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First Lady enjoys Japanese culture

US First Lady Michelle Obama was treated to a serene classical Noh performance and then tried her hand at the taiko drums as she wrapped up a visit to Japan with a taste of traditional culture in Kyoto.

Mrs Obama watched the Noh performance by local college students at Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple founded in 780. The temple, one of the most famous sights in Japan, sits on a forested hill overlooking the city.

The students in kimono performed a brief piece of Noh, a classical Japanese musical drama that usually employs elaborate costumes and stylised masks to symbolise roles of women, ghosts and other characters.

Mrs Obama then travelled to the 1,300-year-old Fushimi Inari shrine, a place of worship for Japan's other major religion, Shinto. There are 30,000 such shrines in Japan that venerate the guardian god of abundant harvests, prosperity and family safety. The Fushimi Inari is renowned for the many crimson torii gates lining paths through its leafy grounds.

There she watched a rousing performance by the award-winning Akutagawa High School Taiko Club, who drummed, jumped and gesticulated with all their might.

"You guys are good," she said. "That's good exercise. Wonderful."

The students then invited Mrs Obama to join them, and performed a number as she and a student drummed on a big, round taiko drum.

Mrs Obama was later due to travel to Cambodia, one of Asia's poorest nations.


From Belfast Telegraph