Tokyo NoRadio 2017 Wed, 14 Oct 2020 07:07:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brief History of Japanese Hip-Hop Fri, 24 Apr 2020 09:29:59 +0000 Japanese hip-hop is a relatively new phenomenon and it’s history is short compared to hip-hop in the west. In fact, most people in the west have never heard of japanese hip-hop and if asked whether this genre is popular there are likely to say “no”. But it exists and has a loyal following. The success of this genre in Japan was by no means overnight, and quite a few obstacles were in the way of japanese artists looking to explore hip-hop.

Brief History of Japanese Hip-Hop
Brief History of Japanese Hip-Hop

Hip-hop entered the Japanese radar in the mid 1980’s. Initially it wasn’t the music that peaked the interests of some japanese youth. 80’s hip-hop came with a very distinctive presentation and visual presence. It was defined not only by the music but also the style of clothing and the whole culture of breakdancing, which was stereotypically portrayed as happening on a piece of cardboard somewhere in an abandoned industrial area with a couple of guys battling it out as the group watches. The hip-hop fashion caught on first, perhaps because it did not demand the music and the breakdancing to come along. The average japanese person had no understanding of the context, while in the west the style had a specific identity. Break dancing came after, with early enthusiasts exploring the discipline with some level of organised attention. But even then the music was secondary.

It was around the mid 1990’s where the music was really beginning to penetrate the market. American rappers and hip-hop artists began touring Japan after discovering a bit of a following there. This fueled the desire for aspiring japanese artists to create their own hip-hop. Clubs began to fill up with hip-hop more and more, at which point the large music label executives in Japan realised the commercial viability of the genre. But it was not that simple. With the style of music the Japanese adopted some of the themes that hip-hop explored, which were oftentimes political and critical of the establishment. The youth in Japan found plenty to criticize about the Japanese government at the time. Much of it was with how the government gradually re-writes history in the history books to downplay Japan’s role and crimes during WWII. Large label execs wanted their product to be more politically neutral and milder than the underground stuff, because they feared to get on the government’s bad side and lose their business.

When the 21st century rolled up, hip-hop was spreading into other media, such as films and videogames. It was then when artists such as Dj Krush and Nujabes began making names for themselves and began to develop a Japanese hip-hop identity rather than an emulation of the western style. Mimicking the west proved difficult due to a clash in intellectual property laws that governed the sampling of tracks. Major japanese music labels didn’t quite know how to navigate these legal waters, and just stayed away from artists who sampled western tracks. Today the scene is much more relaxed, and Japanese hip-hop is alive and well, but it has a more melodic element to it, with much less focus on the lyrical side.

Why Are Yoshida Brothers So Cool? Thu, 12 Sep 2019 13:30:00 +0000 Something to which Japan has accustomed us is its beautiful culture, this time we will talk about two brothers who are mixing original melodies from old Japan with current music. The tool with which they do their magic is called Shamisen, this instrument is one of the most classics in Japan, this is a string instrument consisting of a wooden body and 3 strings.

Both brothers practiced with it  from the age of 5 years, and won national prizes of Tsugaru Shamisen (Japanese genre of music played with Shamisen) at a young age. In 1999 they debuted in Japan and in 2003 they did the same in the USA with the album baptized with the name of his duo: Yoshida Brothers; Taking his music to the US made his international career take off.

About the Yoshida Brothers Duo

Yoshida Brothers is a duo formed by Ryoichiro and Kenichi Yoshida, brothers who wave the flag of Japan all over the world. In their concerts they wear traditional costumes Kimonos and Hakamas, their foundations are traditional Japanese music, although they like to create modern music, leading them to generate fusions between traditional Japanese music with Rock n ‘Roll, Pop, Latin Music, Blues, Jazz and others. Although these brothers love to create musical experiments with different genres, Yoshida Brothers have their well-defined origins and focus on the production of Tsugaru Shamisen.

Their amazing musical development

If you like the good vibes that guitarists give you with input riffs or guitar solos, the sensation offered by this amazing duo while playing will fascinate you; they will take you to a moment of maximum relaxation and euphoria, as if each strum was a roller coaster of emotions with an amazing background.

Songs like Evening, Calm, Arigato and Nikata can help you to concentrate, calm down and be at peace with yourself, while songs generated by fusions with other genres such as Change (created in conjunction with the band Monkey Majik), Yume, Storm, Kodo and Rising will transmit you a burst of energy, without forgetting a mention for Fuyu no Sakura, which is a subject that takes us directly to ancient Japan.

The Yoshida Brothers purpose for their listeners

Music can connect people, this is a great truth; It transmits sensations and emotions, generating that we can know new cultures overcoming the language barrier. What the Yoshida Brothers do is great, they bring Japan to all of us, and expressing themselves through their Shamisen they became ambassadors of the Japanese country.

Yoshida Brothers when creating mergers with many genres opened the doors so that many people with different tastes can connect with them and take their music to another level. They want to do it big and they are achieving it, if they want to listen to something different and learn more about Japanese culture do not wait any longer and enjoy these great artists. “A union between the old and the current, an amazing mix of Japan”, that is what Yoshida Brothers are.

Guckkasten: A Godlike Rock Band in Asia Thu, 18 Jul 2019 06:01:06 +0000 Guckkasten is known both as a powerful Psychedelic Rock and Indie Rock band, with a talented lineup and and amazing visual background, with the intention as in most of visual rock bands, is to express a psychedelic connection between music and the visual art in videos, live shows or albums.

Guckkasten: A Godlike Rock Band in Asia

They are from South Korea and started under the name of “The C.O.M.”, but they disbanded in 2002 due to the military service in their country, but when they finally were able to make it with a new bassist, Kim Ki-bum, they started again as Guckkasten in 2007. Then, Jeon Kyu-ho, Lee Jung-gil and the gifted voice of the band, Ha Hyun-woo, who also is the designer of Guckkasten album’s art.

Guckkasten’s Performance

In June 2016, the band released a music video named Pulse, licensed by Interpark Music. With Hyun-woo as main creator of this project, most of the visuals and musical arrangement in composition and lyrics were done by him. Hyun-woo is an introverted guy who had a not so pleasant life as a teenager, causing him to be depressed and always have a sensation of defeat and hopelessness. He lost his girlfriend, who became his friend’s girlfriend. His father was opposed to let him study music or any kind of art, Hyun-woo’s mother agreed to him studying painting, as he usually liked to draw cartoons, but his father was against it. In Pulse, he expresses a lot of this set of situations in a poetic sense, which drove him to be in that negative spectrum, but also expressing he was able to breathe again.

Ha Hyun-woo’s strong voice

The instruments in each of their songs are neat and clean. Guckkasten’s live performances are as amazing as on studio versions, so does Ha Hyun-woo when singing, as it sounds the same or even better. He can reach deep tones with a very soft natural voice and high pitch tones as well. When he was young, he used to be introverted and puberty did not affect his voice tones, letting him use both ends of his vocal range, which fits perfectly with the environment created by his own songs. A fun fact about him, when recording the studio version for Pulse, he used sounds of his throat to emulate the sound of a heart beating, then it was added to the song’s intro with the acoustic guitar.

The Reward of a Struggle

Guckkasten received some awards for their perfect shows, enjoying the victory of pulling a wish to come true, against situations they were not able to handle and continuing on how to make it happen. In 2003, when they were The C.O.M. and as Guckkasten in 2007, 2008 and 2010, they won the Hidden Whiz Award in the Samzi Sound Festival. In the years 2007, 2008 and 2010 the Hello Rookie of June in the EBS Space Sympathy Grand Award.


Also, in 2016, Hyun-woo was nominated for his job best Rock Category and he won the award in the Melon Music Awards. Their last release was in CD format during 2017 with Interpark INT, with a mini-album named Stranger. Guckkasten is the example of a band that will achieve a goal, even when the panorama gets darker and harmful. They fought for a dream and they reached it, they are still living it and on every live show they seem to be not only satisfied, but thirsty for more and they deserve it.

What’s the Deal with Japanese People and Latin Music? Fri, 10 May 2019 22:15:16 +0000

The experience of the people who managed to introduce tango, reggaeton, mariachis, and spicy food in a completely different culture is extremely interesting. But it is even more interesting in Japan, where quietness and sobriety have sculpted for centuries the character of this culture. The Latin American migration has touched thousands of Nipponese, who have developed an intense passion for the wiggle of Latin music, now many spoil themselves in the enjoyment of a good reggaeton and hardcore perreo session, take dancing lessons at the rhythm of Caribbean salsa or melancholic Argentine milonga, while they sing rancheras or hum bossa nova.

Some of these Japanese or their children returned to their land and brought with them the acquired taste for rhythms with cheerful airs that invite a sway of the hips. There is even a word for this fusion of cultures: Nikkei, and the Japanese or Latin Nikkei are proud of their heritage and take the best of both cultures.

There is a Japanese reggaeton group, called ‘Los Kalibres’, a group that performs in ‘japoñol’ and consists of three children of dekasegi, who arrived as teenagers or children to Japan and now dominate both languages. And although their lives have nothing to do with the American ghettos that they emulate with their clothes or the warmth of the Caribbean that they incite in their songs, they have managed to express their reality as children of the mix.

This is reflected in their lyrics in a kind of a hybrid slang between Japanese and Latin Spanish, using verbs such as ‘gambatear’ (commonly used by the Nikkei community in Peru) or expressions such as talking to the ‘chacho’ (a deformation of Japanese Shacho, head of the company). The other side of the coin is the Japanese who came to Latin America and were captivated by the culture, and when they return home, tried to keep alive a little bit of the Latin heat in the Japanese archipelago.

Their history cannot be simpler: they fall in love with music (for example, Mexican), learned to interpret it with devotion and make a business of it. This is how you can find something as unlikely as a group of mariachis in the yellow pages of Tokyo. Since the third foreign minority with a high presence in Japan is Latin American, this eccentricity makes some sense. Even in karaoke bars, Latin songs or Spanish versions of bilingual artists have big popularity.

However, the Latin music didn’t travel so far to satisfy a small minority of migrants, it’s there to gratify the palate of the Japanese public that finds Latin American culture (music, gastronomy, language) exquisitely exotic. Maybe in a counterpart to how the average Westerner may feel attracted to sushi, ninjas or the rich Japanese mythology. The most interesting thing is that not only are satisfied with consuming the Latin culture that comes in the form of music or theme restaurants, but they are so in love that they produce their own Latin music with a technique as good as that of the musicians on the other side of the Pacific.

It’s an interesting phenomenon as Japanese musicians play Latin American songs or adapt them to be Japanese songs. So is possible to find examples like Lisa Ono, who sings bossa nova. Or the ‘Orquesta de Luz’, a Japanese salsa band, and the singular ‘Estudiantina Komaba’, a group that plays llanera music from Venezuela. Others decide to dance. Mostly, middle-aged Japanese who, after their workday, inject a dose of Argentine or Caribbean in their dance lessons. Although they learn more than dance in their classes, they lose the fear of touching and, after the protocol “gomen ne” (apology), little by little they escape dancing from the Japanese rigidity.

Babymetal: Extreme Metal + Candid Pop Fri, 29 Mar 2019 10:28:11 +0000 If there’s something true in this world, is that some Japanese mind came out with this crazy idea with few chances to actually work, both commercially and musically, and pushed to make it happen. Because, who would have thought that a pop sung by Japanese girls could be mixed with extreme metal music? No one. And no one would have thought it would have gone as far as it has.

The original idea was of the producer of the entertainment company known as Kobametal, Kei Kobayashi, an avid metal fan. He decided to try his luck creating a mix between heavy metal and J Pop. He looked for candidates and his prayers were answered: Suzuka Nakamoto, the singer and leader known as Su-Metal, and later Yui Mizuno and Moa Kikuchi, who would become Yuimetal and Moametal respectively.

Babymetal started back in 2010 as a subgroup within the formation of Japanese Idol Pop Sakura Gakuin, made up of girls under 15, and it was the opportunity to get out of the box and start something beyond ordinary. In 2012, they included the band Kamiband, which would give an instrumental base of true metal to the sweet and innocent virginal voices of the singers. It wasn’t as simple as using a heavy metal music base, they adopted a whole extreme style, with aggressive guitars and blunt drums, with sounds close to death metal. In fact, many death metal fans proclaim themselves fans of the band.

The fascination with Babymetal goes deep, a true surprise, considering that the metal audience is often too reluctant to change and faithful to the classics. But beyond curiosity, the important thing is that music works. On one hand, the strength of metal gives strength to the songs; but, at the same time, the J pop arrangements are melodic and the lyrics are epic, catchy and can be easily sung by large audiences. The odd formula turned out to be a success.

In 2014, before they had perform for the advertising of the Metallica film and some metal festivals in Japan, they released their self-titled album, which reached the top charts in the US according to Billboard magazine. It was also number one on iTunes, and Metal Hammer magazine came to crown the album as the best of the genre. Their curious videoclips became viral and the band began to go on tour at festivals in Europe and the United States.

The meticulous aesthetics of the girls and musicians, as well as the stage design of the shows, is also part of Babymetal’s success. The musicians appear on a full body paint, while the singers adopt the gothic lolita style. Their choreography and dances come directly from the Japanese Idol Pop. The scenography shows Gothic references, such as statues of the Virgin Mary and large crucifixes presiding over the stage.

All this is part of the theatricality and irreverence of the staging of the band, their performances are worthy of comparison with great artists of exaggeration and theatricality on stage as Alice Cooper, in their presentations can be seen an irreverent staging, as for example in their presentations where they pretend crucifixions. Everything is for art. The truth is that Babymetal has ceased to be a YouTube geek curiosity. It became a movement that supposes a breath of fresh air in the contemporary musical scene, and in which the originality and the good work stand out. After several years of successful career, this phenomenon can no longer be considered a simple fashion, but a group that can continue to give a lot of talk.

K Pop: A New Cultural Phenomenon Mon, 07 Jan 2019 08:30:01 +0000 Attention Asia-centered radio, you’ve official become a phenomenon all across the globe. It’s been a long time coming for Asian countries to become a relevant cultural force in the music world, and they’ve made it this far through creating a pop machine that it even more effective than the American pop world; hit-making producers and artists go and in out of studios every day creating the next monster singles and it is truly one of the most remarkable production phenomena since Motown in the 1960’s. The number of artists making the charts is certainly overwhelming, and even in the indie rock world, mainly dominated by U.S-centered music, even artists such as Kero Kero Bonito have adopted a fully Asian aesthetic to craft some of the most remarkable and creative music in recent years, expanding the absolute world domination of the phenomenon known as K-Pop.

Basic Concepts

Even after the overwhelmingly meme-generated reaction to Psy’s 2012 hit “Gangnam Style”, as a culture, we’ve been dutifully negligent in recognizing the values of the Asian pop machine and this has fully stopped in recent years and months, as the cultural phenomenon denominated as K-Pop has taken over, creating even more sells and fans than the last run-of-the-mill boy band that’s popular at any given time.

Different Kinds of World Domination: An Overview

Anime has had a long-standing home in western culture as one of the most representative art forms found in the Asian continent, and although K-Pop often references similar aesthetic choices and common artistic goals, it has been received with widespread attention and this is in no small part due to the space previously established by anime. However, dangerous clichés and generalizations still persist and the treatment of K-Pop stars in the media has long been criticized as inhumane and borderline creepy, but people are still clinging to the idea that it is a massive force that cannot be stopped, similar to the recent incorporation of Latino elements in popular hip-hop and pop music in western culture.

A Fight for Diversity

The previously mentioned fight for diversity in western culture has triggered the incorporation of foreign elements into a previously monochrome view of pop music, and is now a call for equity and worldliness that we must attend and continue to shine a light upon; we’re finally out of the confines of western culture and we must honored the place that our own cultures have in the modern world, an era where globalization is now the norm instead of an utopian ideal that seems far in the future.

With all of that said, if K-Pop is any indication, we will be hearing more and more from other relevant cultural forces in the near future and it is simply amazing to think of the possibility of magnificent fusions and sharing of social aspects that make up the ADN of our individual idiosyncrasies, even if it means only a grain of salt will eventually amount to an almost mechanic way of processing a super-pop machine with monster hit after monster hit.

How to Pursue A Career in Music in Asia Thu, 26 Jul 2018 18:17:38 +0000

The music world is one of the most creative and innovative fields in the world. It is one of the few jobs that really require you to use your creativity and passion. The music career has many paths and there are many possibilities for the music enthusiasts. Asia is well-known for being one of the most dynamic work areas in the world. One of the main characteristics of the work field here is the competition and this is why the majority of the people working here in the music industry are extremely good. Many people would like to have a music career in Asia, but the steps may not always be very clear. We have listed some tips on how to pursue a music career in Asia in order to help you follow your dreams.

Be Professional

First of all, you have to be a very good professional. It is something specific for the Asian work field. It is advised to have a degree in music or to have a similar diploma if you want to pursue music. The happy stories of random people that had a huge success in music despite the lack of a music background are very rare. Here you have to have diploma that states that you worked hard during university and that you are a good professional.

Consider the Options

Asia has a very dynamic work field. If you are at the beginning of your career and you don’t know where to go exactly, it is a good idea to try to go to an internship. The region is very proud of the professionalism of all the internships and you will definitely work a lot of thinks during this time. Also, it is a good idea because you can see all the work options in the same place. This may lead to you realizing that you want to go to a different part of the music industry than you thought in the beginning.

Go to the job fairs. There are countless designated job fairs for the music industry because this field is developing amazingly in this area. Here you will be able to see all the empty job places and maybe even some interesting internship options. They are very good options for someone that is just starting in this industry. You will also be able to find out about the flexibility of your job and on how you can go up in your career.

Think About Teaching

Asia is known for praising the music instruments and this is why many families want to teach their children how to play one of them. This can be a great career option if you are just starting and you will also be able to keep all your music knowledge fresh. It is also a great networking method because you will get many recommendations that may get you to an amazing career.

Asian Music Producers Wed, 25 Jul 2018 10:18:24 +0000

Asia is known as one of the most competitive work markets in the whole world. Lately, Asian music trends have shocked the whole world and became an inspiration for many international artists. There are many music producers that managed to create masterpieces that made history and broke all the records. Even though the Asian producers may not be always in the spotlight, they are definitely some of the most talented and creative in the whole world. We have listed some of the best music producers in Asia in order to better understand the music phenomenon in Asia.

Kim Ann Foxman

Kim is an amazing half-Filipino vocalist that managed to make a name for herself on the international music scene. She is part of a very popular band and contributed to many international tracks that made sensation. She is very talented and has a very edgy and modern twist. Her electronic tracks are very popular and she has a unique style. We will definitely hear a lot from her in the years to come.

Maya Jane Coles

She is a British-Japanese DJ that managed to shock the whole electronic music world. She has a unique style and her tracks broke many records. She operates under the stage name Nocturnal Sunshine. One of her latest tracks became an international sensation in the electronic music world. She is very talented and her unique style makes every party amazing.


Perhaps one of the most discrete artists in the world. He was nominated for a Grammy Award and this is how he got out from anonymity. He was extremely discrete and even though he had a huge success in the music world he always liked to focus more on his music than on the spotlight. He is very talented and managed to produce some of the most popular dance music tracks in Asia.


He is one of the most interesting artists in Asia. He has a Vietnamese descent and managed to mix R&B beats with the electronic music in an unique way. He toured almost without a pause for the last three years. He is becoming and international sensation in the electronic music world. His unique beats are guaranteed to make any party a blast.

Ken Ishii

Considered one of the main promoters of the techno movement in Japan. He has a unique style and he produced this type of music long before it truly became popular in his country. He is very respected in the techno worldwide and we will definitely hear some amazing tracks from him in the future.


He may be one of the most unique music producers in Asia. He has a very sexy and mysterious way of singing and managed to make a name for himself before many of the Asian artists. He has a very versatile style that brought him enormous popularity. His tracks were remixed by many famous Djs and he also managed to tour internationally before many other artists.

How Japanese Music Has Changed Over the Centuries Sat, 23 Jun 2018 14:07:58 +0000 Japan has influenced art trends all over various places and continues to be one of the main trend setters of the world. When it comes to music, people tend to think that the main music of Japan is the old instrumental one. They couldn’t be more wrong. Japan experienced most of the music trends that circulated in the world and adapted them to its own culture. The Japanese music influenced the neighboring countries ever since the Middle Ages. While many people heard at least once in their lifetime traditional Japanese music, not many know how it transformed over the centuries. What it originally sounded like has drastically sifted to what it is now a day. Let’s take a closer look at how the traditional music of Japan has sifted over the centuries to what it is today.

The Sounds of Nature

The story of the traditional Japanese music starts with a flute and a drum. The artists were very influenced by the sounds of nature and they tried to reproduce them using instruments. That is one of the reasons why traditional Japanese music is very relaxing. It is taking sounds from the nature and transforms them into something amazing. The traditional shamisen came in the late 17th century and soon it became a staple music instrument for Japan. It was also used during ceremonials and it was mandatory for Geishas to know how to play it.

The Initiation of Vocals

Min’yo folk music came a bit later and it was a music genre that incorporated the voice too. The songs were designed to be singed at different occasions like weddings or funerals but there were also many that were played at parties. This is the time when most of the folk children’s songs were born. This style was much less formal and allowed anyone to play it, no matter the skills or talent. Secluded areas like Okinawa had their own music styles that can be still heard. The music instruments were basically the same and the genres differed mostly in style.

Newer Sounds

The 20th century brought the jazz and pop in Japan. There were countless new bars opening to fulfill the wish for live American music. The art liberation of music stopped for a few years during the Second World War but the 50’s definitely rocked Japan. The rock roll found the perfect ground here and there were new bands forming in all the Japanese cities. During the 80’s the pop craze hit Japan and there were also many fashion trends developing from the pop music. This was perhaps one of the most successful times in the music history of Japan.

The 2000’s meant total music and art liberation but also a look back in the past. There are many popular pop bands that incorporate traditional music instruments to pay tribute for the long history of the Japanese music. Even the trendy electronic music is taking inspiration from the shamisen and the resulting combination is purely mesmerizing.

How Japanese Music Has Made It’s Mark in Today’s Culture Sat, 09 Jun 2018 10:55:26 +0000 Japan is well-known for having one of the most beautiful and interesting cultures in the world. It managed to influence all the neighboring countries and nowadays we see that the Japanese music is greatly influencing the global culture. Japan can be considered a global culture superpower due to the fact that this country is making new trends every day.

And the more important part, that these trends also become a global super trend. But how is this happening?

There are some key moments and some important reasons why Japanese music is influencing today’s culture let’s look at them.

First Influence

The first major influence came in the 50’s when the Japanese music superstars were considered fashion icons. Many of the make-up trends that we see now in Western countries come from Japan and the means of transportation for that was the music. Take for example the red lips and the winged eye. These were the staple make-up trends for the Japanese singers. The Kimono also became very popular after the amazing opera show “Madame Butterfly”. This show is probably one of the most iconic in history and it managed to deeply influence the fashion and make-up world.

70’s and 80’s Influence

During the 70’s and 80’s the culture transfer worked the other way around and the main trend setters were the Western countries. But during the 90’s and 2000’s Japan came back in force thanks to the aggressive technological advancement of the country. We see that many of the nowadays trends were born from the Anime style. Even this trend suffered many transformations over the time, but the sings related to them became amazingly popular thanks to the nice rhythm. This made people to want to know more about the Japanese music and culture and this is how the Japanese craze was born.

Recent Influence

During the early 2000’s the main fashion and make-up trends came from Japan and the main place where people would get inspiration are the music videos. If Japan knows how to do something very nice and catchy, those are the music videos. People got obsessed with looks and clothes, the poses and elegance of the artists and they wanted more. The internet era provided the perfect ground for the cultural expansion of Japan. The main link between Japan and the Western world continued to be Anime. Soon, there were countless radios opening all over the world and broadcasting Japanese music in countries like Sweden and the United States. People also adopted the fashion style and Japan is now one of the biggest voices when it comes to clothes and shoes.

And this is all because the Japanese music fascinates us and makes us curious to find out more about the culture. And when we start researching we find about things that we like even more. The rapid cultural expansion is mainly due to the internet and the strong technology Japan has. We will be influenced by this amazing country in the years to come.