Thursday, April 27, 2006

J-Pop and Inspiration Through Music


Jewel's new CD! (I've never been so excited for a Tuesday in my whole life!)

Now, you may wonder, what does this have to do with Japan? Not much, but there is a relevent side note which does have something to do with my experience in Japan.

You see, Jewel is my all time favorite singer/songwriter/musician. It is a combination of her emotional lyrics, her beautiful voice, and here spiritually charged music which makes me love her as an artist.

When going to Japan for the first time the one thing I regreted the most was not bringing enough music. I brought some, for sure, but I wish I would have had more with me. In the second week of being in Japan my portable CD player got rained on, and it was ruined. I went two full months without music and it about drove me insane! My tension was running high, school and learning a new language was stressful, and then one day I couldn't take it anymore. I went out and spent my weeks worth of food money on a new portable CD player. I was willing to starve for a week in order to relax my nerves with soothing music.

Although I had forgotten much of my music, one of the benefits of my forgetfulness was it forced me to start listening to Japanese music! That's when I found out that Ayumi Hamazaki (the biggest Pop-Idol in Japan -if not the world) actually had a sharp sound with a metallic atmosphere and mean techno beat. I had avoided Ayumi's music early on because I thought of her as just another "Britney Spears" but to my suprise, she was way better!


Ayumi Hamazaki

After finding out that I did enjoy Japanese music I started listening to all kinds. I listened to Japanese folk music from Okinawa, I listened to tradinional drum beat and dance music, I listened to pop music, and I started listening to the radio to find the latest chart toppers. In my search I came across a wonderful band called Ketsumeshi. They are a rap/reggae/pop group with a very cheerful and upbeat sound.

One of Sayaka's relatives teaches a type of sing-song poetry in which the Japanese sing the poetry. He showed me how it was done, but the writing was so artistic I couldn't even read it as Japanese! Other forms of music I came into contac with were the Shinto prayers, which are sung and danced, which made it fun for me to experience part of the Shinto ceremony and religion.

I guess the moral of the story is, it's best to have music in your life, but if you can -please try as many new types of music as you can! It's one of the best experiences one can have in life.

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