Many of you may be familiar with HYPER JAPAN veterans Hibiki Ichikawa and Akari Mochizuki, who have inspired and educated our visitors for years with their expert shamisen playing and traditional Japanese enka and minyo songs. But how much do you really know about these esteemed performers? Read on for a proper introduction to Hibiki and Akari, who will be gracing our stage again this year for the HYPER JAPAN Festival!
In the whole of the UK, Hibiki Ichikawa is the only professional player of tsugaru shamisen; a traditional 3-stringed instrument played using a large pick called a bachi. In recognition of his great skill, he has been qualified to perform under a “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa”, which is granted only to the most proficient artists. Hibiki frequently performs at festivals and formal occasions, including the Japan Matsuri in Trafalgar Square, and at the Japanese Emperor’s birthday celebrations at the Japanese Embassy, and has also participated in a theatre production at the Edinburgh Festival. He currently teaches tsugaru shamisen to over 20 students in the UK, and his lessons are gaining in popularity year on year. His 2012 album ‘Shamazing!’ can be downloaded here from iTunes!
Akari Mochizuki is from Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture. When she was 3 years old, she started singing enka (a variety of traditional Japanese music which often takes the form of sentimental ballads) thanks to the influence of her father, who was a great fan of the genre. Akari studied drama in Cambridge and modern music in London, and started working as a professional singer in 2009. She has performed as an enka and minyo (Japanese folk music) singer for numerous occasions, including WOMAD 2010 and Japan Matsuri 2009 and 2010. Akari is passionate about introducing Japan’s wonderful folk music to her audiences in the UK, and is always seeking opportunities to sing.
In summary, if you’re keen to understand more about Japanese traditional culture and music, don’t miss your chance to see this powerful double act on Friday on our HYPER Live Stage!
Check out the video below to see Akari having fun on stage along with the HYPER JAPAN crowd in 2013!