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Experience Traditional Japanese Music With a Modern Twist

This year’s HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market offers many opportunities to explore Japan’s rich musical heritage, but with an accessible modern twist. Several acts appearing on stage take traditional genres and styles from across the centuries and bring them right up to date.

Ancient Myths and Legends497320_78490c26cbf0469e93d2f4f14879b551
Unique singer-songwriter Ekotumi is inspired by tales from Japan’s earliest history. Her ongoing project, “New Translation KOJIKI”, references Japan’s oldest existing written chronicle, the Kojiki or “record of ancient matters” which dates from the early eighth century. She takes inspiration from Japan’s ancient myths and folklore, and interprets them for a modern audience. Her soulful and carefully chosen lyrics are matched perfectly with traditional Japanese percussion instruments.

Folk Songs For The Masses

neoballad04Moving further forward in history, up to the early twentieth century, Japan saw the growth in popularity of folk songs or min’yo. These were either sung without musical accompaniment or alongside traditional instruments such as the shamisen or koto. One half of our guest performer NeoBallad, the singer Sachi Wakasa, was Japan’s national folk singing champion as a child, and together with her collaborator Wataru Kamiryo they give a modern twist to Japanese folk music with rock and techno influences.

Enka For The Modern Age

thletv1htfA little closer to the present day, the enka genre of sentimental ballads became phenomenally popular in the latter half of the twentieth century. Despite this relatively recent provenance, however, they hark back to a nostalgic view of the past, both musically and often lyrically as well. While enka were seen as unfashionable for a time, recent years have seen a new breed of younger artists bring the genre up to date, and we have two of the most exciting of these performing at the HYPER JAPAN Christmas market. J-POP sensation Misaki Iwasa has found unprecedented chart success with modern-day enka, while male trio Hayabusa channel the 1970s glory days of enka ballads in their high-energy performances.

With such an array of musical talent on offer, a visit to this year’s HYPER JAPAN Christmas market affords an opportunity to experience centuries of Japanese musical tradition in one day!