Improvised Music from Japan / Shoji Hano

Interview 2: About Shintaido

The following are excerpts of an interview with Shoji Hano conducted by Floyd Cowan and Yoshiyuki Suzuki in 1992, at the same time as "Shoji Hano Interview 1."

After I met Toshinori Kondo, he introduced me to Shintaido.... There was a reason why he was involved in Shintaido. Because Japanese are smaller than Western people, we have less physical strength to play music than they have. But we need power to come up to the level of western musicians. They can keep playing for one or two hours with great power and speed, but we can continue for only about ten minutes. When Kondo was studying breathing techniques and things like that, in order to gain as much power as Western musicians have, he eventually found Shintaido. Shintaido is a very demanding art. You need very hard training--jump, jump, jump. But building up your body is just the beginning. Next, you have to learn to heighten your spirit and to evaluate your way of life. You can't be content to play only with Japanese--you must be able to play with Western musicians equally well.

When I returned to drums in 1985 and thought about what I should actually do first, I went to Shintaido. Around that time, I had read many philosophical and psychological books to look for a way to live. I found a book entitled Karada wa Uchu no Messeiji (The Body Is the Message of the Universe), written by Mr. Aoki, who was a founder of Shintaido. I was very impressed. I decided to transfer his concept to drumming. At first, I started to build up my body through Shintaido and express my music through its concepts. KI-Improvisation was my first musical expression based on Shintaido concepts. In short, it was a performance with Shintaido. The basic concept of Shintaido is to throw away everything your mind and body have learned. You should return to nothingness, like a newborn baby. Next, you need to affirm your existence, and then you think about where you should go from there.

Last updated: August 16, 1996