Dec 31, 2010

It's been a great year

Hikashu, 2010. From left to right: Sato Masaharu, Sakaide Masami, Mita Freeman, Shimizu Kazuto, and Makigami Koichi.

At the year's closing, I would like to express my gratitude for all the visitors.

Since August 2009, this blog has been visited from 59 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Russia, France, Italy, Canada, Brasil, Mexico, et al. Thank you all.

2010 is a great year for Hikashu fans.

As of release, we have three reissues. "1978" and "Watashi No Tanoshimi" had never reissued before, and "Ningen No Kao" had been out of print for years. Now they are back in print, as remastered edition, and welcoming addition to the catalog.

The reissue project continues to the coming year. Right now, Makigami expressed that the band is considering "Hikashu Super Two" (a compilation of singles and rare recording) and much-awaited "Uwasa No Jinrui" for 2011.

And new ones. The mastering of the "Nikoselon Three" EP is now completed and is waiting to be released on January 25, 2011. The new album is now in works too.

As of live concerts, the fuji rock appearance was absolutely splendid. They performed superbly and proved themselves again being a strong live act.

And the December concert with Inoyama Land and Kinoco Hotel was very vital and really one of a kind (Marianne Shinonome from Kinoco Hotel made a guest appearance at the Hikashu's set and provided hell of screams in "Yochu No Kiki"). The "Intimate Hikashu" concert at Yokohama Airegin was also important. It filled with improvisation and showed a refreshing approach. The regular dates at Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe were always great and never fall short of expectations from the audience.

There are already some dates announced for 2011 and we can expect them being an active live ensemble in the coming year.

Let's hope 2011 will be a fruitful year for all of us.

The AR Trio Goes To Canada

It is officially announced that АЯ will perform in Canada next spring.

АЯ (pronounced a'ya), the trio with Makigami-Bairyshev-Sato, has been performed for years and their first album "Tokyo Taiga" is just released this year on John Zorn's label, Tzadik.

Soon after released the album, they toured Altai and did 8 concert dates.

Now they became a seasoned ensemble and fans in nearby area should not miss the performance. Experience the otherworldly music from Asia.

Tour dates:

May 18, 2011 - A/B Series, Ottawa official site
May 19, 2011 - Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville official site

Makigami expressed to play more dates in Canada if possible. If you have something in mind or are interested in booking the trio, contact him via mail or twitter.

Speaking of Canada, a radio show "Délire Actuel" in Quebec selected "Tokyo Taiga" as number 10 on their "2010 Demanding Music Top 30." See here for the listing.

From their review of the album (the original entry is here):

Absolutely splendid! Released earlier this year, and overlooked, Tokyo Taiga is a gem of a record. Makigami presents a Siberian/Japanese trio of vocals, throat singing, jaw’s harp, percussion, trumpet, khaen, and delicate electronics (including a theremin). All original compositions, but you’d swear they were some kind of traditional folk music from a place cold outdoors and very warm indoors. The jaw’s harp playing is very creative and atmospheric; moving arrangements; lively melodies. For fans of Tany Tagaq and K-Space, although Tokyo Taiga is softer than either.

АЯ in Altai

Makigami and Sato tried out some instruments in Altai

Related Entry:
Makigami Koichi - Tokyo Taiga (2010)

Hikashu - Ningen No Kao (1988)

Hikashu - Ningen No Kao

1. Ningen No Kao
2. Zo Azarashi
3. Nannimo Nai Otoko
4. Tengoku O Nozokitai
5. Cryptobiosis
6. Sate No Nukumori
7. Hotoke No Deguchi
8. Hi-Ai-Ai Tou
9. Detarame Na Yubi
10. Neko Ni Roman
11. Shaka
12. Indian Ga Otozureru
13. Shikisai Wa Inishie
14. Kore Wa Boku Ja Nai

lyrics - Makigami
music - Mitama (1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 13), Nomoto (2, 4), Inoue (5, 14), Makigami (11), Sakaide (12), Hikashu (7)

Makigami Koichi - vocal, cornet, toys
Mitama Masamichi - guitar, vocal on 9, euphonium on 14
Inoue Makoto - synthesizer, piano
Sakaide Masami - bass
Nomoto Kazuhiro - alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, guitar, harmonica
Taniguchi Masaru - drums, toys

Produced by Hikashu

Originally released in 1988 on Nihon Crown Records
The remastered edition released on December 23, 2010 on Bridge Inc.

"Ningen No Kao" ["Human Faces"] is the representative work of Hikashu in the latter part of 1980s. It contains a lot of important tunes and concert favorites among the fans still today.

The four years had passed since the last album, Mizu Ni Nagashite ["Forget and Forgive"], and in the meantime, although not having a chance for recording in studio, the band performed regularly and wrote lots of new songs.

It is also the first original album with Nomoto Kazuhiro and Taniguchi Masaru as a regular member. Both started supporting Hikashu in 1983 and became full member in 1985.

Nomoto was still early 20s when he joined the band. Started to play electric guitar in high school, later in college he had an interest in improvising, switched to saxophone and played jazz. Soon after the graduation, he had an opportunity to participate a recording session with Hikashu through acquaintance and started supporting them in live concert. He quitted the band in 2002 and passed away next year.

Taniguchi was also still in 20s when he joined Hikashu, but he already an established musician then. He had been playing drums professionally since early teens. Being quite experienced both in live and studio, he contributed the band greatly. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1989.

Titles in English:

1. Human Faces
2. Elephant Seals
3. The Man of Emptiness
4. Want to Glimpse the Heaven
5. Cryptobiosis
6. The Warmness of Sate
7. The Exit of Buddha
8. Hi-Ai-Ai Island
9. The Erratic Fingers
10. The Cat and Romanticism
11. Shaka
12. Here Came the Indian
13. The Colors Are Past
14. This Is Not Me

"Ningen No Kao" is quite a lively and energetic album. And the remastering by Ono Seigen is very effective - you can hear the sounds you have never heard in the previous editions. An essential Hikashu stuff which no fan should be without.

Available worldwide via HMV Japan

Related Entry:
Tanikawa Shuntaro on "Ningen No Kao"

Dec 24, 2010

All the original members to play together for "Psychedelic Christmas"

On December 26, Hikashu will make a last appearance of this year with all the original members; Inoue Makoto, Yamashita Yasushi and Tobe Satoshi. Inoue and Yamashita have been making music together since 1977. Tobe, being retired from music after quitting the band in 1981, is going to play on stage again with his saxophone.

The special concert at year's end with the original line-up was held in 2008 and 2009, and this is the third time around. The last two times the band did a set of rarely-played numbers and this time surely going to be a memorable evening again.

December 26, 2010
"Psychedelic Christmas"
with Inoyama Land (Inoue Makoto and Yamashita Yasushi on synthesizers) and Tobe Satoshi (alto saxophone, vocal)
opening act: Kinoco Hotel
@ Daikanyama UNIT
open 17:00 - start 18:00
advance 4,000 yen - door 4,500 yen
Daikanyama UNIT website

Daikanyama UNIT

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Related Entry:
Kinoco Hotel

Kinoco Hotel

Kinoco Hotel is an all-female rock band formed in June 2007 and they are going to play at the Hikashu's concert on December 26 as an opening act. Its members are Marianne Shinonome (vocal, organ), Isabelle-Keme Kamogawa (guitar), Emmanuel Kominato (bass) and Fabienne Inawashiro (drums).

Being distinctive with its look and sound with organ and fuzz guitar, Kinoco Hotel (Kinoco means "Mushroom" in Japanese) is soon recognized as an emerging new act and landed a contract with major label, Tokuma Japan Communications. Their first album entitled "Marianne no Yuutsu" ["The Melancholy of Marianne"] was released in February 2010.

Actually, they are a concept band. All the members conceal their real identities and are playing some characters instead. The concept is that they are all working for an imaginary accomodation facility called Kinoco Hotel, which Marianne Shinonome is "the manager."

Shinonome, the leader, is known to be a fan of Hikashu so naturally she is quite motivated playing with the band.

Kinoco Hotel - "Moetsuki Taino" ("Wanna Get Fired Up") PV

Kinoco Hotel - "Mayonaka No Angel Baby" ("Angel Baby in Midnight") PV

Kinoco Hotel - "Moetsuki Taino"

Their first major TV appearance.

The album "Marianne no Yuutsu" is now available via HMV Japan.

Related Entry:
All the original members to play together for "Psychedelic Christmas"

Dec 15, 2010

Ikirukoto live in November 2010

Makigami recently uploaded a video of "Ikirukoto." It was recorded live on November 4, 2010 at Star Pine's Cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo. Currently the number is usually played at early part of their concert. On the day, It was played after the opening, lengthy improvisation of the first set.

"Ikirukoto" is the title number of the album released in 2008. On the album, its duration is about 5 minutes, but at concert, it gradually stretched as the band played it. Occasionally they played it over 15 minutes.

The composition has a sort of open-form and now also works as a vehicle of collective improvisation. That's the reason why it tends to be played extendedly.

The video quoted here represents well how the number is played at their concert, and also included some essential elements of the band's performance, which are a) collective improvisation, b) non-verbal voice performance, c) an extensive use of unconventional instruments for rock music (like toys, thermin and mouth harp), and d) a prevailing sense of humor.

4:42 - Makigami blew a mysterious kazoo-like pipe, instead of the cornet which he usually uses at the break.

5:37 - There was a public announcement (or a message of initiation) to the audience: "Welcome to our concert. Just relax, of course I know you couldn't. Probably you all embarassed being here but there is no help. Just give it up ... The door was closed and nailed! You could do nothing but sit down and listen to this thing!"

5:48 - the band started a music like matsuri-bayashi (Japanese traditional music for festivals), and along with it Makigami quoted the famous opening remark ("Jikan Kurumade Tsutome Masho" - "We'll do our best until the due time comes") of the brothers comedy team from 1960s called Toyo Hidemaru and Asahimaru.

Toyo Hidemaru, Toyo Asahimaru

6:36 - Makigami quoted a lyrics of "Tokyo Ondo," a big hit of 1933 and still immensely popular dance tune for bon odori, a popular dance for traditional summer festival in Japan (If you would like to know the dance more, see the Bon Dance Gallery). Although it was out of context here and probably he did it without any reason, the band quickly picked it up and provided a proper accompaniment. Of course it was all done spontaneously. It is a good example that everything could happen at their concert.

A dance instruction video, using Tokyo Ondo for accompaniment.

As of musical quotation, the members practice it occasionally. For instance, there was an another example from the same concert. On "Nannimo Nai Otoko" ("The Man of Emptiness"), which is a number from the "Ningen No Kao" album, Shimizu Kazuto quoted the CM music of Kani Douraku, the famous crab restraunt chain, composed by Kida Taro. Kida is a very popular composer, who is also known as "The Mozart of Naniwa." (Naniwa is a nickname of Kansai region)

Kani Doraku CM

There is another video of "Ikirukoto" in December 2007 at the band's MySpace account. It is one of the earliest performance of the composition, fairly short and no stretched improvisation. For comparison, I provide a link to the video, here. Just take a look at how Makigami moved his eyebrows at introduction.

Ikirukoto ["To Live"]
words & music - Makigami

To live
To eat
To breath
To weep

Being here unknowingly
While not having a thing to know

To detour
To slide
To knit brows
To become worn

Dabida Dabida Sharishariba
Dabida Dabida Sharishariba

To live
To move
To travel
To dream

Turn into a flower when want to cry
Turn into a wind when being dull

To mimic
To persuade
To lose understanding
To flutter

Dabida Dabida Sharishariba
Dabida Dabida Sharishariba

Dec 9, 2010

A Short Film and Solo Performance on Mouth Harp

Makigami recently uploaded a short film about mouth harp, which he made in 2001, on YouTube.

He has been playing mouth harp for over 30 years and now one of the authorities for the instrument in Japan. For instance, he played it on the first album of Hikashu, recorded in 1979. And his mouth harp solo is a regular attraction of Hikashu's concert. He even did that at Fuji Rock and got applauded.

Next week, the 69th meeting of Japan Koukin Association will be held in Tokyo, and Makigami will play the instrument for the event. (Koukin is a Japanese name of mouth harp)

He said he will bring various types of the instrument in rarity and play them, so if interested do not miss the opportunity.

Makigami Koichi solo Koukin performance
in conjunction with the 69th meeting of Japan Koukin Association
December 12, 2010
@ Emban
Koenji, Tokyo
open 18:30, start 19:00
charge 1,500 yen (with 1 drink)
Emban website (Japanese)

Koenji Emban

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Dec 6, 2010

Colour Out of Space 2008

In 2008, Makigami Koichi performed a solo set at a festival called "Colour Out of Space," held in Brighton, UK.

The performance was documented on video by the organizer of the event. There are two parts of it and the latter part just turned up recently on YouTube.

You might think some parts of the performance are in Japanese. Alas, no. This is completely non-verbal.

Theremin is really a difficult instrument to play, notoriously hard one to keep in pitch. And look how he controlled it here. Not only that, but simultaneously using his voice. I have to say this is just insanely great.

Dec 5, 2010

The Shin-Okubo Gentlemen

"Another World Of Hikashu" is a concert series which aim is to introduce various side-projects from the members to royal audience of the band. The sixth installment will be coming next week, and this time a group called the Shin-Okubo Gentlemen will appear.

So what the band sounded like? Well, it's hard to describe, because what they're doing are not solely jazz, rock or whatever. Simply put, they play various kind of music, including jazz, rock, east european music (like Klezmar) and even Hawaiian. And some of them feature vocals.

The group was formed in 1994 by Umezu Kazutoki, Shimizu Kazuto and Ohta Keisuke, et al., and released three albums. There were several changes for the band's personnel in the past and now the band is officially billed as "the third incarnation." The members for the event are:

Umezu Kazutoki (reeds, vocals)
Shimizu Kazuto (piano, bass-clarinet, vocals)
Shika Udai (cello, alto saxophone)
Sato Masaharu (percussion, voice)

You might notice that all the members have some connection with Hikashu; Needless to say, Shimizu and Sato are the members of the band, Umezu has been a frequent collaborator of them for years, and Shika is a regular participator of Makigami's Cho-Kayou concert.

Also, as always for the event, there are guests; this time are Makigami Koichi (vocal) and Oka Sawaka (dance).

Another World Of Hikashu #6:
The Shin-Okubo Gentlemen
Umezu Kazutoki (reeds, vocals), Shimizu Kazuto (piano, bass-clarinet, vocals), Shika Udai (cello, alto saxophone), Sato Masaharu (percussion, voice)
guest: Makigami Koichi (vocal), Oka Sawaka (dance)
December 8, 2010
@ Aoyama CAY, Tokyo
open 18:00, start 20:00
advance 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
Aoyama CAY website

Aoyama CAY

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The Shin-Okubo Gentlemen at Shinjuku Pit-Inn on August 13, 2010. The band played "Koshikudake -'ole i pau ka'i'ini-" a Hawaiian tune composed by Shimizu Kazuto.

Also, there are videos from the series:

Series #4: Arepos (Shimizu Kazuto and Reichi) with Sato Masaharu on percussion played "Cyfri'r Geifr," an original composition with Welsh lyrics, at Aoyama Cay on August 18, 2010.

Series #5: Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi (Sakaide Masami and Sato Masaharu) with Umezu Kazutoki (reeds) and Douguchi Yoriko (vocals) played "Jenny wa gokigen naname ["Jenny Got Moody"]," a popular number of a new-wave band called Juicy Fruits, at Aoyama Cay on October 27, 2010.

Related Entries:
Shimizu Kazuto and AREPOS
Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi Teams Up with Umezu and Douguchi

Nov 24, 2010

Hikashu and Jang Gi Ha performed "Ningen No Kao" together

Last night, the first Japanese gig of Jang Gi Ha and his company, an emerging indie act from South Korea, was held at a venue called Lush in Shibuya, Tokyo. The place was pretty packed and lively. That's always a good sign.

Hikashu was called in as guest and performed first. There were not much time so unfortunately, no stretched improvisation. But aside from that, it was dense, tightly 40+ minutes. Of course, it turned out great.

The band appeared and swiftly kicked out their set by a new, unreleased song called "Ashita Ni Kaketa" ["Taking a Chance on Tomorrow"]. It's an uplifting, mid-tempo number with many humorous word-play in its lyrics, and always works great as a starter.

The next tune was "Tengoku o Nozokitai" ["Want to Glimpse the Heaven"], a christmas song (well, sort of). In interlude, lots of christmas-related tunes were quoted one right after the other. It went kinda overplay (the time was limited) and eventually Makigami had to hold it, then the band went back to the part where it should be and completed the tune. After that, "Ikirukoto" and "Nyuunen" were performed. Somewhat shortened, but sharp as always.

Then "The Curry Master" followed. It is the featuring number of Mita Freeman, the philosopher of the group. As a preamble, Mita preached about the importance of Cardamom as an ingredient of curry, then performed it. As always, in the midst of guitar solo, he shouted "Curry!" and the song went into climax.

At this moment, introduced by Makigami, Jhang Gi Ha appeared as a guest and performed "Ningen No Kao" with the band. He must spend some time for preparation; he sang the lyrics well in Japanese and there were no misses. And so that he made the stage debut in Japan with a Hikashu's song, as Makigami noted it on the scene. That's great, indeed.

After that, the band went into "Pike" and concluded the set.

Jang Gi Ha and the Faces played about an hour. Their set was very entertaining, not exactly I anticipated, but anyway it was great. Makigami also appeared at their set briefly and performed. It seemed that Jang Gi Ha and his company had already established a strong fan base here and a bright future was awaiting them in the country also.

As for the Hikashu's set, I would say that seeing them perform is always quite an experience and the event proved it again. Their next appearance is on December 26 with all the original members. Apparently they prepare a special program for the date and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Note: A blog of Hasegawa Yohei has a photograph of Hikashu and Jhang Gi Ha in rehearsal. See here for the photo. Mr. Hasegawa is a Japanese musician who has been active in South Korea for years, and he came to Japan with them for supporting as an additional guitarist.

Related Entry:
Jang Gi Ha and the Faces invite Hikashu for their first Tokyo gig

Nov 21, 2010

Next New Release - "Nikoseron 3"

While we are anxiously awaiting for the "Ningen No Kao" reissue, it is just announced that the next new recording from Hikashu is going to be an EP, and its title track is a newly-recorded rendition of "Nikoseron."

"Nikoseron" is released for the first time as the opening and closing number of their latest album, Ten Ten Ten. Almost coincidentally with the release of the album, it was performed at their concert. It was remarkable; not only performance wise, but for the arrangement.

More precisely, the premiere performance of the composition before audience was at the Shibuya Quattro concert on December 26, 2009. From the beginning, the arrangement was considerably different; for the two studio-recorded version, the bass-clarinet of Shimizu Kazuto was prominently featured, and Sato Masaharu played mostly with brushes. Instead, at the live premiere, Shimizu settled with piano, and Sato played entirely with sticks.

At the performance, Shimizu commenced to reproduce the distinctive, sequenced rhythmic pattern with a concert grand, and subsequently he even took a solo with it. In a good sense, it was grandiose - fairly fast, but never lose or miss the rhythmic feel of the composition.

Even after that, the arrangement was changed many times - I suspect most of them are not preconceived but spontaneous - and nowadays it usually includes a drum solo but not restricted with it. For example, as I reported here before, at the Fuji Rock performance, in the concluding part of the drum solo, there was a short but memorable obliggato with bass-clarinet and cornet, and it even followed Sato singing the main melody in falsetto while playing the drums - it was incredible to see he masterfully sang the melody and kept the complicated rhythm at the same time.

It is highly likely that "Nikoseron 3" (both part 1 and 2 are on the "Ten Ten Ten" album, hence the name) has a revised arrangement, but I cannot tell it is the same with live performance. (and in the first place, which one?)

Anyway, Hikashu fans are in for a treat again.

Its release date is tentatively set on January 25, 2011, which is also Makigami's birthday. Rejoice!

Note: You could listen to the part 1 at Hikashu's MySpace account. Here.

Nikoseron (part 1)
words & music - makigami

It was yesterday evening when I became patient
Throwing questions to a fragment of transience

Stairway in station
Mails are prohibited
It must be on sunday;
to select the future

What infected was a life of inertia
Looked like being square;
inside it was rotten

Do not step on a flower in roadside
Take off your earbuds and turn the wheel

Who inflated is a genie of "before long"
Maybe it wants to catch onto the whiteness of udon*

It's nice to eat oranges
It's nice to keep walking like this also


I want to admit you
I want to absolve you

There are the seagulls above the sea, delivering prayer
It's not love
It's not peace

* udon (wikipedia) is a popular sort of noodle in Japanese cuisine.

Nov 17, 2010

Tanikawa Shuntaro on "Ningen No Kao"

Needless to say, Tanikawa Shuntaro (wikipedia) is one of the most important figure in Japanese modern poetry. And recently he made a comment on the Hikashu album "Ningen No Kao" ["Human Faces"] which is to be reissued soon. Here I translated and quoted it;

So many voices, so many sounds. The lyrics are want to cease being printed words and be naked. It seems like there are boys and grannies in the cd. Nice to listen to in a field or an alley. The cd would send out the words and the music diligently if disposed as nonburnable garbage or launched to the space by a rocket.

Tanikawa Shuntaro

The release date of the album is December 23, and HMV Japan already listed it Here.

Nov 16, 2010

"Fushigi o Mitsumete" is just re-released as a part of compilation album

various - Groovin' Showa 7

1. The Starlin - Romantist (Naked Mix)
2. Aburadako - S 60
3. S.O.B. - Ego Fix
4. Coa - Much
5. Friction - Crazy Dream
6. Totsuzen Danball - Drinco
7. P-Model - Ressha
8. Boredoms - Thalidomide Car
9. Yamamoto Seiichi and Phew - Masao No Yume
10. Hikashu - Fushigi o Mitsumete
11. Here is Eden - Memento Mori
12. Shakushain - Kill Them All
13. Omokage Lucky Hole - Sukina Otoko No Namae, Compass no Hari de Kaita
14. MiLK - Sukidake Nano Watashi Dake Sonja Nai
15. Hana Densha - Woo Rock
16. Ai Hiyo (Haino Keiji) - Sekai Wa Futari No Tame Ni
17. Moriyama Takeo - Mana

Released on November 10, 2010.

As I noted here earlier, the compilation album, which having now a kind-of-rare Hikashu track "Fushigi o Mitsumete," is just released. It is the seventh volume of the series entitled "Groovin' Showa," which is a selection of punk and new-wave tunes from the vault of Tokuma Japan Communications.

Tokuma Japan Communications is the record company which issued two Hikashu albums, "Acchi No Me, Kocchi No Me (Dazzling Eyes)" and "Orguss 02 OST," in early 1990s. Both album has been out of print for years and now hard to find. "Fushigi o Mitsumete" is the featured number from the latter album.

The song is just perfect. Pretty imaginative, lots of anticipation. Listen to it, and be impressed.

Available now via HMV Japan.

Fushigi o Mitsumete ["Watching The Wonderment"]
word - Makigami, music - Sakaide

Sometimes the world becomes mysterious,
Because of the dream which the light delivers.
Knowledge shines a light on the fragments,
But the mysteries deepen.

I want to know where it is.
You are far off in the distance,
smiling and waving to the concept called time.

To be sure, I'm watching the wonderment.

I'm stirring the world with the flat of my hand.
The vision center has been amid the fog.
The space is on the brink of going confuse,
And you are to become a little star.

The structure of living torments me.
My senses go paralyzed,
And the only thing I sensed is just you, shining.

To be sure, I'm watching the wonderment.

Jang Gi Ha & the Faces invite Hikashu for their first Tokyo gig

In November, Jang Gi Ha & the Faces, an emerging indie rock group from South Korea, will play in Japan for the first time, and they invited Hikashu for their first gig in Tokyo.

The group was formed in 2008. The first single "Cheap Coffee" was released in May from independent label and sold 14,000 copies. It was exceptional figure for indie rock scene in South Korea and the hit eventually endowed the band some prestigious awards. In February 2009, they released the first album "Living without any trouble" (available at HMV Japan) and it sold more than 40,000 copies. After having performed some rock festivals, the band is now preparing the next album.

In Japan, it is planned that their first album is to be released in November. And Jang Gi Ha, the vocalist and the leader of the band, visited Japan for the first time for promotion in August. Also, having been interested in Hikashu for years, he succeeded to attend their concert in Kichijoji.

He must be impressed. Although it was a seated event, he eventually couldn't help but standing up and dancing while the band was performing. After the concert, he met the Hikashu members, bought some CDs and got them autographed. He also expressed to invite Hikashu for their upcoming Tokyo gig and the band graciously acceded to it.

Jang Gi Ha & the Faces - Cheap Coffee

Jang Gi Ha & the Faces
guest: Hikashu
November 22, 2010
@ Shibuya LUSH, Tokyo
open 18:00 - start 19:00
adv 3,300 yen - door 3,800 yen
(one drink order minimum)
LUSH website (Japanese)

Shibuya LUSH

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Oct 27, 2010

2010 Fall Tour, upcoming gigs and releases

Tomorrow Hikashu will embark on the third (and last) tour of the year, heading for the west. See Live Schedule page for venues, directions et al. They will be back to Tokyo and perform at Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe on November 4, as the tour's final.

Also, it is planned that there is a special concert for the year's end. It will be held at Daikanyama Unit, Tokyo on December 26, and all the original members - Inoue Makoto, Yamashita Yasushi and Tobe Satoshi - will be united again. In December 2008, Hikashu with all the original members played at the very place, and that was utterly special, nearly 3-hours performance. Surely this time it will be a memorable evening as well.

Regarding the upcoming releases, it is officially announced that the next reissue will be "Ningen No Kao" ["Human Faces"]. The band has already completed the remastering process. The release date is December 23. The album was originally released in 1988 and has been dropped from catalog for years so this is welcoming reissue.

It would seem that "Fushigi o Mitsumete" ["Watching The Wonderment"] will be included in a compilation album of Japanese new-wave. The Makigami-Sakaide number was originally released as the lead track of the "Orguss 02" OST album in 1993. Unfortunately, the album is hard to find now and became very pricey. A live recording of the song was issued in "Hikashu History" but the original studio version will be chosen for the forementioned compilation. Makigami recently expressed that the OST album will be re-released in near future but there is no concrete plan for that. So maybe it is advisable to get the compilation, which is slated to be out at the end of the year. I will let you know when it is available.

And new ones - it is likely that a new release from the band will be a 3-song EP. They are still working on it, and it would be out in December if everything went smooth. We can only wait and see.

Oct 21, 2010

Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi teams up with Umezu, Douguchi and Eleonola

"Another World Of Hikashu" is a concert series which aim is to introduce various projects from the members to royal audience of the band. The fifth installment will be held next week, and this time the event features Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi, an improvisational bass and drum duo from the band's rhythm section.

The series usually brings in some guests. This time, saxophonist Umezu Kazutoki and actress Douguchi Yoriko are to make an appearance on the date. Umezu have performed with Hikashu many times in the past and Douguchi regularly plays with the Sakaide-Sato team in her uklele outfit, Paititi.

Also, the duo is to organize an event in November. It is called "RIZM" and it features a guest, Emi Eleonola.

Eleonola is known to be the front person of the band called Demi Semi Quaver, and she is just une chanteuse extraordinaire. Her singing style, which is to improvise interminably using made-up language, is something to see.

Demi Semi Quaver - Aozora (Blue Sky) PV

Another World of Hikashu #5:
Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi
Sato Masaharu (percussion, sampler, voice), Sakaide Masami (bass, laptop)
guest: Umezu Kazutoki (reeds), Douguchi Yoriko (vocal)
October 27, 2010
@ Aoyama CAY, Tokyo
open 19:00, start 20:00
advance 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
Aoyama CAY website

Aoyama CAY

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Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi presents "RIZM"
Kuro Yagi Shiro Yagi:
Sato Masaharu (percussion, sampler, voice), Sakaide Masami (bass, laptop)
guest: Emi Eleonola (vocal, accordion)
November 13, 2010
@ 3.2.8
Nishiazabu, Tokyo
open 20:00
at door 2,500 yen (one drink order minimum)
3.2.8 website (Japanese)

Nishiazabu 3.2.8

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Related Entry:
"Paititi The Movie" Premiere

Oct 19, 2010

various - ON Associates CM Works (2010)

various - ON Associates CM Works

contains 40 tracks by Makigami Koichi, Kamijo Tsunehiko, Onuki Taeko, Yoshida Minako, Yano Akiko et al.

Released on September 22, 2010

The album is a compilation which consisted of the music used for various TV advertisement, produced by a company called ON Associates.

ON Associates is a music publishing company which made a series of music which graced some of the ever-popular TV advertisement in Japan, like the first Sony Walkman ad in 1977, which is also included here. The album featured a collection of their representative works and many of the selection are not available elsewhere.

It is noteworthy that it actually contains two tracks by Makigami, "Heisei Jaran Bushi" and "100 Nara Dekiru."

"Heisei Jaran Bushi" was a commissioned piece for the TV advertisement of a travel magazine called Jaran (which is still in operation). It was also released on 3-inch CD single under Makgami's name in 1990, and has still been regularly featured on his Cho-Kayo recital. I don't confirmed for myself yet, but it is possible that the version on the compilation is edited. The advertisement itself was used to be available on YouTube for a long time but seems recently gone, unfortunately.

"100 Nara Dekiru" was used for TV advertisement of a gas product called Idemitsu 100 Gasoline. The piece is available for the first time. Having never seen the advertisement myself, I cannot tell what it is like, but according to Makigami, on the advertisement, the song was buried in the mix and almost inaudible. So we could listen to it at last.

If you are a collector, it is advisable you should get this one. Makigami recently expressed his intention for rereleasing "Heisei Jaran Bushi" but apparently the negotiation with the copyright holder was not fruitful. And it is unlikely that "100 Nara Dekiru" sees the light of day anytime soon again.

The album is now available on HMV Japan.

By the way, Makigami did a lot of TV advertisement thing, singing and narration, in the past. This one is for cold tablets, 1990.

Makigami Koichi - Tokyo Taiga (2010)

Makigami Koichi - Tokyo Taiga

1. Ano Sora
2. Chakanzirme
3. Tsumuji
4. Kak Paporotnik
5. Tundra
6. Chadaae Ba
7. Yume (Dream)
8. Makkoto
9. Bolor
10. Tokyo Taiga
11. Alkysh

1, 8 - Makigami
2, 7, 11 - Bairyshev
3 - Makigami, Sato
4, 6, 9, 10 - Makigami, Bairyshev, Sato
5 - Bairyshev, Makigami

Makigami Koichi - vocals, cornet, theremin, slike kubis
Bolot Bairyshev - vocals, altai traditional kai, topshuur, shoor, khomus
Sato Masaharu - percussion, khaen, voice
Shika Udai - cello on 5

Recorded in December 2007
Released in May 2010 on Tzadik label

Although the album is credited as Makigami solo, it is actually the first effort of the group called AЯ. AЯ is a trio of Makigami, Bolot Bairyshev from Aitai (wikipedia), and Sato Masaharu on percussion and voice.

It represents Алтай (Altai) and Япония (Japan). Also, in Russian alphabet, A is the first word and Я is the last. Makigami explained that the name of the trio also implies, to represent "everything between the two - everything between the beginning and the end".

So what is the music like? I would like to describe it as "spacious," in a good sense. The music sounds like the wind through vast plain, and there is nothing plastic here.

Although many instruments of traditional origin were used, this is not traditional music of any kind. All the composition are original written by its members, and certainly it sounds contemporary.

A partnership between Makigami and Bairyshev started in 1998. They happened to meet in a music festival in Austria and played together. They immediately hit it off, and the collaboration began. Bairyshev visited Japan in 2000 for the first time under the arrangement by Makigami, and since then he frequently came and performed in the country. In 2007 Sato joined the duo and AЯ was born.

Recently the trio toured Japan in March and April. And this summer they have just completed a tour in Altai, including a concert date in Gorno-Altaysk, the capital city of the republic.

Available via on CD and mp3

AЯ in Altai

There is a newspaper article in Altai reporting the trio's tour. Google translation is here.

Ano Sora ("The Sky")

Words & Music - Makigami

In the sky
In the sky

There was something that wandered in the sky
met a probable god here


It was written on the air above water

There was something that veered off the road
met a mere, natural pebble here

In the dream
In the dream

What a surprise
What a surprise

In the sky
In the sky

Related Entry:
The AR Trio Goes To Canada May 2011

Oct 4, 2010

Jam-Jam New-Wave '80

Recently the excerpt from a TV-program "Jam-Jam New-Wave '80" was uploaded at YouTube. It was recorded live on February 25, 1980 at Science Museum, Tokyo. Hikashu performed "At the End of the 20th Century" and then-unreleased "Shiroi Highway" (Unfortunately, Yamashita was invisible throughout the performance). After a short skit, Plastics followed, playing "Digital Watch" and "Delicious." The latter was mistakenly credited as "Top Agent Man."

"Shiroi Highway" ["White Highway"] was Hikashu's 2nd single, backed with "Puyo Puyo," released in March 1980. It was also used for TV advertisement of in-car audio system of Clarion.

The song has an interesting episode. Demanding a catchy tune for single, Toshiba-EMI immured Makigami and Mitama at a meeting room of the company's building. Struggling for a while, they squeezed out a tune, which was "Shiroi Highway".

Shiroi Highway PV

Hiraoka Masaaki and Yokohama Jazz Promenade

This Saturday Hikashu will perform at Yokohama Jazz Promenade. Their appearance of the jazz festival is second time. Last time in 2008, and it was realized upon the recommendation by the late Hiraoka Masaaki, a veteran jazz critic, and a long time supporter of the band.

Hiraoka was born in Tokyo in 1941. Engaged in student activism, he dropped out the college (where he majored in Russian literature) and started writing. His first book, entitled "the Tatars Manifesto," was published in 1964. In 1968, he wrote a book "Jazz Manifesto" and went into jazz criticism. Being a charismatic figure , he also had been a high-profile individual as a new-left activist in 1970s.

Basically he had been regarded as a music critic (mainly jazz) but he actually covered a vast genre of culture and show-business in general. In particular, he liked to treat so-called outpost artist and expression. Having been a prolific writer throughout his career, he authored over 120 books.

His connection with Hikashu started in 1981. That year the band released the 3rd album, "Uwasa No Jinrui" [The Human Being]. It was met with harsh criticism by Nakamura Toyo, an influential music critic. Hiraoka strongly disagreed with Nakamura's assertion and spoke very highly of the album. Shortly after that, Hiraoka formed a relationship with the band and even toured together in 1984. In 1990s he moved to Yokohama and engaged in various regional events including Yokohama Jazz Promenade. He passed away with cerebral infarction in 2009.

I saw him in person once. It was the Hikashu's set at Yokohama Jazz Promenade in 2008. He seated in the front row, with his wife, seeing the band performing with smile. He looked pretty contented. I will return to the same venue this weekend, and it will surely bring back the fond memories for me.

October 9, 2010
Yokohama Jazz Promenade
@ Kannai Hall
19:20 - 20:20
advance - 4,000 yen, at door - 5,000 yen (for one day admission of the festival)

YJP Official Site

Kannai Hall Yokohama

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Sep 11, 2010

Four Interesting Gigs on the Same Day

It is called unfortunate. As I reported here earlier, on september 18, there will be held an film premiere which Makigami and Sakaide are to perform. But the event coincides with another *three* Hikashu-related gigs in Tokyo. So everybody have to make a tough decision on the day.

First, there will be an duo performance of Makigami Koichi and Shimizu Kazuto. It is a part of an event called Ftarri Doubtmusic Festival. As far as I know, as a duo, they have never performed together before, so it will be surely interesting. Fortunately, their appearance is scheduled around 15:30, so it's not the same time with the other gigs.

On the same day, Sato Masaharu will perform as "Hari Usagi," a unit with Saga Yuki. Saga is a singer and improviser who performed at Jazz Art Sengawa this year. Hari Usagi, which means "spiny rabbit", is to play various kinds of music, from nursery rhyme to free-form improvisation.

Last but not least, Inoyama Land will make a rare appearance on the day. They performed a 30 minutes set at the Hikashu concert last month and it was splendid. There are three units scheduled on the gig. The first appearance is a unit called "Highleads Missions." It is consisted with Inoue and a drummer, Tomoda Shingo, who was also a support member of Hikashu in 1983.

Makigami Koichi + Shimizu Kazuto
as a part of "Ftarri Doubtmusic Festival"
September 18 (Saturday)
@ Super Deluxe
Roppongi, Tokyo
open 14:00 start 15:00
4,000 yen (advance), 4,500 yen (at door) plus one drink minimum

3 days ticket available
See here for festival details.
Super Deluxe Site

Roppongi Super Deluxe

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Hari Usagi
Sato Masaharu (percussion, voice), Saga Yuki (vocal, keyboard)
September 18 (Saturday)
@ Field
Shinagawa, Tokyo
open 18:00 start 18:30
2,500 yen plus one drink minimum

Shinagawa Field

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"Ino To Yama"
Highleads Missions: Inoue Makoto (synthesizer), Tomoda Shingo (percussion)
Ambient Store: Yamashita Yasushi (synthesizer), Sekiguchi Takashi (synthesizer)
Inoyama Land: Inoue Makoto (synthesizer), Yamashita Yasushi (synthesizer) with guest Taguchi Fumihito
September 18 (Saturday)
@ Emban
Koenji, Tokyo
start 19:00
2,000 yen

Koenji Emban

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Related Entry:
"Paititi The Movie" Premire

"Paititi The Movie" Premiere

On September 18, there will be held a premiere event of the film "Paititi The Movie" in Shibuya, Tokyo. It is a documentary film of Paititi, a musical ensemble of uklele formed by Douguchi Yoriko (wikipedia), an actress, and Ishida Hidenori, a film creator. Makigami Koichi and Sakaide Masami from Hikashu made some appearances on the film and they will perform at the event as a guest.

Douguchi is an actress who has a long and prolific career in film and television. After having had a cervical cancer (wikipedia), she has also been an activist, serving to ignite social awareness of the disease.

Douguchi started to play uklele in 1999 and, in the same year, she formed Paititi with Ishida. They released a single in 2007 and an album in the following year.

Sakaide and Sato Masaharu from Hikashu went to play with Paititi as a support musician circa 2007. The group also did an opening act at the Hikashu's gig in June 2008, which Makigami and Sakaide joined as a guest, and they performed "Pike."

Paititi on MySpace

"Paititi The Movie" Trailer

Sakaide appears at 1:13.

"Paititi The Movie" Premiere + Paititi Live
guest: Makigami Koichi
September 18 (Saturday)
@ Uplink Factory
Shibuya, Tokyo
open 18:30 start 19:00
charge: 3,000 yen (plus one drink order minimum)

The event is to reserve a seat via e-mail. For information, see here (Japanese).

Uplink Factory

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Aug 29, 2010

32 years ago today

On August 29 1978, Hikashu made a stage debut at Raoya, a free jazz joint in Kichijoji.

Having spent a month to rehearse, the quintet took on stage and played some originals including "20th Century" "Losing My Future" and "Weeping For The Earth" (an unreleased composition written by Mitama). They also played covers of Devo and Kraftwerk.

Shortly after that, Raoya renovated itself as a restaurant of indian cuisine which offered live ethnic music, under the management of Wakabayashi Tadahiro (profile). Wakabayashi was a friend of the band, a member of the first Hikashu (later called Pre-Hikashu; I plan to write an entry about it) and actually he played a sitar on Hikashu's first album. He later became an authority and renowned educator in ethnic musical instruments. Raoya is sadly now defunct, closed circa 2000.

Having encouraged by positive reactions, the band went on to make a demo tape, which was later released as "1978".

According to the liner note of the 1978 album, Makigami still have the recording of the gig. Maybe someday it will see the light of day. We can only hope.

Related Entry:
Hikashu - 1978 (1996)

Aug 19, 2010

Every Package Is Unique

On August 20, the reissue of "Watashi No Tanoshimi" ("My Pleasure") will be finally out. There is something unique about the release so here I will explain it.

First of all, there is no identical package about the release. The reissue reproduced the stamped cover of the original. The stamps were affixed on cardboard jacket by hand work so there are no identical copies of each package.

And there is two kind of the disc itself. One featured a picture of planet earth on its label and the other is the moon. And you cannot distinguish which one is inside, from the package. Even the matrix number is the same. So you have to open the seal to find out the picture of the disc inside.

Initially, there would have been one kind of the disc, and it would have been one of the first double-sided picture cd, just as the original. The original vinyl release was a picture disc; side A featured a photo of planet earth, and side B was the moon. The former was called Earth Side and the latter Moon Side, and it is planned that the reissue is to reproduce it exactly.

It seemed to be difficult to print anything on the readable surface of compact disc because it may interrupt picking up the laser signal.

Actually, it is possible now, thanks to the advancement of technology. But quality-wise, there must be still some problems. Because apparently the band tried it but not satisfied with the result. So they decided to abolish the idea and take a different approach.

Anyway, it is minor problem and the fact remains that this release is a must-have for fans; Two unreleased bonus-tracks are added, some tracks are restored in full form which originally edited down in the vinyl due to the physical limitation, and the sound itself is entirely remastered from the original 1/4 master tape with 5.6MHz DSD technology and significantly improved. And in the first place, picture vinyl has generally not the best sound quality.

There are some interesting facts about the album. Fortunately, the reissue comes with the long interview of Makigami and Inoue as a liner note and it is very informative. Based on it, I plan to write an another entry about the album anytime soon.

HMV Japan now accepts pre-order worldwide. See here for details.

Related Entry:
The Reissue of "Watashi No Tanoshimi"

Aug 14, 2010

Shimizu Kazuto and AREPOS

As reported here earlier, this year Hikashu has started a concert series entitled "Another World of Hikashu." It is a showcase event which aim is to introduce the member's solo activities to the Hikashu audience. The concert #4 is coming next Wednesday and it is a turn of Shimizu Kazuto.

Shimizu started his career as a support member of Shingetsu, a progressive rock band, in late 1970s. Around the time he also participated in sessions of free jazz musicians like Takayanagi Masayuki. After then, he played with the bands like Chakra, Killing Time, OU, Shakushain, Semba Kiyohiko Group et al. Also, he has been active as a composer and session musician.

In 1990, he released a solo album "yet somehow..." which is reissued last year and now available worldwide via HMV Japan (the product information page is here).

Here are some of the groups he currently involved as a regular: Precambrian Clarinet Quartet, the Sleepwalkers and Shin-Okubo Gentlemen. He joined Hikashu in 2003.

AREPOS is a group which Shimizu formed with vocalist Reichi in 1988. Its name is after a latin palindrome, SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS (wikipedia).


Anton Webern, the composer, had some peculiar obsession with the phrase and it is inscribed on his gravestone. (See here for details).

The music of AREPOS is just beautiful music with beautiful singing, with twists of their own. Although Shimizu is a multi-instrumentalist and Reichi is also a transcendent drummer, as for AREPOS, they concentrate on piano and vocal, respectively. They have released four albums; AREPOS (1989), Kokodake No Hanashi (1995), Aoi Flask (1999) and other Colours (2005).

Please note: Spiral Hall, which houses CAY, now closed until August 15, so if you make a call, wait until the day after tomorrow.

Another World Of Hikashu #4: AREPOS
Shimizu Kazuto (piano), Reichi (vocal)
with guest, Sato Masaharu (percussion)
August 18, 2010
@ Aoyama Cay
open 19:00, start 20:00
advance 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
Aoyama CAY website

Aoyama CAY

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Related Entries:
Lu Inchi - the first time in 24 years
Makigamisantachi and Ru-Inchi

Aug 2, 2010

Fuji Rock Festival 2010: Fanfare Of Joy

Hikashu did an hour set at Orange Court on July 30. It was a dense, special and highly energized performance. They nailed down the audience quite literally. As of weather, there were some worries; the forecast told it would rain around the noon. Fortunately, occasionally got clouded, there was no raining during their stage.

It was different from the beginning. As always, the band started by improvising. The difference was its length and style. Unlike thoughtful and lengthy improvisation of their regular opening, it was fairly short, about a minute and half, and its sound was so aggressive. At that moment, it was clear that the band had the intention to take an unusual approach and try to utilize the oppotunity to the fullest. While the rest of the band were careful and subdued playing, Sato Masaharu battered the sharp, thundering shots and Makigami Koichi hit a series of high note on his cornet. It sounded like a fanfare.

After a swift decrescendo, Mita Freeman abruptly started cutting his guitar at high volume. It was the opening codes of "Alternative Sun". The band quickly reacted and the audience acclaimed. It was an appropriate choice; not only the song bears a strong driving feel but also it is the opening track of their 2nd album called "Natsu," which means, summer.

The next tune was "Ikirukoto." As always, it worked as a vehicle of collective improvisation inbetween and the audience exposed to the intermissive performance of unrelenting imagination. In "Nyuunen," Mita, the other frontman of the group, was moving around in the west wing of the stage; he kicked, jumped and made a face to the audience while taking a guitar solo. The piano-bass-drums interplay in the interludes of "Digital Frankenstein" was acute and sharpening as ever.

"Carp and Gaspaccio," the number I wanted to hear the most in the festival, was rightfully picked. An open-air stage under the hot sun of summer makes the perfect situation for the latin song in middle tempo. Mita did a series of aggressive actions again during a guitar solo. In latter part of the song, Shimizu Kazuto executed a comping with latinized syncopation, and upon it Makigami played the brisk notes with his cornet. It was so beautiful to listen to the mariachi sound in the mountain plateau.

From the latest album, "Nikoseron" was chosen and it was considerably extended. The funk number has been featured a drum solo since last May, and this time it incorporated soli of drums, bass clarinet and bass guitar, in that order. In the middle of the bass solo, Shimizu on bass clarinet and Makigami on cornet started to play a simple phrase in unison as obbligato, and while Shimizu was away from electric piano, Sato sang the main melody (and its variations) of the composition in falsetto while keeping the complicated rhythm. The transition was so smooth that it was beyond all recognition how much it was prepared or improvised from scratch.

Then the biggest surprise of the day came. After "Nikoseron" was finished, the members gathered around the drum riser and discussed something for a while. Presumably a point of agreement was reached and Makigami announced "the next song we play called "Yokisenu Ketsugo" ("The Unexpected Unification")." It was a song from the "Uwasa No Junrui" ("The Human Being") album, released in 1981, and probably it was for the first time that the current formation of the band play that tune. Of course there was no marimba but, except for that, the arrangement they have played retained almost the same elements as the original. The band played it fast, Mita screamed and Sato took a drum solo; it was utterly impressive.

The time had come for that signiture song. Sakaide Masami took a step forward, suddenly strummed his bass with heavily distorted sound for a minute, then stopped and asked "Do you know this thing?" And he backed to take a solo, this time it was the manic bass line of "Pike". After a chorus, the band ignited with the whole thing. The fast number was truly a killer, the ever crowd pleaser and this time was no exception.

The last tune was "Puyo Puyo." Sakaide launched that persisting line and it filled the area. Makigami handed the microphone and roamed around while singing. Next to him, Mita continuously portrayed the lyrics; he played a sicken, a preacher and an amorphous creature, et al. Later Makigami laughed, cried and screamed while the band making a crescendo, and at its end, he fell down to the floor.

Although it had to be a sort of digested form due to the time constraint, the band showed their essentials. They improvised, showed a sense of humor and tried to communicate with the audience. Makigami took a mouth harp solo and executed throat singing. At the quieter moments, Mita occasionally rubbed a pink plastic bag to the microphone and practiced a musique concrète of his own. The rhythm section was tight and flexible as usual.

It was a success; Hikashu proved themselves again they could treat superbly with a bigger stage. Hopefully there will be a chance to see the band at the similar situation again in near future.

The Japan Times has a short comment for the performance
That's 'pataphysics for you

The official website of Fuji Rock Festival carries some photos
Fuji Rock Express

Related Entry:
Fuji Rock Festival 2010