Taiko Skin at the Jenadriyah Festival

jenadriyah janadriyah festival riyadh saudi arabia
--Photo by Raiki Machida

The Janadriyah Festival is the biggest of the few festivals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The culture and heritage festival brings more than a million visitors each year, and features events, fairs, games and music that reflect Saudi Arabian and Islamic traditions.

The festival also features a host country each year. Last year, this was France- this year, Japan. A section of the large festival grounds has been designated to Japan this year, where Japanese companies, including Sony, Panasonic, Isuzu, Nissan, and various others have opened booths introducing new products and innovations. The Japanese area also features a stage where a team of Japanese musicians and artists, including Ondekoza, perform daily to a very large and enthusiastic crowd. Performances started on April 12th, and will continue until the 29th.

The people here have been warm and welcoming, and I've rarely seen more people excited about hearing live music. Word is there's not a lot of it here in Saudi- festivals like these are probably one of the few where everyone can come out and let loose. "Loose" being a relative term, of course, as the National Guard and Religious Police are still roaming the grounds making sure people don't get too out of line (including the musicians). The guards have been making a human barricade between the audience and the musicians. Usually, these barricades are there to protect the musicians, but here it's the other way around- it's pretty clear they're trying to the prevent the musicians from getting too close to the audience. Won't even allow hand-shakes and hand-slaps anymore. Woo!


  1. A friend of mine who's an alumnus from Brown was visiting me recently and when I mentioned that you guys were in Saudi Arabia, he asked, "Wait, were they at that festival that's going on right now? My friend (another Brown graduate) said she saw Japanese drumming there and was intrigued by the presence of live music (and particularly Taiko) there."

    A Brown alumna saw you! :D

  2. what a coincidence! wish there could have been some way to know.. not often brownies bump into each other in saudi arabia!