreds.
I got pretty hungry as I walked around, but a lot of restaurants were closed that morning. After a while, I was lucky enough to find a place where I could get a late breakfast of udon noodles. It was incredibly cheap, too, at just 150 yen which is around $1.50! I enjoyed the noodles topped with a whole bunch of shichimi (a Japanese spice mixture) while my friend had a bowl of Japanese curry and rice.
No one was allowed to take photos of the actual gagaku performance, but we could take pictures of the stage before the show started. I also took some shots of the people setting up the instruments in preparation for the musicians. The actual performance was hauntingly beautiful. There’s something about gagaku and noh that is other-worldly…it really does transport you back well over a thousand years to an entirely different time and place. I can’t even begin to describe how enchanting it was!