May 2010

Konnichiwa! this is Ayako Ochi.

Do you know “Namie Amuro”?  She is one of the most famous and talented Japanese singers. She started her career as a singer in 1992 and now she is 32 years old.  When I was in a junior high school and high school all the teenagers was listning to her songs.  And nowadays wide range of generations loves her songs.

Yesterday she awarded a “best selling artist in Asia” at World Music Awards 2010 in Monte Carlo!  Maybe you know this Music Award as Elissa won the best selling artist in Middle East.

You will find Amuro’s CD at the new space for Contemporary Japanese Culture in our library which will be opened from this Summer (around July~)!!


Hello. This is Koji Sato.

Summer has come to Egypt. It is really hot, isn’t it? Eat and sleep well to keep healthy.

Now, all the Japan Foundation staff are being really excited to receive in Cairo one of the greatest musicians from Japan in early June.

The name of the group is ‘AGA-SHIO.’

AGA-SHIO consists of a shamisen player AGA-tsuma and a pianist SHIO-noya. that’s why, AGA-SHIO!!

Do you know about shamisen? It is 3 string instrument traditionally played among Japanese musicians for a long time. And AGAtsuma’s shamisen is particularly from TOUHOKU area, which is the north-east part of Japan. Named after the area, this type of shamisen is called ‘TSUGARU-SHAMISEN.’

Compared to regular shamisen, which is mainly used as backgruond music of songs and plays like Kabuki and Bunraku, this TSUGARU-SHAMISEN has more powerful sound and , that is why, is used for solo-play.

Although he is young-still in thirties, he has become one of the most renowned ant talented shamisen players in Japan out of more than ten years of his professional activities. He has also collaborated with many foreign great musicians like Herbie Hancock!!

I found some of his live performances at YouTube, so I would like to share them with our Egyptian friends.

The first one is very modern with latin music in band ensemble.

And this is traditional Japanese tune in solo.

AGA-tsuma felt strong respect and friendship with SHIO-noya, who is also one of the most renowned pianist in his generation. SHIO-noya is a cross-border musician who taps various genres such as jazz, latin, western classical. After he started solo activities in 1993, he has made as many as 11 albums.

This is SHIO-noya’s solo perfomance!!

They made a unit in last November, composed songs together, and now will be in a long world-tour, in which Cairo is also the destination!!AGA-SHIO’s music is standing at the forefront of contemporary music scene in 21st century.

You must come and see this exciting crossover music of tradition and modern, the East and the West!!

Once again, DO NOT miss the chance to enjoy their music!!

AGA-SHIO; Unprecedented Music Crossover from Japan

Date & Time: June 8, Tue., 20:00~

Venue: Cairo Opera House Small Hall

Tickets: 30 LE (available at Cairo Opera House)

Hello. This is Koji Sato.

This morning I was a bit surprise to read an article of Asahi shinbun web news about latest ‘Anison.’

Do you know what Anison is?

It is the contraction of ‘Anime Songs.’

They are popular not only in Japan but in Europe and Asia, together with the great number of viewership of the ‘Anime’ itself.

Well, about the news this morning.

The latest two ‘Anisons’ for the school animated serial “KEION,” got No. 1 and No. 2 of the ‘ORICON,’ one of the most reliable music hit charts in Japan.

The titles of the songs are; ‘GO! GO! MANIAC!’ and ‘LISTEN!’

They are composed by a professional composers but sung by the 5 voice actor/actresses of anime “KEION.”

The word “KEION” is also a contraction of KEIONGAKU; that is light music or pops in general.

The protagonists of the Anime belong to KEION club at school and explore the world of music and creation. There must be friendship, romance as sidelines, of course.
Having said that, I have to confess that I have not seen this Anime yet.

I also belong to KEION club at high school (more than 20 years ago…), and that is why very much interested in this Anime. I wish to get some DVDs or its original comic books in nearest future and would like you to enjoy them, too.

Going back to the music of the “KEION,” there seem to be some controversial debates on the legitimacy or artistic values of these a bit amateur-tasted songs. But, as far as I feel, they are nice and worth enjoying as music!!

I found Youtube posting of the songs. please enjoy them!!