Discover more from Jazz of Japan
Introduction to Jazz of Japan
Picture this: a dazzling city, clean and modern yet old-fashioned and traditional – a city of the future and of the past, simultaneously. Bars and izakaya everywhere, busy and tipsy uniformed and suited up masses of people rushing to and fro. Digital voices emanating from brightly lit signs looming large in the sky, on the sides of buildings, on shop walls. In the middle of this, an unlimited supply of food, drink, merchandise – seafood restaurants, alcohol establishments, convenience stores everywhere. And hidden in the dark corners and underground floors… the jazz of Japan. Welcome to the world of Japanese jazz.
You're a jazz fan. You're going to Japan, perhaps for the first time. You don't know much Japanese except maybe sake, sumo, ramen, and teriyaki.
As a visitor to Japan, what is on your typical must-do checklist? Probably something along the lines of:
visit authentic Japanese temples
eat fresh sushi
encounter geisha in the streets of old Edo
soak in a hot spring onsen
walk through intersections surrounded by giant illuminated screens and electronic signs
Certainly, there is a wealth of advice about what to do in Japan, how to experience it, where to book your hotels. There are so many reputable guidebooks and seemingly unlimited online information for that, so much so that you could easily spend more time looking things up and reading reviews more than the actual time spent on the trip. Naturally, I have also used numerous guides as I was getting started on my trips through Japan. The information in such guides is often useful and even essential at times, with tons of practical navigational tips and advice. This isn’t an attempt to challenge those types of professional guides.
However, I try to offer something here not found anywhere else. While guidebooks and internet advice do often cover wide breadths of terms of scratching the surface in many areas, naturally they cannot provide in-depth and information in focused areas, such as the world of Japanese jazz. That’s the goal: to provide real information and practical advice on how to experience a side of Japan not yet available to the foreign visitor – the underground world of Japanese jazz.
While this is not an exclusive, members-only society, certain barriers do exist: the language barrier, the relative obscurity of jazz knowledge in the general popular music culture, the somewhat sequestered attitude of some to de-mark “our thing” and keep it somewhat outside the mainstream, somewhat exclusive and special.
But breaking those barriers means:
watch play musicians their heart out, improvising on the spot
listen to world-class musicians share their talent with you, and for you
discover underground jazz bars not found in guidebooks
Sounds great, doesn’t it? In other words, this is for:
The jazz addict who is looking for new avenues of discovery
The jazz musician who wants to join jazz sessions in Japan
The music lover who doesn’t know much about jazz but is interested in exploring new frontiers
Anybody who just wants to try something new and unfamiliar – a challenge!
People who love jazz and are traveling to Japan, specifically Tokyo, and want to make sure to enjoy the incredibly deep and flourishing Japanese jazz community
Curious people wanting to experience this world vicariously from afar
Most of all, this is for anybody who wants to find out just a little bit more, or a perhaps quite lot more, about J Jazz – Japanese Jazz – in Japan!