Since their famous Okuda Tamio-produced 1996 debut "Ajia no Junshin," this pop duo has put out a string of smash hits. In 2004, "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi," a cartoon starring theduo, began to air in the US, and has since been broadcasted in over 110 countries. They band continue to actively engage in commercials, fashion, and of course the music scene as one of Japan’s most iconic duos.
Chatmonchy formed in 2000 and made their major-label debut in 2005, winning over hearts of many with their colorful melodies and honest lyrics on humanity. In October 2011 this girl band became a two-piece, releasing the album "Metamorphosis,” which was recorded in free-form with the two switching instruments. This was followed by a nationwide tour, and a special documentary is slated for a summer 2013 release.
The former vocalist of JUDY AND MARY, YUKI started her solo career in 2002. Her distinctive voice and powerful live presence gained her many fans, and in 2012, to mark 10 years of her solo career, she performed a sold out concert at the Tokyo Dome, making her the first female artist to perform at the Dome as a solo act and part of a band. YUKI celebrate her 20th anniversary since her debut in 2013.
LiSA first came to prominence with her role as the vocalist of an anime band, “Girls Dead Monster” from the hit 2010 series “Angel Beats!” After her solo debut, her songs continued to chart as hit anime theme songs. Performing non-stop both in and out of Japan, she’s also famous for her charismatic personality and energetic live shows that blow audiences away, including a highly rated performance at Singapore’s AFA 2012.
Since her first major-label single "Level 42" was released in June 2004, Kaela has put out 19 singles and seven original albums. Now one of Japan’s prominent stars, she continues to appear on TV and in advertisements while also playing both festivals and her own solo tours. In March 2012, she put on a 3-day performance at Budokan, and most recently, her music video for "Wonder Volt" served as an inspiration for Tim Burton's animated film, Frankenweenie.
Tamio Okuda / UNICORN
UNICORN made their major-label debut in 1987 with “BOOM,” and released a barrage of hit singles such as “Daimeiwaku” and “Hataraku Otoko.” After disbanding in September 1993, lead singer Tamio Okuda began his solo career in 1994 and sold over a million copies of his first album, "29." UNICORN reformed in 2009 and returned with the single “WAO!” and album “Jumble” in Feburary of that year, following up with a Japan-wide tour in March. In 2010, Tamio Okuda became a formal member of The Verbs (formed by Steve Jordan and Meegan Voss) and partook in recording and touring with the band, proving his popularity not only with fans, but also among musicians as well.
Formed in 1997 around frontman Show Ayanocozey, Kishidan made their major-label debut in 2001, and quickly gained a following thanks to their daring, bad-boy appearances and entertaining performances. By 2004, they had already mobilized 45,000 fans at Tokyo Dome, and in 2012, the band celebrated their 15th anniversary with a series of gigs, also hosting the "Kishidan Expo 2012," which drew 50,000 people in two days.
Base Ball Bear
Base Ball Bear was formed in 2001 when four high school students wanted to perform at their school festival. The quartet went on to perform at concert venues in their teens, and was signed on to EMI Japan in 2006. They celebrated their 10th anniversary with a successful concert at the famous Budokan in January 2012. Their “Band B Future Tour” will start in April 2013.
Unison Square Garden
This band is creating a new kind of pop-rock, merging soul-bearing vocals from Kosuke Saito with an outstanding band ensemble. With catchy melodies and vivid live performances, this band constantly sells out, and even more so after being singing the theme song for the hit anime series "TIGER & BUNNY." The band played a solo show at Tokyo’s NHK Hall in April 2013.
GARNiDELiA are vocalist, MARiA, and composer, toku. The two put together their first single “COLOR” entirely over the Internet, and once it was chosen as the theme song for the hit anime “Freezing,” they decided to formally start as a duo in the fall of 2010. They’ve gone on to perform at large anime conventions in Shanghai and Tokyo, and to date they’ve released three self-produced CDs.
Scott & Rivers
Scott & Rivers is a rock duo consisting of Scott Murphy of ALLiSTER and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer fame. Sharing a deep love of Japanese culture, they have created original songs in Japanese, which they revealed at major festivals at the end of 2012. These songs were also released in an album in Spring 2013.
This cello-playing singer-songwriter has gotten lots of attention from her performances at numerous international anime conventions. She frequently collaborates with other musicians to make music for high-profile TV shows, anime series, and video games. 2013’s PSP game "Fate / EXTRA CCC" features her songs "Foul Play ni kurari” and “Sakura Meikyuu."
This Harajuku-style dance-rock band is overwhelmingly popular among Japanese teenagers with their energetic sound and unique, yet relatable lyrics. But their appeal crosses all borders, successfully completing solo tours in Europe and South America in both 2009 and 2012. They’ll be touring Japan throughout 2013, stopping by the all 47 prefectures, capping off with a performance at the Budokan next January.
Born in 1989, this Jpop artist is known for her honest lyrics on love and her unique, clear voice. Currently her songs have been downloaded over 37 million times and her 2nd album, "to LOVE," topped the Oricon charts with over 950,000 copies sold. Her latest tour sold out to a total of 100,000 fans around Japan, and also added an Asian leg in Taiwan and Hong Kong to her tour for the first time, cementing her spot as the next prominent diva from Japan.
This super star vocal duo’s successes includes six Oricon #1 albums (which also include million sellers), seven Oricon #1 singles, and the theme song the the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. After celebrating more than 10 successful years together, the duo are now focused on working on their solo careers, but CHEMISTRY still remains one of the most loved bands in Japan and greater Asia.
Asako Toki is a singer who got her start as vocalist of the pop band “Cymbals”. She has gone on to have a highly successful solo career, releasing well-received singles and albums, having her songs used prominently in commercials and TV programming, and collaborating with numerous artists.
In 2001, Kaname Kawabata was chosen to form CHEMISTRY with Yoshikuni Dochin, and the two debuted with the hit single, "PIECES OF A DREAM.” He went on to debut as a solo artist in October 2012, and his first solo album is slated for June 2013, followed by a nationwide tour. He is also active in acting and narrating, branching out to more non-music fields as well.
Kawano Marina won ANIMAX’s 4th Japan Ani-son Grand Prix in 2010 out of 10,189 contestants, and a few months later, performed at ANIMAX MUSIX! 2010 in front of 12,000 people. Her 1st single, Morning Arch is the opening theme of the TV Anime series, A-Channel while her 2nd single is the ending theme of the TV Anime series, Natsume Yujincho Shi. Marina was born in 1990
Brought together by their love of Taro Okamoto and the Ramones, this four-piece band formed in Shinjuku. They have averaged 100 live shows a year since their mainstream debut, and have performed overseas in countries such as the US, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Their self-titled album was released in January 2013, and the band continues to cause a storm in the industry with their exhilarating live shows.
Takashi Yamaguchi (Vocals, Guitar), Yoichi Kondo (Bass, Chorus), and Yasufumi Kiuchi (Drums, Chorus) make up this three-piece, especially notable for their funk and soul-influenced rock sound and their plainspoken yet profound lyrics. Playing live, they bowl over audiences with performances that sometimes feature Yamaguchi speaking passionately to the audience. Their 2005 single “Sekai wa sore o ai to yobun da ze” (That's what the World Calls Love) was used as the theme music to a TV drama and became a major hit. By touring often and working hard, the band has gained a wide-ranging fanbase.
This four-piece rock band was formed in March 2007, while in their first year of high school. They made their major-label debut in May 2010, and have evolved into a genre-bending rock band. Most recently, their second album, “HARENTIC ZOO” was released in October 2012, and vocalist Daichi Watanabe has also won accolades for his acting as well.
OWARIKARA is a four-piece psychedelic rock band that formed in 2008 and quickly made a name for themselves through their self-released demo and frequent, energetic live performances. Following up a successful Canadian tour in 2010, the band releases their second full-length album in May 2011.
Starting his career in the rock band Scanch, ROLLY is a guitarist, vocalist, and producer, as well as an actor. His unique and theatrical personality has built a strong fan base, and his memorable appearance in the film "Suicide Circle" has gained him many fans abroad as well.
Formed in 2000, ART-SCHOOL has had several member changes over the last 13 years. What hasn’t changed is frontman Kinoshita Riki’s drive to blend powerful pop guitar lines with dramatic vocals, which has influenced a whole generation of bands and audiences alike. In 2012 they signed on to ki / oon Music, and released the new mini-album, "The Alchemist," In March 2013.
True to their band name, this heavy metal band is active worldwide, across all borders. Having toured the UK and Europe, including UK's Vans Warped Tour, Crossfaith picked up momentum in 2013, when they played on the main stage at Australia’s Soundwave festival and plan to tour the US on the Vans Warped Tour. They continue to reach extreme music fans everywhere with over 200 shows lined up for their world tour.
Fujifabric was formed in 2000 by vocalist Masahiko Shimura and formally debuted in 2004, quickly winning over fans with their evolving alt. rock sound. However, after Shimura’s sudden death in December 2009, the remaining members took it upon themselves to complete new songs in his memory, creating the band’s 5th album, "MUSIC." The band’s new album "VOYAGER" will be released in March 2013.
Takeshi Hosomi / the HIATUS
the HIATUS was formed in 2009 by members Takeshi Hosomi, Koji Ueno, Takashi Kashikura, masasucks, Ichiyo Izawa, and Masakazu Ichise, and while their music leans towards alternative, art, electronic rock, the band continues to redefine boundaries with their unique, experimental take on music. In December 2012, they added an orchestra to the band and performed in concert halls across Japan with the new 16 person line up. Most recently, Hosomi rocked the stage at Taiwan's MEGAPORT Festival 2013.
Open Reel Ensemble / Braun Tube Jazz Band
Open Reel Ensemble was formed in 2009 around frontman, Ei Wada. The group utilizes reel-to-reel tape decks connected to a computer as an instrument, and merges acoustic and electric to create a unique sound. Darling among media art circles, the band also featured in Issey Miyake’s Paris AW2013 show. The group is also known for their film scoring project, “Steam Blue Ensemble,” and Ei Wada’s solo project, the “Braun Tube Jazz Band.”
Catching the attention of many club DJs and producers thanks to her incredible voice, SAWA also possesses the rare charm present in many of the best J-pop artists. SAWA also performs internationally, having appeared in Korea in 2009. She released her debut full-length album, “Welcome to Sa-World”, in July 2010.
Others (Ska/Jazz/Club/Classical/Bluegrass/Actors, etc.)
Charan Po Rantan
Charan Po Rantan, a duo consisting of sisters Momo (vocals) and Koharu (accordion), got their start as street performers in 2009. Calling their music “alternative gypsy chanson,” they gained acclaim for their eccentric performances both in Japan and overseas, including gigs in Canada, Taiwan's Rock in Taichung 2012 and SXSW in 2013. The duo also released three albums between fall 2012 and spring 2013. Word has it that they were personally invited but declined to perform with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd!
TOKYO SKA PARADISE ORCHESTRA
Based on Jamaican ska music, this band calls their own variant of the genre “Tokyo Ska.” But despite their name, this ska band is not only active in Japan, but also in Europe, America, Asia and various other countries, including thrilling performances at Mexico's Vive Latino 2011 and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2013. The band will celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2014.
2013 marks the 35th anniversary of one of Japan’s most celebrated pop instrumental group, T-SQUARE, and they continue to remain active in touring and various tie-ups. In 2012, their song “TRUTH” was used as the BS Fuji’s F1 Grand Prix theme song, and “Cheer Up!” was used as the theme song for TV Asahi’s “Sunday! Scramble.” The group also performed in Thailand's Maha Nakom - The Riverfront Music Festival in 2012. This year, the group will release their 35th anniversary album, “smile,” in April 2013.
This celebrated violinist’s debut, "smile" was released in 2007, and since then her beautiful violin sounds have been heavily featured on TV, in film and in commercials. Also active as a newscaster and spokesperson in commercials, she is undoubtedly one of the most talked-about pop violinists. Her greatest hits album was released in February 2013, marking the 5th anniversary of her debut.
This renowned young cello player has not only been the first cello player of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra but collaborated with other classical ensembles and other genres of music, including KOBUDO, his permanent trio project with Shakuhachi (Japanese traditional flute) player and pop composer/pianist.
Maki Nomiya made her debut in July 1981 and quickly rose to the forefront of the new wave scene. She joined the Pizzicato Five in 1990 and became an icon in the Shibuya-kei music scene. She is now active in all fields of art, music, fashion and culture, and released “30” in 2012, a 30th anniversary album featuring self covers of her most famous songs.
Akiko Yano started performing at jazz clubs while she was still in high school student at Aoyama Gakuin, then later started her career as a Tin Pan Alley-style session player in 1972. After releasing her debut album, “JAPANESE GIRL,” in 1976, she began to collaborate with artists such as Yellow Magic Orchestra, Rei Harakami (from the duo yanokami), etc., creating music spanning a wide range of styles and genres.
Shunsuke Watanabe / Schroeder-Headz
Shunsuke Watanabe started session work as a pianist and keyboardist while attending Kunitachi College of Music. In addition to being a skilled singer-songwriter with a wonderful voice, he has produced recordings, scored commercials and movies. He also actively participates in numerous other musical projects, including Schroeder-Headz (a club jazz trio project), cafelon, and Kotatsu Uchuu.
Musician and producer Hiroshi Fujiwara got his start as a DJ in the ‘80s, and started producing, arranging and songwriting in the ‘90s. In 2011, he started performing as AOEQ with Yoichi Kuramochi of Magokoro Brothers, and started performing with a full band in 2012. He is also an active participant in Japan’s street culture and fashion scene, influencing teenager trends and style.
Ai Hashimoto was born in Kumamoto Prefecture on January 12th, 1996, and garnered acclaim for her acting debut in 2010’s “Confessions.” In 2011-2012, she appeared in a total of 10 films, including the Japanese Academy Award’s Best Picture, “The Kirishima Thing.” She appears in NHK’s “Ama-chan” series from April 2013, in addition to two more films this spring, making her one of the most watched young actresses in Japan.
Nikaidou Fumi made her screen debut in 2009’s "Gamu no Abura.” Her first starring role was in 2011’s “Rock 'N' Roll wa Nariyamanai!” and with 2012’s “Himizu,” she won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actress at the Venice International Film Festival. She continued the streak by winning Best New Actress at the Japan Academy Awards in 2013 and is one of the country’s most promising actresses.
Born in 1991, this young actress debuted in 2009’s “High Kick Girl!” and continued to star in various action movies, including “Dead Sushi,” for which she won the Best Actress Award at Texas’ "Fantastic Film Festival 2012." With 12 years of karate training and a 2nd degree black belt, Takeda is one of the few actresses who can handle authentic action scenes.
One of the most prominent crossdressers in Japan, Mitz sets himself apart by not using the stereotypical gay vocabulary, instead he communicates through extremely polite and expressive language, creating a powerful presence for himself. A huge music lover, Mitz is also part of a choral group called “Hoshizora Scat.”
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