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Ohisashi buri, or “It’s been a long time,” is a greeting between friends that reminds me of my own long-standing love for the kakegoe in old Japanese songs. Kakegoe are the shouts of encouragement and effort that help drive the workers on - a tradition known in cultures around the world. The text of Ohisashi buri is a collection of such shouts of encouragement, taken from four venerable songs:

Hanagasa Odori, a celebration of the harvest from the Yamagata prefecture, full of references to local specialties (“What is the pride of my Yamagata? Eggplant, cucumbers, and Hanagasa dancing!”)

Saitara Bushi, an optimistic fishing song from the Miyagi prefecture;

Soran Bushi, a grimmer, but no less proud and energetic fishing song from the northern island of Hokkaido, home to Japan’s aboriginal people, the Ainu;

Kiso Bushi from the Nagano prefecture, a very old and obscure song with the irresistible refrain of yoi yoi yoino, yoi yoi yoi.

Two of these songs are also quoted musically. The two measure lick that fuels Soran Bushi can be found at measure 39, while the pick-up to measure 60 introduces the refrain from Saitara Bushi, which includes the only non-kakegoe words in the text: Are wa tairyo dae (“That is a large catch:” in other words, we’re in for some good fishing).

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