Special interview with the worldwide famous “Samurai Guitarist” MIYAVI!

11.August.2016 | MUSIC

MIYAVI has been called “Samurai Guitarist” for his slapping play style of Taylor acoustic guitar, and for his genderless appearance. Since 2010 he has been performing not only in Japan, but also globally from 2010.

 

In 2014, he also appeared for the first time in a Hollywood film, Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie. This time MIYAVI visited his home country a year and a half after he has moved to the United States, to introduce his brand new double A-side single to the audience in Japan prior to its global release. (The interview was carried out in mid-April.)

 

MIYAVI’s extraordinary guitar techniques along with his danceable tunes as well as his character all contribute to his global tour, yet he does not find it graceful to emphasize the Japanese culture or his Japanese identity. The guitarist, MIYAVI, aims to transcend cultural boundaries as an original presence,In the title, The Others, he has collaborated with the grammy winner producers, Drew & Shannon, who worked with John Legend in the past. From his newest title and after, he has started collaborating with the young producing and music writing team from Los Angeles, where he centers his musical activities, enabling the cutting-edge sound-making of the US.

 

-Can we ask how you are working in the US, as we don’t hear as much news in Japan?

 

I’m taking it very easy. In the US, everything is in much larger scale. Not just the distance; beats are huge, things are done in much longer periods. How do I synchronize my heart rate to that kind of difference is the matter of question, I think. It’s like the difference in the length of man’s stride. That synchronizes with the length of breadth, length of melody, BPM, and so how do I synchronize them as an Asian? That’s where I am right now. It will take some more time. I started to be conscious of not just myself, but also my roots, including my ancestors. How your body vibrates your voice, your walking forms, your DNA, etc. Not just the music, but all sorts of things that my ancestors have piled up from the past.

 

You’ve been working tough, and you still feel such a difference. We should be talking about a huge difference, is it?

 

Yes, certainly. Location, weather, and also the difference between race of hunters and that of agriculture, that’s substantial. We had been using different muscles, in a posture like this (crouching,) and we had no opportunity to look up. That’s still the same today, especially in a modernized city of Tokyo, we have no chance to look up at the sky. Then our chest shrinks, and then there’s smaller space for the air to breathe out, though I don’t mean to support the entire western life style. Language is also different, even at the level of its rhythm, but I think the boundary will vanish very soon. I hope my generation gets to witness that moment, or become the one to break such boundary, especially by the means of music.

 

Do you feel that you need to change your body itself to a body with such mentality in order to break the boundary, and to gain the reality in your music?

 

That’s right. I won’t be able to speak about the world if I stayed in the well without crossing the ocean. I may realize later on that the ocean was actually small, but not until I swim across. From here on, it doesn’t matter if I am Japanese or not. It’s only the matter of how I fight. Up until now, I had been focusing on how I can fight with a sword when a tank came and shot at me. But actually, there are more than one tank, or there are billions of tanks. Then what do I do? That’s what I’m thinking about right now. So my battle for the first stage was a battle against a tank, but now I’m trying to imagine what’s behind these tanks.

In other words?

 

To speak short, entertainment field has wide skirts. I worked for my last work in Nashville, and this time I’m working at Howard Benson’s studio in Los Angeles with his team, including young producers and music writers around age of 22 or 23. Everyone here belongs to a modern music scene, and I have different perceptions from what I had in Nashville.

 

Your last album, The Others, was quite self-reflective. Is there any change in your mind regarding how to fight with music?

 

It’s similar to what I have just said; the fighting style is gradually changing. I am currently reassessing the reason why I’m fighting. I’d like to explain more about this when my next piece comes out, but I am trying to make a California roll right now. You know, California rolls aren’t real sushi to sushi chefs; I don’t eat them either, to be honest. But I still recognize its significance, I mean, I recognize the role it has played. We wouldn’t have so many sushi restaurants in LA if hadn’t we have those California rolls. So those California rolls played the role of a bridge, and that’s what I want to create, even if it might take a long time. I have wasabi with me. Soy sauce, other sushi ingredients, vinegared rice, and salmon as well, but no avocado. That could be the pop part of the music, could be the melody or how the English words ring in the music… I don’t care if we can call that sushi or not, but I just feel that we can have something like that, or rather we need something like that. That’s my role, and I want to do it through music. I don’t mind if it’s well-known or not, but I will change my direction to something new, like “NEW BEAT, NEW FUTURE.” My guitar doesn’t have to be rock, well it is rock, but it doesn’t stay in the category of rock because that’s the role I feel I need to play. First I learn the manners, and then I remove them. I won’t be able to remove them if I’m too familiar with those manners, though.

 

Are you saying that you feel the necessity to change your guitar approach?

 

Not quite, but I do feel the difference in perceptions we have between Japan and outside. We don’t hear guitar music on radio, do we? Neither on Grammy awards. Then who is rock musician? If I had to choose one, I would say, Twenty One Pilots, but there’s no guitarist. I played with them in a gig in Hong Kong and Taiwan last year, and their vocal plays ukulele or bass from time to time, but not guitar.

 

Alabama Shakes won five Grammies, but they are categorized as alternative.

Right. There are so many attractive bands, but none of them play guitar music. I myself came along as an guitarist, proudly serving my sushi with lots of wasabi on a table saying, “There!” But it turns out, people start saying “wow, this is too hot.” If I can’t make them feel that they want to continue eating it, I can’t call that a victory.

 

In that perspective, you are playing guitar in your latest piece, and I felt your policy of how to fight in the US music scene is clear.

 

How much avocado do I add, and how much vinegared rice? Breads won’t do it. Afraid To Be Cool sounds a little bit like breads. This is an exaggeration, but people wouldn’t accept hamburgers from me if I try to bring hamburgers from Japan to the US. I see lots of made-in-Japan hamburgers in current music scene. They do taste good, but those are not what we want.

 

I understand. In that sense, I sort of recognized your message in your latest single that you are going to fight in the current mainstream music scene.

I do suppose that the way people feel the beats might be different from what I’ve seen in Japanese music, but things won’t change if I don’t force myself to lead it through. Otherwise, I should just stay back in Japan and make another piece. I will charge through in this style.

 

The other song, Raise Me Up, in your double A-sided single has a magical balance: your Telecaster is very effective, and though it is medium-tempo, there is this edginess.

 

Like the balance between pop and edginess? I think it’s getting close, including the drive it has. Half-time beat and its traps. These days we don’t hear so many fast-tempo songs in the first place. Most of them are half-time tracks or R&B. Maybe Mark Ronson’s the fastest?

 

(Laugh) Isn’t Japanese rock double in BPM?

 

Right, double. I mean, Japanese rock is different in its details, its strides. Even our heart rates might be different. The scale of supermarkets is totally different; the speed of music release is different. I feel this about myself, too, but skeletal structures of Japanese or Asians are flat. There’s difference in how much we can enjoy the beats and their depth. Western people enjoy slow beats as well because they can taste that depth of those slow beats. Talking about us Japanese, I don’t think we are able to taste that depth as much. For instance, we have very fast BPM music like Para-para, and the only parts of our body that are moving on beats are our wrists and hands! But I don’t intend to offend that because that’s one of the identities Japanese music have. If we try to make that a common language with the Western music scene, that’s tough, though. If I play at 180 BPM and no one was dancing to the music, what’s the point? It’s not a matter of which one is better. That’s what I feel about the difference in BPM, and my guitar playing style has been changing as well, in view of my identity besides slapping. Slapping is like a sprint.

 

It’s an impressive performance for the audience, too.

 

Yes, so it’s the wasabi. But you can’t keep eating only wasabi, so we need sushi rice. I need to be able to sing more on my guitar. The solo part too, in my own style, in my own expression. I learned these in my last piece.

 

On the other hand, you also use your guitar as a material.

 

I’m trying to transform the guitar itself, and to be honest, what I’m trying to do right now is a little bit off course, in perspective of the guitar rock history. But I still feel it’s worth it if I can accomplish that with the interpretation of the new generation. If I can get people to feel it’s cool, then I win, and if I don’t, my attempt ends up off course.

 

By the way, the music video for Raise Me Up has been produced by Fantasista Utamaro, and I found the video is also linked closely to its artwork.

 

That’s right. I asked Fantasista Utamaro for something brand new. An image that evokes something ahead and not behind is what I’m after. I feel that this piece is going to be my blood and flesh. So it’s going to change my performance, too. I need to be able to push harder in a team. I’ve always thought that I’d fight and slash my enemies even if I’m alone, but I realize now, that won’t do. Especially if I’m fighting against tanks, that’s endless. So how should we combat in a team, like setting bombs on a tank or other tactics, we are still trying to find the best answer. When we finally find it, that’s the moment we’ll truly win this battle. Tanks might change the direction they shoot their canons, or maybe we might not fight them at all. Still, we’ll continue to hone our swords, not to compromise but to prepare them in a new form.

What motivates you to change your attitude so much is the real difference you feel in the daily life in the US compared to that in Japan?

 

Definitely. Even in airports or supermarkets, I feel the difference in national strength, its resourcefulness, etc. I suppose that comes from education, from the attitude of those who are involved in education, and also from their conversation skills. On the contrary, I realize that what we can call the strength of Japan is its insanity and hospitality.

Could we also call that a sensibility?

 

Yes. When I’m having a session with other Americans,I can sometimes feel that, well, I don’t say they are afraid of me, but they are wondering “what’s MIYAVI thinking about?” Or maybe even other Japanese people might feel the same way too about me.

 

That’s strength.

 

Yes. I don’t know any other nationality who eats this many kinds of food uncooked. Raw eggs, raw fish, and even raw beef!

 

(laugh) We can do that because we know what’s risky and what’s not.

 

I know, but non-Japanese would call that insane. I think that’s the Japanese sensitivity- the sensitivity for details that ultimately connects to their hospitality as well.

 

Perhaps insanity and hospitality are head and tail of a coin.

Jonny Dope did the remix of Raise Me Up.

 

Yes, for the same reason as the reason I requested working with Fantasista Utamaro. I would love to be influenced by younger generations, and I’d love to learn from their generation who does not stay in the frame of conventional theories.

 

Your Japan tour starts in September.

 

It’s been awhile after my last tour in Japan. After all, Japan is my home country, and though I’m so far away and still in the middle of my training in the US, my fans in Japan still support me and trust me. I’m very happy about it. That motivates me to push myself harder. I’m using the restaurant metaphor again: suppose a sushi restaurant that refuses first-time customer closes for a month or two. Customers still come back when the restaurant reopens. Why? Because there is that trust. In those two months, I would want to learn and present something new, and these customers would come to accept that. I don’t mean to limit it to only Japan, but I would like to play constantly in Japan, as it is my home country. I want to play the role that I need to play, showing them “we can go further.” I learned how to chop up the bullets, so maybe how to destroy tanks is the next? I’m back to that metaphor again, well, if I can present that as a Japanese, I want to share the power, the energy, or the excitement of this country with the audience. If a Japanese audience saw me and said “OK, he’s still playing,” that’s not enough. I graduated from that stage. I want to show them what comes beyond it.

 

 

RELATED ENTRIES

  • NFT Platform Kollektion to Hold ‘Month of MIYAVI’ to Celebrate Performer’s 20th Anniversary

    11.January.2022 | MUSIC

    Kollektion, a global platform connecting artists and fans through the sale of NFTs, will hold the ‘Month of Miyavi’ during the month of January 2022. NFTs and other items commemorating the 20th anniversary of the rock musician will be available.

     

    MIYAVI started selling NFTs on the platform in October 2021 to positive fan response. In addition, fans who become holders of MIYAVI KLKTN Passes through the purchase of an NFT will be invited to a private Discord channel.

    More details were announced during the Virtual Holiday Party on December 25, 2021. Fans from all over the world are invited to take part in this exciting sale!

     

    1. MIYAVI KLKTN Pass
    These NFTs were available for 24 hours only on January 2, 2022. Purchasing one gives fans access to over 380 MIYAVI NFT airdrops in the future. This also gives access to the private Discord channel.

     

    2. Moments
    These ‘Moments’ can only be seen in Kollektion, and include behind-the-scenes footage of MIYAVI’s music production and private life. This time, each NFT has been sorted into one of three levels of rarity: Common, Rare, and Legendary. 


    3. ArtKards
    These NFTs were inspired by MIYAVI’s album ‘Imaginary.’ Extremely limited and featuring a serial number, each item comes with a digital autographed photo card NFT and a raffle ticket for a personal video message NFT. 


    4. Kodex
    Introducing a new way to enjoy music in the modern era, cover art, lyrics, and liner notes will be included in each purchase.


    5. Fender Official Guitar NFT (MIYAVI TELECASTER®)
    FENDER and MIYAVI have come together to create a one-of-a-kind guitar NFT. Winners in the raffle will win a real signed guitar and other items!


    6. Special Editions from the Hush Hush Music Video
    A part of the limited-edition music video for MIYAVI’s song Hush Hush has been made into goods and are on sale now! Each comes with premium extras like photo cards and extra commentary.

     


    Comment from MIYAVI
    “To celebrate the 20th anniversary since my solo debut, Kollektion will be holding the ‘Month of MIYAVI!’ I want to continue to take on new challenges and use the power of technology to better connect with my fans in both directions, not just one way. Don’t miss out!”

    KLKTN aims to create a new experience that deepens the connection between fans and creators, thereby increasing the enjoyment of fans and creating an environment where creators can enjoy their creative activities more.

  • Girl Group NiziU Named Brand Ambassadors for Visée, Introduce Limited-Edition Eyeshadows

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    Visée Glossy Rich Eyes N  – Available in 8 shades + 2 limited edition shades

     

     

    Photo Shoot

     

    「Visée AVANT」Limited Edition Seasonal Visual with MAYUKA&NINA

     

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    An original movie featuring all members is also available to view on the official TikTok brand account and the Glossy Rich Eyes N special product website.

     

    Interview with NiziU

     

    Q1. Visée has partnered with a number of women before, each symbolizing the current era. What are your thoughts on being chosen as brand ambassadors for Visée now?

    Mako: I’m turning 20 this year, and I’ve really wanted to show a different side of myself now that I won’t be a teenager anymore. I was so happy when I was chosen for this project, since it gave me the perfect chance to do just that!

    Maya: We’re so incredibly honored to be chosen as ambassadors for Visée! I use their products regularly, but there are so many different colors of product available. I think this will inspire people to make use of colors they may not use often, and to try new things!

     

    Q2. How did you feel after shooting wrapped?

     

    Ayaka: It felt like something totally different than what NiziU has tackled in the past. I typically wear more cutesy makeup, but this time I tried to show something more mature. It was refreshing. It was a blast getting close-up shots taken of my eye makeup!



    Q3. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Find the Color Just for You.’ It calls on people to find a color that best matches their personality. After the first ad shoot, what were your impressions of your fellow members’ new makeup looks?


    Riku: Maya was the one getting her pictures taken first, and she looked so gorgeous that Ayaka and I couldn’t stop staring at her! Honestly, we were staring at her so much that when she finally looked over at us, she did that typical Maya smile, and it was like we fell in love with her. (laugh)



    Q4. This year’s visuals are impressive, with the NiziU members showing off very different expressions than usual. Is there anything you refer to or try to do personally, to find new facial expressions?


    Mayuka: It can be really difficult, but I find it useful to look at photos of some of the more senior members and practice copying their expressions.

     


    Q5. Again, this year’s theme is ‘Find the Color Just for You.’ Each of the nine members of NiziU have their own distinct personalities, so with that in mind, what do you think makes you stand out as an individual?

     

    Rima: For me, it’s my different worldview. It allows me to converse in a very unique way, and to really adjust how I carry myself depending on the location. My member color is red, which also has many meanings: it can be powerful, or mature, or energetic, or mischievous. I’m like a chameleon. I hold many different personalities that I can switch to at the drop of a hat.

     


    Q6. As a member of NiziU, you’ve had many different and unique experiences. Have you found any unexpected sides of yourself during your time as a member?

     

    Rio: I used to think I was one of the cool girls, but during this photo shoot, I was given a makeup look and outfit that was more cutesy. That’s a side of myself I haven’t explored, and this is something that happens frequently during the many events and challenges we take on as a unit.



    Q7. During the makeup shooting sessions, we were able to see very different sides of the NiziU members. Is there anything new you’ve learned about the other members recently?

     

    Miihi: Compared to how we all were when we all joined, everyone is really starting to show their true selves! We’ve so close, there’s nothing that we don’t know about each other at this point!



    Q8. The Glossy Rich Eyes N products that you used this time come in a wide variety of colors, making it possible for anyone to meet their perfect shade. Speaking of ‘meetings,’ what do the members of NiziU want to meet more than anything right now?

     

    Nina: I want to meet with WithU (the name for NiziU fans). We haven’t been able to meet them face to face yet, and I hope we’re able to soon.

  • Macaroni Enpitsu’s New Song ‘Tomason’ Features in Bourbon Chocolate Brownie’s Animated Commercial

    20.April.2021 | ANIME&GAME / FOOD

    Bourbon’s five-episode audiobook no doubt created for its Noukou Choco Brownie snack was released as an animated TV commercial last week. The video features Japanese pop rock band Macaroni Enpitsu’s new song Tomason which was written for the commercial.

    The audiobook no doubt becomes a TV commercial

    The no doubt audiobook was written by the popular Japanese author Yoru Sumino who is perhaps best known for writing I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. It tells the story of two boys who are in high school. They aren’t part of an afterschool club, and they don’t have part time jobs. They come to realise that this time will be what they look back on when they grow up. The characters were designed by Itsuka, an illustrator popular online.

     

    The commercial features the song Tomason by Macaroni Enpitsu.

     

    “no doubt” Animated TV Commercial

     

    “no doubt” Recording Behind The Scenes

     

    Japanese voice actors Hiro Shimono (Attack on TitanDemon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba) and Yuki Kaji (Attack on TitanMy Hero Academia) voiced the characters in the commercial. Below is an interview with both of them on the commercial, part of which we have translated.

     

    Hiro Shimono x Yuki Kaji Interview

     

    A snippet of the interview, translated 

    Q1: How did your performances go? Tell me about your shoot.

    Hiro Shimono: “The commercial portrays two boys who are neither adults nor children, so going through puberty I suppose. Their dialogue is elaborate, it was super interesting.”

     

    Yuki Kaji: “Right up to wrapping up, the entire shoot was a lot of fun, including the intervals during our breaks.”

     

    Q2: You both play the roles of high school boys. Tell me about a time from your youths.

    Yuki Kaji: “One memory I have from school being young, which is like something out of a painting, was my time a the theatre club. You need real physical strength when it comes to acting, so before dress rehearsal, I’d run around the school building. That’s a memory that’s stuck with me. I’d change into my jersey, and go die– I mean, run to the nearby river embankment too. Being reminded of that now it’s too much like a youth film or something, it’s making me laugh <laughs>. “

     

    Hiro Shimono: “I have a story from my youth too. It was on the day of the Culture Festival [at school]. After the festival finished, I was on my way home with some people, and there was a park with a water fountain in it. I said, ‘Well, it’s already raining, so why the hell not!’ Of course it wasn’t the thing to do, but we jumped into the water fountain and splashed about. That’s what being young is all about, right!?”

     

    Q3: What’s your favourite Noukou Choco Brownie flavour, the regular or the rich milk?

    Hiro Shimono: “Noukou Choco Brownie.”*

    *Translator’s Note: Implying all of them

     

    Yuki Kaji: “Me too! <laughs>”

     

    Q4: Please give a message to fans.

    Yuki Kaji: “I was lucky to have the opportunity to performance Yoru Sumino’s novel no doubt. I’m over the moon about it. The script was of course wonderful, and me and Shimono have known each other for a long time, so I think that comes across in the video with a pleasant atmosphere. The commercial is a youthful drama about two high school boys, and it’s linked to the bittersweetness of Noukou Choco Brownie. Be sure to tuck into one yourself while you listen to the story.”

     

    Hiro Shimono: “[The commercial’s characters] Igarashi and Imai have a great conversation, and getting to do it with Kaji was a lot of fun. It made me think we’ve always had that kind of vibe with each other. Noukou Choco Brownie is the keyword, so please be sure to check out the audiobook to see how it plays its part.”

     

    no doubt Synopsis

    One day, high schooler Imai skips school by feigning illness. He is at home in his room, when all of a sudden another boy from his class, Igarashi, comes to visit him. He has the handouts to give to Imai from class, but the high school they go to doesn’t have that custom where a classmate has to give handouts to someone who’s off ill. And the two of them aren’t that class where Igarashi would suddenly pop to see Imai like that. Imai finds it suspicious. Igarashi is interested in the clay work Imai has in his room. Both of them have some free time, so begin to make a town together out of clay.

  • Interview: Ohashi Trio Discusses His ‘Milk and Sugar’ Duet Music Video With Mone Kamishiraishi

    18.February.2021 | MUSIC

    Ohashi Trio released a music video on his YouTube channel on Tuesday (February 16) for Milk and Sugar duet with Mone Kamishiraishi. The song is taken from his upcoming new album NEW WORLD which is set to drop on March 3, 2021.

    Ohashi Trio – “Milk and Sugar duet with Mone Kamishiraishi” Official Music Video

    Ohashi Trio – “NEW WORLD”

    Ohashi Trio and Mone Kamishiraishi in the recording booth

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    Stream & Download Here

     

    An official interview with Ohashi Trio and Mone Kamishiraishi was also released where they talk about Kamishiraishi’s involvement on the song, both of their thoughts about it, and more. It’s a must-read for fans, and MMN Has translated it into English for our readers.

     

    Ohashi Trio and Mone Kamishiraishi Interview

    “I’d go as far as to say that breaking something down can lead to great things” (Ohashi)

     

    ──I had the opportunity to peek into your recording session not long ago, it seemed like a very positive, harmonious atmosphere.

     

    Ohashi: Because she’s great <looks towards Kamishiraishi>. I’m usually not like this.

     

    Kamishiraishi: <Laughs>

     

    ──I interviewed you last year where the two of you were talking about performing together, and here we are already. Could you talk again about what originally led you to working together?

     

    Ohashi: “My first time being involved with Mone was on her album ‘note.’”

     

    Kamishiraishi: “I was already a huge fan of his, so I thought, I’ll give it a shot, and asked him to come on board.”

     

    Ohashi: “You make it sound like you never stood a chance <laughs>. I wrote the song ‘Little Birds’ [for the album], and at the recording session, she was really kind and said, ‘I’m a huge fan.’ I remember thinking how great of a singer she was. After that, I thought about what we could do together if I invited her on my own album. Since it was the actual writing of a song that I did for her, I made sure to respect her style, but I was inviting her to my side, so I’d go as far to say that I decided to break all of that down. I thought by doing that, it could lead to great things. So I sent her the offer. She was super busy with shooting a drama series and other stuff but she was kind enough to make time each day.”

     

     Kamishiraishi: “Not at all. It was very kind of you.”

     

    I thought, “Aw yeah, a challenge!” (Kamishiraishi)

     

    ──So things were broken down this time, Kamishiraishi.

     

    Kamishiraishi: That’s what happened <laughs>. When I heard the instrumental, I thought, “Aw yeah, a challenge!” It had a kind of melody that I’d never had the chance to sing over before, same with its overall feel. It felt like a step up, like I was discovering a new way of singing, which really excited me, so I really sang my heart out prior to the recording.”

     

    Ohashi: “You were so involved, you prepared so much despite being so busy. You’re great. Hard-working.”

     

    Kamishiraishi: “I’m a fan, so when you release a new song, I memorise it straight away. This felt like the same thing. LIke I’m the first to hear it and learn it. So it didn’t feel like work needing to learn it, but when I first heard it, I thought, ‘He’s been kind enough to drawn attention to my new parts.’”

     

     Ohashi: “It makes me happy hearing that.”

     

    “I don’t think I’ve seen someone like this girl before” (Ohashi)

     

    ──What do you like about Kamishiraishi’s voice, Ohashi?

     

    Kamishiraishi: “Thank you for asking that <said quietly to the interviewer>.”

     

    Ohashi: “<laughs> I thought, this character is someone who puts 100% of herself into the songs she sings. And that image I had held true when I met her, plus she has real talent. Her songs are great. I thought, I don’t think I’ve seen someone like this girl before.”

     

    Kamishiraishi: “Wow… <speechless>

     

    Ohashi: “It was the same during ‘Little Birds.’ She’s so busy, and yet I really got from her that she’s going all out to put her all into it. She was so quick to respond to the request too. She has real physical strength as a vocalist. There are people out there whose songs are good, but rarely do I meet someone who can adapt as well.”

     

    Kamishiraishi: “You’re too kind. I don’t really have things said like this about me while having the opportunity to sing, so I’ll lap up everything that’s said here today and take it home with me. It will be engraved in my heart.”

     

     Oashi: “No, no, I should be saything lots of wrong things anyway.”

     

    “You won’t find someone like Ohashi out there even if you looked” (Kamishiraishi)

     

    ──What do you like about Ohashi’s music, Kamishiraishi?

     

    Kamishiraishi: “First of all, I love his voice. I really like his melodies and how the instruments sound in his music too. You won’t find someone like Ohashi out there even if you looked for them.”

     

    Ohashi: “Wow, that makes me happy.”

     

    Kamishiraishi: “He has a warmth, sense of style, and coolness about him that you won’t find in other people. I get the feeling that you’ll find all of those things in every one of his albums, and I love that about him. He invited me to one of his shows recently. It was the first time seeing him live, and, well, he was just super cool! The show title said “Ohashi Trio Live,” but every single one of the band members there felt like one of the main cast. There were too many amazing things to see and point out, but unfortunately I don’t have enough eyes for them all <laughs>. I wanted cameras to be recording each one of their parts! It made me realise how amazing music is. It was testament to the fact that your ears can forever be happy as long as you’re listening.”

     

    ──What a great comment!

     

    Ohashi: “You’ve conveyed everything I’ve always thought I wanted to have. I’m super happy.”

     

    Interview/Original Text: Hiroshi Takaoka

    English Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

    Be sure to check out the music video for Ohashi Trio and Mone Kamishiraishi’s duet on Milk to Sugar (“Milk and Sugar”).

  • Interview: NiziU Discuss Their Favourite Moments in Life For Coca-Cola Japan’s New Commercial

    06.January.2021 | FOOD / MUSIC

    Coca-Cola Japan launched a new campaign and commercial on Monday (January 4) titled “Kono Shunkan ga, Watashi,” which roughly translates to “This Moment is Me.”

    2020 saw tremendous changes in the lives of people around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those changes continue to this day. Coca-Cola Japan’s new campaign aims to spread positivity with a mindset that says enjoy yourself to the fullest is the right way to go precisely because things have changed. It’s a campaign for loving those moments spent with friends and family in whatever way possible.

     

    The new commercial posted alongside the campaign’s launch features the members of the Japanese girl group NiziU singing and dancing to the tune of their new song Take a picture. The commercial shoot took place over the course of two days, and it’s reported that the set had a bright and positive atmosphere as NiziU greeted staff with smiles, vim, and vigour. On the first day they shot the dance and rooftop scenes, while the second day took them to the house studio. There’s also a scene of the group giving MAYUKA’s a surprise birthday celebration her birthday had fallen on the day before.

    Coca-Cola Japan has released limited-edition NiziU bottles as part of the collaboration which feature a QR code on them. When scanned, you can access the campaign website to sign up to win access to a special Coca-Cola x NiziU online event, a NiziU-original QUO card worth ¥1,000, and points for the LINE app. A total of 200,000 lucky winners will be chosen. There are 10 bottle designs to look out for.

    Additionally, a special 35-meter long ad poster is being displayed for a limited time at Shinjuku Station connecting to the East and West exits.

     

    NiziU Interview

    ―Your names are written on the limited-edition NiziU Coca-Cola bottles. How do you feel about them lining the shelves in stores?

     

    MAKO:
    I am super happy that our names get to go on the Coca-Cola labels! I hope lots of people see them and are filled with positive vibes.

     

    RIKU:
    It doesn’t feel real to me yet either that our names are featuring on Coca-Cola products. When they hit the stores I kind of want to go searching for my own name <laughs>.

     

    RIMA:
    There’s a QR code on the bottles when might land you something if you scan it with your phone, so be on the lookout and try finding my bottle.

     

    ―When do you find yourselves wanting to drink Coca-Cola?

    RIO:
    I’m personally a huge foodie, so I like to drink it together with people when everyone’s eating their favourite food.

     

    MAYA:
    I definitely find myself wanting some when I need a kick of positivity or need some energy.

     

    ―Please give your thoughts on the commercial shoot.

    MAYUKA:
    When went on the rooftop with everyone, and when we were practicing the dances, we were drinking Coca-Cola. I feel the shoot had a completely different air to it than our usual practice. Everyone said “Cheers!” [with their drinks] on the roof. It was a lot of fun.

     

    AYAKA:
    It was hard to convey the appeal of Coca-Cola [during the shoot], so we thought to convey its delicious taste how we would convey the appeal of [NiziU]. We showed ourselves really enjoying its delicious taste.

     

    NINA:
    The shoot for this commercial was so much fun, there’s so many great bits in it! It looks so tasty watching everyone gulp down their drinks. It was a great time, I like everyone’s facial expressions in it. Be sure to check it out.

     

    ―Give us each of your thoughts on the “This Moment is Me” campaign and how it relates to yourselves.

    MAKO:
    I feel the most me thing is when I’m writing in my diary. I write in it at the end of every day, it’s my favourite moment.

     

    RIKU:
    When I’m eating something. I feel only happiness when eating; I forget all the bad things and can concentrate just by eating something tasty. It’s a moment I can be myself.

     

    RIMA:
    I really love steady and straightforward work, like puzzles, so when I’m concentrating on one thing I really get in the zone, to the point where I can’t hear people even if they call my name. I think that kind of moment is most me.

     

    RIO:
    For me, it’s when I’m dancing. It’s something I’ve done since I was little, so I think working hard and practicing to improve in that is my most me moment.

     

    MAYA:
    The moment which is most me is when I’m cooking. I find it so much fun and love seeing people enjoy the food I cook for them.

     

    MAYUKA:
    It would be when I’m playing with my cat. I have two cats at home and can be my true self when playing with them.

     

    AYAKA:
    When I’m video calling my mom. We talk about the silliest things and laugh, and that’s when I feel most like myself. I love those moments the most.

     

    NINA:
    The moments I love the most are when I’m drawing. I don’t have to think about anything when I’m drawing and can relax, so they’re definitely my favourite.

  • Hulu Japan Announces Weekly Long Interviews With NiziU Members

    28.July.2020 | MUSIC

    NiziU is a nine-member global all-female group which formed via Nizi Project, an audition programme co-produced by Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Music Labels, and JYP Entertainment (JYP). NiziU’s first music video, Make you happy, has over 63 million views on YouTube (as of July 2020). Released at the end of June, the iconic jump rope dance in the video has already become something of a social phenomenon.

    In the run up to NiziU’s first anniversary, Hulu Japan will begin streaming long interviews with each of the nine members in a show called NiziU 9 Nizi Stories, beginning on July 30, 2020, where they will talk about their experience in the Nizi Project, as well as life in Tokyo and South Korea. They will discuss in detail why they wanted to be part of a girl group, what troubles they have gone through, what the other members think of them, their impression of J.Y. Park, what kind of artists they want to become, and so on.

     

    ©Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc./JYP Entertainment.

  • Interview: Airbnb Japan Managing Officer Hidetomo Nagata & Sanken Kogyo President Mori Iwata discuss raising Japan’s value through new and exciting creativity

    01.February.2020 | BUSINESS / FEATURES

    Japanese art and culture is recognised the world over, but recently, it feels like the pressure is being put on by countries like South Korea and China. But what you perhaps didn’t know is that the businesses that work to promote Japan’s culture to the worldーthrough that creativity and those servicesーare actually thriving. We had the opportunity to speak with a certain two individuals: Hidetomo Nagata, Managing Officer at Airbnb Japanーa company that increases the value of real estateーand Mori Iwata, the President of Sanken Kogyo, which creates value from zero.

    *This is a shortened version of the interview

    ——-I’d first like to ask you both to explain what it is that both of your companies do.

     

    Nagata: I work for the Japanese subsidiary of Airbnb. Airbnb was first established in 2008 as a platform for helping people to match various conditions for their trips. Services began with accommodation; today, we have over 7 million locations listed in 191 countries. Past statistics show that over 500 million people have stayed as guests, and our revenue from Hosts, who rent out their houses, exceeds 8.8 trillion yen. We are also expanding our services on the side to offer more things, like our Experience and Adventure services. It’s a comprehensive platform for travelling.

     

    Iwata: So you have not only accommodation, but experience-based services too?

     

    Nagata: We began the Experience service in 2016. To give an example of what it is, [we are partnered with] people who are skilled in things like traditional Japanese crafts, and they will give [travelling] foreign guests the chance to learn about those skills. 2020 is the year of the Olympics, so we are offering experiences in conjunction with Olympians too. You can learn about various rules from an Olympian, ask them about competing, experience their sport hands-on, and so on, in the hopes that people will come to enjoy those particular sports more. We’d also be overjoyed if the Olympians made use of these experiences as a second career.

     

    Iwata: My company makes prototypes. While I say prototypes, it actually constitutes a variety of things, for example, office automation equipment, cars, medical equipment, stationery, toys, and so on. We make a wide range of different prototypes. Stationery, for example, is something we all use daily, isn’t it? But what we make is the prototype. So it doesn’t get released into the world, but is instead used as the basis for it to then be mass-produced. Our prototype products don’t stay around, but it’s very rewarding.

    ——-Tell me about your strengths that make you competitive to other companies.

     

    Nagata: Airbnb’s vision is ‘Belong Anywhere,’ meaning that no matter where you travel, you too will feel like you are living in that place. We learn about a region, have locals tell us about places to eat, and so on. We value the things we learn through our hosts. This has created a new lifestyle for people, as well as a community. We have a lot of hosts who have said to us that their lives have changed after starting with Airbnb. By opening their doors, and communicating with the people of the world, their worlds expand, they acquire knowledge, and they gain more income. For me, that’s a valuable thing.

     

    Iwata: We’re a really small company in our warehouse. In the past, there were lots of small companies, but they have since been weeded out and disappeared. The businesses I bump into on my way to work are all huge, but our strength lies in the fact that the warehouse, office and business are all in the same place. There aren’t many companies out there on this scope with all of these things firmly in place. The speed at which we do things can’t be done at a major company either. I can work right there and then during a meeting or appointment. We don’t have strengths and weaknesses; we can make anything. That, and our shop staff who interact with customers are first-class. Our perspective is that we can absolutely make what they’re after, and at a reasonable price, so I think they’ll choose us. We can do anythingーmetal, resin, plastic. I’ll go ahead and say that we’re probably the only ones who have come as far as we have.

    ——-Sanken Kogyo opened a subsidiary overseas too, didn’t you?

     

    Iwata: I mentioned earlier how I went to America. Well, I set up a subsidiary in Chicago last year. We are the third prototype company in Japan to have done so. We don’t have employees there yet, but I’m excited!

     

    ——-On the other hand, Airbnb is a service that began outside of Japan. Do you ever pour all of your energy into Japan?

     

    Nagata: Homeshares and homestays aren’t common but more and more people are wanting to give it a go. For us to be able to think about things like homeshares and for it to become a normal choice for people, we’re creating new services and designs related to accommodation, not just internally, but with our seventeen Airbnb Partners too.

    The hotel MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS in Harajuku was renovated from a 50-year-old or so building. By carrying out renovations, they are able to create rooms with a strong design aspectーrooms that are expensive to rent out. They combine accommodation with Japanese culture, so I believe they’ll be able to embrace homeshares.

     

    ——-The two of you give rise to value with your businesses, but what does value mean exactly for you personally?

     

    Nagata: I think value is relative. It determines a person’s subjectivity, and it can end up changing how you look at something or your way of thinking. I believe Airbnb is bringing about a new sense of value when it comes to real estate. If we’re talking leasing property, then how new building is and how close it is to the station are conditions with value. On the other hand, if it’s hotel accommodation, a building that’s 100-years-old is itself a valuable condition, and reviews that highlight it as a good aspect increase trust, even if the location isn’t ideal. Even if the price range increases, users will still stay there. I believe that the way in which you draw value from the same piece of real estate can change depending on how you think about it.

     

    Nagata: How about you, Mr. Iwata? Listening to your story, I see the speed of your interactions and communication bring value for you.

     

    Iwata: You hit the nail on the head. The speed of our staff is tied to customers’ trust. When we’re making a deal, our estimations gradually end up going in a different direction <laughs>. We have times when things don’t go well in the end, like when we’re taking in various opinions while cobbling together a prototype. But I know those times, so I’ll do things like go and work on something else at the same time instead. If our estimations go well in the end it’s good, so our staff’s qualities, like their quick-wittedness, ties customers to us. It’s the same thing as the machines we use being for building prototypes. I think in the end, communication between people is the newest way to create value. Especially since the industry in Japan has no life in itat the minute.. I want them to get in the spirit more.

    ——-Sanken Kogyo opened a subsidiary overseas too, didn’t you?

     

    Iwata: I mentioned earlier how I went to America. Well, I set up a subsidiary in Chicago last year. We are the third prototype company in Japan to have done so. We don’t have employees there yet, but I’m excited!

     

    ——-On the other hand, Airbnb is a service that began outside of Japan. Do you ever pour all of your energy into Japan?

     

    Nagata: Homeshares and homestays aren’t common but more and more people are wanting to give it a go. For us to be able to think about things like homeshares and for it to become a normal choice for people, we’re creating new services and designs related to accommodation, not just internally, but with our 128 Airbnb Partners too.

     

    The hotel MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS in Harajuku was renovated from a 50-year-old or so building. By carrying out renovations, they are able to create rooms with a strong design aspectーrooms that are expensive to rent out. They combine accommodation with Japanese culture, so I believe they’ll be able to embrace homeshares.

     

    ——-The two of you give rise to value with your businesses, but what does value mean exactly for you personally?

     

    Nagata: I think value is relative. It determines a person’s subjectivity, and it can end up changing how you look at something or your way of thinking. I believe Airbnb is bringing about a new sense of value when it comes to real estate. If we’re talking leasing property, then how new building is and how close it is to the station are conditions with value. On the other hand, if it’s hotel accommodation, a building that’s 100-years-old is itself a valuable condition, and reviews that highlight it as a good aspect increase trust. Even if the price range increases, users will still stay there. I believe that the way in which you draw value from the same piece of real estate can change depending on how you think about it.

     

    Nagata: How about you, Mr. Iwata? Listening to your story, I see the speed of your interactions and communication bring value for you.

     

    Iwata: You hit the nail on the head. The speed of our staff is tied to customers’ trust. When we’re making a deal, our estimations gradually end up going in a different direction <laughs>. We have times when things don’t go well in the end, like when we’re taking in various opinions while cobbling together a prototype. But I know those times, so I’ll do things like go and work on something else at the same time instead. If our estimations go well in the end it’s good, so our staff’s qualities, like their quick-wittedness, ties customers to us. It’s the same thing as the machines we use being for building prototypes. I think in the end, communication between people is the newest way to create value. Especially since the industry in Japan has no life in itat the minute.. I want them to get in the spirit more.

     

    ——-For my last question, please tell me about your visions for the future.

    Nagata: Personally, I want to expand the possibilities for new lifestyles, ways of living, and design, which we have done through shares. I was originally a politician before this, so I’m aware of the problems of how to move our society and regions forward. I think sharing is one of the ways to solve it. By sharing vacant houses around the country, we can give rise to nonresident populations, and if elderly people use these kinds of services, they’ll have a great time. I think we’re still lacking on the design side of things, so we will create by working with other businesses, and I hope we can pave the way for new lifestyles and ways of working.

     

    Iwata: Whether it’s in Japan, factories in China, or the US, I want to work hard to get our prototype workshop out there. I think the Japanese industry has plenty left to give, so I want to challenge myself to that. I want the world to see more of Japan’s industry!

     

    Nagata: Mr. Iwata, I can see you’re active in the work place and having a good time in your position. I think it’s a wonderful thing that you’re paving the way for new things in response to the crisis of your industry.

     

    Iwata: Thank you. I’m kind of embarrassed hearing that <laughs>. I’ve learned a lot listening to your story too.

    Sanken Kogyo, an exciting production business bringing about value and promoting Japanese craftsmanship to the world. Airbnb, a company raising the value of real estate, and expanding its travel services across the globe. From zero to one; from one to a hundred. I feel the infinite expansion of these two companies. In lieu of repeating the services that already exist, their work allows for constant challenge, and thus enables them to grow. I look forward to the future growth of these new creative industries and services, which will astonish the world.

     

    Interview & Text: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • We Interviewed The Creators Behind Sanrio’s Popular Enjoy Idol Series

    20.January.2020 | FASHION / FEATURES

    Are you aware of Sanrio’s “Enjoy Idol Series”? For idol fans, it’s an essential part of your concert trip for the ultimate experience.

    Uchiwa Fan Case (10 Varieties): ¥880 (After Tax)

    A cute case to protect your precious uchiwa fan from damage. You can even stick it on your wall!

    Concert Confetti Storage Keyring (10 Varieties): ¥550 Each (After Tax)

    Want to keep living the memory of confetti bursting out from the sky at that concert? Store one in this keyring!

     

    Idol uchiwa fans. If you’re in Japan, you’ll have definitely seen these around – a round fan bearing a large picture of an artist or idol in the centre. From cute Sanrio-themed items to decorate your idol concert merchandise to even a keyring that preserves concert confetti, Sanrio’s Enjoy Idol Series is full of must-have items for concert-going idol fans. However, there seems to be no other secondary use of these items that cater to the non-concert-goer. What a niche market.

    Fan Memory Notebook: ¥550 Each (After Tax)

    This is an easy way to keep your notes on activities you do to support your idols.

     

    Just how much do idol fans love these items? After conducting research among friends with over 10-years of experience as an obsessive idol fan, it seems that these are more popular than one may think. A quick visit to Sanrio’s official website revealed that the series is so popular that many items sell out quickly.

     

    Despite trying to reach out to what might seem a small, niche market, these items seem to be in high demand among idol fans. Just what kind of person came up with such an idea? Curious to find out, we met up with the Enjoy Idol Series project planners for an interview.

     

    Q1: It’s a pleasure to have this interview. We at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON love Sanrio so much that it’s not often we go long without releasing some kind of news about you. One of the most fascinating Sanrio merchandise series has to be the Enjoy Idol Series for its high demand in such a niche area. Our first question is: From what idea or initial thought was this series born?

     

    Project Planner: The Enjoy Idol Series is managed by me and one other person. Both of us are avid idol fans. We noticed not only lots of fans at concerts using Sanrio merchandise, but also many idol fans on social media using Sanrio characters as profile pictures and as stickers on their photos online. For quite a few years now there’s been a connection forming between idol fans and Sanrio characters in several ways.

     

    We also noticed that although merchandise aimed at idol fans is steadily increasing, there still wasn’t anything cute for them out there. That’s why we started designing this series. The other project leader and I often go to concerts and watch DVDs together. That’s when the ideas started flowing. Eventually, we were packing our project full of ideas and it was really fun. We thought of how we could combine Sanrio characters and idol fans to create something incredibly cute

     

    Q2: It’s wonderful to hear that you are both idol fans yourselves. When you first had these initial ideas running through your head, were you confident that your series would become popular among other idol fans?

     

    Planner: We were very excited to have created this cute Enjoy Idol series and we were certain that other fans would feel the same. And the reaction to it exceeded my expectations. Even people who don’t usually go to Sanrio shops buy something from the series because of their love of Sanrio which made us really happy to see.

     

    Q3: Having seen all the sold out products on your website, it’s clear that many people appreciate what you’ve done. How does it feel to see idol fans using merchandise that you designed?

     

    Project Planner: We’re just so grateful to see people using items from the Enjoy Idol Series to make the most of their concert experience. A lot of people buying products from the series buy specific items based on strongly associating their idol with a certain Sanrio character. We’ve now learned the reasons behind the choices fans make when purchasing from the series which has been a real eye-opener.

    Silver Decoration Case (7 Varieties): ¥660 (After Tax)

    A box to save your concert confetti

     

    Q4: After some research among a number of friends who are idol fans, it seems that your series is a big hit. Many are excited to see what you are going to knock up next. Do you have any new ideas you’re warming up to?

     

    Project Planner: I cannot reveal any specific details just yet. We are still in the process of creating our next items. You can expect them to maintain Sanrio’s cute style. As an idol fan myself, I am committed to making sure these items are of high functionality for our users.

     

    Q5: I’m sure that many people will be over the moon to hear that you are developing yet more cute items. Do you have any final words you would like to say to idol fans and Sanrio fans?

     

    Project Planner: I would like to thank you all for your continuous support for the Enjoy Idol Series. We are delighted to improve your lifestyle and we hope that these items help you make the most of your experience as an idol fan.

     

    When you have something to adore, you lead a fulfilling life. I’ve heard the stories of friends who are idol fans and can feel their excitement towards the release of our new products. I’m so happy to think that these products are improving the quality of life for many idol fans.

    Diary Stickers (7 Varieties): ¥275 (After Tax)

     These stickers are full of words perfect for idol fans but of no use to those who are not idol fans!

     

    Just seeing some of the specific words and phrases written on the idol stickers shows just how much the project planners understand and feel close to other idol fans. It is enough to warm your heart.

     

    The two project planners put their love of idol fans at the centre of their design proposal, creating a merchandise series just for them. Each item connects idol fans through their mutual love. This eye-opening interview showed the true strength of shared passion when catering to a niche market.

     

    Despite not being an idol fan themselves, our interviewer could feel the love poured into each item in the series. What item will be released next? We’ll be just as excited as the idol fans are, waiting eagerly for its release.

     

    ⓒ’76, ’88, ’89, ’96, ’01, ’05, ’19 SANRIO. 著作(株)サンリオ

  • Interview: Go! Go! Curry President Hirokazu Miyamori & Sakura President Toshiaki Yuasa Discuss Progressive Innovation and Generating Added Value

    28.November.2019 | BUSINESS / FEATURES

    Kanazawa, also known as Kaga Hyakuman-gokuーan old name with a long history that originally marked the city’s tradition of wealth, and can also be used to refer to anything that is quintessentially Kanazawa. Capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, the city of Kanazawa is known as a place rich in art and traditional culture, and enjoys no shortage of popular tourist and sightseeing spots. At the core of all of this is the creative mind of the Kanazawan people from which these things have formed. We had the chance to speak with two company presidents, both of whom were born in Kanazawa: Hirokazu Miyamori of GO GO CURRY GROUP CO.,LTD., and Toshiaki Yuasa of Sakura Inc.

     

    The interview was carried out at the Show House Gallery at Sakura Inc.

     

    ーーーMr. Yuasa, this is a really wonderful place, isn’t it? I’d like to begin the interview by asking for a brief explanation of each of your companies.

     

    Yuasa: Thank you very much. My name is Yuasa, and I work at Sakura. We are a company specialising in custom housing, and have done so for the past 26 years since establishing. We centre on the Ishikawa Prefecture area, but also have galleries in Toyama, Gifu, and Kyoto.

     

    Miyamori: I’m Miyamori, and I work at Go! Go! Curry Group. We opened the first Go! Go! Curry branch in Shinjuku in May 2004. We specialise in curry and sell pre-packed curry products. Today, we have restaurants not only in Japan, but America, Brazil, and elsewhere too.

    ーーーIf I’m not mistaken, you were both born in Kanazawa, correct?

     

    Miyamori: Yes. I’ve had “The Nation of Kaga Hyakuman-goku” chiseled into my head since I was small. I didn’t know what it meant back then, but after I travelled to Tokyo and went overseas, I realised how beautiful a place Kanazawa is for its history, traditional arts, and culture. Those two characters* had more meaning than I thought. They have weight, are a brand, and contain soul and spirit.

    *Referring to the Japanese reading of Kanazawa, “金沢.”

     

    Yuasa: It’s just as Mr Miyamori says. I feel a yearning when hearing the word Kanazawa. I believe anyone and everyone there has an interest in its traditions and culture. And that’s because Kanazawa is a region with history, with style.

     

    Miyamori: From being a young age, it’s been normal to know and have artisans around you. For instance, you go to someone’s house, and their father would be a yuzen fabric weaver. When we would go on field trips, we would go to facilities specialising in traditional crafts, go to see a Noh play at a Noh theatre, get involved in various cultural and seasonal events. But these days, those kinds of things aren’t as tied to people anymore. It’s something I realised by going outside.

     

    ーーーーI feel like I now understand a little more the reason behind why there are so many creative people in Kanazawa. Both of you are founders, correct?

     

    Miyamori: When I was 20, I went to New York. I said to myself that I would definitely go back there again. It was a dream of mine. But I ended up forgetting about it when I became a member of society. One day, I saw that a local [baseball] player and star transferred to the New York Yankees. I was so happy hearing that, and at the same time I remembered, “Oh yeah, I went there one time too.” I had no intention of opening a curry shop or becoming a company president. I just wanted to go to New York.

     

    Yuasa: I completely get that <laughs>. I worked for a local company for 15 years, and had some unexpected luck which led to what I’m doing today. I established the company in the latter half of my 30s, but at the time I really had the same kind of authority that Mr Miyamori has <laughs>. Being young is scary in a sense. ‘Management’ has a generational appeal to it, but Mr Miyamori is young, so I think he’s got much more to offer yet!

     

    Miyamori: Haha!

     

    Yuasa: When I look at Mr Miyamori here, I can tell he’s really close with his staff. Do you wear this uniform in Tokyo, too?

     

    Miyamori: I do. I go about like this on the bullet train and plane too! The people in New York get me pretty well as well.

     

    Yuasa: I bet! <laughs> You’re a man of nerve.

     

    Miyamori: We’re a team, so even at this moment in time, my heart is connected to the hearts of all my hardworking staff across the country. They wear the same thing too. I don’t think of myself as a company president or an employee. I think I’m more of a captain.

     

    ーーーーTell me about how you’re putting strength into each of your businesses today.

     

    Miyamori: Up to now we’ve focused our efforts on opening more stores, but now we’re pouring our energy into building our brand. We now have consignments not only for Go! Go! Curry, but Turban Curry, Hot House, and Samrat too. And all of these brands have real soul. That’s why I don’t only want to open restaurants. I also want to sell pre-packaged curry and curry for business use, as well as polish our brand to attract more customers.

     

    Yuasa: I too am putting the majority of our attention into our brand. Branding involves a lot of things, like the image our customers have of us, and putting value in various different things, and by not responding to that structure when running a company, I believe there is no future for you. It’s difficult to find the right words to convey to customers who are particular about things, but is that feeling that the customer has not important?

     

    Miyamori: You’ve got to show them, don’t you?

     

    Yuasa: That’s right. There are many things here in this gallery like that which have added value, but even if I were to put them into words it would be difficult to get through, so I want to actually show them by preparing land and buildings. By adopting new things people have never seen before in properties, it adds value for customers so they don’t see it as just a building. To do that, it’s important to keep our eyes open and always work on innovating. If you want to innovate, but don’t have a clear vision or concept, your mind will become clouded before you can achieve it. And even when you do, every day is still a struggle.

     

    Miyamori: Everyday, that’s for sure. <laughs>

     

    Yuasa: Speaking of which, I’m the only impatient one. I leave it to my employees. Akira Yoshino, who won the Nobel Prize [in Chemistry] this year, also said it was for research for the generations of young people to come. He was right.

     

    Miyamori: If there’s no challenge, there’s no growth, and it’s not fun. It’s blood, sweat and tears. I’m taking part in the next Kanazawa Marathon, and training for it has been really tough.

     

    Yuasa: You’ll be running in that uniform, right? You’re sure to stand out from the crowd!

     

    Miyamori: The people along the roadside cheer you on. That’s a huge source of strength. I can only relax once the run is over. That sense of accomplishment when you reach the goal is difficult to put into words. I want young people to experience this same feeling.

     

    Yuasa: That sounds really good. If one of our workers signs up for the Kanazawa Marathon, I wonder if they’d be able to borrow a uniform from you?

     

    Miyamori: If you’ve got someone who’d bear the responsibility of our company I’ll be sure to cheer them on! The people being cheered on, too. Even if it looks like you’ll be crushed, you keep at it. You’ll make bonds in the company. It’s the same with managing too. It’s tough to keep going, but when you achieve that goal, all of those troubles and hardships disappear in an instant.

     

    Yuasa: It’s a cycle of achieving, and then aiming toward your next objective.

     

    Miyamori: You completely forget about the troubles, don’t you? <laughs>

     

    ーーーI see. And do you ever feel a sense of fulfilment at work?

     

    Miyamori: It makes me happy when the customers call the curry we serve delicious. Other things too, like our curry being the first curry a child has ever eaten, or a family coming together again over it. We distribute curry to disaster-stricken areas, so we’re happy if we can become a source of energy for people too. I feel happy when our workers set high goals, we achieve them and grow from it, too.

    Yuasa: It really makes me happy when I meet with a customer who bought a house from us a year later and they say that it’s a really great house. A house isn’t something you go and buy multiple times, so I feel relieved when they are satisfied. And although we’re a small company, I’m happy I can leave it to my staff so that they can grow. Because they try and they move forward, then the future will open for them. And with that, it’s the responsibility of the company president to bring about results from their hard work. Managing such a task is a tough job alone, but that’s what being a company president is. And if you don’t have that, you’ll fail.

     

    Miyamori: I get that. You’ve got to pour in blood, sweat and tears if you want to grow. If you don’t go all out, you’re not going to sweat. You will grow greatly if you continue to go all out with everyone involved and achieve a monumental goal.

     

    ーーーYou both have warm feelings towards your staff and workers, don’t you?

     

    Miyamori: They feel like my own children. So it makes me really happy when they get married, have kids, and build a home.

     

    Yuasa: That’s true. And also, if your company doesn’t grow, you can’t continue to exist. It’s important to always look towards growth and strive with everyone.

    ーーーFor my last question, I’d like to ask you about your visions for the future.

     

    Miyamori: Curry will save the planet! I’m aiming for the world with curry! For instance, if we were talking about ramen, and someone asked me which is more deliciousーeating ramen at a restaurant or at homeーI’d say eating it at a restaurant. But when it comes to curry, your mother’s is the most delicious. Basically, the curry you eat out isn’t growing or improving. Just like how Starbucks serves delicious coffee all around the world, I also want to serve delicious curry around the world.

     

    Yuasa: Your vision is really easy to understand <laughs>.

     

    Miyamori: Curry is actually a delicious form of Chinese food therapy. We can divide up allergies, so we make it delicious for everyone from children to the elderly. Also, when you eat curry, your bowel warms up, so with curry you can also look at increasing healthy life expectancy, building immunities, and fighting cancer. This curry is a Nobel Peace Prize meal! How about you, Mr Yuasa? What are you looking towards for the future?

     

    Yuasa: I want to build a company that tackles problems faced by customers, like adding value to buildings by making them earthquake-proof and lowering electricity costs, as well as seeing how to incorporate that into housing. Our customers are valuable so we’re seeking value. We want to make lots of houses that answer the question, “How can I live happily in this house?” I believe how people live happy lives in a house changes generation by generation, so I want to catch onto that and keep up with the times.

     

    Miyamori: You really are a company president, Mr Yuasa! I don’t even think of myself as well, and I don’t think my employees do either <laughs>. But it’s amazing how much thought you’re putting into ways of living, and I think that’s wonderful.

     

    Yuasa: Thank you. Before I met you, I thought you were a nonstandard person, but after listening to your story today, and seeing you in that uniform, my opinion has changed to conviction. It’s not everyday something like the Nobel Prize comes into conversation <laughs>. I believe things will get better for both yourself and your employees!

     

    Curryーand property. Two completely different worlds, but two company presidents hooked on innovation and growing their brands. Their ambitions and warm feelings they have towards their staff will encourage the people they work with and pave the way for new challenges brought about by adding new value to their companies. The day when the people of Japan are living in their wonderful Sakura homes and eating delicious Go! Go! Curry in them may already be on the horizon.

     

     

    Interview & Text: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: pon

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Guitarist MIYAVI Releases His Own Brand of Sake in Collaboration with One of Kyoto’s Oldest Breweries

    29.October.2019 | FOOD

    MIYAVI is collaborating with the oldest brewery in Fushimi, Kyoto to create his unique brand of sake. After meeting Tokubei Masuda – the fourth generation owner of Tsuki no Katsura – a collaboration was launched to produce a new brand of Japanese sake called MIYAVI SAKE which was released in Japan on October 29.

    MIYAVI wrapped up his seventh world tour last year, and even starred in the American dark fantasy film Maleficent: Mistress of Evil as Udo which hit theatres earlier this month. Continuing to make achievements on a global scale, MIYAVI is now aiming to spread Japanese culture around the world. To get started, he met with Masuda Tokubei in November 2018 where he observed and studied the brewery’s sake-making process. From the precise recipes, making process, flavours and aroma to the care, tradition and history, Tsuki no Katsura made a grand impression on MIYAVI. Masuda Tokubei, who also shares in MIYAVI’s vision, agreed to the collaboration and they both set out on their project to get their brand out there to the world.

    MIYAVI SAKE STANDARD Junmai Daiginjo-Shu: ¥4,300 (before tax)/ MIYAVI SAKE LIGHT Junmai-Shu: ¥3,200 (before tax)

    After endless discussions between the two of them, MIYAVI and Tokubei Masuda carefully crafted the recipes to perfection. The MIYAVI SAKE collection consists of four types of junmai sake which are made from polished rice. This reduces the bitterness of the alcohol and creates a clearer flavour. MIYAVI SAKE PREMIUM is a junmai daiginjo-shu which is made without adding any extra alcohol or sugar and has been matured over 10 years. The MIYAVI SAKE STANDARD is infused with fruity flavours such as peach and lychee and is perfectly balanced and refined with a refreshing aftertaste. The MIYAVI SAKE LIGHT tastes like a fruity white wine and the MIYAVI SAKE SPARKLING is a sparkling wine which resembles champagne.

     

    With the expertise of Tsuki no Katsura, MIYAVI’s sake is bound to get as much global attention as his guitar skills so be sure to check it out.

  • Senkyakubanrai by DAOKO X MIYAVI Unveiled as Theme Song For Sensational Movie ‘Diner’

    16.May.2019 | MOVIE / MUSIC

    Diner is an upcoming film adaptation of author and horror writer Yumeaki Hirayama’s 2009 novel Diner directed by Mika Ninagawa and starring Tatsuya Fujiwara ー a dream tag team! The novel was said to be so good that it cannot be made into a movie…however, it was!  The movie features the fabulous actors and actresses Kanata Hongo, Masataka Kubota, Shinji Takeda, Takumi Saitoh, Eriko Sato and Nobuaki Kaneko as well as Shun Oguri, Anna Tsuchiya, Miki Maya and Eiji Okuda. For this movie, they are all playing the role of contract killers. This non-stop action film is all about pushing your instincts to the max. The movie will be released on Friday 5th July 2019.

     The main theme song for the film Senkyakubanrai by DAOKO X MIYAVI can be previewed in the trailer which has finally gone public! 

    Last year, guitarist MIYAVI finished up his 7th world tour “DAY 2” World Tour 2018. The tour started in Tokyo and took place in a number of Japan’s cities, finally hitting up Seoul, Singapore, Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and even Europe, Russia, the US, as well as Central and South America! The release of his album SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.3 last year in December also became very popular. Recently, he was recruited by fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto and Y-3 to take part in the worldwide advertising campaign Moncler BEYOND as a model. These are just a few examples of the many varieties of collaborations that have made MIYAVI so famous. Now, he has even created a song with DAOKO!

     

    Rap singer DAOKO and guitarist MIYAVI’s new song Senkyakubanrai will be available for digital download and on streaming services from 3rd July!

     

    The passionate samurai spirit of guitarist MIYAVI combined with the enthusiastic rapper DAOKO is no doubt a collaboration that will reverberate throughout the entire country, sending ripples of passion through Japan. You just can’t take your eyes off DAOKO and MIYAVI for a minute!

    A statement by director Mika Ninagawa

    An absolute dream come true. I am so thrilled. I’ve always been a fan of DAOKO and MIYAVI separately. One day, I was on the way to the set for the filming of the movie Diner, and I heard their song play. I thought to myself; wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work together someday? I then thought, wouldn’t it just be amazing if I could put those two in charge of the opening theme song for the movie! After that thought was in my head, I didn’t even think of considering anyone else. I asked them immediately and it’s actually happening. I just can’t express how happy I am.

     

    Statement by DAOKO

    I wanted to portray the 1v1 battle between the main characters Bombero and Kaneko in song form somehow. I was thinking of how to do this with MIYAVI when the idea crossed my mind! I challenged myself to keep to my rapping flow but to sing in a style to reflect the stubborn, strong-willed female role of Kaneko. I got really close to her personality through the lyrics and challenged myself with full power!

     

    Statement by MIYAVI

    Creating a song that perfectly describes Mika Ninagawa’s perspective was key. I thought about making something to reflect the static relationship between Bombero and Kaneko, and so I took the concept of pushing away and coming close together and worked around that. The time difference between Tokyo and Los Angeles made things a bit difficult  but DAOKO putting her heart into the lyrics really helped. I can’t wait for the world to be shaken when our song along with the film are finally released! 

     

    ©2019 “Diner” Production Committee ©2019  Mika Ninagawa / “Diner” Production Committee

     

  • Interview: The Future of Kawaii Construction Sites Discussed by ASOBISYSTEM & kajikawa Construction’s Company Presidents

    15.May.2019 | BUSINESS

    kajikawa Construction CO.,LTD was established in Hekinan, Aichi 114 years ago, and throughout its long history it has sought to break down existing conventions and innovate within the industry. Last year, the company began its collaboration with ASOBISYSTEM. For instance, kajikawa built and set up a photo booth at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 while ASOBISYSTEM worked on the design of kajikawa’s company logo and company brochure. This year, both companies are set to strengthen their partnership as they announce a large-scale construction project centred around kawaii (cute) designs. I spoke to Yusuke Nakagawa (President, ASOBISYSTEM CO., LTD) and Mitsuhiro Kajikawa (President, kajikawa Construction CO.,LTD) about their thoughts and shared values on the project.

     


     

     

    ――I would first like to begin by asking for a brief summary of your respective companies and what led to this collaboration.

     

    Mitsuhiro Kajikawa: We are a construction business operating in Aichi Prefecture’s city of Hekinan. The company was founded in 1905 when it was first called Kajikawa Zousensho. In 1959 we began work in the construction industry when Typhoon Vera struck the Tokai region in an effort to help with reconstruction. In recent years, we have worked on many designs for earthquake resistance. One thing in particular is the “Implant Levee” which integrates with the earth. We get many orders to construct infrastructure that ensures structures hold steadfast against earthquakes and tsunamis.

     

    Yusuke Nakagawa: How many employees do you have?

     

    Kajikawa: As of now, 96. Around the time I became Company President there were around 50 but since then it has nearly doubled. Of course I still hold Aichi Prefecture near and dear to my heart as it is our roots, but I also have a desire to offer our services to many other places. Right now we are active up and down Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu.

     

    Nakagawa: Besides the main office do you have branch offices outside of Hekinan?

     

    Kajikawa: We have a branch in Takadanobaba in Tokyo. We’re also making preparations for Osaka Expo [2025], so to ensure that we can build infrastructure in the Kansai region we also opened an office in Osaka in March of this year. Infrastructure development is absolutely essential to winning influence with people. Even in Tokyo, the roads and other facilities are wearing out. We do of course reconstruct things, but I also think it’s also important to carry out earthquake resistance with what we already have to ensure their longevity.

     

     

    Nakagawa: Our company started out as an event organiser, but our focus gradually became acting as management for people. We have grown even further from that now; the various number of people and things we produce is increasing. This puts us in a position where we are very different from the rest, so I was very surprised at first when I saw a request had come from kajikawa Construction.

     

    Kajikawa: I had heard about ASOBISYSTEM by chance through agencies, but I knew you [managed] many famous names including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. My image of you was also that you are a central figure in creating “Kawaii” which is a representative culture of Harajuku. Though I look like this, I’ve actually always loved kawaii things since I was young. But I can’t show that when it comes to things work-related. Getting the opportunity to do this and use the word “kawaii” feels very liberating for me [laughs].

     

    Brochure

     

    ――You started collaborating with each other last year. It began with ASOBISYSTEM designing kajikawa Construction’s company logo and company brochure. It has received quite the revamp, hasn’t it?

     

    Nakagawa: I spoke with President Kajikawa and wondered whether he knew that the word “Kawaii” doesn’t apply solely to things like fashion. We too don’t take “Kawaii” as something superficial, we treat the concept closer to what it actually is. The essence of “Kawaii” is something that brings a smile to and brightens people then and there. I feel that President Kajikawa understands that concept and that’s why he sent us an offer. So I want to invest in our “Kawaii” and and return the favour with a lasting relationship.

     

    Kajikawa: When I took a look at the design of the company brochure I was surprised to see two of my favourite elements in there. The first were my favourite colours, pink and and green. The second was the use of traditional Japanese patterns. You took those traditional patterns and made them into a more contemporary pop design. You were kind enough to put all of my wishes in there, so much so that I was left wondering if we’d had a conversation about it beforehand.

     

    Nakagawa: I was happy that you liked it and admired that you accepted the design. The construction industry is a world I’m unfamiliar with, so I was worried what kind of reply I would get. Your openness to upturn the conventions of the industry and make it into something tangible I felt was wonderful.

     

    Logo

     

    ――Your company logo has changed too.

     

    Kajikawa: We are enthusiastically using all the new things we are incorporating. The design will be a hit with younger people. I believe we are breaking out of our old shell and taking new steps forward. It’s a trigger that’s making me feel we are a company to have great expectations for in the future.

     

    Nakagawa: When you look at the construction industry from the outside, your perception of it ends up being just what you imagine it to be. But by simply changing the logo and the brochure that perception can change. I believe the role of a simple brochure can add more value. It is really difficult to realise that adding value is important and then to put money into it. President Kajikawa is a symbol of looking forward.

     

    Kajikawa: The main mission of the construction industry is to adhere to and build what the government office has planned which means we are unable to suggest anything ourselves. It’s for that reason we are receiving help from ASOBISYSTEM, because I want to add our own unique values. By no means are we able to do it on our own. Our ideas end up coagulating and we can’t move on from there. I am grateful to ASOBISYSTEM for giving us a good incentive and for making us feel that we are able to do something if we strive to make that effort.

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 Photo Booth

     

    ――You worked together to set up a photo booth at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FES 2018. This was designed by ASOBISYSTEM with design checks by President Kajikawa.

     

    Kajikawa: I was very interested in it because the word “Kawaii” is used in designs all around the world. It has a strong message, doesn’t it? It felt unpredictable at first, but when I saw so many people standing in front of the panel taking photos it made me realise that leaving it up to top class designers can influence people.

     

    Nakagawa: We were particular about the colour combinations, weren’t we? You are particular about colours. I’m the same. We also endeavoured to make the design something that conveys the strength of kajikawa Construction as a construction business.

     

    ――Your collaboration together is set to continue throughout the year. It seems you are pressing forward with your large-scale “Kawaii” construction project.

     

    Kajikawa: In order to raise the added value of our company, it’s necessary that we change the way all of our employees think. It’s important to that we have them fully understand what we are doing with ASOBISYSTEM. The best way to do that is to show them a finished product. So our next step will be to forward the project by changing the design of our construction sites. For example, making cones, poles and fences pink. We will show them something they can see with their own eyes.

     

    Nakagawa: There are construction sites even in Shibuya that have character designs on them. They are becoming photo spots [for people]. It’s important to appeal to your employees too, but the effect of purely adding value to your construction sites feels promising.

     

    Kajikawa: It’s promising that our construction sites will become photo spots. Another one of our objectives is to make working people feel happy and make them feel like what they’re doing is worth it. Construction sites are isolated places. Them being dangerous is a real reason for that. Though people aren’t actually allowed to enter, by making the design “kawaii”  we can remove that unwelcoming feeling locals have for [construction sites], and that’s wonderful. Business meetings have only just begun but I hope for it to come to fruition by next year.

     

     

    Nakagawa: Are you also thinking of expanding overseas?

     

    Kajikawa: I’m thinking within the next 1-2 years.

     

    Nakagawa: I’m really looking forward to seeing “Kawaii” exported overseas from a new angle. I believe it will catch the attention of a lot of people and have a notable synergistic effect. We’re also working on creating key visuals and a film.

     

    Kajikawa: We are aiming for a pop world where coloured poles are characters that move. I get excited just picturing it. I can’t wait for the day when we make it public.

     

     

    ――I’m sure you would agree that when it comes to business, contribution to society is an important aspect. Will your “kawaii” construction sites have societal contributions too?

     

    Kajikawa: It has only just begun so I can only speculate, but the construction industry has a big mission to service infrastructure for the benefit of people’s lives. Plus, if we set forth to add value to “kawaii” elements, something which appeals to people, I think we can contribute a little to this brutal world. We are constantly in charge of 40-50 construction sites in Japan at any given time, so by giving them a “kawaii” outlook, don’t you think it might calm things down a bit?

     

     

    Kajikawa: For example, if pink-dyed construction sites appeared in Japan and around the world, it’s bound to make a lot of people smile. That’s the symbol of Japanese technological strength and culture. It might eventually bolster the presence of Japan throughout the rest of the world. Plus, if people are taking kawaii photos, then they are going to seek out construction sites. A day like that may come, and working at a construction site might become a status. There are many pieces of dreams in the collaboration between kajikawa Construction and ASOBISYSTEM. Our unique tag team which defies industry may shake things up in a unique way.

     

    Interview & Text: Fumihiko Suzuki

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

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