Who’s coming to Earls Court next weekend? I don’t know about you (well, those of you in the UK), but I’m getting pretty excited about this year’s HYPER JAPAN, which looks better than ever! For full information and to get your tickets, check out www.hyperjapan.co.uk.
There will be all kinds of performances, music, food, and J-culture both modern and traditional on offer at HYPER JAPAN. Here are some of the highlights:
The international multi-award winning spectacular is coming back to London! (Click here for my review of their show back in April.) Often described as Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group, SIRO-A is a revolution in live entertainment, fusing mime, ground-breaking visual effects and an electro soundtrack to create a mind-blowing theatrical experience that is a feast for the senses. Through dance, mime and puppetry, the company of six Siro-performers interact with technology in a way never seen before. Featuring spectacular video projection, light animation, stunning laser effects and a pulsating electro beat, SIRO-A is family entertainment like no other. SIRO-A’s exciting appearance at HYPER JAPAN acts as a thrilling preview ahead of further London appearances at the Leicester Square Theatre from 21st August – 13th October 2013. SIRO-A are scheduled to perform at HYPER JAPAN on Friday 26th July at 17:30, Saturday 27th July at 17:30 and Sunday 28th July at 10:00.
Eat-Japan Sake Experience
While Sake has become increasingly popular in the UK, for many knowledge of the varieties available and serving styles is still limited compared to other beverages on the market. Unparalleled in scale, the Eat-Japan Sake Experience 2013 is the biggest consumer sake tasting event in Europe and will give visitors the opportunity to taste a number of samples from a range of different sakes, including sparkling, unfiltered (muroka), undiluted (genshu) and aged (koshu), presented at a range of temperatures and in different styles, including heated, chilled, and on the rocks. The Eat-Japan Sake Experience is the perfect venue for visitors to try, learn, buy, and rate their favourite, all-the-while enjoying Japan’s most traditional tipple. Click here for the complete sake line-up.
Eat-Japan Sushi Awards
One of the highlights of the event is set to be the 2013 Eat-Japan Sushi Awards, sponsored by KIKKOMAN, S&B and Yutaka. Hosted exclusively at HYPER JAPAN, it provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything that’s great about this iconic Japanese culinary offering. Having originally started out as a public contest for original sushi recipes (known as The Original Sushi Competition), and evolving to include the World Sushi Awards, a competition for professional chefs in the UK, The Eat-Japan Sushi Awards are back again for 2013 and chefs from five Japanese restaurants will be battling it out to win ‘Sushi of the Year’. The visitors to the Sushi Awards will have a chance to taste each of the five unique sushi creations and ultimately decide who will be crowned the UK Sushi Roll Champion for 2013. The winner will be announced on stage at 17:30 on 28th July.
Having exploded onto the scene at the end of 2012 in a sea of electronic beats and bold fashion statements, Yun*chi, like her fellow ASOBI SYSTEM label mate and J-Pop superstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu before her, will be making a rare appearance in London at this year’s HYPER JAPAN.
(I’ve got to say – I L*VE this!)
Whilst 2012 marked Yun*chi’s big break with her self-titled first album hitting the shelves of Japan via Nippon Crown Records, Yun*chi’s love for music goes back much, much further. Originally inspired by her mother, who would sing to her daily, Yun*chi grew up wanting to be a singer and would surround herself with music wherever possible. This obsession with sound lead to Yun*chi training as a jazz dancer for 15 years, and in later life, dropping tracks in Japan’s doujin music scene. Prior to her label debut, Yun*chi was already gaining fans and creating a buzz within the music scene. Anime fans were introduced to her via compilation CD ‘I♥TOKYO FOR ANIME MUSIC LOVERS’, which included her cover of Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou’s opening theme song; Vocaloid lovers had grown to know her through a collaboration with top Vocaloid producer Kz of Livetunes; and followers of otaku photographer Julie Watai were treated to Yun*chi’s modelling début through Watai’s popular ‘Hardware Girls’ photo book. More recently Yun*chi unleashed her second single ‘Shake You’ in April 2013 accompanied by a quirky video that has caught the attention of J-Pop audiences and made her a viral hit (see above).
A combined burst of energy, fashion and kawaii culture, Yun*chi looks set to dominate the J-Pop world. Set to be one of the highlights of HYPER JAPAN is the first live performance of Waon* with Irokokoro Project. This collaboration, which has been adopted as the new theme tune to NHK World’s music TV show J-MELO, was born when members of the Irokokoro Project, a community of girls around the world united by their love of Japanese culture, fashion and music were put in touch with Yun*chi by her producer. Keen to find out what these girls favourite Japanese word was and the reason behind it, Yun*chi launched an appeal through J-MELO and compiled the heartfelt responses from 43 different countries into an expressive song. Assisted on the track’s chorus by the 27 girls who make up Irokokoro Project, Yun*chi’s Waon* with Irokokoro Project is the exciting end product.
Taking to the stage throughout the three-day HYPER JAPAN event, Yun*chi will be delivering her own brand of quirky pop and outrageous fashions to those eager to see the very latest star on the J-Pop scene.
Giant Robot KURATAS
Super cool stage show alert: the team behind KURATAS, the giant robots which won the Award of Excellence at the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival, are coming to HYPER JAPAN! These metal marvels are four metres tall, weigh four tonnes, and are piloted by humans. From within the cockpit, you can make the robots travel around, moving the top half of the body any way you like. The robots are currently being fine tuned for mass production. At the show, Taiji Sugasawa, the project manager of KURATAS, who has been working on this project from the very start, talks about what led him to develop the KURATAS robots, and what his ambitions are for the future. Also in attendance will be Kogoro Kurata, who originally conceived this project, and Wataru Yoshizaki, the operation engineer who masterminded the technical aspects of the operation, will join in the talk online, showing visitors the live operation of the giant robot in Japan.
Sayuki (Fiona Graham), The First Western Geisha
Sayuki – the first Westerner to be formally accepted as a geisha – will be performing at HYPER JAPAN. Appearing alongside her three geisha sisters, Sayuki will be on hand to share her knowledge and experience of living in the ‘flower and willow world’, providing a wonderful insight into this elegant, mysterious and often misunderstood culture. The first westerner to be accepted as a geisha in the 400 year tradition; Fiona Graham grew up in Japan and graduated from Keio University, before moving to the UK to study for a PhD in Social Anthropology (specialising in Japanese Culture) at Oxford University. Subsequently Fiona became an anthropologist and documentary director and moved to Asakusa in Japan (one of the oldest of Tokyo’s six remaining geisha districts) in 2007. Originally with anthropological fieldwork (and a documentary) in mind, after immersing herself in this new enigmatic lifestyle for a year, Fiona’s passion for the culture became a formal part of her life as she asked for, and received, permission to continue as an official geisha where she remained for a total of four years, under the name ‘Sayuki’. In 2011, she left Asakusa and opened her own independent house, now home to several young geisha. Trained in several arts, including shamisen and singing, and specialising in yokobue (Japanese flute); Fiona is also a published author, an anthropological film director and has worked on programmes for the BBC, NHK, National Geographic Channel and others, commenting all around the world on geisha culture.
Throughout the show, Sayuki will take to the main stage to perform traditional dance and present insightful talks on geisha culture. At the Tatami Mat Booth visitors will find a unique display on the day-to-day workings of a geisha. Discover how they practice, the details behind their look – including the painstaking care put into their dress and make up, and experience their hostess skills, with lucky visitors being entertained at a banquet in the evening. With so much to discover, Sayuki is the perfect guest for those keen to learn more about the mystique of the geisha.
HYPER JAPAN is proud to present an authentic performance of Japanese Minyo music on the Main Stage. Minyo means ‘folk song’, and for many people in Japan, tunes from this genre conjure up nostalgia for one’s hometown and family. Showcasing this lovely and emotive traditional style of music will be Hibiki Ichikawa (Tsugaru Shamisen), Koji Kishida (shinobue) and Akari Mochizuki (vocals) as well as Hibiki’s students and Tomoya Nose (percussion). They are scheduled to person on Sunday 28th July on both the Main and Sub stages.
How BEAUTIFUL is that man? Just look at his HAIR!
Fans of J-rock will be excited to hear that rising stars VANIRU will be gracing the HYPER JAPAN Main Stage. This musical duo is the latest talent to emerge from the label that launched the career of visual kei legends Buck Tick – and if that’s not an endorsement of their cool credentials, then frankly we don’t know what is. If you’re looking for a new sound, we highly recommend checking these guys out! VANIRU’s members are front man LEONEIL and Guitarist YUTO, and their unique signature performing style and sound draw on both retro eighties and nineties elements. Basing their music on electronica and dark melancholic gothic rock, the pair also take inspiration from other diverse eras and genres, including; post punk, ’80’s new wave, the new romantics, electro pop, metal, and even baroque and orchestral composition. Refusing to confine their sound by adhering to one specific genre of music, VANIRU are making their way by creating what they dub as, ‘day-dreamy alternative rock’. VANIRU are scheduled to perform on Friday 26th July on the Main Stage and Saturday 27th July on the Sub Stage.
Personally, I LOVE the look of them – their costumes are fabulous!
Performing on the HYPER JAPAN Sub Stage will be dynamic new J-pop duo, Yanakiku! Channelling both mainstream and sub-cultural Japanese influences, this cool and quirky decora influenced J-pop duo have a unique perspective on the world. Along with their trademark catchy melodies and dance routines, this pair distinguish themselves from the rest of the J-pop crowd with their ‘Kimocos’- a totally original mashup of cosplay and kimono that’s sure to take the fashion world by storm! Aiming to demonstrate the awesomeness of Japanese culture to the world, this pair wants to show ‘hot’ Japan, injecting their own spicy originality into an already crowded cool Japan culture scene.
Tokyo Fashion Story
HYPER JAPAN is famously known to be the UK’s fashion central when it comes to Japanese street styles, and they are also known to showcase style-conscious local J-fashionistas in the show every year. This summer HYPER JAPAN’s Tokyo Fashion Story will take you through a visual narrative from the trendiest streets of Japan’s fashion capital, Tokyo! There are such a variety of kawaii fashion styles and this fashion show will aim to display the many fun, sassy and cool genres of Tokyo’s street styles. HYPER JAPAN are looking for both male and female fashionistas from all over the UK to participate in this fashion story! So if you have the flair for fashion, they would love to hear from you and see your best outfits (click here for more information). If your J-style wardrobe is a little limited don’t despair; Sweet Lolita brand Angelic Pretty and Harajuku schoolgirl fashion specialists Phantásien are happy to play street style fairy godmother! Just mention that you’d prefer to borrow one of their ensembles for the catwalk.
Official HYPER JAPAN Tour
Many visitors to HYPER JAPAN are planning to visit Japan themselves at some point – and as Japan specialists, HYPER JAPAN wanted to help. They have launched the HYPER JAPAN Official Japan Tour in partnership with UK award winning tour operator InsideJapan Tours so that they can assist you in making your trip one of the most amazing adventures of your life! Be sure to visit the InsideJapan Tours booth to find out all about the tour, which is scheduled to take place in November. If you can’t wait and want more information right now, click here!
Some text and all images in this post borrowed from HYPER JAPAN.