Sunday, 17 February 2013

Japan Cultural Night 2013 @ NUS!

Hey guys! Sorry about the huge gap between posts – we’ve just been really busy with school starting and things like that, but we’re back on again!

Some of you might remember that recently (or not so recently by now), NUS’s Japanese Studies Society held their annual Japanese Cultural Night. Emi and I were very happy to be able to go because although Singapore has a substantial number of events centred around anime/manga, cosplay, J-music and the like, events focusing on traditional Japanese culture are few and far between. We were treated to a series of performances by the students of NUS as well as two local J-music bands, and emerged from the theatre satisfied.

The event kicked off with an impressive taiko (Japanese drums) performance – the drummers were wonderfully in sync, the yells were confident (which they sometimes aren’t due to performers being embarrassed) and the rhythmic vibration of the drums in the air swept us away. 

Next up was a dance performance by the Nihon Buyo Club. The first dance was breathtaking – the supporting dancers moved slowly, purposefully and gracefully around the lead dancer, and the lighting provided an otherworldly sort of ambience to the stage. I particularly loved the ending of the dance, when sakura petals were showered over the lead dancer to create a beautiful tableau.

The second song performed, however, was disappointing compared to the first. The uncertainty felt by the dancers was palpable, with their cries soft, unsure and scattered and their movements hesitant, completely unbefitting the lively folk tune they were dancing to.

Thankfully, their last dance raised the bar back up with another lively folksy number, with the two male leads almost hilariously enthusiastic, effectively raising the level of excitement in the theatre.

Speaking of the level of excitement – the following Aikido demonstration unintentionally cracked the crowd up like nothing else in the event. Personally, though I was clutching my ribs along with everyone else, I felt kind of bad for the demonstrators as well, to have to continue doing what was making the crowd laugh at them over and over again. Also – RESPECT to them that they didn’t stop halfway. Basically what happened was that there was someone who stood in the middle of the row of mats, people would come at him from alternating sides of the stage, and he would demonstrate methods of pinning them down and/or disarming them. However, due to the safety constraints (I suppose), the entire thing was staged, and looked staged – as in, the main guy was hardly applying any force at all, sometimes just barely brushing his opponent, and the opponent would appear to fall over all by himself. Nevertheless, the act ended to thunderous applause, though unfortunately not for the performance they practised for.

The karate demonstration never did quite match up to the preceding demonstration in terms of entertainment, but it was nevertheless enjoyable and informative, with individual martial artists taking turns to perform different sets of kata (detailed, choreographed patterns of movement).

Next, the audience was spellbound by the Koto (Japanese string instruments very similar to the Guzheng) performance – sweet, graceful and enthralling, the music flowing over us like river water.


So it was at this point that Emi and I took a good look at the next acts – and realised that we were actually friends with one of the bands, Syrius Fall! (We just didn’t know that they’d recently changed their band name.) So of course, we anticipated their performance with more eagerness than we had had before.

Syrius Fall performed a set fully composed of One OK Rock songs, a band some of you may recognise from the Rurouni Kenshin movie – they sang the theme song. During their performance, we could really feel the cohesion in the band – they were making eye contact, interacting, and they basically sounded like they’d been playing together for a long time. The heavy rock music was nicely punctuated in the middle with a sweet ballad as their third number before continuing on and ending with a blast! (Emi and I thought that the drummer’s hair was amazing – it was really long, silky-looking and covered his face when he bent his head down. xD)

The event ended off with a performance by Bikkurishita!, a band I understand has been in the Singaporean J-music scene for a couple years now. The MCs introduced the band with a really lame joke about being “surprised” by their performance (“bikkurishita” translates to “surprised”), but the performance itself was rather good, save for some bits that weren’t as synchronized as we’d hoped it would be. The singer charmed the audience with her hyper attitude and fluent Japanese remarks (repeated in English), but I (and Emi agrees with me) thought that the keyboardist was absolutely adorable! xD We absolutely loved her long, flowy outfit and the fact that she never went off-beat. The singer was definitely the focus of the act, though I have to admit I spent quite some time staring at the keyboardist… xD

Aaand that was it! Emi and I met up with Syrius Fall outside planning to go to supper together but ended up going separate ways due to conflicts regarding which MRT line to take… All in all though, it was an enjoyable night – next year’s JCN should not be missed!

-Seren <3

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