Giving Malaysia a taste of Japan

(From left) Okamoto, Aizdean and Kawakami giving the thumbs up before performing J-pop tunes for the crowd at the mall.

(From left) Okamoto, Aizdean and Kawakami giving the thumbs up before performing J-pop tunes for the crowd at the mall.

SHOPPERS at Kelana Jaya’s Paradigm Mall got the chance to see J-pop artistes perform live and for free, as Japan-based Malaysian artiste Aizdean (real name Muhammad Aizuddin Anwar) was in town to promote his music-travelogue show Muzik Hati Jepun.

Muzik Hati Jepun, a collaborative venture between Japan Association of Music Enterprises and Dentsu Media Malaysia to reach out to the Malaysian market, is currently showing on local channel TV3.

Aizdean had also brought along two fellow artistes from Japan, Tomotaka Okamoto and Daisuke Kawakami, who had worked with Aizdean and brought him around Nagano on the show’s second episode.

“When many Malaysians think of Japan, they think of Tokyo and Osaka, and that’s it.

Muzik Hati Jepun can show them that there is more to Japan than just these cities,” said Aizdean, who has been living in Japan for 14 years, and speaks fluent Japanese.

“I have to stop for a while sometimes when I translate, because the grammar and sentence structure is slightly different,” he laughed during an interview with the media before the show at the mall.

The travelogue format of Muzik Hati Jepun also helped showcase song genres beyond J-pop, with classics such as Chikuma-gawa, an Enka genre song about the Shinano/Chikuma river in Nagano Prefecture.

“There are many songs in Japan that people know from young, something like our Balik Kampung or Tanggal 31,” said Aizdean.

Shooting the eight episodes that showcase about 12 songs was challenging, as the workday would start around 4am and the shooting schedule was tightly planned, ending usually around 2am or so.

For Okamoto and Kawakami, working with Aizdean was an opportunity to rediscover Japan as well.

“For large cities like Tokyo, the community spirit, as it gets bigger, kind of disappears.

“But in places like Nagano, it’s still very strong, people would help us out and are very welcoming,” said Kawakami.

There are some perks, such as the show’s presenter meeting his favourite band Kiroro, which were featured in the first episode.

Okamoto, dressed in flowing robes for his stage performance, praised Aizdean’s work ethics and performance.

“When he sings, he really expresses the emotions of the song and brings out the spirit in a different way,” Okamoto explained.

Later, a crowd gathered at the mall’s sheltered concourse area to listen to the trio sing, either solo or as a group, performing various songs in the Enka, Kayokyoko and mainstream J-pop genres.

The evening thunderclaps and following rain could not drown out the high register of Okamoto’s sopranista voice.

“I didn’t think men could hit those kind of notes, but it’s really good the way all of them are harmonising together,” said bystander Sia Chin Woon, adding that she watched the performance out of curiosity.

Central Region , j pop