Category Archives: Music

Happy in Kyoto

Look what I found! And nicely timed with the sakura too – what could be happier than that? There’s some neat skipping here. Watch and enjoy!

Jazz Band Fujiya Mountain @ 和音堂

Walking up the Kamo river one day, we saw a lively jazz band playing under the Sanjo bridge that were so good we decided cross over and have a look.
IMG_7940v2 (Medium)
They were young, fun and funky, so we picked up a flyer for their next gig, which happened to be on the following day. The location 和音堂 (WA・ON・DO) was convenient and the price was only 1000 (+ another 500 for a drink) and let’s face it, you can’t see many jazz bands at that price. So we decided to go.
IMG_7951 (Medium)
和音堂 is pretty cramped inside so it was hard to get a full band picture, but Mewby took the panorama shot above with her i-phone. If it looks a little weird that’s because they were jigging about to the music. It was good music! Here try some!

They also had a support band, Cocopelie, playing Irish music. I didn’t recognize them at first but I have seen some of these musicians playing at Irish pub Gnome in the past…

For one song Tomoko Sato from Cocopelie and Fujiya Mountain played together:

A great night! This band are a lot of fun and jazz at that price is such great value. We felt like we had made a wonderful new musical discovery! Fujiya Mountain play a regular monthly show at 和音堂 and next month they are playing with the support of “jazz-metal-comic-band” Dead Hot Chilli Peppers. We are definitely going to see them.

Here are the details:

IMG_7953 (Medium)Fujiya Mounatin @ 和音堂 Vol. 7
Date & Time: April 29th Open: 7:00pm Show: 7:30pm
Charge: 1000 yen (+ 500 yen per drink)
Guests: Dead Hot Chilli Peppers
Location: 和音堂 is just off Kawaramachi Street on the north side of 竜馬通り (one street south of Sanjo). Here is a map.

I will leave you with the band’s joyful rendition of “Stand By Me”.

See also Fujiya Mountain’s schedule on their website.
IMG_5128 (Medium)

Highlights from Aya Oto World & Guests at the Weller’s Club

Aya Oto Big Band

Aya Oto World play a free show at the Weller’s Club on the first Tuesday of every month and this month I went along with Mewby and our friend Kiyomi for a super night of music and live painting!


This time around the regular band members were joined by guest musicians TOM (from片山ブレイカーズ&ザ☆ロケンローパーティ) on bass and Yusuke Takaku on didgeridoo. Shinpei Noda was the very excellent guest DJ and we also had a guest painter Keino (a.k.a. Milkshakey), working away behind the musicians. It was a very entertaining evening, and also very well-attended. The bass and didgeridoo performance impressed me with it’s originality. And the final “big band” performance was enjoyed by all – you could see all the musicians were getting a real kick out of it!

For future events please check the Aya Oto World website:

See also:
Aya Oto World at The Weller’s Club
The Weller’s Club

Highlights from the Bob Dylan & Allen Ginsberg Poetry & Song Celebration at Tadg’s Bar Kyoto

MeadowlarksFriday night’s Bob Dylan & Allen Ginsberg celebration at Tadg’s was a whole lot of fun. High praise to all the performers and musicians who took part and to our hard-working hosts Tadg & Mika McLoughlin. Apologies also to Mika for trying to pay the same bill multiple times. I must be more careful when supping craft beers… Here below are some video highlights I managed to record while still in a semi-sensible condition. I believe the next poetry & song celebration will be dedicated solely to Mr. Leonard Cohen.


off-beat-chaHere’s another FREE event, that some friends of mine are involved in, featuring very pleasant guitar music, a theremin player, genre-defying DJs + a mini flea market with records, old books and food on sale. The location: UrBANGUILD.

Thursday January 23rd -
Doors Open: 18.30
Show Starts: 19:30

- “John and Paul” – Guitarists from Hiroshima. You can hear a couple of their tunes on their MySpace page.
- Sayaka Takaku - A theremin enthusiast she will be singing sacred songs, arias and jazz standards accompanied by her unusual instrument.

Shinpei Noda 〈OFF BEAT〉
Takuya Matsuo 〈OFF BEAT〉
From Central America and back to Asia, Rock, Soul, Jazz, New Wave… What these records have in common defies explanation, yet somehow our DJs make the link. OFF BEAT o’er-leap times, genres and national borders to bring you the very best tunes from around the world.

●In the Flea Market
100,000Ton Alonetoco – (records)
Mund Shokudo – (food)
古書クロックワーク - (records and books)
And more!

★Early arrivers will receive a free compilation CD of select OFF BEAT tracks!

From Sanjo Dori go down Kiyamachi Dori. This is the narrow street running alongside Takase stream. Urbanguild is on the east side (left hand side as you walk down from Sanjo). Walk approximately 150 metres. Its on the 3rd floor of the New Kyoto Building – access by elevator or stairs. Here’s a map.

Aya Oto World at The Weller’s Club

IMG_4796On January 7th I went to see Aya Oto World play at The Weller’s Club on Takoyakushi Street. This is a regular free show they do on the first Tuesday of every month. I’ve been to see them there a fair few times now, and written about them on here too – and I cannot figure out why more people don’t go to see them play. The music is great. A kind of soaring psychedelic, electro-rock, ambient dance music that really gets you hopping. Keyboard player Satoko Okuda is also a singer-songwriter and sometimes sings a few of her own numbers, and last week guitarist Kota “Fresh” Yamamoto sang a song of his own too. To make the night perfect, my old friend DJ Shinpei Noda was playing some classic ’70s and 80′s tracks between sets to get us all in the mood. A really fun night, with fun people! Next time I’m bringing a posse to fill the place up and give them all the audience they deserve.

Here are a few videos from the night followed by photos. Some cracking tunes in here. Stick your headphones on and let Aya Oto World carry you away.

Aya Oto World are Kota “Fresh” Yamamoto “Fresh” on guitar, Satoko Okuda on keyboards and Teruhiko Kawamoto on drums.


DJ Shinpei Noda

IMG_4812Aya Oto World play a FREE show, usually with a guest DJ, at The Weller’s Club on the first Tuesday of every month. The next show is on February 4th. Please check the Aya Oto World website for the times. To find The Weller’s Club head west on Takoyakushi Dori from Kawaramachi. The Weller’s Club is on the north side of the street on the 5th floor between Fuyacho Dori and Tominokoji Dori. Look for the swirly purple Weller’s sign. Here’s a map.

In addition Kota and Satoko have some upcoming shows as the duo “Yamaoku”. On January 20th they will play at TakuTaku, as the third of four bands. And on February 28th they will play at Koenshokudo (公〇食堂) in a free event. Again, please check their website for details.

Christmas Dinner & Events Listings for Kyoto, 2013

~Things to do in Kyoto this Christmas!~
Here is a listing for dinner options and other events this holiday season. A number of locations will be serving Christmas dinner – but reservations must be made in advance and you will need to book it fast! In no particular order…

Tadg’s Irish Bar & Restaurant is serving a candle-lit Christmas Dinner on Dec. 24th, 25th and 26th. from 6pm for ¥4,000 per person. Vegetarian, pescatarian and traditional turkey options are all available. Check the menu details here: Tel: 075 212 6339

The Gael Irish Pub is serving Christmas Dinner on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th from 17:00 – 23:00. You can get a basic turkey dinner with all the trimmings for ¥2,000 but for soup, pudding, drinks there is an additional fee. Check for details here: Tel: 075-525-0680

Cafe Foodelica is serving Christmas Dinner on the 23rd & 24th from 7pm. A full course gourmet dinner with a choice of oven baked chicken or grilled salmon will set you back ¥3,300. Check for details here: Tel: 075-703-5208

Papa Jon’s Eatery is serving Christmas Dinner on the 23rd, 24th & 25th. A seven course meal including roast duck & pork appetizers and Kuroge Beef stewed in red wine for the main course. Menu details are viewable on Papa Jon’s Cafe Facebook page. Tel: 075 211-1600

And don’t forget to make those reservations soon!

Christmassy Events:

CarolsChristmas Carol Singing with Felicity Greenland
Date: Sunday 22nd December 2013
Place: Outside Kyoto City Hall (NW corner of Oike Kawaramachi)
Time: 6.00pm and sing until 6.30pm (just 30 mins)
Followed by: December’s meeting of New Ukulele Club and Singing Around the Table at Gnome (until 10pm)
English/Japanese song sheets provided. Says Felicity, “It’s very cold so wrap up warm (hat, gloves, muffler, antlers etc) !!! We will retire to nearby Irish Pub Gnome afterwards for food, drinks, and the December meeting of New Ukulele Club and Singing Around the Table.”

All Doshisha presents Handel’s Messiah at Kyoto Concert Hall
Date: Tuesday 24th December
Doors open: 17:00
Place: Kyoto Concert Hall
Ticket and reservation details in my previous post here: Handel’s Messiah Christmas Concert

O-minugui Shiki at Chion-in Temple
Our friend John Dougill’s recommendation for a truly Kyoto Christmas is a magnificent Buddhist ceremony held every year on December 25th. Read all about it here: A Kyoto Christmas

Sounders Vol. 27 at UrbanGuild
Nothing to do with Christmas really, but lots of fun anyway and maybe Max Dodds could be persuaded to sing something festive…?
Performing on December 26th:
Mark Dodds with the Poorboy Ensemble & ryotaro
magomago+kousuke(遊火, fire performance), 球体遊戯(contact juggling) , nayu(dance performance)
makkakka(木歌(Mocca) + マキンコ)
Doors open: 18:30
Show starts: 19:00
Advance tickets: 2000 yen with 1 drink
Tickets on the door: 2300 yen with 1 drink
Further details at or check the Sounders Facebook event page

…And if there any Christmas dinner or event options I have missed, then please add them in the comments. Joys of the season to you all!

Handel’s Messiah ~ The 49th Christmas Concert from Doshisha

John McAteer suggested I share this information for those staying in Kyoto over Christmas, who feel in need of some festive cheer. Every year Doshisha University puts on a Christmas performance of Handel’s masterpiece, “Messiah”, at Kyoto Concert Hall and this is the 49th!

49th Messiah Concert
The annual All Doshisha Messiah Concert is hugely popular with members of the local community, as well as with the students, graduates, teachers and staff of Doshisha…. All the performers do their best to make it a Christmas to remember. Continue reading

tRace elements: “Up & Down the Ki” – Kiyamachi Tour Highlights

IMG_4549 (Medium)Here are some highlights from an extraordinary ten-bar tour of Kiyamachi & Pontyocho that started at 7pm Saturday evening and finished around 5.30 am the following day. It was a real fun, friendly and festive occasion. A little bit of music and magic up and down “the Ki’”… Continue reading

TEDxKyoto 2013 – My Top Five Talks


This picture courtesy of TEDxKyoto

Now that the videos are up I’m going to post my favorite talks from this year’s TEDx Kyoto event. First though a word about the event as a whole. A lot of praise is due to Jay Klaphake and his team of volunteers for organizing this again this year. It was on the whole a great success and most of last year’s teething troubles had been cleared away. The presentation was a lot smoother, technical hitches gone, and when I used it, the simultaneous interpretation service from Japanese to English was pretty good. Unfortunately though Mewby found the English to Japanese interpretation largely unusable… For me though I only have one remaining gripe. That guy with the beard who comes on every year and has everyone practice their standing ovations. I’d rather he didn’t do that. Continue reading