Hamish Downie’s News Sushi #115: Morsels of News From Japan and Beyond

Hamish keeps serving the best News Sushi!
Hooray! More News Sushi for you to enjoy!
Editor Note:It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. Hamish brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan.

Thank you (ありがとうございました) Hamish, for your insights.

こんにちは!Which means “Hello”!

How are you all doing?

Thank you for the great responses to my post last week, and a quick apology for worrying Keith. I’m still happy and thrilled to be a part of this website and doing this column. I might give the interviews a rest for a bit as chasing down interviewees can be a pain.

I’d like to do something a bit different this week, and recommend some Japanese music. I think most people outside Japan have come to think of Japanese Pop music to mean cute girls with very little talent dancing around and “singing” auto-tuned songs (although K-Pop seems to have taken this mantle recently). There are genuinely talented artists here in Japan, so I’d like to get you started on your journey with my top 5 recommendations. Don’t worry if you can’t understand the lyrics, just enjoy the music itself (this is what many Japanese do with English songs, that’s why melodious English songs do really well here).


I was lucky enough to see them before they were famous (and back when they were still a duo – she’s essentially a solo act now, although the former guitarist still co-writes some songs). Back in 2006, I went to India Arie’s concert in Shibuya, and Superfly opened for her. Even though I had never heard of them before, I became an instant fan, and knew I was watching a star on the rise. They were dropped by their record label, but luckily Warner’s picked them up, and they’ve had a successful career since then.


One of the biggest stars on this list, and a huge act in Japan (they have 1.2 million subscribers on youtube). Many of my Japanese students say they love his lyrics the most. He’s a great singer too.


If I seem to be recommending a lot of Psychedelic Beatles inspired acts, it’s probably because when you ask any Japanese person what English songs they like, it’s either The Beatles or The Carpenters. So, it’s going to influence the music that gets produced here. This group was recommended by my roommate when I first came here 15 years ago.


I had to choose a Pop act eventually. And this girl has pipes! Plus, she writes all her own music!


Finally, the man who invented city pop. Sorry, I had to go back to the 80s. Because, why not? My partner only recently introduced me to him.
And now, I’m introducing him to you!

I hope you enjoyed that journey into Japanese Pop.

Now, continuing with the 80s, here is a documentary on the creator of Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka. He passed away only four years after this documentary was made, but said he hoped to work for 40 more years.

And that’s all for another week! Thank you for having me… before I go, here’s another HOT LINK OF THE WEEK!

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