Category Archives: Entertainment

Daiko – A Taiko Performance by Warakudaiko

daiko

Warakudaiko held a performance entitled Daiko at the Edo-Tokyo Museum on November 30th, 2008. The taiko performance, which also included a Shamisen guitar piece and a brief introduction to traditional Japanese musical instruments, was a colorful and uplifting event. It was held in two exhaustive sessions comprising more than 20 pieces in total. There was even a Kotobuki Jishi dance. The Kotobuki Jishi Lion Dance is said to bring luck to any celebration and is especially lucky for those that get touched on the head by the dancing lion.

On stage there was more than music happening. Taiko is a true performance art to the Warakudaiko. The musicians are performers. They dance with their drums, switch instruments in mid-stride, pass sticks to one another as if juggling, and call out the rhythms with announcements of joy that keeps the beat moving to a vigorous pace.

The stage was alive with each song and the atmosphere was one of pure happiness as you could see the smiles of the performers as they enjoyed the beat. Mr. Miyauchi gave the stage to his students for the entire performance until the end, when they performed two encore events with him in the lead.

They ended the show with an invitation for prospective students, “If you would like to perform taiko you can join us.” The school’s website can be found at wakon.biz.

Warakudaiko was established in 1989 in Ryogoku, Tokyo by Yukihiro Miyauchi for his taiko students. Warakudaiko currently has over 40 members of differing ages and various nationalities. They perform many events including the annual Kodo Earth Celebration on Sado Island.

Mr. Miyauchi was born in Ryogoku and graduated from Tohogakuen University in 1972 with a degree in drama. After starting a career as an actor, he became a professional taiko performer in 1973. In 1986, he established his own group, Wakon. He has performed internationally both live and on television. Has been featured in commercials and dramas. He is also active as a composer, choreographer, and instructor of taiko. He also holds Japanese music instrument workshops. More information can be found at wakon.biz.

Mac “The Knife” Okuyama & Friends – dRinking buddiEs

Mac “The Knife” Okuyama brings his drinking buddies out with him on this mostly blues album with some blended rock, surf, and swing in there that is driven with some serious pickin’ and licks on the guitar. Especially, since Mac has a way with the guitar that is incredible and credits within his influences Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Those guitar greats’ influences are prominent on this album, which references them in the lyrics and even with an instrumental track titled “One for Jimi.” The album even though it seems to have such a wide range of sounds as a whole has a great flow to it and Mac covers the Guitars and shares Vocals on a couple of tracks and is backed by a number of his friends on Drums, Bass, and Harmonica, hence the name of the album, drinking buddies.

The CD comprises of 12 tracks with 3 bonus tracks for a total of 15 tracks.

Mac also has newer CDs available now…

Taken from the Max Blues Myspace page:

Mac “The Knife” Okuyama was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1971. In 1990, he went to Vancouver, Canada as an exchange student, where he fell in love with live music and started playing blues/rock guitar. His influences include: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Faces, The Rolling Stones, Tim Hearsey and the Powder Blues to name a few. After playing with several bands in Vancouver, he returned to Tokyo in late 1997. Since then, he has been a regular on the Tokyo music scene performing at several venues and festivals including the “Year of the Blues Celebration” at Roppongi Hills where he performed with Guitar Shorty and Melvin Taylor.

In April of 2006, he organized memorial concerts in memory of Eddie “ The Ed-man “ Stauffer, his former manager and friend who founded “Blues Alive”; a music production company that brought over foreign acts, such as Harmonica Shah and Matt Corcoran, to Japan. Eddie was also the man responsible for naming Mac “The Knife”. Participants in the memorial included L.A. Jones and Steve Gardner.

Mac is currently lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the blues/rock band Max Blues. He is also in Messin’ With The Blues, Tarantula sound and The Good Buzz. He can also be seen making guest appearances with Rude Boys, Inc. ( R. B. I. ), the J.J. Vicars band, SUPERFUNKTION and T.K. and the Blues Blasters and many other bands.

He also hosts the acoustic jam / open mic night at Ben’s Cafe in Takadanobaba every 3rd thursday. http://www.benscafe.com He also hosts the Max Blues jam night at Dogs Bollox in Ikebukuro every 2nd and 4th thursday of the month.

MAX BLUES launched three new CDs in August 2007. They are available at gigs. Tarantula Sound just launched their 1st CD, ” BLUE POP ROCK ” in February, 2008 and it’s available at gigs. Keep the BLUES ALIVE!!!

The New Wave of Japanese Comedy

Owarai (comedy) is one of the big entertainments in Japan now. When you turn the TV on, you will see tons of Owarai Geinins (comedians).

The most general style is called Manzai, which is basically two people talking in front of a microphone. One person is called Boke. Boke person says something stupid, and another person called Tsukkomi corrects it (sometimes slapping Boke’s head).

Another type of style is Conto, which is known for being a short comedy play.

This also has Boke and Tsukkomi, but instead of talking in front of a standing microphone, Conto adds acting and pantomime.

There are many Pin Geinins (individual comedians), too. Many of them have some sort of strong expression or catch phrase called an Ippatsu Gei. They make strong impressions doing their Ippatsu Gei. If they can survive catching the capricious Japanese people’s attention and still keep showing up on TV three years later, then maybe they are successful. The biggest competition that improves their careers is “M-I Grand prix.” This is for Manzai Geinins. R-1 Grand prix is for Pin Geinins. R comes from Rakugo, which means traditional Japanese comedy talk.

comedy.jpg

Saturday night’s at 10 PM, the show “The God of Entertainment Show” on Nippon Television, hosts many new comedians.

If you are a big fan of Owarai, then you should go to see it live. The M-1 Grand Prix and pre Grand Prix live shows are intense. The air is thick and you can feel the comedians’ tension and really understand how big an opportunity for them this contest is.

Comedy shows at Lumine the Yoshimoto in Shinjuku are frequent and more accessible.

Live shows are everyday and you get to see the comedians closer.

http://www.fandango.co.jp/lumine/index.html

And if you are really crazy for seeing popular and traditional comedy, I recommend you to see one in Osaka.