“Min’yo: Echoes of Japanese Folk Songs”

Min’yo: Echoes of Japanese Folk Songs” Touring project to Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and Malaysia by the Japan Foundation

Logo of Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009 Anniversary Event (In Vietnam)

MapThe Japan Foundation will organize a concert tour entitled “Min’yo: Echoes of Japanese Folk Songs” in four Asian countries: Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and Malaysia. Prominent Min’yo singers and musicians will introduce to the audience of these countries Min’yo folk songs that have been handed down for generations in regions across Japan. In addition, they will perform with local musicians in Bangladesh and India.

In Vietnam, they will participate in the closing event for the Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009 held in Can Toh City, a neighboring city of Ho Chi Minh City, with cultural delegations from other countries in the Mekong region.

Tour Schedule (Wednesday, December 2 - Thursday, December 17, 2009)

Can Toh
Dates: Wednesday, December 2 - Thursday, December 3
Venue: Special Outdoor Stage in Can Toh City
Date: Friday, December 4
Venue: Theater in Can Toh City
Dates: Tuesday, December 8 - Wednesday, December 9
Venue: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy
Date: Saturday, December 12
Venue: KurukshetraUniversity Auditorium
Date: Sunday, December 13
Venue: National Dairy Research Institute
Kuala Lumpur
Dates: Wednesday, December 16 - Thursday, December 17
Venue: DBKL Auditorium

Admission Fee: Free

Co-organizers: Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh, National Integrated Forum of Artists and Activists

Contents of the concert (Outline, Program)

Photo of musicians
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

We have two prominent Min’yo singers for this concert, namely Shoko Tanaka, who specializes in western Japan and Hitomi Nakamura, in eastern Japan. The concert consists of Min’yo songs from all over Japan and those are played according to some topics like seasons and working sites.
The singers are accompanied by four musicians, such as players of the Shamisen, Tsugaru-Jamisen, Shakuhachi or Shinobue, and Taiko, as well as a type of singing called "Uta-bayashi." That is the basic accompaniment for Min’yo at this time and they are performed in traditional style without any modern arrangements. The concert also includes instrumental tunes by Shamisen and Shakuhachi with some explanation of those instruments.

*Shamisen: three-stringed musical instrument played with a plectrum called a bachi. The Shamisen's neck may be comparable in length to that of a guitar, but it is much slimmer and fretless.
*Tsugaru-Jamisen: a variety of Shamisen that originated in the Tsugaru region (Aomori Pref.). It is characterized by a thicker neck and more percussive sound.
*Shakuhachi: Japanese end-blown flute, traditionally made of bamboo.
*Shinobue: Japanese transverse flute, which has a high-pitched sound.
*Uta-Bayashi: accompanied vocal to give rhythm and taste in music.

Theme Title (Prefecture)
Celebrating the New Year "Kenryo-bushi" (Aomori), "Akita Daikoku-mai" (Akita)
Winter Tsugaru-Jamisen solo performance, Shakuhachi solo performance, Tsugaru Yamauta (Aomori), Tsugaru Jongara-bushi (Aomori)
Spring "Ohara-bushi" (Kagoshima), "Akita Obako" (Akita)
Summer Bon-Odori medley: "Soma Bon-uta" (Fukushima), "Hokkai Bon-uta" (Hokkaido), "Gujo-bushi (Harukoma)" (Gifu)
Fishermen’s songs  "Ushibuka Haiya-bushi" (Kumamoto), "Soran-bushi" (Hokkaido)
Farmers’ songs "Otemoyan" (Kumamoto), "Itsuki-no-Komori-uta" (Kumamoto), "Kariboshikiri-uta" (Miyazaki), "Tsugaru Aiya-bushi" (Aomori), "Nanbu Tawaratsumi-uta" (Aomori)
Ending "Otachi-zake" (Miyagi)


Shoko Tanaka (Vocal)

Shoko Tanaka
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

Born in Kumamoto, she grew up in a Min’yo loving family and started learning Shamisen playing and singing at the age of 5. When she was 10 years old, she received certification in playing Shamisen from Fujimoto School and she was the youngest achiever nationwide. Winning numerous awards with her Min’yo singing, including prestigious NHK (the nationwide Japan Broadcasting Co.) “Amateur Singing Contest Annual Grand Prize” at the age of 17, she later served an apprenticeship under Min’yo vocal great Mitsue Hayasaka. She has visited many countries to sing Min’yo until now and has appeared on many TV programs. Now she is enthusiastic about teaching youth. which makes her schedule very busy.

Hitomi Nakamura (Vocal)

Hitomi Nakamura
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

Born in Aichi as the niece of Tsugaru Min’yo great Takashi Nakamura, she started learning Tsugaru Min’yo singing with enthusiasm at her father’s school when she was 19 years old. She also learned Tsugaru-Jamisen from master player Katsuaki Sawada, and passed the “NHK Hogaku (literally “National Music”) Audition” in 1997. Receiving numerous awards, including nationwide champion, in singing "Tsugaru Yama-uta" and "Tsugaru Aiya-bushi" in 2002, she often appears on TV and Radio programs as well as gives numerous concerts.

Atsuhide Fujimoto (Shamisen)

Atsuhide Fujimoto
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

Born in Hiroshima, he started learning Shamisen playing from his grandfather at the age of 6. While he continued to learn the Shamisen, he also belonged to his school's brass band and played the tuba when he was a upper secondary school student. In 1989, he received certification from the Fujimoto School with the artist name “Atsuhide,” and then became Grandmaster of the school when he was 17 years old. After he graduated from upper secondary school at the age of 18, he served his apprenticeship under late Hideo Fujimoto I. Now, he is active in making recordings and giving concerts.

Katsuharu Sawada (Tsugaru-Jamisen)

Katsuharu Sawada
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

He served his apprenticeship under Tsugaru-Jamisen great Katsuaki Sawada in 1981. Obtaining certification from the Sawada School in 1986, he established his own group in the same year. He won the Tsugaru-Jamisen nationwide competition in Aomori in 1993 and visited many countries under the Japan Foundation’s touring projects. He is often seen on TV and radio programs, and also makes many stage performances.

Satoshi Yoneya (Shakuhachi)

Satoshi Yoneya
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

Born in Yamagata, he began learning to play the Shakuhachi under the great master, the late Iwao Yoneya in 1972 in Tokyo. Receiving the artist name “Satoshi Yoneya” from his master in 1976, he started appearing on TV programs. In 1983, he became Grandmaster of Yoneya School and released his first CD. Later, he joined “Takio Ito and the Takio Band” led by popular Min’yo singer Takio Ito in 1988 and started having many concerts in Japan and visited the Middle East and South America under the Japan Foundation touring projects. He appears on TV and radio programs as well as gives numerous concerts. At the same time, he has regular column on Shakuhachi playing in Min’yo magazine.

Miwa Nishida (Uta-Bayashi)

Miwa Nishida
Photo by Munesuke Yamamoto

Born in Shizuoka, she started learning Min’yo vocals, as well as playing Shamisen and Taiko, at the age of 10, and then became an apprentice under Kazue Nishida in 1976. She formed her own group, called Akane-Gumi, in 1978 and performed regularly on a radio program for two years. With her rich experience in touring foreign countries, she is active not only in giving Min’yo concerts, but also in singing for TV programs, TV commercials, and movies, such as the image song ("Aburaya" ["Oil Seller"] for Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away and the animated film Innocence.

[Contact Us]

Performing Arts Section, Arts and Culture Department, The Japan Foundation
Tel: 03-5369-6063 Fax: 03-5369-6038

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