Rhythm Passport: Celebrating Tanabata Festival At Rich Mix


Rhythm Passport loves to bring you the finest music from around the world. This time we're going Japanese - we're bringing Tanabata to London's East End and treating you to the sounds, rhythms, colours and food from the Far East. The night will be centred around music, performed by both traditional and contemporary Japanese artists.

Tanabata is the ‘Star Festival’ of Japan which commemorates the meeting of deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. As the legend goes, the two lovers are separated by the Milky Way and can meet just once a year, on the seventh day of seventh month. People celebrate this ancient festival by writing their wishes on small pieces of paper called 'tanzaku' and hanging them on bamboo.

Representing the traditional side of Japanese music, we have London-based duo Hibiki Ichikawa & Akari Mochizuki. Showcasing a more contemporary style of Japanese music, we have the incredible French-Japanese artist Maïa Barouh, who plays a unique fusion of electro-roots-pop-punk, rooted in solid classical training. After and between the live music it’s Shibaura Sound System, DJ Koichi Sakai and the SOAS Radio DJs playing irresistable J-grooves, keeping bodies moving on the dance floor!

Come and join us on the 8th of July as we turn Rich Mix Japanese for one night only - expect colourful decor, rare performances from niche artists, and delicious authentic Japanese food from an inspiring chef. And of course, Tanabata wouldn’t be complete without making a wish: simply write whatever your heart desires on a piece of paper and tie it to the picturesque 'wishing tree'.


♬♬ Maïa Barouh ♬♬

Maïa Barouh is a unique singer and flautist. From a French-Japanese background, she has clearly found her way towards a boundless musical self-expression, rooted in solid classical training and a unique rendition of her heritage. The audience can expect to be transported along the Paris-Tokyo axis to space and beyond.

Maïa sings using a special throat technique from a small island in the South of Japan, mixing it with modern and electric sounds, but the flute is her first instrument. After studying classical and jazz, she quickly transformed the way she played as she started making her own music, improvising, singing with her flute and using it as percussion.

As a teenager she began her career in the Tokyo underground, playing the saxophone with a Japanese street band, and accompanying various drag queens, dancers and musicians.
However, after the earthquake and the nuclear accident that hit Japan on March 11th, 2011, Maïa was pushed to re-root herself deeply in the musical traditions of Japan, gathering the songs of fishermen and sailors, as well as party songs from Fukushima which she calls ‘Japanese bleus’ and sharing them with the world (with her own unique stamp on it, of course!)

Backed by powerful musicians and a free-flowing instinct that transcends national borders, Maïa offers an extraordinarily broad melodic landscape where melancholy and madness ride over percussive grooves, trance-like dance tunes and stripped-down a cappella singing.

♬♬ Hibiki Ichikawa & Akari Mochizuki ♬♬
(Traditional Japanese Folk Masters)

In the whole of the UK, Hibiki Ichikawa is the only professional player of tsugaru shamisen; a traditional 3-stringed instrument played using a large pick called a bachi. In recognition of his great skill, he has been qualified to perform under a “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa”, which is granted only to the most proficient artists. Hibiki frequently performs at festivals and formal occasions, including the Japan Matsuri in Trafalgar Square, for the Japanese Emperor’s birthday celebrations at the Japanese Embassy, and at the Edinburgh Festival. He currently teaches tsugaru shamisen to over 20 students in the UK.

When Akari Mochizuki was just 3 years old, she started singing enka (a variety of traditional Japanese music which often takes the form of sentimental ballads). Akari studied drama in Cambridge and modern music in London, and started working as a professional singer in 2009. She has performed as an enka and minyo (Japanese folk music) singer for numerous occasions, including WOMAD 2010 and Japan Matsuri 2009 and 2010. Akari is passionate about introducing Japan’s wonderful folk music to her audiences in the UK.


♬♬ Koichi Sakai ♬♬
(Special Japanese Set)

Koichi Sakai is a Tokyo born, London based DJ, producer, musician and promoter who is widely recognised for his highly developed, unique style, which reflects the varied influences that have continuously informed his creativity and career.

♬♬ Shibaura Sound System ♬♬
(Deep J-Grooves!)

Shibaura Sound System is a DJ crew focused on piecing together Japanese music and Japan related moods in a festive, celebratory manner.

♬♬ SOAS Radio DJs ♬♬
(J-Sound London Sensei!)

Paola has been running her own radio show 'Furniture Music' on SOAS Radio for over a year and a half now, showcasing the best electronic, experimental and ambient music from Japan. Her set will include all kinds of Japanese music, from contemporary chilled ambient to funky 70s tunes.


*Immersive Decor
*Traditional Wishing Tree
*Authentic Japanese Food

35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA

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