After a fun (but expensive) Saturday at Tokyo Disney Resort taking in D23 Expo fan festival, keeping Sunday cheap yet entertaining was a priority. So when Chris read on Time Out magazine’s website that there was a big music festival going on at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Sendagaya – and that foreigners (as we’re politely called in Japan) got in for free – our plan was set to go check it out.
The Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival is a three-day event which shone a spotlight on different types of popular Japanese music, along with offering merchandise for fans, sponsor kiosks and a food festival.
In order to get in free to the concert, we needed to have two things in order before getting to Sendagaya. The first was to register for the event online, which took a couple minutes to do (nothing too painful.) Second, we needed to make sure we had our ID with us when going to the venue (which, again, is not a big deal since I need to carry my passport at all times in Japan, and Chris always has his residency card with him.)
Upon arriving at the Gymnasium, we were ushered to a special line for “foreigners” where our registration and passports were checked, and we were given wristbands to access the venue. After making our way inside ,it was evident the organizers loved having us foreigners be a part of the event. Aside from the typical swag everyone was getting (free WiFi connection cards, pamphlets, etc.), foreign guests were treated to a special “priority area” right in front of the stage to watch the show from.
Free tickets, front row seats – things just weren’t adding up. I know Japan treats guests well, but this seemed over the top! Nobody gets anything in life for free. Then, once we got to the concert floor I realized the reason.
The festival wasn’t just being performed for the audience in the stands and on the floor. It was being recorded to air later this month on one of the Japanese satellite TV channels. The high quality production on the venue’s jumbo screens looked like a TV show, and as it turned out, we were the audience that’d appear on camera. It painted a perfect story – foreigners, in Tokyo, coming to see some of pop music’s biggest stars. (Also, gaining consent to appear on camera is something that’s often required here in Japan, and locals can sometimes shy away from the spotlight. Gaijin – the foreigners – on the other hand, have never met a camera they didn’t love!)
I’m sure filling the crowd for the cameras wasn’t the only motivation behind the free tickets. My sense is that organizers (and their sponsors) really want to work hard to spread the work being produced by Japanese music artists – and if by giving a large group of foreign visitors a taste for it for free in return for taking what they love back out in to the world and sharing it with their friends (like… say… on a travel blog), it’s a pretty good trade off.
I walked away from Sunday with a new appreciation for a number of Japanese music acts!
To start things off, we saw a group called World Order. Their specialty is performing some insanely awesome – and meticulously planned dance routines. They’ve produced a number of YouTube videos over the years which have gone viral.
I instantly became a big fan of these guys. It’s amazing how well they move together! I have a feeling I’ll be checking out their library of videos on YouTube (including this new one they just posted a couple weeks ago) in the days to come.
Next up was a collision of new and old as EDM artist Daishi Dance shared the stage with the Kenichi Yoshida, who specializes in playing the traditional three-stringed instrument called the shamisen. The result was music with a thumping beat, with a classic Japanese sound at its heart.
Next up were the boys from the hip hop group M-Flo, and their special guests Minami and Crystal Kay. Kay stole the show during the set with her powerful voice.
Kay’s roots are in Japan – born in Yokohama to an American father and Korean mother. With more than a decade in the Japan music industry, she continues to evolve her work and has just released a new album (which was conveniently available for sale from the Tower Records booth at the back of the stadium!)
Wrapping up the night was the EDM group Capsule (a personal favourite of Chris’) and peculiar yet delightful Kyary Paryu Paryu – aka Japan’s Lady Gaga.
Fitting that on a Sunday – not far from Harajuku – Kyary Paryu Paryu brought the colours, sounds, and vibe of the neighbourhood to the stage. It was a fun performance, and the crowd was completely in her control!
Overall, Moshi Moshi Nippon was a great way to sample some Japanese artists I had never been exposed to before, and a unique chance to experience it with a large group of other foreign visitors.
From reading online, I’ve discovered that Moshi Moshi Nippon stages festivals in other cities such as Los Angeles, Paris and London. I’d highly encourage you to check out one of their events if it makes its way to your city in the future!