NB: Some of my earliest blogs no longer have their accompanying images but enjoy the copy!

In the spirit of HYPER JAPAN, I thought I’d draw your attention to a rather fantastic CD I bought at the event – ‘Shamazing!’ by Hibiki Ichikawa. One of my highlights from the weekend event was the traditional ‘minyo’ music performance, where audiences were treated to traditional Japanese folk music. There was a mixture of solo and group performances; showcasing were Hibiki Ichikawa (on the shamisen, the traditional Japanese guitar), Koji Kishida (on the shinobue, the traditional Japanese flute), Akari Mochizuki (vocal) and Tomoya Nose (percussion). I decided that if I only bought one thing at HYPER JAPAN, not counting food, it should be some traditional Japanese music. Long story short, I fell in love with the sound of the shamisen and bought Hibiki’s album.

Hibiki Ichikawa is the only professional player of Tsugaru Shamisen in UK. He has performed at many events, including the Japanese Emperor’s birthday event at the Japanese embassy, Japan Matsuri and HYPER JAPAN. He has been teaching over 20 students in UK to show how to play the instrument. Other recent unique activities include the participation in a theatre work at the Edinburgh festival as a main music staff of the play and the presentation and organisation of his original concert ‘J-Triangle’ with his co-musicians from Japan and U.K. He released his own ‘Shamazing!’ in 2012 October. He started teaching group lessons in Cambridge in May 2013.

There are six songs on the album and, for just £5.53 on iTunes, are well worth the purchase. My two favourite songs are the first track, ‘Clover Steps’ and third track, ‘Electric’. In fact, I have used ‘Electric’ for my HYPER JAPAN video, which I just finished tonight! You can watch the video here but, more importantly, listen to the beautiful sound that is the shamisen. I urge you to buy this album. It’s a fantastic introduction to traditional Japanese music.

Note to self: I must do a post all about the shamisen soon…

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