A-bomb survivor Itsuki Munakata to play taiko drum for peace in the U.S.

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

Itsuki Munakata, an A-bomb survivor and Japanese drummer, will perform at A-bomb exhibition sites in the U.S. state of Arizona in November. Mr. Munakata is the official taiko drummer for ceremonies at Ebisu Shrine, located in downtown Hiroshima. He remarked, with enthusiasm, “I hope to convey the strength of Hiroshima, which overcame the bombing while keeping its traditions alive.”

The A-bomb exhibitions will be organized by Ken Koshio, 42, a singer-songwriter who currently lives in Arizona but is originally from Aichi Prefecture in Japan. Borrowing materials from the city of Hiroshima, Mr. Koshio will hold these exhibitions in Phoenix and two other cities. Mr. Munakata will perform with two of his pupils and also share his experience of the atomic bombing.

Mr. Munakata was exposed to the bombing while at home in the city. Though he was not seriously injured, his older brother, who was near Hijiyama Bridge at the time, nearly died in the attack. Members of the Munakata family have served as the official drummers at Ebisu Shrine since his father’s generation. After the war ended, Mr. Munakata then resumed the family tradition by performing at the shrine. He has also been committed to training younger drummers.

“I once hated the United States for hurting my family,” said Mr. Munakata. But when Mr. Koshio expressed his desire to “have Americans feel the preciousness of peace through a taiko drum performance” and asked for Mr. Munakata’s cooperation, he decided to perform in the United States. Mr. Munakata has been teaching Mr. Koshio how to play the drum for the past three years, after they met through a mutual friend.

During the performances in America, Mr. Koshio will play guitar and sing his original songs with peace-related themes. He will also join Mr. Munakata in playing the taiko drum. Since the end of June, Mr. Koshio has been staying in Hiroshima to rehearse with Mr. Munakata.

(Originally published on July 12, 2008)