Interview: Shakuhachi Player Yoshimi Tsujimoto Discusses Her Craft and the Upcoming Concert at Kumano-Nachi Taisha

20.October.2022 | MUSIC / SPOT

Each year, an incredible event is held at Kumano-Nachi Taisha, a Shinto shrine and World Heritage Site located in the Kii Mountain Range of Wakayama Prefecture.

 

To kick off the ‘diamond celebration,’ a special concert will mark the 1,250th anniversary of the birth of Kobo Daishi, the Japanese Buddhist monk who founded the Shingon school of Buddhism. Yoshimi Tsujimoto, a shakuhachi player from Hashimoto, will perform in the concert scheduled to begin on October 22 at 13:30. 

 

Moshi Moshi Nippon sat down with Yoshimi Tsujimoto to discuss her music and, most importantly, her interest in sharing the sound of the shakuhachi with the world.

 

 

−How did you become interested in the shakuhachi? 

My father loved the shakuhachi, and because of that, I grew up surrounded by the sound of it. That’s how it all began!

 

−What attracts you to playing the shakuhachi?

I love the timbre of the shakuhachi. 

Those who play the shakuhachi often say that a single note has the power to bring someone to enlightenment. 

Curiously, individual differences in tone are more easily discernible with the shakuhachi than with other instruments. That means that a person can express themselves in more unique ways.

 

 −You’ve performed in many different countries. Do you get different reactions to the shakuhachi in other countries when compared to Japanese audiences?

I have a vivid memory of a time I performed a classical shakuhachi piece solo. This particular type of classical music is called ‘wabi-sabi,’ and it isn’t very loud or lively. 

In Japan, when I finish a performance, people usually clap. But when I performed in South America, as soon as the piece concluded, there was a standing ovation with people shouting “Bravo!” That would never happen in Japan, and it left such a lasting impression on me.

 

−Are there any countries that have left a lasting impression on you, or that you would like to visit in the future?

I have good memories of every country I’ve visited, but I think that Cuba left the biggest impression. I just made me think about how incredible music can be.

I’d love to visit Bulgaria, Morocco, Armenia, Uganda…it’s tough, because I want to visit every country I haven’t been to yet. (laughs)

 

−You’re from Hashimoto City, near Mount Koya. How did you feel when you heard that this concert would be held so close to your hometown?

What I felt was pure joy.

Personally, I’ve always loved Mount Koya, and I went there many times as a child. It’s such a pleasure to be able to perform there.

 

−Tell us some of your favorite memories involving Mount Koya.

I go to Mount Koya at least three or four times a year. It’s not a particular memory per se, but every time I go, I love to eat vegetarian food, explore, and buy wheat buns and sesame tofu as gifts to take home.

 

−Are there any local foods or places that you’d recommend?

The fruit is delicious in Wakayama, and my hometown is famous for persimmons.They are so yummy, and I just want everyone to try them!

Mount Koya and Kumano Kodo are both World Heritage sites, and they are both absolutely breathtaking. Other than those, I’d recommend Adventure World! It has adorable pandas roaming around freely and the most wonderful dolphin shows. Everyone from around the country should visit!

 

−Finally, do you have a message for Moshi Moshi Nippon readers?

Japan is filled with incredible places and culture. The shakuhachi, a beloved traditional Japanese instrument, is one piece of that culture.

I want audiences around the world to hear the sound of the shakuhachi and to make it more familiar. If you have a chance to hear it, I hope you will.

Be sure to follow Yoshimi Tsujimoto’s activities going forward as she shares the beauty and culture of shakuhachi with the world.

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    Moshi Moshi Nippon is dedicated to sharing Japanese pop culture with audiences around the world. Recently, we launched a new interview series with foreign influencers active in Japan, and for the third edition, we’re chatting with Zhu Zhu! A popular influencer with over 2 million followers on Weibo, Zhu Zhu claims that since coming to Japan, her fashion has become ‘softer.’ We sat down to ask her what kind of Kawaii she’s found in Japan.

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    Zhu Zhu when she first came to Japan

     

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    Q. Tell us what you find the most Kawaii in Japan!

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    Zhu Zhu Profile

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    Karen Matsumoto

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    Mana Manaka

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  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Concludes 10th Anniversary Tour with Spectacular Performance at Budokan

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    “Good evening and welcome to Nippon Budokan,” Kyary yelled during the first MC portion. “Welcome to the finale of my tour! The title of the show, UMA, means ‘unidentified organism,’ and 105 refers to the number of songs I’ve released so far. How would you like me to perform most of those songs tonight?” A number of fans at the venue were dressed in Kyary costumes from past releases and concerts, and with glowsticks in hand, the audience became a sight to behold.

     

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    As the seemingly endless applause continued on and on, Kyary changed into a new outfit. Of course, her signature ribbon was in place on top of her head. 

    Her emotional MC segment began, with fans giving their undivided attention. 

     

    “My voice is worn out…I think I really might have sung too much,” Kyary began with a strained laugh. “Thank you for coming out to the finale of my 10th-anniversary tour. I fell in love with fashion when I was in high school, and at the time, people would giggle at me when I walked down the street. They’d look at me like I was just some weirdo. I was just some odd girl with a big ribbon on her head. But for me, it felt normal. Soon after, I started my career as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. That was a spur-of-the-moment name, and I really didn’t think I’d still be using it a decade later. It’s all thanks to the staff members and fans who have supported me. You’re why I’m standing on stage at Nippon Budokan today.”

     

    Through tears, Kyary continued. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I never thought I’d be able to perform at Budokan, let alone three times. I want to keep going, and I want to do my best for another 10 years. I want to become someone who can change nothing into something in this world. Thank you, I’m so happy,” the artist said with a flourish. 

     

    “I wanted to push the envelope for my Budokan show. There are things that might seem impossible, but you might be surprised by what you can achieve if you just try. That’s what I wanted to embody with my dancing today. I’m happy that I sang so much that I’m losing my voice! I don’t think I’ll be able to wake up tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to talk either, so I’m just going to take a break,” Kyary said with another laugh. Striking a pose, it seemed like the unidentified creature was Kyary Pamyu Pamyu herself. 

     

    The show was a culmination of the artist’s growth over the past decade. The last ten years have seen the world of entertainment change dramatically due to the internet, allowing fans from all over to experience music and culture from artists around the world. 

     

    Before performing her new electro-pop song Isshin Doutai, Kyary spoke about her accident this summer, in which she cut her leg while swimming in the ocean resulting in ten stitches. “I bought a swimsuit during the tour, and was happy to finally go to the beach, but I really got hurt. It’s healing really well, but I want to love this scar because it’s a part of me. Be sure to watch the music video–I made the scar sing!” 

     

    The final song was Chan Chaka Chan Chan, which also served as the final song for other stops on the tour. Rather than saying ‘goodbye,’ the lyrics were changed to ‘see you soon,’ bringing certain members of the audience to tears. After this performance, it’s easy to see that Kyary is continuing to level up. This legendary performance showed off the best of the Queen of Harajuku and was a delight from start to finish.

     

    In November, Kyary will appear at True Color Festival THE CONCERT 2022, the world’s largest music festival focusing on diversity and inclusion. This will mark Kyary’s first collaboration with Katy Perry, who helped make the artist popular worldwide. We wish Kyary success over the next decade.

     

    Text: Fukuryuu (Music Concierge)

    Photo: Aki Ishii

     

    [Archived Stream]

    10th ANNIVERSARY JAPAN TOUR 2022 -TOUR FINAL- UMA 105

    Available to stream worldwide on Zaiko Connect

    Stream Available: October 19, 2022 – January 9, 2023

    URL: https://connect.zaiko.io/e/kpp10

     

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    Venue: Tokyo Garden Theater

     

    Contact: 

    True Colors Festival THE CONCERT 2022 Office

    Phone: 050-5541-8600 (9:00~20:00 daily)

     

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    The U.S. tour will begin on October 12, and the first solo concert is expected to bring in over 20,000 fans. 12 of the 13 stops on the U.S. tour have sold out, proving the group’s international popularity.

     

    In addition to their appearance at MERRY ROCK PARADE 2022 on December 18, the band will hold its largest-ever solo concert at the Tokyo Garden Theater on January 9, 2023. Tickets are now on sale by official lottery, so don’t miss your chance to watch these girls continue down their path of world domination!

     

  • Interview: What Type of ‘Kawaii’ Did This Popular Foreign Influencer Find in Japan?

    03.October.2022 | FASHION / FEATURES

    Kawaii is marshmallow-flavored medicine for the soul.”

     

    Moshi Moshi Nippon is dedicated to sharing Japanese pop culture with audiences around the world, and today, we’re featuring a foreign influencer living and working in Japan! This time, we interviewed Etsuna, a popular influencer from China, discussing how Yume Kawaii fashion brings her comfort and the many types of ‘kawaii’ she’s found during her time in Japan. 

     

    Q. What brought you to Japan?

    “After graduating with a major in animation, I was working at a university in Shanghai as a teacher, but I decided to enroll in Tama Art University’s graduate program to study for my master’s degree. That’s when I came to Japan, and I’ve been here for 15 years!”

     

    Q. When you first came to Japan, what surprised you? Was anything different than what you had imagined? 

    “Everyone wore such bold makeup, and that really surprised me! When I first came to Japan 15 years ago, I think the gyaru trend was still big, and a lot of girls had that strong Harajuku style and big personalities. Heavy eye makeup and blush was the big thing. I thought everyone was getting ready to film for a TV show.” 

     

    Q. What do you think of when you heard the word ‘kawaii’ in Japan?

    “MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS, character cafes, and Yume Kawaii fashion…they are all so unique and so adorable! Those things are what I think of when I hear the word ‘kawaii.’”

     

    Q. Did finding Japanese kawaii culture change you in any way?

    “Before I experienced kawaii culture, I was a teacher, so I wore a lot of black, white, and gray every day. But after encountering kawaii style for the first time, I started experimenting with different kawaii subcultures, like the Mori Girl trend back in the mid-2000s. Eventually, I fell in love with Yume Kawaii (Dreamy Kawaii) fashion, which is filled with pastels and a fantasy-like aesthetic. I’ve been dressing in that particular style for about ten years now. To me, kawaii is like marshmallow-flavored medicine for the soul. It’s very healing.” 

     

    Q. When it comes to Japan, what interests you now? Where would you like to visit in the future?

    “Today, it feels like Japanese fashion is becoming more and more simple, and the Harajuku kawaii trend is starting to disappear. Is that because people don’t like standing out in that over-the-top way? Do they feel embarrassed if they dress differently than most people? I’ve met a lot of people who love Yume Kawaii fashion, but they might not have the courage to wear it themselves. That’s why I’m currently researching how to bring Yume Kawaii to AR. If I can bring it to the virtual world in a way that blends with the real world, I can create a brand-new experience for everyone. Using mobile AR technology, people will be able to transform their everyday clothes into something with more Yume Kawaii style!”

     

    Etsuna’s Original Yume Kawaii AR Filter

     

    Q. Please give a few words to those living abroad who are interested in visiting Japan!

    If you really want to experience Japanese kawaii culture, stay at MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS in Harajuku! There are so many fashionable people in Tokyo too, and if you hang out near Harajuku Laforet on the weekend, you’ll see people taking plenty of pictures. Come have a special trip to Japan and surround yourself with all things kawaii! Have fun!” 

  • Concert to be Held at World Heritage Site Kumano-Nachi Taisha in Wakayama

    25.August.2022 | MUSIC / SPOT

    Each year, an incredible event is held at Kumano-Nachi Taisha, a Shinto shrine and World Heritage Site located in the Kii Mountain Range of Wakayama Prefecture.

     

    To kick off the ‘diamond celebration,’ a special concert will mark the 1,250th anniversary of the birth of Kobo Daishi, the Japanese Buddhist monk who founded the Shingon school of Buddhism. Yoshimi Tsujimoto, a shakuhachi player from Hashimoto, will perform, while the event also hopes to bring tourism to the area by sharing more information about Wakayama with the masses. 

     

    Date: October 22, 2022, 13:30
    Venue: Danjo-garan Buddhist Temple

    Program:

    [Part 1] Chorus of local elementary school students, etc.

    [Part 2] Talk Session

    Participants:

    Hougen Yabu (Director of Head Temple Kongobu-ji on Mount Koya)

    Yoshimi Tsujimoto (Shakuhachi player)

    [Part 3] Concert

    Performer: Yoshimi Tsujimoto (Shakuhachi player)

    *Will include a percussion, guitar, and keyboard session

     

    <About the Call for Visitors>

    350 Guests are Invited!

    *If there are too many applicants, a drawing will be held.

    *Livestreaming of the event will also be available online.

     

    Application Period: August 23 – September 26, 2022

     *Postcards must be postmarked by September 26. Those applying n the website must do so by 23:59 on September 26.

     

    How to Apply:

    1. By postcard

    Address: Yamabutai Concert Section
    Wakayama Broadcasting Co.
    3-3 Minatohonmachi
    Wakayama, 〒640-8577

    What to Include: Zip Code, Address, Name, Age, Phone Number, Admission
    *Can include up to 2 guests.

     

         2. On the special website

    Please apply using the application form on the special website.

    URL: https://yume.wbs.co.jp/

     

    Keep in Mind:

    1. Incomplete entries will be considered invalid.

    2. Only one application per person is allowed.

    3. If there are too many applicants, a drawing will be held. Winners will be announced when numbered tickets are sent out.

    4. Personal information provided in each application will not be used for any purpose.

     

    (For Reference) Past Performers

    2015 – Hitomi Shimatani (Danjo-garan Buddhist Temple)

    2016 – Chitose Hajime (Kumano-Nachi Taisha)

    2017 – *Canceled due to typhoon.

    2018 – Kumiko (Oyunohara)

    2019 – May J. (Kumano-Nachi Taisha)

    2020 – *Canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

    2021 – Yuki Koyanagi (Kumano-Nachi Taisha)

     

    ■Cast Profiles

    ◆ Hougen Yabu / Director of Head Temple Kongobu-ji on Mount Koya

    ・1993 – Graduates from Koyasan University

    ・In 2011, he became the chief priest of Kirihata Temple, where he remains to this day.

            *Kirihata Temple [Fukuoka Prefecture] / Sasaguri 88 Sacred Sites, #10

    ・In 2021, he became the Director of Head Temple Kongobu-ji on Mount Koya and was also appointed as the director of the 1,250th birthday celebration for Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Buddhist sect.