Tag Archives: folk

U.S.B. ~ Udonya Super Band @ Jittoku

Some of you will remember this local folk band from their rousing performance at the “Voices for Umekoji” event last month. The vocalist Udonya Mentei (Yamahara-san), has renamed his band U.S.B. – Udonya Super Band, and under this name they performed at the legendary live house Jittoku last Sunday. As usual it was a fine performance and I managed to capture a little bit of it on camera for you. Take a look!

Jittoku is open 17:30 - 24:00. Live music every night between 19:00 - 21:00. Situated on the east side of Omiya, north of Marutamachi. Click on the picture for an access map and check the website for irregular holidays: http://www2.odn.ne.jp/jittoku/

“Children of Water” & Morphic Jukebox @ Jittoku

Last Friday I attended the Kyoto premiere of Roger Walch‘s new movie “Children of Water” at Jittoku. The venue was a legendary live house in Kyoto (Japan’s oldest in fact) that has been open since 1973. Like the equally famous TakuTaku the building is a converted saka-gura – a kind of traditional sake warehouse. This was my first time to visit this fine old venue.

Jittoku is open 17:30 - 24:00. Live music every night between 19:00 - 21:00. Situated on the east side of Omiya, north of Marutamachi. Click on the picture for an access map and check the website for irregular holidays: http://www2.odn.ne.jp/jittoku/

Folk rock funsters Morphic Jukebox have a couple of songs in the movie’s soundtrack, so they performed a live set before the movie was shown. I’ve put some videos of their performance at the end of this post.

Roger’s movie was an interesting and moving story about different and sometimes clashing cultural attitudes towards child-rearing, and abortion as they play out in a particular cross-cultural relationship. Continue reading

A Christmassy Sing-along @ Irish Pub Gnome

tablesongsOne Sunday, usually around the end of each of month, Felicity Greenland and Tomoko Saito lead a sing-along of Irish and British folk songs at Irish Pub Gnome. The next one is on December 20th so I asked Felicity the obvious question:

DK: Will you be singing Christmassy things?
FG: Yes sir, we will
DK: Marvellous! Any in particular?
FG: 12 days, Jingle bells, Ding dong merrily on high, Rudolph… In fact we will be doing lots.
DK: The First Noel is one of my favorites….
FG: OK, we’ll do that then.

Do you see how obliging she is? So if you’re away from home this Christmas and feeling in need of some festive cheer, come along to Irish Pub Gnome and sing your lungs out. Heartily. As Felicity once put it:

…it’s a very special bonding thing to sing together – everyone has had hard times with themselves and each other, but when you sing together all that really does melt away…

Sing Around The Table at Irish Pub Gnome will be held on December 20th. Entry and songsheets are free. The singing starts at 7:30 pm and goes on till 10ish. If your voice needs some advance lubrication, Happy Hour is from 5:00 pm ~ 7:00 pm. Gnome is situated a short walk north of Oike on the west side of Kawaramachi in the basement of the SSS building. Look out for the yellow sign. Here is a handy map. TEL: 075-212-2101

I might also mention that an Irish band (well, they are all Japanese but they play Irish music) by the name of 白花 (Shirohana or White Flower) also featuring Tomoko Saito on the fiddle will be on at Gnome tonight. Entry is free but they’ll be passing round a hat.

Folk Music Workshop @ Irish Pub Gnome

img_0566Last weekend’s traditional music workshop at Gnome was a great success and so it looks like there will be many more in the future. Felicity Greenland writes:

Japanese and foreigners all singing together in a cool atmosphere… It’s hard to explain without sounding crass, but really, it’s a very special bonding thing to sing together – everyone has had hard times with themselves and each other, but when you sing together all that really does melt away. Plus, there were a few people who came who are really studying hard at English, or guitar, fiddle  or bodhran playing, and want to have a chance to make their studies real. This kind of event really works for them – some of them might play with us in the future and so their efforts have now become very real for them. Let’s do more – please come and tell your mates about it even if you can’t come yourself. Kyoto is the origin and hub of Irish music in Japan – with your energetic contribution it could also become the origin and hub of the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh singalong too! LINK

Keep your eyes either here on D. K. or on the Gnome Live Schedule page for the next event. In the meantime there’s a video of a nice Gaelic song, Siúil a Rúin, after the jump. Continue reading

Sing Around the Table @ Irish Pub Gnome

Ted Taylor put me on to this event at Irish pub Gnome this weekend:

Singing Around the Table: A fun evening of Traditional Songs of Ireland and Britain with Felicity Greenland & Tomoko Saito.


Date: Sunday, May 31, 2009
Time: 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Song sheet available.
No Charge.
Listenable previews here.
Telephone: 0752122101
Location: Irish Pub Gnome (see map)

I wanted a wee bit more information though. So I asked Felicity, “Could I have a wee bit more information please?” And she said:

Continue reading

Donal Lunny @ TakuTaku

I’m back online at home and so the comments are back on as well. I’ll be adding more locations soon but until then here’s a video of Donal Lunny and The Flying Dugong Band at TakuTaku last night. I filmed a few songs but I think this one is the nicest.

Thanks due to Mewby for pointing out the info about this show to me when we were in Field a couple of weeks back…

Update: There’s a nice review of the show by Ted Taylor on his blog here.

Zac Baran

I first met Yoshida Koichi in the music bar Hawkwind. A shakuhachi player, he told me he plays in many styles, not just traditional, but jazz, folk, avant garde, new age, pretty much anything. In Hawkwind we were listening to some hip-hop. “How about this then?” I challenged him with a grin. And do you know, he stood up immediately, he played, and it was wonderful. I was very impressed (not least because he had obviously had a few). Koichi is still but a student of shakuhachi though, so he supports himself by working part-time at the jazz cafe, bar and diner Zac Baran. I decided to go and visit him there in the New Year.

Zac Baran, is listed in 新版 京都音楽空間 (Kyoto Music Spot Guide) as one of the “legendary places” of Kyoto. It first opened in 1977 during Kyoto’s jazz boom along with other great jazz cafes like Yamatoya and Lush Life Zac Baran is not so strict about the jazz as those other locations though.  In the entryway you will find a stash of over 2000 old vinyl records that includes blues and latin music and the current management are clearly not averse to a bit of rock guitar too. When I visited I found myself watching DVDs of The Police, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Nirvana on the big screen. Not what I was expecting! Among the succession of owners Zac Baran has had over the years, one was clearly a fan of the  Freak Brothers as their images are all over the walls.  I asked current owner Nakano Koji what kind of people come here now. “We get musicians, not so many salarymen… students from the nearby university… doctors and nurses from the nearby hospital…”
“And maybe a few patients too!” quipped regular customer Kikuchi Yousuke. He himself is a jazz pianist.  “Why don’t Koichi and I play a little something for you?” he said and so they gave an impromptu performance which you can see at the end of this post.  First here are some pictures to give you a flavour of the place:

The drinks menu here is reasonably priced. A draft beer will cost you ¥600. Spirits and cocktails cost between ¥600 – ¥750. They also have coffee and soft drinks. Food is cheap too and they have a big range of dishes to choose from (on an English menu!): pizza, curry, noodles, stir fries, quiche, etc. Live music events are frequent, and the space can be rented for parties. As for the atmosphere? It’s a dimly lit but friendly place in which to meet interesting and sometimes very talented people. Zac Baran means frank speech or straight talking, and that being its guiding principal, this is a place where you can relax and freely speak your mind.
Zac Baran is on the north side of Marutamachi a short walk east of Higashioji Dori. Here is a most convenient map. Open everyday 18:00 ~ 04:00.
Tel: 075-751-9748
Here’s that video for you:

Next post: The curiously named Sheep’s Public Cafe.


img_9261This noodle shop by MotoTanaka station does some very nice homemade udon noodles. The owner (pictured a short ways below), is known to all his friends as Yama-chan, or by his customers simply as “Master”. I can’t remember what his real name is. He’s a very nice chap. I first met him in music bar Hawkwind one night, and when he told me he owned the nearby noodle shop I said “Oh! That place! I’ve eaten there.”
“How were the noodles?” he asked me. “Well,” I said, “The thing is, I really like nishin soba… And I’m quite strict about it because I like it so much. So, to be honest, the nishin soba at your place was good, but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had.” I can be horribly honest sometimes. Yamachan however, remained unfazed.
“Next time you come to my shop,” he said, “You have to try the udon. Not the soba. My shop’s specialty is udon, afterall.”

img_9254Fair enough, I thought. So I went back to Mentei one night and ordered nishin with udon noodles to see what they were like. Below right you can see the dish that was set before me.

img_9257I proceeded to slurp noodles, soup and herring into myself as Yama-chan walked gingerly over. After a while I looked up with a big smile on my face. “Well,” says Yama-chan, “How are they?”

He wasn’t kidding about the udon. They were really great. And when I told him so, he was really happy – mostly with relief I expect.

As well as owning a fine noodle establishment Yama-chan also happens to be a pretty well known local folk singer, his stage name being: Udonya Mentei. I tell you, you meet some pretty interesting characters in Hawkwind. I’ll post more about him and his music at a later date.


To find Mentei, go north on Higashioji Dori, past Hyakumanben, past Mikage Dori, until you get to the railway intersection at MotoTanaka. Mentei is on your right, below the cafe and live music venue Zanpano. Here is a map.

Open 11:30 – 23:00 or earlier if they sell out. Closed on Sundays.

Next post: Zac Baran and some very nice shakuhachi playing.


ほんやら洞 (Honyarado) is a famous café on Imadegawa, that has been supplying coffee and cheap meals to nearby Doshisha University students for over thirty years. The owner, Kai Fusayoshi, is a very productive professional photographer and his prints and posters decorate the walls of the shop. Check out some of the books of his work littering the place. In black and white and with gentle humor he has documented the day-to-day life of ordinary people in Kyoto. His pictures have also documented the day-to-day life of ordinary Kyoto cats.

During the radical years of the peace movement, Honyarado became well-known as the “Folk Mecca” of Kyoto because of the musicians who gathered there and it is still occasionally a live music venue today. See the website for scheduled events and for the menu. Lunch and evening meals change daily and will set you back ¥600 and ¥700 respectively.

Honyarado is a delightfully, scruffy, cheerful place, piled up with books, flyers, postcards and all kinds of old, odd and interesting things that make wise people happy. To find it, go north on Teramachi, turn left onto Imadegawa, keep going and look out for it on your right. Here is a map. Open every day 11:00 am ~ 10:00 pm. Tel: 075-222-1574.