On April 4th, Mori no Tosho Shitsu (Mori’s Library) in Shibuya will be transformed into a club for a silent disco event.
Remember Mori no Tosho Shitsu? It was the crowdfunded “book and beer” library opened by a book worm in Shibuya last year. Not only can you go there for a drink and a bite to eat, if you become a member you can borrow the books, just like a library.
While there are plenty of public libraries in Tokyo (there’s even one right in the same building as the Cosmo Planetarium), places like Mori no Tosho Shitsu attract interest because their book curation is special. You don’t go there just to see any books; you go there to see THE books the owner has selected. This is similar to the appeal of places like B&B in Shimokitazawa, Village Vanguard, and Shibuya Publishing Booksellers.
Silent discos are nothing new, not even in Japan.
But this is a silent disco inside a “library” in the heart of noisy Shibuya. How cool is that?
Audiences to the silent disco event will get to enjoy the music through wireless headphones, in the unique bibliographical surroundings of Mori no Tosho Shitsu.
If you like your drink too, you’ll be pleased to know the event is being supplied by Tokyo Craft Beer Mania. Craft beer will be available from ¥500 a glass.
Music is by DE DE MOUSE and others.
It’s also being billed as a club event, since it starts at 11pm and carries on until 5am.
Tickets cost ¥3,500.
Flamboyant rock band KISS continue to conquer Japan. The makeup-loving rockers have for years been a staple of both summer music festivals and mainstream advertising campaigns.
And now they have joined the likes of Kabuki actors and animals from Ueno Zoo.
Isshin Do Honpo Inc has created the KISS Face Pack, a genuine mask meant to be worn by men or women to improve skin. It comes in two different two-packs based on the makeup of the glam metal band’s performers: Starchild (Paul Stanley) and Spaceman (Tommy Thayer), or Demon (Gene Simmons) and Cat (Eric Singer).
Despite their penchant for tongue-licking guitar solos and rumors of Satan worship, KISS is seen as harmless fun in the land of the rising sun.
The face pack series so far includes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, the musical Cats, classic Hollywood horror movie characters, Kansai Yamamoto fashion, and even a spin-off Hello Kitty version from different makers.
It’s a dangerous game to throw the racism card around but this development has succeeded in getting that reaction from most corners.
A photo showing a behind-the-scenes shot from an upcoming Fuji TV show has idol group Momoiro Clover Z and veterans Rats & Star posing in blackface.
New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and others shared the photo on Twitter and it has since gone viral.
Momoiro Clover Z are immensely popular right now, often appearing in mainstream TV commercials for major brands. They have previously teamed up with older music stars, such as their bizarre collaboration single with the rock band KISS.
As Kotaku points out, Rats & Star have a long history of blackface since they debuted in the 1980′s. But while Momoiro Clover Z are no strangers to costumes and dressing-up (the idol group’s concept is arguably a pastiche of anime like Sailor Moon), this is a whole new territory of role-play. Could their management really be so naive in this day and age?
Unless the (online) controversy succeeds in forcing the broadcasters to change their programming, tune into Fuji TV on March 7th to see Momoiro Clover Z and Rats & Star appear together in blackface on the show “Music Fair”.
Red Bull Studios Tokyo opens at the end of this month in Aoyama, in the heart of Tokyo.
It is the beverage brand’s eleventh such studio in the world and is designed by Kengo Kuma. Red Bull will lend out the recording studio for free to certain music artists.
Red Bull is celebrating the opening with a three-day series of music events from February 27th, featuring Chip Tanaka/Hirokazu Tanaka. There will be special studio visits, workshops, concerts and more.
While the name might imply traditional Japanese music, the “motion perform instrument” system is anything but historical, allowing you to “play” it intuitively through gesture recognition.
The makers describe as an instrument that “makes it possible to perform music by moving your body, without touching anything.”
It uses a patented technology that recognizes human movements and gestures so that the user can perform music freely.
It generates new music performance with visual effects.You can also append your voice to Kagura, arrange the tempo of music and where to put the sounds on the screen. And you can enjoy all of them by your gesture with the Intel RealSense 3D camera.
As The Bridge writes:
The Kagura app won the grand prize at the Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge competition in 2013. The new version introduced at this time has been upgraded to support Intel RealSense 3D, a new technology available on PCs from Lenovo, Acer, and others, enabling an app to understand and respond to natural movement in 3D with a built-in camera.
However, vision analysis for playing instruments is conducted in 2D, so if you are satisfied with playing instruments only, the app can work with any Windows PC with a built-in camera regardless of whether it supports the RealSense technology.
Currently it is designed for 64-bit Windows 8.1 only, but sure a Mac version is coming soon? iOS and Android mobile versions are also in development. Otherwise, all you need is the app and a webcam.
There is no limit to how many people can “play” it at the same time, though the makers recommend one or two maximum, since it can only recognize two hands simultaneously.
Where can expect to see the Kagura? Well, at special live events, perhaps, since it will be ideal for taking the role of the DJ or VJ to the next level.
Here’s an earlier prototype they made showing how your dance creates music and graphics.
Let’s have this in the 2020 Olympic opening ceremony please!
Learn more and download the app on the Kagura website.
High-res & Analog Spincoaster Music Bar is Shinjuku/Yoyogi co-working space storing LP records for customersWritten by: William on January 15, 2015 at 8:28 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments
Music media Spincoaster has launched a new crowd-funding campaign on Makuake to create a music bar they claim is the world’s first to focus on LP and high-resolution audio.
Seating 17, the High-res & Analog Spincoaster Music Bar will play LP records at the request of customers and offer a “record keep” service where customer’s records can be stored for safekeeping at the bar.
This later service may seem strange to an outsider but in space-strapped Tokyo, it makes a very cool alternative to a storage unit rental. (In this way, it reminds of the “library bar” in Shibuya that also had a successful crowd-funding campaign last year.)
The makers are also selling the Music Bar as a daytime co-working space — a growing trend in Tokyo — with free Wi-Fi and fixed seats. The evening will see it transform more into the “bar” of its name.
At time of writing, they have already exceeded their initial funding goal of ¥1 million (about $10,000) with nearly 90 supporters, and with more than 36 days still to go they are continuing to collect funds. It seems Tokyo has enough analog music fans to keep this bar in business for a while.
It will open at the end of March, four minutes’ walk from JR Yoyogi or JR Shinjuku stations.
Our love for all things Maywa Denki is no secret. We recently went wild about Mr Knocky, their unique drum toy, and also think their retro Otona no Kagaku Maywa Denki Automa-te Auto Writer Hand is cool as hell.
If you’re a fan of original gadgets, especially musical ones, then Maywa Denki are the folk for you.
This is a reinterpretation of the theremin (as we know, a popular instrument in Japan) but it reinvents the musical instrument in terms of look, sound and action.
For a start, it looks like a large musical note (or tadpole) with a face. You use the stem to “play” the notes and then control the “mouth” to adjust the sound that is produced.
The Otamatone Digital can play chords and has a back switch to change octaves. As before, you play the notes along the stem (they even provide you with “stickers” so you can see what you are playing) and vary the sound through the mouth, though now there are improved “modes” so you can create great sounds like a kick drum, snare, bell or cymbal.
Here’s Maywa Denki honcho Novumichi Tosa giving a demonstration.
You can play chords (even “power chords”) and “drums” on this tadpole. A mini theremin rock concert? You bet!
Here are several Otamatone Digital instruments playing “The Frog Song”.
The Otamatone Digital is available in black or white versions.
You can get the Otamatone Digital from Japan Trend Shop.
We’ve all seen them. We’ve all pitied them. We’ve all admired them.
Japanese trains are full of odd sights — but perhaps none so odd as the spectacle of people managing to get some shuteye no matter how crowded or what position they are in, whether standing, sitting, kneeing or (unfortunately for those around them) leaning. No matter how fast the train is going, no matter who is watching — the Japanese are able to sleep anywhere.
Even more impressively, they are more often than not able to wake up in time for their stop. It must be some sort of innate ability taught when salarymen join major corporations.
A new music video called “Dreamer Nippon Inemuri” is proving popular because it pays tribute to these sleepy commuters, featuring a series of shots of people sleeping while riding a train. (“Nippon Inemuri” literally means “Japan dozing”.)
The roughly 50 sleepers were filmed by digital marketing planner Kairi Manabe over two days on public transport. We’re not sure if this counts as infringing on their rights but the results are interesting to watch — not least to admire the tenacity of these train passengers determined to get some sleep no matter what.
The music for the video is by Yusuke Emoto.
The video is actually a Web commercial for Home’s, a real estate portal site which offers a function where you can filter searches based on the commuting time. In other words, it’s encouraging you to move somewhere that’s closer to work! “A long, long way to bed” as the video poignantly says at the end…
OK Go “I Won’t Let You Down” music video: Drones, Honda UNI-CUBs, Perfume, umbrellas, Japanese girlsWritten by: William on October 28, 2014 at 8:23 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
American band OK Go have released a music video for their song “I Won’t Let You Down”, from the album “Hungry Ghosts”.
Filmed using a “multi-copter camera” and directed by Morihiro Harano, the choreography for the video has been clearly sped up in the editing process but it still has the usual OK Go fun vibe and charm.
OK Go are famous for their inventive music videos that feature challenging set-ups and long takes. “I Won’t Let You Down” is no exception, including some bravado moments such as an aerial shot and the band “dancing” the whole time while riding self-balancing unicycles. And holding umbrellas.
The “Japanese” elements are pretty inconsequential. Some anonymous Japanese girls appear, twirl their umbrellas and legs in synchronized group movements, and occasionally chant “Ichi, ni, san…” (Look out for the three members of Perfume, who pop up for a few seconds at the start.)
The setting would also appear to be Japan, though certainly not Tokyo, given the expansive surroudings.
The machines the band members ride are Honda UNI-CUBs, a robotic scooter kind of like a very small Segway that can balance itself. The customized drone camera that filmed the whole enterprise was also apparently contributed by Honda.
There is a worrying precedent when overseas music artists come and make a “Japan-inspired” song or music video. The biggest criminal of recent times has been Avril Lavigne and her wacky “Hello Kitty” music video. We might be tempted to say the OK Go have almost opted for that cliche of Japanese or Asian people prancing around in mass games-style crowd choreography, but on the whole they pull it off with the emphasis leaning much more on fun tribute than cultural appropriation.