From July 30th to August 1st, Amami hosted the 2023 Kagoshima Soubun. The Soubun is a national arts and culture competition for high school students. Each year, a chosen prefecture hosts the competition. Therefore, it was an honor to have Amami Oshima represent Kagoshima prefecture as one of the competition venues.
Students, parents, and judges from all over Japan came to either perform or watch the taiko and traditional dance categories. One of the judges to note was Izumi Motoya, a Kyogen actor who has appeared in a number of TV programs. As it is a competition, there were strict rules regarding photography and entry. Since people could only enter the auditorium between performances and during breaks, browsing the shops selling various taiko goods and memorabilia items was a perfect way to wait for entry.
Due to the approach of Typhoon Khanun, the performance schedules had to be adjusted. The performances originally scheduled for Monday were rescheduled to either Sunday or Tuesday, resulting in an extended day. While it was unfortunate there wasn’t the time to hold a final ceremony, they were able to fit in a couple of special performances by residents of Amami–showcasing the shima-uta folk music of the island.
The typhoon also led to many spectators being forced to extend their stay on Amami Oshima. One parent from Osaka expressed how excited she was to see her child perform, but she knew that it was impossible for her original flight to proceed as scheduled. I hope she was able to catch the next available flight before the typhoon made a return the next weekend.
The winners of the Soubun were later announced online, with Aichi Prefectural Shoin High School winning the taiko category and the Okinawa Prefectural Yaeyama Agriculture and Forestry High School winning the traditional dance category. Overall, the superb performances were proof of the outstanding efforts of the students who not only had to prepare for the competition but also had to overcome the challenges of bad weather as well.