Music and entertainment at Hyper Japan

Hyper Japan 2011 was held at Olympia Two in London from 22nd – 24th July, and I attended on all three days. There was so much to take in at the event – at times it was almost overwhelming. It was much bigger than I expected, and there were more people than I think anyone anticipated (on the Saturday there was a bit of an overcrowding problem).

As there was so much going on, there was no way that I could cover everything. So, I’ve decided to categorise the best of what I saw into a series of posts called “…at Hyper Japan”. These posts will not be day by day accounts. Instead, they will focus on topics.

Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

This post is aboutย music and entertainment at Hyper Japan.

The entertainment schedule at Hyper Japan was jam-packed, and I missed a few things I would have liked to have seen (such as comedy duo JaruJaru). However, I managed to see quite a lot, so here are my highlights…

Joji Hirota

Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

Joji Hirota, who has been playing Japanese taiko drums in the UK for over thirty years, played two charity performances with his group on Friday 22nd July. They were absolutely fantastic – perhaps the best taiko playing I have ever seen!

Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

Joji also plays Japanese folk songs on the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). One of the songs Joji performed was called “Kokiriko Bushi“. It’s known as the oldest folk song in Japan. The audience was encouraged to join in with some of the lyrics: “Mado no sansa wa / Dedereko den / Hare no sansa wa / Dedereko den” (Roughly translated as “The window frame sounds like / Dedereko den / That frame also sounds like / Dedereko den“.) Joji suggested we remember these lyrics to impress the people at passport control and make a friend when we visit Japan! ๐Ÿ˜‰

There’s a version of it on YouTube here:

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

I picked up a couple of CDs at the end of the performance and spoke briefly with Joji, who seemed like a really nice guy.

For more information about Joji Hirota, see:ย http://www.jojihirota.com.

Alika Mochida

The enka singer Alika Mochida performed a number of times on the charity stage at Hyper Japan.ย I didn’t know I liked enka until I discovered Alika recently, but now I’m quite a fan. I especially like the throaty-sounding bits, which Alika said is a technique called โ€œunariโ€. You can really hear the feeling in her songs as she performs.

Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

You can see more of Alika on her Facebook page.

Tiger and Bunny

(Source)

One of the exclusive events at Hyper Japan was the first screening of “Tiger and Bunny” in the UK. I’m no anime expert, and I took a while to warm to this one, but I thought it was quite enjoyable. One interesting point about the characters in the anime is that each superhero is sponsored by a real-life company – Softbank, Pepsi NEX, Ustream, Calbee and others. I found this new-style product placement quite interesting. For more information about Tiger and Bunny, check out this excellent review.

Masa-kun

Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

Masa-kun (Masa Futagami) seems to be at every Japan-related event in the UK at the moment. Unfortunately I didn’t catch any of his performances at Hyper Japan, but he said he was performing a lot around the community area. Masa’s violin playing is really excellent, and I highly recommend you check him out if you have the chance. For more information, why not check out his Facebook page!

Chris Eaton

Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

Chris Eaton is a British singer-songwriter, who has written a charity song for Japan called “Hi wa mata noboru” (“The Sun Will Rise Again“). He said he was inspired to do something for Japan after learning about the disaster on March 11th, and his friendย Tetsuro Hama (owner of SO Restaurant) suggested he write a song.

The song was performed at Hyper Japan by Chris’s wife, Abby Scott, and some cute Japanese kids (gotta have cute kids on a charity record). Profits will go to help those in the affected areas of Japan.

Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

Here’s the official video, directed by David Butler:

Nihon Buyo Classical Japanese Dance

Seeing “Nihon Buyo” was a real treat for me, as I hadn’t expected Hyper Japan to showcase such traditional arts. Nihon Buyo (literally “Japanese dance”) is a kind of traditional dance, which is made up of a combination of Kabuki buyo, Noh and folk dances, with hints of European and American influences. The display on Friday was by the Hiroko Tanaka Nihon Buyo Group, who are based in London. The performers were not all Japanese, but were all dressed in beautiful, traditional kimonos. It was a real pleasure to see such delicate, intricate dances performed by people who had clearly studied and practiced very hard to continue this tradition.

Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Friday 22nd July 2011

Kanon Wakeshima
Kanon Wakeshima (ๅˆ†ๅณถ ่Šฑ้Ÿณ)ย is the first cello vocalist in J-pop history – and she’s fantastic! I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never really heard her music before, but I thoroughly enjoyed both of her charity performances (Saturday and Sunday). Kanon comes across as a very shy and sweet individual, but her gothic lolita appearance gives a hint of of a Tim Burton-esque dark side. Kanon sings with a backing track, and plays the cello over it. She also uses the cello as a prop, and her movements are very dramatic.

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Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, Saturday 23rd July 2011

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Hyper Japan, 24th July 2011

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Hyper Japan, 24th July 2011

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Hyper Japan, 24th July 2011

One more Kanon video clip – I love this video!

See Kanon Wakeshima’s official websiteย (in Japanese) for more information (and here’s the English link).

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Stay tuned for more “…at Hyper Japan” posts, coming soon! ๐Ÿ˜€

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