File #16
On Tour with Lowo=Tar=Voga Vol. 2: Shimanouchi Church in Osaka

The United Church of Christ in Japan: Shimanouchi Church
1-6-7 Higashi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tel: 06-6271-8202/Fax: 06-6271-8214

Lowo=Tar=Voga Performance Tour: [isotope]
As I reported in the last installment, I have been accompanying the Osaka theatre company Lowo=Tar=Voga on their performance tour. The next stop was a church located directly in the middle of a bustling, entertainment district near Shinsaibashi in the Minami area of Osaka.

This was a large-venue performance held at a Protestant church that was founded in 1882. At dawn on March 14, 1945, just before the end of the Second World War, the church was reduced to a charred patch of ground in the air raids on Osaka. But after the war, the church was restored to its present state by devoted believers. In the intervening years, over half a century, the church has served not only its usual function as the site of wedding ceremonies and a place for Sunday worship, but is familiar to many people in the know as a center for cultural activities including music and theatre performances. In the rakugo (comic storytelling) world, the church was also once known as the site of "Shimanouchi storytelling."

Perhaps because of the reverential power exuded by the church, a kind of silence loomed over the audience during the performance. People even seemed to be a little hesitant to click their camera shutters - something that has been common at other venues. For this performance, an expanded version of the group, with the entire company, was assembled. The presentation also included a live orchestral performance. What made this show distinct from the one at Huyuu in Nara was the commanding view I had of the entire stage. Combined with the special air of the venue, the performance was decidedly different from any of the others I 've seen. And for someone like myself, who belonged to a children's chorus group as a kid, sang in churches on Christmas and spent four years at a Catholic mission-style university, it all seemed a bit nostalgic.