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Kyoto building sees 100 years of sake and song

The audience and performers enjoy live music in Takutaku in Kyoto.

By Asako Kisui / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterKYOTO — A club for live music in Kyoto will celebrate the centenary of the building it occupies next month, a wooden structure that was transformed from a sake brewing site to what many musicians consider their “home ground.”

The club Takutaku will offer three concerts commemorating the occasion from May 13 to 15, the last day of which falls on the day the building’s framework was completed in 1917.

Sake brewing at the structure was suspended in the early 1970s, and an eye doctor in the neighborhood then rented the building and opened a music cafe in 1974. Live concerts began at the venue the following year. The name Takutaku is a repetition of the kanji “taku,” which refers to the sound of a bird singing or the fluttering of a bird’s wings.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Takutaku in Kyoto, seen from outside, was once a sake brewery.

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Naozumi Masuko

The first floor houses a stage and the seating area. Tables are made of scrap wood from tubs and other things. The second floor, which used to be a room for making koji by spraying mold over steamed rice, is now used as a dressing room.

“The atmosphere has hardly changed for the past 40 years,” said Hironori Mizushima, 65, who started working at Takutaku part-time and took over the operation of the club in the late 1970s.

The club has hosted concerts by musicians representing youth culture in each era of music: Singer Takajin Yashiki, rock band RC Succession led by Kiyoshiro Imawano, and blues band Ukadan in the 1970s; rock bands Anzenchitai and Kinniku Shojotai (King-Show) in the 1980s; and rock bands Ulfuls, The Elephant Kashimashi and Quruli in the 1990s and onward.

Rock band Dohatsuten to play event

For the three commemorative concerts — titled “Welcome Home to TAKUTAKU!!” — rock band Dohatsuten will perform on May 14 and 15.

Naozumi Masuko, 51, the leader of the band, said he learned about a mecca for band folks in Kyoto in the 1980s, when he started band activities in Hokkaido.

“I wondered what a club converted from a sake brewing building was like,” he said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun. After coming to live in Tokyo at age 25, Masuko visited Takutaku to attend a concert by a Kyoto band.

“The walls were adorned with hand-made welcome boards with the names of famous musicians who had appeared there,” he recalled. “Thinking they had all performed in that place, I felt the weight of the club’s history.”

His band was finally given a chance to perform in Takutaku in 2004.

“The club put more importance on what the performers want to do and whether they have a hot spirit, rather than whether they have good technique or drawing power,” Masuko said. “A thick pillar in the middle of the seating area blocks the view, but we can feel the heat from the audience, and the place has an atmosphere that we can appreciate only there.”

Masuko said Kyoto has a unique music scene.

“In such a small venue, we can pursue what we like enough to become edgy; and we can go wild in the course of traditions that have been passed on over generations,” he said. “Even though the times change, this place remains as it is, and that’s what Takutaku is all about.”

Visit the official website of Takutaku (www.geisya.or.jp/~takutaku/) for more information about the club. Tickets for the commemorative concerts are sold out.Speech

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