Artists from Around the World Gather at Sukiyakai Meets the World 2012

Originally written for the Vol.6-No.4 edition (August 23, 2012) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Sukiyaki Meets the World, one of the largest world music festivals in Japan, will be held in the Fukuno area of Nanto City from Friday, August 24th through Sunday, August 26th. This festival began in 1991, and was named after Kyu Sakamoto’s international hit song “Sukiyaki” (known more popularly as “Ue o Muite Aruko” in Japan) as a vehicle for spreading culture. This 22nd event features fourteen carefully selected artists and groups that are sure to heat up the stage. In addition, there will be workshops, a parade, a symposium, and a food and shopping area.

One of the groups performing at the event is Gnawa Diffusion, a French/Algerian band that has reunited after five years. This band has a unique style of North African music, combining the clapping and calls of Gnawa music with reggae, hip hop, and rock music. Lead singer Amazigh Kateb was an influential figure in the democratization movement in North Africa.

Pernett brings new life into Colombian music, and will be in Japan for the first time. He makes liberal use of synthesizers and effects on Cumbia, which originates from a dance brought by African slaves. The traditional gaita flute is added for a different sound and rhythm.

The Sukiyaki Denki Box is an original Sukiyaki Meets the World group. Pernett teams up with Sakaki Mango‘s thumb piano, and Norihiko Yamakita’s percussion for a unique performance.

Oki is a musician of Ainu descent, and plays the traditional string instrument, the tonkori. With a contemporary sound that uses traditional Ainu music as a foundation, he has revived interest in Ainu music.

Kiwi & The Papaya Mangoes is what happens when Ainu, Okinawan, and other traditional Japanese music meets the world! This group from Tokyo makes use of shamisen, sitar, violin, accordion, bass, drums, and guitar for an eclectic sound.

The most iconic group of Sukiyaki Meets the World is the Sukiyaki Steel Orchestra, which grew out of this event in 1995. The steel drum puts audiences in a Caribbean mood for a light-hearted, danceable performance.

This event also strives to nurture music in the community. The Sukiyaki Parade on the night of Saturday the 25th will feature the Fukuno Middle School Marching Band and a variety of other local musicians. Workshops will be held on the 25th and 26th, where participants can learn Ainu folk songs called upopo, rediscover the traditional Japanese sensibility and its relationship with other Asian cultures, and experience Gnawa music or Columbian rhythms. The symposium on the 26th entitled “Will World Music Thrive in Japan?: The World to Nanto, and Nanto to the World” will feature some of the festival performers, including Amazigh Kateb and Oki.

Visit the website for more information (Japanese only):

Source (article and image): Toyama Just Now