Dec 19, 2013

The Plastics announced line-up and set list on December 23

The Plastics - from left to right: linda dada, Shima Takemi, 
Nakanishi Toshio, Sakuma Otoya, Tachibana Hajime

The Plastics just announced that line-up and set list for the double-bill concert with Hikashu on December 23, 2003 at Daikanyama UNIT, Tokyo.

Of course, all the original member will be present - except Chika. Unfortunately, she'll not be there. And her replacement is linda dada, a vocalist and drummer from a band called N' Ninagawa Boys. Moreover, Sakuma Otoya, a son of Sakuma Masahide, will join as a keyboard player. Also there are several supporting musicians.

The Plastics:

Nakanishi Toshio - vocals, guitar
Tachibana Hajime - guitar
Sakuma Masahide - keyboard, guitar
Shima Takemi - rhythm box, guitar
Sakuma Otoya - keyboard
linda dada - vocals


Yamakawa Fuyuki - khoomei
Hayashi Mio - oboe
momo - keyboard

Sakuma Masahide

linda dada

The Plastics are supposed to play over one hour. The set list is as follows:

02. COPY
07. GOOD
10. INST
12. CARS
      and others

How about this? Quite interesting. And as for Hikashu's set, Umezu Kazutoki will join on saxophone.

So on this gig, you will probably see four groups - The Original Hikashu featuring Makigami Koichi on bass and vocals (they'll play first), The Plastics, Hikashu with Umezu Kazutoki, and naturally, all the musicians will be back to play together for encore. What they will actually play is anyone's guess.

So now you know it's destined to be once in a lifetime thing. Do not miss it.

The Plastics and Hikashu circa 1980 (source: Inoue's twitter)

Dec 14, 2013

There will be another release this month, in time for christmas

Hear, hear. Besides "Bankan" (that's utterly exciting - go buy a copy if you don't yet), Hikashu has prepared another release this month for us mere mortals. It's called "Chakra Biraki" [Chakra Opening], a sort of mini-album which has five tracks (about 25 minutes), and features dynamic sisters duo Charan Po Rantan on the first two tracks. The release date is December 25.

Prior to the release date, this disc will be sold at the Christmas concert on December 22 and 23 at Daikanyama Unit, Tokyo. Get while it's hot.

HMV Japan takes pre-order and ships worldwide. See here for details.

Dec 10, 2013

Bankan artwork and tracklist

Hikashu - Bankan

1. Me to Me no Net [Eyes and the Net]
2. Nanoka Douka [Is That It, or Not]
3. Nabokov no chou [Nabokov's Butterflies]
4. Niwatori Tonda [Chickens Fly]
5. Inori No Color [The Color of Prayer]
6. Nyoki Nyoki Haetekita [Sprouting Up]
7. Ningen Ni Kaeritai [Rehumanize]
8. Moshi Moshi ga [If and If]
9. Mijime Na Puppet [A Miserable Puppet]
10. Mienai Kankei (Juden Shiteru) [Invisible Relationship (It's charging)]
11. Sonotsumori [With That Intention]

duration: 53' 56"

Makigami Koichi - vocals, theremin, cornet, shakuhachi, jaw harp
Mita Freeman - guitar, chorus
Sakaide Masami - bass, chorus
Shimizu Kazuto - piano, synthesizer, bass clarinet, marimba
Sato Masaharu - drums, chorus

At last! Hikashu new album will be released on December 12, 2013 as scheduled. Go buy it.

Now HMV Japan takes preorders and ships worldwide. here

Nov 27, 2013

Makigami Koichi will perform in New York City next month

In december, Makigami Koichi will join Mori Ikue's weeklong performance at the Stone NYC as a special guest. He'll sit in for two date, December 17 and 18. Just check it out if you're nearby.

Makigami Koichi and John Zorn at the Stone on August 1, 2007

The Stone website

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Nov 18, 2013

Why the Christmas Concert is more than just a must-see

The other day the official flyer for Bankan Christmas, a 2-day special concert of Hikashu held in coming December, went public. It has an accompanying text, probably penned by Makigami, which is very interesting (the explanation follows):

That's exactly BANKAN;
On the way to the Izaac shrine by foot,
carelessly we just dropped in a place,
where it had Nabokov's Butteflies, index cards, and a buttered typewriter.
All of sudden, a curater went to say,
how about watching a movie.
And what the movie depicted splendidly,
the history of techno-pop,
and the chance encounter of Hikashu and the Plastics,
likening them to the birth of Mothra and the affair of Mr. Snowden.

The dreamlike two days are going to happen this year.
It must be a gift from Santa Claus.

That's quite incredible;
The original line-ups of Hikashu and the Plastics will be reunited.
And the huge fête of Hikashu songs with the wonderful cast.
This is Bankan Christmas!

First, the reference of the mysterious place: actually it's the Nabokov Museum in Sankt Petersberg where the band dropped in on the way of their Russia-Lithiania Tour in 2012. They also saw a documentary film about Nabokov's hobby, butterfly collecting, upon the recommendation of the curator. And regarding the reference of Mr. Edward Snowden, Makigami has expressed his concern about the whole affair, recognizing how important the problem is and should be treated as such.

Then what's "the chance encounter" of Hikashu and the Plastics?

This is the fact: on one evening of summer in 1979, Makigami Koichi went to a radio station in Tokyo to meet Chikada Haruo for the first time. Chikada, an influential musician and producer, had listened to the Hikashu's demo (which is later issued as "Hikashu 1978"), and already showed his interest to produce the band's record. The meeting was amicable and everything went smooth.

And at the same room, Tachibana Hajime and Shima Takemi, both from the Plastics, happened to be there. They've never met before, but for some reason or other, started chatting and soon became friends. There was something common between two groups - both having no drummer and using rhythm box instead, and willing to make something new and unique. It was a fateful encounter indeed.

And, yes, there was a strong bond between the two groups even before the beginning of so-called techno-pop movement.

The Plastics

That's why the concert is so special. The original line-up of Hikashu and the Plastics will be united and perform in public, sharing the same stage. All the things considered, it's very unlikely that this thing will happen again, especially Mr. Sakuma, the synthesizer player and musical director of the original Plastics, has been diagnosed cancer, taken some operations, and already expressed his intention to refrain from performing in public. So do not miss this thing, go get tickets (now available), since it will surely be a unforgettable, lifetime event for all of us.

Makigami Koichi, and Momo from Charan Po Rantan, taken in October. 
Note the white marbles on the Go boards read HIKASHU.(ヒカシュー)

Related Entry:

Special Christmas Concert with a Lot of Guests, including the Plastics

December 22, 2013
"Hikashu's Christmas Operation"
@ Daikanyama UNIT
Daikanyama, Tokyo
Guests: Charan Po Rantan, Marianne Shinonome (from Kinoco Hotel) on vocals, Sakata Akira on saxophone, Kera (from Uchoten) on vocals, Inoue Makoto on synthesizer, Ohta Keisuke on violin, and others.
open 18:00 - start 19:00
adv 4,000 yen

December 23, 2013
"Techno-Pop Christmas"
@ Daikanyama UNIT
Daikanyama, Tokyo
Guests: Inoue Makoto, Yamashita Yasushi, Tobe Satoshi (all from the original line-up of Hikashu), the Plastics.
open 18:00 - start 19:00
adv 4,000 yen

venue information (Time Out Tokyo)

Daikanyama UNIT, Tokyo

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Nov 15, 2013

Christian Fennesz has dropped out of the Japan tour with FOOD

Unfortunately, Christian Fennesz had to cancel the tour with FOOD due to injury.

On November 14, Mr. Fennesz accidentally hurt his back and diagnosed as herniated disc. Currently he has been hospitalized in Vienna and cannot come to Japan as scheduled.

Makigami Koichi, the organizer, has announced that the tour will be carried out without Fennesz.

Get well soon, Mr. Fennesz.

Nov 9, 2013

An Evening with Lillies and Remains

For some reasons, November sees only one gig of Hikashu, and it's a double-bill gig with Lillies and Remains.

Lillies and Remains is a rock band formed circa 2007. Although being a new comer, the band has already a strong fan base.

LaR covered Pike, Hikashu's old favorite, on their latest album, Re/composition. Probably that's the reason why this gig was proposed in the first place.

Surely LaR will play Pike at the gig, and so do Hikashu. Don't miss it.

November 11, 2013
@ La Mama
Shibuya, Tokyo
other act: Lillies And Remains
open 18:00 - start 18:30
adv 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
(one drink order minimum)

La Mama, Shibuya, Tokyo

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Oct 23, 2013

New Album is slated for December

Hikashu at World Happiness 2013, Yumenoshima Park, Tokyo on August 11, 2013.

It's official. Hikashu's new album, entitled "Bankan," will be released on December 12, 2013.

It looks like the editing has been completed. And the album is now in process of mixing, which is handled by Marc Urselli at his main workplace, Eastside Sound of New York City. Mr. Urselli also engineered the recording session of the album, as well as the band's last effort, Uragoe.

Several numbers from the album have been premiered at recent gigs. All those were quite impressive, and having listened to those tunes, the album seems to be very eclectic, and still Hikashu-esque. They are beyond category, indeed.

As the band's other works, the album is very likely to be available worldwide via HMV Japan. At this time, the record store has still not had a dedicating webpage about it, but we will let you know the information as soon as possible when available, so stay tuned.

Oct 22, 2013

Alexei Aigui reigned - The Reunion with Hikashu took place again, this time in Japan

Hikashu and Alexei Aigui, after the gig at La Mama of Shibuya, Tokyo on October 13, 2013.

This month, Alexei Aigui, a prominent violinist and composer from Moscow, has spent a few weeks in Japan. And he has proved himself again being an energetic improviser.

Most of the dates he played with a fellow violinist Ohta Keisuke, but only one day, he sat in the two separate gigs of Hikashu which took place in Yokohama and Tokyo. Actually, they have played together before -- in 2011 and 2012 -- so this is the third time for them, and the first time ever in Japan (the former two occasions were held at the prestigious DOM Cultural Center of Moscow). Needless to say, his playing was a full of energy, and well-blended with the band's sound overall.

The afternoon show was held at a place called Yokohama News Harbor. Being contrary to its name, it's not a harbor - even not being seaside. The place is located a business district of Yokohama, the city with long history and has been known as "the Birthplace of Jazz in Japan." (there's no evidence, of course). Anyway, it is a neat, high-ceiling, 200-seat hall, occupied the entire ground floor of an office building, which is actually the property of a local TV station. Their show was started at 16:00, and the place was packed.

The show was organized as a part of the event called Yokohama Jazz Promenade, which could be described as "a just another conservative jazz festival" in general. So Hikashu was quite an anomaly. The people gathered expecting some fine, smooth music, and what the band including Mr. Aigui started to supply was, as usual, collective improvisation. In fact, their performance alienated many of the audience, and some of them actually fled soon. What a pity. May those poor souls retrieve their precious inner-peace.

Anyway, the highlight of the set was a short but impressive duo performance of Aigui and the pianist Shimizu Kazuto. Shimizu took a bit different approach: He started with a bouncy, highly rhythmical phrases, like boogie-woogie, and Aigui immediately followed. Soon the things were getting abstact - They went out to do some verse exchanges. Shimizu trot out a succession of short fragments in different tempi, and Aigui responded beautifully. It was quite splendid - so many colors and textures of sounds, like a kaleidoscope.

After the set, soon they departed Yokohama, heading for Shibuya, which is one of the busiest districts in Tokyo. It takes an hour by train, although they moved by road. It was a middle of consecutive holidays so roads tend to be crowded. Fortunately, they didn't late.

The late show was held at La Mama, a small but established venue located in Shibuya. The gig was started with a duo of Mr. Aigui and the drummer Sato Masaharu. During a lengthy dialogue via instruments, other members went on bandstand one by one, each started to play, then things were getting bigger and bigger. Finally reaching a high point, and everybody swiftly moved into the opening number, Wave the Brush, Mr. Beyond.

Throughout this set, Mr. Aigui was appointed as a featured soloist. He took his duty and acted accordingly. Actually, his play was quite accomplished, indeed. They were really together, and clearly demonstrated that there's no barrier in music if things are appropriate.

Overall, it was a memorable experience, two wonderful sets in a row. Fortunately, Mr. Aigui plans to visit Japan again, possibly next spring. So it's highly likely that the reunion of him and the band will take place again pretty soon, and we all surely look forward to the day.

Ohta Keisuke, Alexei Aigui, Makigami Koichi at Genron Cafe, Tokyo.

Oct 16, 2013

Special Christmas Concert with a Lot of Guests, including the Plastics

Hikashu has been holding a special concert in every December since 2008. And this year, the things really get bigger - two days (22 and 23 of December), with lots of guest artists, including the Plastics, with the original line-up.

The first date has lots of guests, and its roster is quite impressive. Charan Po Rantan, Marianne Shinonome (from Kinoco Hotel), veretan avant-garde reedman Sakata Akira, Kera (from a renowned new-wave band, Uchoten), the Godzilla Legend founder Inoue Makoto (who is also the original member of Hikashu), violinist Ohta Keisuke (who has just released a duo album with Alexei Aigui), and others.

And the second date, billed as "Techno Pop Christmas," features the original line-ups of the two bands - Hikashu , and the Plastics. The original Hikashu (with Inoue Makoto and Yamashita Yasushi, both on synthesizers, and Tobe Satoshi on alto saxophone) is going to play a short set as an opening act, sans drummer, using rhythm machine instead, like old days. And the Plastics. They have reunioned several times in the past, but the reunion of the original line-up, including Chika on vocals and Shima Takemi on rhythm box, have never happened before, and this is for the first time.

So now you know these evenings are going to be monumental, so do not miss it.

Charan Po Rantan

Marianne Shinonome (from Kinoco Hotel)

 Sakata Akira

Ohta Keisuke


December 22 and 23, 2013
@ Daikanyama UNIT
Daikanyama, Tokyo
open 18:00 - start 19:00
adv 4,000 yen

venue information (Time Out Tokyo)

Daikanyama UNIT, Tokyo

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Makigami Koichi will appear in Jyderup, Denmark late this month

Apparently people in Denmark favors Makigami Koichi so much, because they have invited him to their beautiful country three times in this year.

Makigami Koichi will appear at the event called ACCORDEON TRÆF (Accordeon hit) which will be held in Jyderup, Denmark late this month.

It's still unknown to us what it is all about exactly because its official site is written in Danish (of course), but it looks like a weeklong series of lecture or workshop about art, held at Jyderup University. The line-up of the lecturer is quite impressive - Wadada Leo Smith, Joel Futterman, Kidd Jordan, Mat Maneri, Randy Peterson, and others. And Makigami is one of them as well.

The event begins on October 28 and closes on November 2. We don't know if they still accept applications, so if you are interested, try to contact them via website.

Official website

Official website (in English via Google Translate)

Oct 7, 2013

FOOD (Iain Ballamy, Thomas Strønen) featuring Christian Fennesz Japan Tour 2013

November 15 - Christian Fennesz had to cancel the tour due to injury. See here for details.

Makigami Koichi organized a Japan tour of Food, the unit of improvised music which is consisted of Iain Ballamy on saxophone and Thomas Strønen on percussion, in November. The guest for the tour is Chrstian Fennesz, the guitarist who is also known as a collaborator of Sakamoto Ryuichi. Makigami himself will join the performance for some dates.

The dates are as follows:

November 15 - Roppongi Super Deluxe, Tokyo
November 16 - Coo, Sapporo
November 19 - Zo No Hana Terace, Yokohama
November 20 - Tokuzo, Nagoya
November 22 - Soma, Osaka
November 23 - Assembly Hall, Osaka University
November 25 - Rag, Kyoto

This is the second time for them to tour Japan. Last tour, which was held in autumn 2011, their distinctive sound was quite appreciated by even keen audiences for electric jazz. The participation of a noted guitarist Christian Fennesz is interesting as well.

Food's newest release is an album called "Mercurial Balm" on German ECM label.

November 15, 2013
@ Super Deluxe
Roppongi, Tokyo
other act: Kafka Ken (Jim O'Rourke - guitar, Ishibashi Eiko - keyboard, Yamamoto Tatsuhisa - drums)

Super Deluxe, Roppongi, Tokyo

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November 16, 2013
@ Coo
open 18:30 - start 19:00
adv 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
contact: NMA tel 011-742-3458

Coo, Sapporo

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November 19, 2013
@ Zouno Hana Terrace [Elephant's Nose Terrace]
tel 045-661-0602 - fax 045-661-0603

Zouno Hana Terrace, Yokohama

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November 20, 2013
@ Tokuzo
open 18:30 - start 19:30
adv 4,000 yen - at door 4,500 yen
Ticket Pia code 213-256

Tokuzo, Nagoya

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November 22, 2013
@ Soma
Open 19:00 - start 19:30
other acts: Mayonaka [Midnight] (Makigami Koichi - voice, Janmah Shimamura - guitar), Oorutaichi + Utamo
tel 06-6212-2253 fax 06-6212-2254

Soma, Osaka

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November 23, 2013
@ Assembly Hall
Toyonaka Campus
Osaka University, Osaka
Open 16:30 - start 17:00
reference: Musicologist Office, The School of Literature, Osaka University

Toyonaka Campus, Osaka University

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November 25, 2013
@ Rag
Open 18:00 - start 19:30
adv 4,000 yen - at door 4,500 yen
other act: Mayonaka [Midnight] (Makigami Koichi - voice, Janmah Shimamura - guitar)

Rag, Kyoyo

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Oct 6, 2013

Aoyama Shock Fes.

Next day after the Yokohama-Shibuya gigs, Hikashu will perform at a festival called Aoyama Shock Fes. It's held at a club called Moonromantic of Aoyama, Tokyo, and their appearance will be last, starts at 21:05.

The fes is showcase event organized by the venue, and the line-up is surely interesting. Curiously, there is no so-called "veteran act" except Hikashu. Anyway, it's a nice opportunity to experience for yourself the great diversity of music scene in Tokyo at very afforable price so should not be missed.

October 14, 2013
"Aoyama Shock Fes."
@ Moonromantic
(Tsuki Miru Kimi wo Omou)
Aoyama, Tokyo
Acts: Hikashu, Skirt, Kan Roy + Wada Ei, Ohmori Yasuko and the Pink Tokaref, Bricorage, Twi, and others
open 15:00 - start 15:30
(Hikashu 21:05-21:50)
2,500 yen

Moonromantic (Tsuki Miru Kimi wo Omou), Aoyama, Tokyo

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Two Shows A Day with Alexei Aigui

Alexei Aigui, a violinist and composer who has been active in Moscow and Paris, will come to Japan this month, and play two gigs with Hikashu on October 13, which will be held in Yokohama and Tokyo on the same day.

Mainly he will tour with a colleague, violinist Ohta Keisuke (who has played with Hikashu, by the way), and additionally, plan to do two gigs with the band as well.

This is the first time for them playing together in Japan, although they actually have done it before, even twice. The precedent two gigs were held at the prestigious DOM cultural center, which has been the central place for advanced music in Moscow, in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Both times it turned out utterly fruitful, so it's highly likely that the collaboration this time will be quite interesting as well.

The first, afternoon gig will be held a venue called Yokohama News Harbor as a part of the musical event called Yokohama Jazz Promenade. This annual festival has been known for its conservative policy, but Hikashu have been booked for last 6 years successively. And you need not to worry. Hikashu play what they would like to, no matter what the policy is.

After the Yokohama gig, the band (with Mr. Aigui) will swiftly move to Shibuya, Tokyo. The venue of the second gig is La Mama of Shibuya, Tokyo. The opening act is Inukami Circus Dan, which is also an interesing band under the influence of Gothic culture, with Japanese twist.

For your information, it takes an hour between Yokohama and Shibuya by train. Therefore, it's not difficult to witness both shows, which is ardent fans already plan to do. So let's ride a wonderful trip with the band and a nice guest from Russia.

October 13, 2013
Hikashu with Alexei Aigui
@ Yokohama NEWS Harbor
(as a part of Yokohama Jazz Promenade)
open 15:40 - start 16:40
adv 4,000 yen - at door 5,000 yen (1 day ticket)

Yokohama NEWS Harbor, Yokohama

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October 13, 2013
Hikashu with Alexei Aigui
@ La Mama
Shibuya, Tokyo
other act: Inukami Circus Dan
open 18:00 - start 18:30
adv 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
(one drink order minimum)
Ticket Lawson 71734

La Mama, Shibuya, Tokyo

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Sep 28, 2013

Back to Tokyo

Having completed a 3 City tour in September, Hikashu will be back to perform in Tokyo. On October 2, they will perform at Star Pine's Cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo.

Although pianist Shimizu Kazuto had to skip the first two gigs due to some injuries on his leg, the tour turned out great, as always. At the last show in Nagoya, with full line-up, they played two selections from their upcoming album, tentatively called "Bankan." It's the first time for public.

Regarding Star Pine's Cafe in Kichijoji, Hikashu has been playing regularly there since the club's inception (it's 2000), and calling the place for their home.

But these days the band seems to be shifted their home at LaMama of Shibuya instead. Indeed, their last gig at SPC was April this year with Umezu Kazutoki and Samm Bennett, and this half-a-year absence is unusual since they usually appear there a time a few months.

LaMama is a nice place and has its merits, but SPC is special because of its cozy atmosphere, and first and foremost, Kichijoji is the town Hikashu performed for the first time, back in 1978.

Anyway, the next Hikashu gig at Star Pine's Cafe will surely be nice and interesting, because they'll expectedly play the selections from the new album again, and you can see their new direction on person.

"Hikashu's Autumn 2013"
@ Star Pine's Cafe
Kichijoji, Tokyo
open 18:30 - start 19:30
adv 3,600 yen - at door 4,000 yen
venue's info
(Timeout Tokyo)

Star Pine's Cafe, Kichijoji, Tokyo

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Aug 29, 2013

A new album is coming

Hikashu and Marc Urselli at Eastside Sound NYC in May 2013

Makigami Koichi just announced that Hikashu's next album will be out in late November and it is tentatively called "Bankan."

It will be the first release from the group after their 2011 effort "Uragoe."

The album was recorded at Eastside Sound in New York City with recording engineer Marc Urselli after the Canada tour held in May this year.

The title, Bankan, is a Japanese phrase meaning "a mixture of feelings" or "a flood of emotions." It's pronounced BAN-KAN.

In Japanese, the phrase is written in kanji character, 万感. The kanji literally means "A ten-thousand feelings". 万 = a ten-thousand, 感 = feeling or emotion.

Bankan is a kind of emotions cannot be described in words because it's so full. When someone is too full for words, or so full emotions s/he cannot speak, that's bankan. It's used positively.

Makigami also expressed the band plans to perform the selections from the new album at their next gig in Tokyo, which will be held at Star Pine's Cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo on October 2.

Aug 21, 2013

2013 Fall Tour - Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nagoya

Hikashu in New York City, May 2013

In late September, Hikashu will tour Kansai area and Nagoya.

Preceding the tour, there will be held a joint gig in Kobe by two groups which are offshoots from Hikashu - Freeman Alley, and Aljansu.

The tour dates:

September 24 - Big Apple, Kobe (Freeman Alley and Aljansu)
September 25 - Rag, Kyoto
September 26 - Soma, Osaka
September 27 - Tokuzo, Nagoya
October 2 - Star Pine's Cafe, Kichijoji, Tokyo (tour finale)

Freeman Alley is the name for Mita Freeman's standard project with Shimizu Kazuto. Mita came across the street called "Freeman's Alley" while he'd been in New York City for recording session in May. He immediately liked it and decided to use that name for his new and still unnamed project.

Aljansu is a new unit with Makigami Koichi and Sato Masaharu, which is actually "AR sans Bolot Bairyshev," according to Makigami. AR is the trio which recorded the "Tokyo Taiga" album on John Zorn's Tzadik label.

Hikashu is now in the process of finishing the new album. And that surely affects the band's performance. Check out how their newest sound is like on this tour.

September 24, 2013 (Freeman Alley and Aljansu)
@ Big Apple

Big Apple, Kobe

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September 25, 2013
@ Rag
open 18:00 - start 19:30
adv 4,000 yen - at door 4,500 yen

Live Spot Rag, Kyoto

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September 26, 2013
@ Soma
Shinsaibashi, Osaka
other act: Monmon tonight
open 18:30 - start 19:00
adv 3,600 yen - at door 4,000 yen

Soma, Osaka

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September 27, 2013
@ Tokuzo
open 18:30 - start 19:30
adv 3,600 yen - at door 4,000 yen

Tokuzo, Nagoya

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October 2, 2013
@ Star Pine's Cafe
Kichijoji, Tokyo
open 18:30 - start 19:30
adv 3,600 yen - at door 4,000 yen

Star Pine's Cafe, Kichijoji, Tokyo

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Aug 12, 2013

Hikashu at World Happiness 2013 - 25 Minutes of Intensiveness

Yesterday, Hikashu performed a short set at World Happiness, the day-time outdoor event held at Yumenoshima Koen, a huge park located in east Tokyo. We cannot say it was an ideal setting for the group. Actually, there were some difficuties. But it turned out to be great eventually.

So what are that difficulties? Well, there were some. First of all, the characteristics of the event. Judging from the line-up, it was clearly aimed for the people who used to be hipsters in mid 1970s to late 1980s. And Hikashu has never been "fashionable," maybe except for the first few years.

Hikashu was an apparently heterogeneous among the line-up. There were the artists of various styles appearing the festival. And they were not mere passing acts. In short, they were all acts for connoisseurs. But they were, basically, conventional pop and rock as well. And Hikashu cannot be described as such in any way.

So is the audience's tastes. Whether the people who gathered at World Happiness accept or refuse the band? Only time would tell you that.

Hikashu's set started at 14:55. In the beginning, they set about improvising, as always, but it was unusually short. Just for the moments. And immediately Shimizu's piano started playing the opening phrase of "Fude wo Fure, Kanta-Kun" [Wave the Brush, Mr. Beyond]. Then the entire band quickly took that, and rushed swiftly into the tune.

Unfortunately, the time was quite limited, so they had to make some hard decisions for maximizing the opportunity. It was a difficult problem indeed - representing the 35-years old band for just half an hour.

The result was interesting. They just concentrated representing the band in the present tense. That is, they played only the numbers from the 21st century. Most of the other acts were mainly playing old tunes and that's proper decision for the event. But Hikashu had no need or urge to do that. They are actual. They live in the present, not the past. And their performance proved that clearly.

Also, they had to refrain from collective improvisation, which is one of the characterizations of the band. But the time was precious and some things to be sacrificed.

There was an exception. The last number was "Pike." And it was an appropriate selection as well, because it was a fine example of "new wine into old bottles." In the band's repertoire, Pike is one of the most known numbers. And it was apt for showing the attractiveness of the current line-up. After all, the band's performance was great as usual and the intention, which was to represent the band properly, was fulfulled.

The audience's reaction was mixed. For certain, some people disdained. During the opening number, some just fled and retracted into the restrooms. It's sorry but understandable. For the people who think that Hikashu is synonymized with a horrendous word called techno-pop, their current style is simply out of place. For them, Hikashu was only an unwelcoming intruder who marred the precious moments of nostalgic trip.

But there were some who apparently fascinated by the performance who cheered eagerly the band. We've already said that World Happiness is for connoisseurs and it's natural that some of its audience were eclectic enough, in good sense, to accept the current style of Hikashu. And we'd like to mention that many musicians came out to check out the band's performance as well.

After the 25 minutes of intensity, Hikashu left the stage. The audience, who were still there, went wild and seemed to be impressed. In twitter, there were mentions that a lot of people got exposured for the band for the first time and quite impressed. Also many people cited Hikashu as the best act of this year.

World Happiness is an annual event initiated by Takahashi Yukihiro, who is the drummer of the world-famous Yellow Magic Orchestra. And it seems that Takahashi is the man who decided to appoint Hikashu. In fact, during their set, Makigami told the audience that their long-time friendship made the appearance and thanked him for that. Hopefully Takahashi and his company will make a wise decision again to book the band for such a beautiful event.

Aug 10, 2013

The Origins of Throat Singing - The Great Singers from Siberia concert in Japan

Makigami Koichi had an idea. He wanted to hold a concert, very special one. And in September this year, his dream gig will take place at last - top performers of throat singing from both Altai and Tuva regions sharing the same stage, for the first time ever in Japan.

He has been into throat singing for almost twenty years. Throat singing is a folk culture in Siberia region and has a lot of styles. It really varies. And among them, his favorites are Kai from Altai Republic, and Khoomei from Tuva Republic.

In early 90s, Makigami happened to see a performance of khoomei in Japan. Immediately he was quite impressed and wanted to do it himself. So naturally he asked the singers for lesson on the spot. Next year he went to Tuva for himself. He wanted to deepen his knowledge of khoomei so badly, and he had to go there. Now he has been commuting his native country and Tuva once or twice a year for last 20 years, and now has a lot of friends there.

Then, in mid 90s, there was another life-changing event for him to happen. He was invited to a music festival in Europe, and met a singer from Siberia. The singer's performance was so great. He was carried away by it. The singer's name was Bolot Bairyshev. His native land is a republic in siberia, called ALTAI. And Altai's throat singing has its own name, KAI. The two became friends and started performing together. In 2008, Bairyshev, Makigami, and (Hikashu's drummer) Sato Masaharu formed the group called АЯ (pronounces "a'ya" - A is the first character, and Я is the last in the Cyrillic alphabet. And the group's name means "everything in between the first and the last.") and recorded an album called Tokyo Taiga, which is now available on John Zorn's Tzadik label.

Besides learning and practising throat-singing, Makigami has been promoting the culture in Japan for years. Inviting performers from Siberia, making records with them, organizing concert tours and workshops. He always strongly recommends that you should be under the guidance of the people from Siberia if you really want to learn throat-singing and that's why he organizes a yearly tour to Tuva. Also, he teaches throat-singing himself for the people who cannot afford the trip to the soils of Siberia for some reasons. Concequently, a whole generation of throat singers now is active in Japan, and many are his disciples.

And he stresses the concerts, which will be held in Tokyo and Osaka, will be once-in-a-lifetime event. His remarks are understandable because such a concert is pretty unlikely to happen again, even in Siberia. All are the great performers, including Mongun-ool Ondar, who just got the first award at the 6th International Khoomei Symposium held in Tuva this spring. Do not miss the opportunity.

АЯ in Altai

Mongun-ool Ondar in 2013.

tour dates

Throat Singers from Altai:
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, with Sato Masaharu and Makigami Koichi
August 31 Ashigariyama-gun, Kanagawa * an afternoon show, starts at 14:30
September 1 Numazu, Shizuoka
September 2 Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
September 4 Chino, Nagano

"The Origins of Throat Singing" concert
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
September 8 Suita, Osaka * admission free, invitation only. apply by mail. applications must arrive by August 16.
September 10 Koenji, Tokyo

Throat Singers from Tuva:
Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
September 12 Maebashi, Gunma
September 13,14 Niigata * an overnight event
September 15 Kofu, Yamanashi
September 16 Roppongi, Tokyo * an afternoon event - khoomei workshop
September 18 Yokohama

August 31, 2013
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Sato Masaharu, Makigami Koichi
@ Seto Yashiki
Kaisei, Ashigarakami-gun, Kanagawa
open 14;00 - start 14:30
2,500 yen

Seto Yashiki, Kaisei, Ashigarakami-gun, Kanagawa

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September 1, 2013
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Sato Masaharu, Makigami Koichi
@ Music la Festa "FUN"
Numazu, Shizuoka
open 17:30 - start 18:00
adv 3,800 yen - at door 4,300 yen

Music la Festa FUN, Numazu, Shizuoka

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September 2, 2013
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Sato Masaharu, Makigami Koichi
@ Madowaku
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
open 19:00 - start 19:30
adv 3,500 yen - at door 4,000 yen
for reservation, call the venue at 053-451-3035 or mail to

Madowaku, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

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September 4, 2013
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Sato Masaharu, Makigami Koichi
@ Chino Shimin-kan (Chino Cultural Complex)
Chino, Nagano
open 18:30 - satrt 19:00
adv 3,000 yen - ad door 3,500 yen
1,000 yen for student or children

Chino Shimin-kan, Chino, Nagano

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September 8, 2013
"The Origins of Throat Singing" concert
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - navigator
@ Min-paku (Kokuritsu Minzokugaku Hakubutsukan - National Museum of Ethnology)
Suita, Osaka
Admission free, invitation only. Apply by mail (a reply-paid postcard).
Note: applications must arrive to the Museum's office by August 16. See here for details.

Min-Paku, Suita, Osaka

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September 10, 2013
"The Origins of Throat Singing" concert
Bolot Bairyshev, Tandalai, Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - navigator
@ Za Koenji Two
Koenji, Suginami, Tokyo
open 18:30 - start 19:00
adv 4,000 yen - at door 4,500 yen (English)

Za Koenji Two, Koenji, Tokyo

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September 12, 2013
Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - navigator
@ Dairenji
Maebashi, Gunma
open 18:30 - start 19:00
adv 2,000 yen - at door 2,500 yen
for reservation, contact the local organizer at 027-235-8989 or

Dairenji, Maebashi, Gunma

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September 13 and 14, 2013
Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - navigator
@ Sansho House
Tokamachi, Niigata
15,000 yen - 10,000 yen for children
(overnight event - accomodation and meals are included.) (English)

Sansho House, Tokamachi, Niigata

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September 15, 2013
Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - navigator
@ Sakuraza
Kofu, Yamanashi
open 17:30 - start 18:00
adv 3,900 yen - at door 4,500 yen
for reservation, contact to the venue's office at

Sakuraza, Kofu, Yamanashi

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September 16, 2013
"Khoomei Workshop"
Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - moderator
@ Shinsekai
Roppongi, Tokyo
open 14:30 - start 15:00
adv 3,800 yen - at door 4,500 yen
tel 03-5772-6767

Shinsekai, Roppongi, Tokyo (Miho Glass Building B1F)

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September 18, 2013
Mongun-ool Ondar, Otkun Dostai, Ayas Kuular, Anzat Kuular
Makigami Koichi - navigator
@ Minato Mirai Sho Hall
3,000 yen
Minato Mirai Ticket Center 045-682-2000
Ticket Pia

Minato Mirai Hall, Yokohama

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