Super Japan, Ohayou!

Published on 9 May 2016

Celebrate a smashing selection of cultural gems at the inaugural Super Japan — Japanese Festival of Arts.

BY DAPHNE ONG

This May, Super Japan — Japanese Festival of Arts comes to town with over 85 programmes to satisfy every Japanophile out there. A brand-new festival by Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay, the mega-event showcases the arts and culture of Japan, plus collaborations between Singapore and Japanese artists. Whether you’re a fan of the country’s serene classical arts or high-energy pop music, you’ll be swept along by the wave of multi-faceted offerings.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan — a good time then, to bring on this festival which celebrates not only the rich culture of Japan, but also friendship and collaboration. Says Esplanade producer Sara Fang, “We recognise that the enjoyment of the arts and cultural practices of a community can facilitate social bonding and greater understanding.”

Esplanade looks to ever-increasing cultural diversity in its roster, extending beyond its usual Malay, Indian and Chinese line-up. As Fang elaborates: “Building on the friendships that Esplanade has fostered with Japanese artists through the years, the ever-growing interest in Japanese culture in Singapore, and the many exchanges Singapore and Japanese artists have had, Japanese arts and culture was selected to be the first focus of our cultural festivals outside of our annual roster of cultural festivals at the centre.” Can’t decide which shows to watch? Here are highlights of free and ticketed events taking place within the Esplanade.

MUSIC

KPP 5iVE Years Monster World Tour 2016 in Singapore
13 May, Theatre

Kicking off the festival is J-pop singer, fashion model and artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who kicks off her 5th Anniversary World Tour in Singapore. Dubbed “Japan’s Lady Gaga”, the pop princess graces audiences for one night only with her Harajuku-inspired doll-like looks and energetic music.

Blue Note Tokyo All-Star Jazz Orchestra — Celebrating Yamaha Music Asia’s 50th Anniversary
15 May, Concert Hall

Some of Japan’s finest jazz musicians will churn out the electrifying sounds of big band jazz. The 18-member ensemble will play alongside guest vocalists Asako Toki from Japan and Singapore’s Nathan Hartono.

KODO & HIBIKYA: Opening Taiko Concert
13 May, Outdoor Theatre, Free

One of the best-known Japanese arts, the rousing sounds of taiko drums will resonate through the Esplanade waterfront in this collaboration between KODO, Japan’s most celebrated taiko group, and Singapore’s taiko and instrumental group HIBIKIYA.

Music With Scenery — Haruka Nakamura Piano Ensemble & Aspidistrafly
18 & 19 May, Recital Studio

Another collaboration sees Singapore- and Tokyo-based recording label, publisher and creative studio Kitchen. Label producing this concert. The result of this teaming up of the Japanese ensemble and Singaporean band is an evening of unique, dreamy soundscapes.

Himiko: Memories of the Sun Goddess
20 May, Concert Hall

An epic evening of storytelling through music and movement awaits in this grand celebration of Japanese arts. It follows the mythology of the sun goddess Himiko, bringing together music and dance, traditional and classical art forms, the East and West.

Mouse on the Keys
20 May, Recital Studio

This innovative band combines elements of jazz, funk, contemporary, classical, post-rock and electronic music for an explosive live music presentation.

Shamisen Session With Hiromitsu Agatsuma
21 May, Recital Studio

The iconic shamisen is heard with a fresh approach under Hiromitsu Agatsuma’s style, merging rock, pop, jazz and Japanese traditional music. The prize-winning shamisen musician will perform a wide range of songs from an international musical vernacular.

Songs of the Ryukyu Islands
22 May, Recital Studio

Be uplifted by the melodic sounds of Okinawan folk music as performed by Unaigumi. Featuring the sanshin, a three-stringed lute, this art form is deeply rooted in the history of the island, and the music often carries anti-war sentiments and words of hope and peace.

THEATRE

Drums
14 & 15 May, Recital Studio

Modern noh classic The Damask Drum undergoes two interpretations in this double-bill. A rare collaboration between Singaporean and Japanese directors Chong Tze Chien and Shigeki Nakano, this production features a cast from both countries.

Princess Kaguya
16 & 17 May, Recital Studio

Kids five to eight years old will enjoy this magical folktale, told through colour, light and shadows by Silhouette Theater Tsunobue. There’s even an interactive singalong segment.

DANCE

Meguri: Teeming Sea, Tranquil Land
20 & 21 May, Theatre

The mesmerising moves of butoh dance troupe Sankai Juku return to Singapore in this 13-dancer performance, co-produced with Théâtre de la Ville (France), Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center (Japan) and Esplanade.

WORKSHOPS & ACTIVITIES

Furoshiki Fun! Print, Wrap, Tie
14 & 15 May, Rehearsal Studio

Try your hand at different methods of wrapping and tying furoshiki, traditional wrapping cloths used in Japan to carry clothes, gifts, groceries and other everyday objects.

Kamishibai Storytelling by Roger Jenkins
14 May, PIP’s PLAYbox, Free

Join storytelling veteran Roger Jenkins as he brings Japanese myths and legends to life through the kamishibai form of storytelling.

Kamishibai Storytelling by Kamini Ramachandran
15 May, PIP’s PLAYbox, Free

More kamishibai fun is in store as storyteller Kamini Ramachandran tells the tales of Issun Boshi and The Old Man and the Mice.

The Art of the Tea Ceremony
21 May, Concourse, Free

Learn about chado, the beautifully- choreographed ceremony of preparing and serving tea at this free talk.

For a full programme listing and ticketing details, visit www.esplanade.com.

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