The Geishas of Kyoto’s Gion District Gather For A Flamboyant New Year Ceremony [Video]

Geishas and maikos (apprentice geishas) in the hanamachi entertainment quarters of Gion and Pontocho gathered on January 7 to participate in a yearly ceremony to kick off the beginning of business after the New Year’s holiday season. One of the largest gatherings occurred in Yasaka Hall in the compound of Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Hall in Higashiyama Ward. More than 110 geishas and maikos assembled in the hall, decked out in formal black kimonos and wearing kanzashi hair ornaments with rice-stalk motifs as well as dogs to celebrate the Year of the Dog. Source: (C) Sankei Shimbun Co., Ltd. Source: (C) Sankei Shimbun Co., Ltd. The geishas and maikos assembled in…

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All of Japan’s Traditional Festivals and Regional Delicacies Under One Roof: Furusato Matsuri at Tokyo Dome

Not many people have the time or money to travel all around, to sample all the food and see all the festivals Japan has to offer. So what if you could do it all in one day, under one roof? grape Japan The Furusato Matsuri is currently running at Tokyo Dome and this year is its 10th anniversary. The best food, and festival performances from Hokkaido to Okinawa have been selected to attend the event. grape Japan The rows of food stalls allow you to hop from prefecture to prefecture, snapping up the local delicacies that take your fancy. Dishes range from the classic (think Hokkaido crab) to the more…

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From Grandpas to Virtual Currency: 5 Weirdly Themed Japanese Idol Groups

You may have heard of famous idol groups from Japan such as AKB48 and Morning Musume, but aside from these standard cute J-pop girls, there’s a whole wealth of idol units out there representing all manner of surprising themes… Virtual Currency Girls (Virtual Currency) Are you confused about all this talk of bitcoin and crypto-currencies? Perhaps Virtual Currency Girls can help! (If you can understand Japanese) Source: PR Times Kaso Tsuka Shojo (Virtual Currency Girls) are an 8 member idol group with the aim of educating the public about various virtual currencies. The stage personas are inspired by different currencies, one member is called BCH, standing for Bitcoin Cash and…

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Kyoto Night Club LAB.TRIBE : An Entertainment Space Transcending All Genres

There are a few good night clubs in Kyoto, such as World Peace Love which we saw in our coverage of the Pontocho area last month. However, one club stands out as a space open to all genres of music and a place where music, fashion and art come together in Kyoto, and that’s LAB.TRIBE. Situated near the Sanjo station and the Kyoto City Hall, a bit at a distance from the lively scene in Pontocho and Kamiyamachi, the building where LAB.TRIBE is housed on the basement level doesn’t give away too much. Grape Japan And yet, once you go down the steps and join the party, you’ll soon understand…

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The Most Ridiculous Song For Learning Japanese English

With the approach of the 2020 Olympic Games and an uptick in foreign tourism, Japan has started a campaign to make traveling in the country a more “foreigner-friendly” experience, even going as far as to change longstanding signage in the country. But when actually traveling in Japan, it’s inevitable that one will need to rely on verbal communication to reach their goal, regardless of how well-versed they are in the native tongue. What might surprise those that haven’t spent a lot of time in Japan, however, is that a good deal of understanding can be achieved by simply speaking English…in Japanese. The video, titled Tokyo Bon 2020 (Makudonarudo), is a…

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Shibuya 109 Collaborate with BTS for Pop-up Store and Christmas Campaign

The legendary purveyors of Tokyo trends, Shibuya 109 have made so-hot-right-now South Korean boy band BTS the faces of their Christmas campaign, which is succinctly named ‘BTS 109 Xmas’. The pop-up store is located on the 8th floor of the intimidating tower of fashion and will run until Christmas Day (that’s 25th in Japan). 109’s other branches in Fukuoka, Abeno and Kagoshima will also get a limited run of the pop-up shop. 🔥BTS 109 XMAS情報🔥 みんな知ってた?🙈SHIBUYA109では館内BGMがBTSの曲でジャックされてるんだよ✨更に12月6日発売される「Crystal Snow」のショートバージョンの曲も流れてるとか🙊✨BGMの順番をチェックして、流れてたら聴いてみてね💞 ここから⏬ — SHIBUYA109 (@SHIBUYA109NET) 1 December 2017 Exclusive BTS merchandise can be bought including stickers, magnets, key chains and notebooks. If you’ve ever wanted rest your face on all seven members’ faces…

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World’s First Skateboard Karaoke To Open In Kyoto

Karaoke is still one of Japan’s favorite leisure activities, so it comes as no surprise that karaoke system companies are always looking for ways to make it more exciting. For example, earlier this year, we saw a “nude karaoke” feature from JoySound whereby good singing is rewarded with images of nude women. Karaoke establishments have also kept up with the times, with comfortable rooms, menu items, food ordering systems, specially decorated theme-based rooms and extra features galore. A recent trend is karaoke establishments that also combine other activities. For example, Kansai-based karaoke retailer Jumbo Karaoke Hiroba introduced bouldering karaoke two years ago at the chain’s location in Kawaharacho, Kyoto. Now,…

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Check Out Tokyo’s Latest and Craziest Halloween Party Scene

As Halloween becomes more and more accepted in Japan, the Halloween party scene is getting more interesting and new options are breaking out. We’re not just talking about the chaotic free-for-all that you’ll encounter in Shibuya, although some of the costumes are very inventive. We’re not even talking about the Roppongi scene with Halloween parties in the clubs. The latest and craziest Halloween party scene is in Kabukicho. What better place to paint the town red than Japan’s most famous red light and entertainment district! Six night clubs got together this year to create a Halloween mega-party like no other, Kabukicho Halloween Music Circuit! It all happened from the late…

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Japanese Slit Drum Inspired By Traditional Garden Ornament Makes Beautiful Otherworldly Sounds

When you think of Japanese instruments, you may be familiar mostly with the koto, shakuhachi, and shamisen, as well as how they can be used to give popular music a beautiful and traditional Japanese twist. Thanks to Twitter user @wyrm06, many even in Japan are now discovering an otherworldly rippling instrument that they had never heard of before called the Hamon Slit Drum. With 70,000 tweets, many are surprised to find out that the pings and echoes of the Hamon Slit Drum actually come from a Japanese instrument. 日本にもヤバい金属楽器はある!という事で「波紋音」です。あまりにも豊かな倍音成分がヤバくて無限。Rav drumと同じ金属製のスリットドラムですが作品ごとにランダムな切れ込みになっており、完全に自分だけの楽器になります。この個体はオーナーが中に鎖を仕込んでいてビビり音が出ます。 — サカン@世界の打楽器 (@wyrm06) 2017年9月17日 Of course, the Hamon is very similar to the Russian RAV Drum (seen below), along…

2:55 PM

This Inspirational Dancer Isn’t Bound by her Wheelchair

Meet Ayananana. She dances as an odorite, following a performance genre that has blossomed in the past ten years. Fans of mostly Vocaloid or J-pop upload dance videos to popular video sharing sites like NicoNico Douga and YouTube. Here she is performing “Onegai Daarin” (Please, Darling) by ONE: Ayananana was already interested in dance since she was 13, although she didn’t perform for the public. However, she later faced a life-changing event which cast a shadow over her aspirations. She was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nerves, causing numbness in limbs and other parts of the body….

9:53 PM

Foxy Kitsune-Mask Band Rocks Out To Utada Hikaru, Lupin, Arrietty, and More On Traditional Japanese Instruments

We’ve seen the wonderful sounds of traditional Japanese instruments fuse old and new in fantastic ways before, with several artists treating us to traditional Japanese instrumental renditions of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, and an awesome medley of nostalgic Nintendo music. As Japanese Instrumental Ensemble band Mahora (真秀) is showing us, however, adding Shinto-style fox spirit masks to the mix makes for a killer aesthetic. Lupin the Third Mahora is a group of five graduates from the Tokyo University of the Arts, and they’ve taken to YouTube to show off the awesome sounds of traditional Japanese instruments such as the koto, shamisen, shakuhachi,…

5:34 PM

Give Your Music Sessions A Fantasy Feel With Elf Earphones

If you’ve been aching to scratch the fairly niche itch of giving yourself an Elven makeover while listening to music at the same time, Japanese Akihabara-based retailer Thanko may be offering your two-birds-with-one-stone chance with these “Elf Earphones”–a set of earphones that let you slip on pointy elf ears. The fantasy-themed earphones have an instant appeal to cosplayers and fans of all things Elven, but can also make for just a quirky aesthetic when listening to your tunes. Source: Thanko Source: Thanko The earphones boast a quick and comfortable (supposedly) elf transformation, and are equipped with a toggle switch and mic. Unfortunately, they only appear to be available in one…

12:23 PM

Perfect Pitch! Pianist Turns Cringe-Worthy Press Conference Into A Musical Performance

Do you have absolute pitch or perfect pitch? Perfect pitch is a rare auditory phenomenon that is characterized by the ability of a person to identify a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone. Some people are born with that ability, but some acquire it through continuous training. One pianist demonstrated this kind of ability by performing the exact pitch from a press conference involving a Japanese congressman apologizing for his wrongdoings. In the video, the pianist not only amazingly plays the exact speed and pitch of the speech but also remembers to turn the speech of the reporter into musicical notes. Although the combination of the…

10:19 PM

Awesome Grandma Dances Into Grandson’s Room And Rocks Out On His Electric Guitar

Metalheads who grew up in a small house probably have this one thing in common — they’ve been yelled at by a sibling, parent, or grandparent to turn the music down. But heavy metal just isn’t the same when played at a low volume, and truthfully, annoying the heck out of family members was all part of the fun anyway. However, there are always anomalies, like when Japanese Twitter user Yuhei (@gypsyheart3) was a hardcore metalhead living under the same roof as his grandmother. One day when he was still in high school, he was in his room playing Slipknot on his guitar. After a while, his grandma (who was…

2:17 PM

Credit Card Forms Japanese Idol Unit Out Of Company Employees

At initial glance, you might mistake Higashi-Ikebukuro 52, Japan’s latest mega-member idol unit, to be a sister-group or spinoff of other popular acts such as AKB48 or Keyakizaka46. Outside of having a lot of singing (liberal use of the term) and dancing members, they’re actually unrelated, though. That’s because Higashi-Ikebukuro 52 is an idol group made up of a credit card company’s employees! Source: YouTube Many Japanese Idol groups also have a sports-team sort of representation of areas in Japan (such as with AKB48 and Akihabara), and that’s no different with Higashi-Ikebukuro 52, who represent Eastern Ikebukuro in Tokyo. The 24 member group is comprised all of employees for Japanese…

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