With Hyper Japan Christmas Market only a matter of days away, we take a look at what the event has on offer for fans of Japanese music. Taking place between 14-16 November 2014 at Olympia in London, the Christmas Market sees the UK’s biggest J-culture event take a more relaxed approached than it’s massive summer event at Earls Court, focusing instead more on the market side of the event – yet, we’d say that the music line-up is equally, if not more, exciting than the summer’s event. Here’s why:
NeM: Japanese Fusion Band
When: Saturday – 7:30pm
NeM is the combination of five traditional Japanese musicians living in the UK and Italy. Amongst their ranks is shamisen veteran Hibiki Ichikawa – the only qualified teacher of his instrument in Great Britain. The group’s name, NeM, holds the meaning of the sound of Japanese instruments dancing through peoples’ minds throughout the world – at least that’s what the Hyper Japan website says. Personally, we’re a sucker for the koto and can’t wait to hear what they have to offer. They’ll play a special collection of folk songs from all over the world, performed with a distinct Japanese flavour.
Naruto Singer Joe Inoue and Diana Garnet
When: Sunday – 4pm.
Joe Inoue is probably best known in the UK for two of his songs being used in anime: “Closer” was used as the fourth Naruto Shippuden opening song, and “Kaze no Gotoku” was used for a season of Gin Tama. He’s also a regular part of J-MELO, a television programme by NHK World which airs in over 150 countries. You will be able to buy Joe Inoue CDs and merchandise from JPU Records’ booth throughout the event.
He’ll be joined on stage on Sunday with Diana Garnet who recently had her a major debut – the turning point for her was winning the Nihon TV 2013 “Nodojiman THE WORLD” contest.
When: Friday – 2:30pm. Saturday: 12:00 noon. Sunday: 12-noon.
Tipped as Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group, this team of techno wizards combine humour, music and live performance into a stage show that is a must to experience. They’re also the longest running commercial stage-show from Japan to ever hit London’s west end. Check out their YouTube channel for a taste of what to expect.
When: Every day.
Yano Anna is an Aomoji-kei model affiliated with ASOBISYSTEM, the same management company as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. She’s also a singer, having combined her work with her love of anime by performing “All Over” and “Shape My Story”, the opening theme songs for Magica Wars and Stella Women’s Academy, Class C3 respectively. Don’t worry, we didn’t know what Aomoji-kei was either, so here’s what MTV81 had to say about it; “Aomoji is basically dressing the way you want as opposed to what society thinks looks good; in other words, it’s about dressing for yourself, and not for what the runway and chain shops dictate… and certainly not to please boys”.
When: Sunday – 2pm
Having had her major debut with Victor Entertainment this summer, Idol Koike Miyu will now also be making her UK debut at Hyper Japan Christmas Market. As well as a singer with seven indie singles under her belt, Miyu is also a regular talent on Japanese TV and radio shows. She’s known for her quirky sense of humour and being a something of a “Dojikko” (extremely clumsy) personality. Let’s hope she doesn’t fall off the stage!
Tamashii Taiko Drumming
When: Saturday – 8:15pm
Tamashii perform traditional and contemporary pieces using a variety of traditional Japanese rhythms while the players are allowed to explode into their own unique and colourful solos throughout the songs. The combination of uniformity and the individual freedom of expression is what give Tamashii its strength as a team and character as a performance group. The Group show that Taiko is not merely drumming, but an emotion that the whole body and mind can experience, apparently.
Nihon Buyo and Folk Music
When: Saturday – 2pm. Sunday – 10:30am
Nihon Buyo is a refined form of traditional Japanese dance and has been improved over four centuries. It has its strongest influence from Kabuki Buyo, but it was also influenced by the circular movements and props of Noh and the spinning and jumping expressions of Japanese Folk Dance. While performed independently by specialists, it is particularly known for being the style of dancing performed by geisha.
Make sure you check out the performance on Sunday, as shamisen star Hibiki Ichikawa and enka singer Akari Mochizuki will join the performance.
Of course! JPU Records will be another highlight – visit their booth throughout the event to buy and talk about music! They will also have a very special one-off clearance sale of third-party CDs. A great time to grab a bargain or just try something new.