Category Archives: Music

Deep Kyoto on CNN Travel

In case you missed it, my recommendations for what to see, do, buy, & eat when in “Japan’s most photogenic city” are now up on the CNN Travel site.

Inside Guide Best of Kyoto

Everyone should visit Kyoto at least once.

It’s Japan’s best preserved ancient city.

Shrines, temples, palaces, gardens … the city is home to thousands of architectural wonders, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Geisha and locals wearing traditional kimonos aren’t unusual sights.

But Kyoto is a modern city with a dynamic music and arts scene, lively markets and restaurants serving the best Japanese cuisine.

There’s too much to see on a single visit — so we have whittled down the best of Kyoto.

Click to read the rest of: Inside Guide: Best of Kyoto

I had to put this piece together in a bit of a hurry last July, so it was a HUGE help that Jeffrey Friedl, Travis Seifman, and Mario Cacciottolo let me use some of their photos. By way of thanks, I encourage you all to visit their websites:

Jeffrey Friedl’s blog:
Mario Cacciottolo’s photography:
Travis Seifman’s “musings on the arts of Japan and beyond”:

Thanks also are due to Chris Rowthorn who put CNN in touch with me in the first place.

NUIT BLANCHE 2015 -KYOTO OPENING PERFORMANCE « Langage, texture et mouvement »

From Marguerite Paget

NUIT BLANCHE 2015 -KYOTO OPENING PERFORMANCE « Langage, texture et mouvement »


October 3rd 2015
Kyoto International Manga Museum – 19:00
UrBANGUILD Open 20:00 – Starts 20:30


«Langage, Texture et Mouvement» is a unique mix-media live performance which gathers classical conductor, composer and percussionist YANNICK PAGET, filmmaker and visual artist ALEXANDRE MAUBERT (Villa Kujoyama 2012), painter DAIJIRO HAMA and electro artist YOHEI YAMAKADO for a special artistic collaboration. Staged in front of Kyoto International Manga Museum (October 3rd, 19:00), the performance will launch the 5th edition of the Contemporary Art Festival : Nuit Blanche Kyoto which 2015 theme is « Fashion x Contemporary Art ».


« Langage, texture et mouvement » : an artistic encounter
Initiated by Yannick Paget this group performance explores fashion, as an art of
appearance that connects or disconnects us, forms communities or leads to rejection. Appearance draws a limit between our interior & our exterior. It creates frontiers, materialized by the textile. Like interlaced fabric, this musical live performance explores physicality; turning fabric into human tissue through the collaboration and encounter of artists coming from different countries, raised in entirely different artistic universe, from classical music to electro or improvisation and using different mediums (video, music, painting, dance…).


While Alexandre Maubert’s vidéos with Daijiro Hama’s painting and the dancers, Kyoko Nomura (Monochrome Circus), Asuka Ueki, Eri Chian, Caitlin Coker and Mina Yoshida will be projected on the wall of the Kyoto International Manga
Museum, conductor and composer Yannick Paget will perform together with the electro artist Yohei Yamakado, playing percussion live (some made out of textile), and conducting the musicians scattered throughout the venue.


Following the Manga Museum performance the artists will continue the experiment at UrBANGUILD inviting the public to join them for a night of hybrid performance, connecting music, contemporary dance, live painting and video.


About Nuit Blanche Kyoto
Every autumn, Paris stages a one-night arts festival called Nuit Blanche (“White Night”) celebrating contemporary art. During this night, museums, private and public art galleries and other cultural institutions are open and free of charge, turning the centre of the city itself into a de facto art gallery and providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), themed social gatherings, and other activities. For the 5th time, Kyoto, sister city of Paris, holds the companion event “Nuit Blanche Kyoto” in various spots around the city welcoming the public to enjoy both Japanese and French contemporary artworks for free and lighting up Kyoto’s night in a wide range of events including performances, exhibitions and projection mapping on building exteriors.


In 2015 Nuit Blanche Kyoto presents : « Fashion x Contemporary Art » a promising wide-ranging program :
Paris and Kyoto: both cities have long good tradition of art and craft. Moreover both cities have developed a strong culture of fashion. Nuit Blanche Kyoto 2015 is considering the possibility of cultural exchange through a passage of fashion. We are somehow connected to fashion even when we are unconscious. It’s an everyday tool, a business and a medium of expression. We are contemplating how fashion and art are related from now on. In 21st. century, how do the two cities create in those fields? Nuit Blanche Kyoto 2015 introduces some remarkable works by artists, craftsman and designers under the theme of New Creation in Kyoto. We explores the new relations between art and fashion. We care for tradition but we need to find a way to reinvent it.
Advisors: Hiroshi Ashida (Seika University), Makoto Ishizeki (Kyoto Costume
Institute), Hiroshi Narumi (Kyoto Joshi University)
More information :

Venues : Kyoto International Manga Museum – 19:00
Karasuma-Oike, Nagakyo-ku. TEL/ 075-254-7414
URBANGUILD – Open 20:00 – Starts 20:30
Nakagyō-ku Kiyamachi dori, Sanjō Sagaru New Kyoto Building 3F
TEL/FAX 075-212-1125
Press Contact : Marguerite Paget / / Mob : 090 6556 1974

New Directions Vol. 3 @ Urbanguild, Kyoto; July 9th

new directions

Our pal, Christopher Fryman, is hosting a series of New Directions events at Urbanguild these days, and has asked me to help spread the word about the next show on July 9th. As Christopher is a pal, and the list of performers does look rather good, and especially as this will be a NON-SMOKING EVENT (!!!) I am very happy to oblige.

First the details:

Date: July 9th 2015
Doors open: 19:30
Show starts: 20:00
Tickets on the door: 2200 yen + 1drink
Tickets in advance: 1700 yen + 1drink

Directions: To get to Urbanguild from Sanjo Dori, go down Kiyamachi Dori (This is the narrow street running alongside the Takase stream). Urbanguild is on the east side (the left hand side as you walk down from Sanjo) about 150 metres. It’s on the 3rd floor of the New Kyoto Building – access by elevator or stairs. Here is a MAP.

Here’s the list of performers:

Hitomi Shimizu
Takeshi Unate & Yuko Nazuna (calligrapher)
Siete passos para el cielo & Himeko Narumi (dancer)

Christopher is particularly keen that people come to see Kyoto-based composer Hitomi Shimizu who will be playing a quarter tone keyboard that she made herself. Here are some more details…

hitomishimizuHitomi SHIMIZU is a composer for film and TV soundtracks and winner of the Japan Academy Award 2001 for the Japanese film “Waterboys”. Hitomi has studied music composition since the age of 14 and is especially intersted in micro tuning. After graduating from Toho Gakuen Conservatoire, she built herself a 43-tone microtuning organ and made frequent live performances with violinist Hiromi NISHIDA as a duo “SYZYGYS” in Tokyo. She plays “microtuning pop” which is Hitomi’s life work. “SYZYGYS” CDs are available worldwide, produced by John Zorn on his TZADIK label. For her solo works, she plays 205/octave microtonal keyboard called “Tonal Plexus 6s” as well as her self made 43 tone organ.
Takeshi Unate is an Asian style, one-man-band ‘pokopoko’ musician. He plays with body and spirit. His hands use many melodic instruments, singing with his mouth and nose, beating with his feet and an array of flutes, whistles and other rare instruments.


Yuko Nazuna is a shodo (Japanese calligraphy) artist. She has performed live calligraphy at shrines and temples in Nara.


SIETE PASSOS PARA EL CIELO are an esoteric free style band playing a beginning, middle, and end. Their influences range from Mahler to Mingus. They are

Kurata Kenichi – Bass
Ito Makoto – Sax
Christopher Fryman – Trumpet
盛田泰三  – Drums


Himeko Narumi is a dancer and art model who has danced all over Japan and participated in many International Festivals. She is currently a member of “The Physical Poets” that use body movements and dance. At the same time, she has a career as a solo dancer and has been working with music in improvisation dance sessions. She focuses on invisible things, a sense of air, music, mind and energy, and the spirit of the land…

All pictures courtesy of Christopher Fryman & Urbanguild.

Pendulum – Japanese Traditional Music Course @ Kyoto Geidai; August 18-20

Alison Tokita is running an intensive 3-day course on Japanese traditional music at Kyoto City University of Arts, August 18th – 20th, 2015.

Click to download PDF

Click to download PDF

This short-short course will introduce many of the genres of traditional Japanese music that have been transmitted to the present and are still actively performed. The course will also discuss the varied ways of experiencing musical modernity in the context of the overwhelming dominance of western music in Japan. It will provide an accessible overview of Japanese music culture for non-Japanese participants, including performers, composers and musicologists. It is also intended for Japanese participants who are interested in an international perspective on Japanese music, and students planning to study abroad who want to know something about their ‘own’ music as well as western music.

The major genres include gagaku, shōmyō, and shakuhachi and koto music. The narrative genres of heike and jōruri and their place in the nō, bunraku and kabuki theatres will be introduced. Practical encounter with some genres during learning sessions, and an evening concert will be included.

Cost: 5,000 yen (payable in cash at the commencement of the course)

Schedule: There will be two sessions per day over three days. Morning session 10:00-13:00 Afternoon session 14:00-17:00 (The following schedule may be adapted depending on the interests of participants.)

HOW TO APPLY: Registrations must be received by Friday July 31 by email. Payment will be made on the first day of the course, August 18, between 9:00 and 10:00. Registration form can be found on the website.
Enquiries and registration:
Enquiries can also be made to the course convenor, Alison Tokita:
Here is the link for further details and a contact form:

The Third Kyoto Record Fair @ Zest Oike on May 16th & 17th 2015

This weekend all the best record and CD shops in Kyoto, plus a few guest record shops will be taking part in a big old record fair at Zest Oike. Apparently there will also be some live music performances and “talk shows” during the event. Check below for details.


Dates: May 16th (Saturday) and 17th (Sunday).
Time: 11:00 – 20:00
Location: Zest Oike is an underground shopping mall which lies beneath Oike Street between Kawaramachi and Teramachi. The record fair will be held in the Kawaramachi Plaza. Here is a MAP of the location.
Website (Japanese):

Entry is of course completely FREE. Here is a list of participating record stores.

record stores

nariiki – 「CORE」 Album Release Show at Urbanguild, Kyoto; May 29th

Jazz pianist Kevin McHugh‘s “experimental” improv/jazz/punk/chamber group, nariiki, are passing through Kyoto this month on their album release tour.


Judging from this video performance I’d say they are worth a look.

Date: May 29th (Friday)
Location: Urbanguild, Kiyamachi, Kyoto.
Doors Open: 19:00
Show Starts: 19:30
Advance Tickets: 2500 yen with 1drink
On the door: 2800 yen with 1 drink

Also playing:
Shanti-Cology +
Sébastien Grandgambe & Sophie Maurin

Directions: To get to Urbanguild from Sanjo Dori, go down Kiyamachi Dori (This is the narrow street running alongside the Takase stream). Urbanguild is on the east side (the left hand side as you walk down from Sanjo) about 150 metres. It’s on the 3rd floor of the New Kyoto Building – access by elevator or stairs. Here is a MAP.


Check out nariiki’s Facebook event page for their other shows in Kansai.

See also:

Arabesk ~ Gypsy, Soul, Jazz Music @ Blue Note Kyoto; May 7th 2015

Put some Gypsy in your Soul with Arabesk in Blue Note Kyoto!

Arabesk play a brand of music that is often described as Gypsy Soul. For those looking to embark on a journey of authentic m
usical exploration, not contained by any cultural boundary, they are a band guaranteed to put some real “gypsy” in your “soul”.


Many thanks to George Bourdaniotis for sending in the following information on Arabesk’s upcoming show at Blue Note Kyoto.

Date: 7th May
Open: 19:00
Start: 20:00 & 21:30
Charge: ¥1,500
Location: Blue Note, Kyoto is located on the south side of a little street between Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi three streets south of Sanjo. Here is a MAP.
Address: 〒604-8021 京都府 京都市中京区 北車屋町北車屋町264,

Originally formed in 2003 Arabesk are a Sydney based quartet who have adopted many of the disparate international rhythms and melodies of Australia’s multicultural society and molded them into their own unique style. Theirs is a journey of constant discovery that has taken them from the tradition-steeped back streets of Eastern Europe, to the bustling bazaars of Turkey. Added to this potent worldly brew are a list of influences that include luminaries such as guitarist Django Reinhardt, jazz drummer Elvin Jones, tango master Astor Piazzola, and bassist Stanley Clarke.

Here’s a clip of the band in action at the Takatsuki Jazz Festival in 2011.

Find out more about Arabesk’s music on their website here:
Follow their 2015 Tour of Japan on Facebook here:

Established in 1953, Blue Note Kyoto is an intimate venue with a rich history of hosting big names over the years.

Read my previous article on Blue Note here:
Visit Blue Note’s website here:

Ludovic B.A. Lyra & Yoko Takeda Live @ Zac Baran & Philippe’s Bar

Ludovic B.A Lyra et Yoko Takeda: Image courtesy of Yoko Takeda

Ludovic B.A Lyra et Yoko Takeda: Image courtesy of Yoko Takeda

I had a listen to these two musicians yesterday and was quietly impressed. Check them out here:

Good, eh? Ludovic B.A. Lyra & Yoko Takeda have two live shows in Kyoto, coming up very shortly. Here are the details:

This Thursday, April 23rd, they will play at legendary jazz izakaya ZAC BARAN.

Doors open: 18:00
Show starts: 19:30
Charge:¥1800 (+drink/food order)
For reservations: 075-751-9748

This Friday, April 24th, from around 21:00 they will play a cozy set at Philippe’s bar. Entry is free, but please buy a drink (or two) and tips would be appreciated (by which I mean money in the hat – not musical advice).

Sanka’s Spring Ritual: A Mixed Media Performance by Ensō Watt @ Urbanguild; April 29th

The fourth and final part of the epic seasonal rites sequence by the experimental arts collective, Ensō Watt will take place at Urbanguild, Kyoto on April 29th. This is an event not to be missed!

enso watt final

Date: Wednesday, April 29th
Doors Open:
Show Starts:
Tickets on the door:
2700 yen
Tickets in advance:
2000 yen
Student Tickets:
1500 yen
(all tickets include one drink)

About Ensō Watt:
Initiated in 2014 by the sound designer Samuel André, the Ensō Watt artist collective is born in Kyoto from the encounter of artists coming from different countries and raised in entirely different artistic universe, from classical music to electro, improvisation and sound design.

The Seasonal Rites:
A hundred years after Stravinsky’s revolutionary “Rites of Spring,” the members of this artistic collaboration pursue the experience-cum-experiment by focusing on Japan’s seasonal cycles, especially celebrated by the little-known mountainous tribe, the Sanka.

The Show:
The music is inspired by the poetry of Chris Mosdell; it navigates between improvisation and conducted improvisation live by Yannick Paget, based on scored music’s elements. The performers, positioned in the audience, generate an immersive, musical surround-experience (broadcast on 4 speakers). More than just a musical experiment, the event is also shot live via a series of 6 cameras, and is processed and projected on 2 screens during the performance.

city that silk builtThe Poet:
Incidentally, the poet Chris Mosdell recently released a wonderful bilingual book of poems written in Kyoto entitled The City That Silk Built. Chris was kind enough to send me a copy which I shall review in good time, but for now, you can take a look at it on

For more information on the show:
Press contact: Marguerite Paget: mgtpaget[at] / 090 6556 1974
Event coordination: Samuel André: sandre.constellation[at]

See also the following sites:
Chris Mosdell:
Yannick Paget:
Samuel André:
Ensō Watt:

And my short reviews of the last two Ensō Watt performances here:
Images from Sanka’s Winter Ritual
Pictures from Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt

Images from Velvet Moon Vol. 115

What a joy it was to see Sean Roe back in Urbanguild this evening – and for the first time in four years! And so much talent in tonight’s show too! I was particularly impressed this time by two of the dancers: Misuzu and Chian. Watch out for them in the images and videos below.

Mangrove Kipling

Cozy (Colin Garvey & Yozy)

IMG_9116 (Medium)

みすず + 山崎昭典





amallsのskcaj & Chian

Andy Couzens

Andy Couzens

Sean Roe

Sean Roe

amalls 1



amalls 2

amalls 3

amalls 4

amalls 5

And finally… Michael Jackson’s Llama?