Japanese duo to woo South African audiences in celebration of the centenary ties between Japan and South Africa

South Africans will be offered a treat this August when the sounds of the past and future come alive on our country’s stages.

Yamaguchi, a Tsugaru-shamisen (traditional Japanese guitar) player and Kentaro Kihara, a jazz pianist

Image Supplied by Embassy of Japan in South Africa

Japanese duo, CoRai will be meshing their home Shamisen sounds with those of jazz piano to the delight of South African audiences in celebration of the centenary anniversary of the bilateral relationship between Japan and South Africa.

CoRai, made up of Hiroshi Yamaguchi, a Tsugaru-shamisen (traditional Japanese guitar) player and Kentaro Kihara, a jazz pianist, will stage their first ever South African performance at the Brooklyn Theatre in Pretoria on the 8th of August. 

Staying in Pretoria, the duo will then woo audiences at the Home Lounge in Mabopane on Women’s Day, the 9th of August. They will be concluding their leg of the South African tour in Cape Town at Young Blood Africa on the 10th of August.    

Yasushi Naito, Consul of Japan in Cape Town says,

"We are excited to celebrate the centenary since Japan established presence in Africa with a performance by this distinguished Fusion Duo. It was on the 8th of August in 1918, two weeks after Nelson Mandela was born, when the Japanese Consulate in Cape Town was established as the first Japanese mission on the African Continent. Cape Town is the scramble juncture of culture and history, and unnamed Japanese people also came here at different periods and became part of the evolution of Africa. The theme of the performance by CoRai (meaning the Past and Future) is fittingly symbolic of Japan’s shared past and future with Cape Town.

Yamaguchi and Kihara beautifully blend the ancient sounds of Japan with modern day jazz. Yamaguchi started his career as a stage Tsugaru-shamisen performer at the age of four. Yamaguchi is also known for his accompaniment of Kabuki (dance drama) performances.Kihara is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and a recipient of the college’s “Best Jazz Performer Award”. Yamaguchi and Kihara have performed both in Japan and on international stages where they have collaborated with a variety of artists. 

The name of the duo, CoRai, comes from two Japanese characters; Co meaning past and Rai meaning future. The name conjures up an image of the two ages meshing together.

“In their world, East meets West, and old meets new. Their music is of hope, seeking to bridge the gap between the two cultures and move even beyond the borders of all nations. We are glad to have them in South Africa, sharing their unique sounds, especially during this time whenwe look back at the centennial ties Japan has fostered with South Africa, as well as when we envisage our future relations for another 100 years to come,”

says Taro Sawada of the Japanese Embassy to South Africa.

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