[ Click this picture to enlarge it. Click the following pictures for a slideshow ]

Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 at the Cherry Blossom Festival at Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine in Shibuya

Last October 2011, Heavenese performed at the Offering to God Feast at Kurosaki Shrine in Rikuzen-Takata. This was a big step for Heavenese as it was the first time for them to perform at a Shinto shrine.

From ancient times, the Japanese have depended on Shinto shrines to maintain their faith. These shrines were often the center of a community's activity. So with Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine having an event, this was the perfect opportunity for Heavenese to perform their Japanese Gospel.  

Marre said after the performance at Kurosaki Shrine in Rikuzen-Takata last year, "I don't think I will ever be in a more sacred environment than this". Yet another opportunity to perform at a Shinto shrine came to Heavenese, and it was this Cherry Blossom Festival at Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine in Shibuya. 
It is a five minute walk from the East exit of Shibuya Station to Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine, which is near the Shibuya police station. It is an oasis in the midst of the bustling Tokyo ward of Shibuya. Anyone would be surprised to find a place like this with its tranquility to calm our minds and its abundance of nature.
Shibuya

At this location, the Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year, and for this event Heavenese was invited to perform.

The group "Tamashinowa Project" was the go-between for Heavenese and the shrine. This group has been a promoter of the concept of Japanese soul through music and art. The representative of the group, Mr. Asano is very passionate about promoting this just as Heavenese has been doing. It is not a coincidence to come across Mr. Asano who has the same passion as Heavenese.

At the festival, colorfully decorated vendor booths were on display. These vendors were connected to Mr. Asano through the Japanese Soul Project.

Heavenese performed at Kagura Hall (this building is where music and dance are performed at the Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine complex).

Day 1: Saturday, March 31

The Cherry Blossom Festival got off to a rough start as the weather became quite bad in the afternoon. In the morning, Shinto rituals were performed smoothly; however, the wind picked up and it began to rain on and off all afternoon. The wind was so strong that it was blowing over tents.

The shrine's administrators were looking to cancel the rest of the day's events as the weather was making things dangerous. Just as everything was about to be shut down, many Heavenese's fans showed up at the shrine. Heavenese leader, Marre said, "We want to stand by our belief that in all things we should offer our best to God no matter what happens. If the sponsor lets us play, we would like to perform despite the weather".  Upon receiving the go ahead from the administrators, it turned out that Heavenese were going to perform at the time originally scheduled.

At 4:10, the sound check was done, and it was still raining. The band members were all lined up in Kagura Hall ready to take the stage. The shrine staff covered the wet ground in front of Kagura Hall with plastic sheets.

The shrine staff covered the wet ground in front of Kagura Hall with plastic sheets.  

Heavenese's performance started at four twenty, just a little later than scheduled.
Seeing one umbrella after another being closed, a miracle happened. It stopped raining just as Heavenese started performing.




By God's grace, it didn't rain while Heavenese performed.

The band members and the audience experienced the hand of God working behind the scene.
The surprised looks on their faces told the whole story.


By God's grace, it didn't rain while Heavenese performed.

The band members and the audience experienced the hand of God working behind the scene.
The surprised looks on their faces told the whole story.

"Today I witnessed faith that really worked" the shrine priest said. All that is to say, the shrine was the place where Heavenese were called to offer their gift of music.

Day 2: Sunday, April 1

This day's weather wasn't anything like the day before it. It was nice all day.
There was a festive mood filling the shrine.

Mobile Kick Back Cafe set up shop near the carnival games and a grilled chicken booth.
The sweets that Mobile KBC sold were quite popular as people usually don't find them at this kind of festival.


The cherry blossom trees at the shrine are designated as natural monuments, and were considered some of the principal cherry blossom trees in Japan during the Edo period (1603`1868).
This festival is held to enjoy the cherry blossoms. However, this year the trees weren't fully blooming yet due to the cool weather that had been holding on right up until the day before the festival.
With the sun shining, the people were getting into a festive mood and enjoying the cherry blossoms.  

The shrine administrative office was open to the public, and there was an open-air tea ceremony held in the courtyard. This event offered so much that pretty much anyone would find something there to enjoy. As shrines originally served as community centers, one could see that in action on this day.


At Kagura Hall, a taiko group put on a dynamic performance.
Other Japanese music performances featured kotos and  Japanese flutes.

There were many other events that took place.

Around 1:00, festive-spirit-filled Heavenese appeared on the stage with things far different than the day before.






With all the modernness of Shibuya, it was astonishing to find a place like this with an outdoor stage.
The support from all the staff from Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine was great, and we are so thankful for their friendship and support of our performance.

Mr. Asano, of "Tamashinowa Project" said passionately, "At the Cherry Blossom Festival at Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine Heavenese performed a miracle, so we want to make another miracle happen." He is dead set on reviving the Japanese soul in the modern society.
Heavenese's performance at Konnohachimangu Shinto Shrine which has been at this location for 920 years, and it is the heart of Shibuya would not have happened without his passion.

As Heavenese played wholly for God, He worked mightily at this event.  Through this experience each band member came away with a renewed passion for God's work to be done.