‘Cocco Live in Budokan’ to Air on TV Japan in March

Mark you calendars! TV Japan will air J-Pop singer Cocco’s (and need I say that she’s one of my favorites) “Cocco Live in Budokan” concert on Friday, March 16, 2007! I couldn’t find any info on it at the TV Japan website but it’s probably from her August 10, 2006 concert at the Budokan. The NHK produced concert is not available on DVD (yet?) so this’ll be worth recording to your DVR or TiVo. Maybe she’ll be Karakui’s next DotW. 😉

Namie Amuro’s 2nd Single for 2007

Namie Amuro’s (aka Japan’s “Queen of Hip-Pop”) first single release of the year, “Baby Don’t Cry” (January 24, 2007), is doing quite well in the Oricon singles chart having peaked at the #3 spot. With a great start for 2007 what’s next for the singer? Marriage? Another child? Maybe. But for now, we know for sure that she has a new single coming out soon called “FUNKY TOWN” with a street date of 4/4/07. The single is still a little more than a month from release but we can expect that it’ll be a Hip-Hip/R&B funky number and will be produced by T.Kura, L.L.Brothers and michiko. Two versions will be available when it hits in April: CD+DVD (AVCD-31215B) and CD-only (AVCD-31216).

Ai Miyazato Mania in the US

I’m tempted to join in the mania and I don’t even golf! If you’re into golfing then you should already know about Japan’s 21-year-old golf phenom Ai Miyazato. According to Ai’s profile on the LPGA.com website, she stands at 5’2″, 2006 was her rookie year, and she’s collected over US $64,000 in earnings. She was recently featured in a Mainichi Daily News article that mentions her goal to become a top golfer in the US.

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — Ai Miyazato is everywhere in Japan: on billboards at the airport, magazine covers, TV commercials and daily sports pages. But Miyazato isn’t satisfied with just being a superstar in Japan — she wants to be a winner in the United States.

In the first two U.S. LPGA Tour events of the year, the smallish shotmaker commanded the largest galleries and media attention. There were more than 50 Japanese reporters and photographers in Ai’s Army following her every move in the Fields Open, which ended Saturday with Miyazato closing with a 66 to tie for third.

“I get so much exposure in the Japanese media that (American) people see me not for my golf but as this person who is famous in Japan,” she said. “But if I win here and move up, I think they’ll respect my golf. I’d like people to start to see my game.”
The 21-year-old Miyazato is entering her second season on the American women’s golf tour after a winless rookie season. She had seven top-10 finishes last year, including a third-place tie in the LPGA Championship.

“Playing in each tournament last year was a really good experience,” said Miyazato, who lives part-time near Los Angeles. “It was my dream to improve my game and then come play in the United States. I had some tough times last year but it was really fun.” [Via Mainichi Daily News. Read the entire article here.]

Here’s a link to Ai Miyazato on Wikipedia and there are a few videos up of her on YouTube too.

Okinawan Pop and Japanese Chindon: happyfunsmile

While looking through our blog stats I found that there are a few of you who are finding us with the keywords “okinawan” + “music” or “pop”. So, I decided to google “okinawan pop” and happened upon a chindon band out of New York City called happyfunsmile:

happyfunsmile performs an eclectic mix of okinawan pop, electric folk songs (ultraminyo), supersweet ballads (enka), festival rhythms and obon beats. utilizing the sounds of the taiko drum, chindon, sanshin, accordion, bass, and keys, happyfunsmile extols the virtues of o-pop and chindon to an ever-growing congregation!

Click on the “presenter info” link to find out more about the band and they also have mp3s and a video (in QT!) available for download. Oh, if you’ve watched the video and thought that the “sanshin” looks different from the Okinawan one, he’s actually playing a “sanxian”.

[Updated 07.03.03: There’s a chindon group in Okinawa called Ryuukyuu Chimudon Gakudan that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in this genre.]

What Do These Three Have in Common?

  1. Konishiki – a retired sumo wrestler and popular celeb
  2. Rimi Natsukawa – one of Japan’s top vocalists
  3. Jake Shimabukuro – ukulele player extraordinaire

The answer? An hour-long music special called “Melody Club” that I still hear people raving about although it aired on Hawaii’s KIKU-TV station on January 7, 2007. (The lowdown on the show: it’s actually an episode from an NHK music program called “Ongaku · Yume Kurabu [Club]” that aired in Japan from April 7, 2005 to March 23, 2006.) I know there are a lot of you out there who missed it and I think KIKU-TV knows it too so they will be rebroadcasting the special on Friday, February 23, at 9:00 PM. (By the way, the video above is from the show. Check out more like this on YouTube.)

Currently at the Top of My Playlist

The PV for melody.’s latest single, “Finding My Road” (released on February 14), is pretty cool but it’s the song that I’m totally grooving too. If you’re not familiar with melody.’s music, seek out the English-language version of “Close Your Eyes” and “Our Journey” — also in English — which was coupled with her November 2006 single “Lovin’ U” (which interestingly was the CM song to Raycious from Kanebo — see our entries on Yu Yamada). I count both those songs among my favorites of her music. The Hawaii-born J-Pop singer’s official website is available in an English version so go check it out!

Yu Yamada’s Next Single to be CM Song for Kanebo

Ever heard of a J-Pop group by the name of Y’z factory? I have, but I won’t blame you for having not heard of them. The singer from that trio that you should know about is 22-year-old Yu Yamada who is slowly making her way around the Japanese entertainment biz. We’ve seen her model for the fashion magazine CanCam, star in J-Dramas like “Satomi Hakkenden” (which aired in Hawaii on KIKU-TV earlier this year), and now she’s coming to our iPods with the upbeat dance song “REAL YOU”. The forthcoming release of her 2nd single (as a solo performer), “EYES ON ME” (March 7, 2007), will also be her first CM (commercial) song for a Kanebo cosmetic product called Raycious. Keep your eye on that link because it looks like we’ll be able to watch the CM soon and there’s also a Download link which I think will be for a desktop and/or screensaver. [Via nikkansports.com.]

[Update: Yu just blogged about it. 🙂 ]