World Festival Of Sacred Music - Miyajima, Hiroshima Japan June 2001

One of our most memorable Japanese live shows (we played 3 times, in fact - plus 1 DJ set!) was at the incredible World Festival of Sacred Music in Hiroshima, Japan on June 1st-3rd 2001. This event was truly extraordinary. Here are a selection of pictures from our set on the main stage, accompanied by various performers and dancers. More pictures here.

Miyajima Shrine viewed from stage
Onstage madness!

Miyajima is an island 10kms west of Hiroshima. "Miya" means "shrine" and "Jima" means "island". The shrine on the island is one of the 3 most important Shinto shrines in Japan. The actual shrine gate is in the sea, where the tide rises and falls. The festival was held in the grounds of the large temple. the main stage and the audience area for 10,000 people was build over the water. There were many deer roaming around the festival site.

The Festival was set up by Tibet House, the organisation of the Dalai Lama. He was unable to attend, but there was a large Tibetan presence at the festival including monks, horn players and dancers. They were led by Lama Doboom Tulku and performed various powerful ceremonies. The Abbot of the Miyajima Shinto shrine was happy to agree to the Dalai Lama's request to hold the festival in the temple grounds.

Guest Digeridoo from Yothu Yindi
Rave on - Buddha style!

There were many traditional music groups at the festival, including a Balinese Gamelan Orchestra, Moroccan Gnawa musicians and the Baul of Bengal from India. The festival was organised by Toshinori Kondo, the well known avant garde trumpeter. Together with Bill Laswell and Material he put together various combinations of musicians and DJs. Also present was Jah Wobble who played an amazing dub/trance set with his band and 4 guest Laotian musicians and singers. As well as System 7, The Orb and Carl Craig were planned to appear, but for various reasons they couldn't make it, so we were the only representatives of the techno/electronic scene.

Silver dragon in the dancing crowd
Amazing dancer

For our main set we were unsure whether to play a dance set or something more ambient. But our Japanese friends told us that most of the audience liked dance music and wanted to hear some on the main stage. They wanted to dance. So we played a fairly full-on dancy set, mostly from our new album Seventh Wave. We were joined by all kinds of performers and amazing dancers in surreal costumes, and also by 2 brilliant young aboriginal digeridoo players from Yothu Yindi. Somethimg magic occurred!

On the final day we played a second, shorter ambient dub set with Jah Wobble. We've worked with Wobble before, notably on the Orb track Blue Room. Later that day a set by the Bauls of Bengal with Bill Laswell exploded into a massive spontaneous jam, and Steve joined in on guitar.

Before the deeply moving closing ceremony, Lama Doboom Tulku made a speech to the festival. At one stage he mentioned that he had been in the crowd observing the people dancing to our set of what he described as "powerful modern techno music" with the abbot of the Miyajima Temple. He said he had been impressed by the uplifting effect of the music on the people and thought it fitted perfectly with the concept of the Sacred Music Festival. Indeed he said that he had discussed this with the Abbot and they both agreed that this music was like the mantras used in meditation.

This was a very proud moment for System 7 - we were overwhelmed by emotion.


Pictures by Giacomo Cavalleri


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