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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