We went to a Japanese pop culture festival and we had a blast

It’s hard for one to not like Japan.

Especially after the heroics of one swift-feted goalie in Izwan Mahbud over a 90-minutes football game, we love Japan more than ever now (pardon our cheekiness). But if you haven’t already, you ought to start noticing the Japanese way of life creeping into yours; into the daily architecture that surrounds you, replacing the food that fills your tummy, overloading the culture that you unwittingly immerse in.

Take a left in any mall, you will be olfactory astounded by the smell of pipping hot gyozas and ramen before being visually mesmerised by glistening plastic models of ramen arranged in neat rows. Take another random turn elsewhere, you will notice a Daiso or a Japan Home, making our apartments and houses feel more like a home $2 at a time.

Last weekend, Japan took another step closer into yet another facet of our lives: their arts culture. Growing up, one might have caught the occasional anime on Arts Central or be captivated by the voluptuous models in manga comics, but they count as merely scratches on the surface.

Over the past weekend, Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival dropped by Singapore to give locals a taste of the Japanese arts scene, we deliver you our report.

No Photo, No FOMO!

Trust the Japanese to have this innate quality grown within them, to not pull out a camera nor a handheld device at a show. Have you ever stood at the back of a crowd and notice a sea of glaring phone screens with a pixel-sized Adam Levine?

No, not here at Moshi Moshi Nippon. If only our local punters at the major festivals can display similar sentiments, but at the same time, we had half a mind to sneak a shot under the belt just to savour this moment many months later.

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Fun-sized Capsule

Looking at the setlist, the duo differed slightly from their proposed set, but from the crowd’s reactions, it was a banging replacement anyway. With most of Capsule’s hits taken from the last decade, their tunes went through subtle changes to include sparkling digitised effects, plastered over equally digitised beats. ‘Starry Sky’ was vibrant and buzzing with producer Yasutaka Nakata laying the foundation with vocalist Toshiko Koshijima slipping in a refined performance in a setting of pure energy.

Unseen: While the rest were pumping away in enthusiasm, World Order’s Takashi Jonishi brought the moves after getting a comfortable change from his sweat-drenched attire. Popping and locking into deeper depths of our hearts.

Let’s Dance (Wotagei Style)

It’s a good idea to take a look at the video below to get a keen idea to understand what Wotagei is: a dance comprising of synchronised routines and moves that act as a cheer of support, which fans come together to perform for a particular idol. It's specific and only for the "true fans" of an idol. 

Maybe that didn’t explicitly happen at Moshi Moshi Festival but there was a slight imitation at the smaller sidestage, with fans thrusting their fists in the air and screaming in unadulterated passion during the chorus. While during the TEMPURA KIDZ set, fans threw fingers and hand shapes in intricate patterns back to the dancers. Can someone in the local scene create their own dance moves for the fans please? Weish? Caracal?

Music Beyond Borders

Despite the crowd being populated by a pre-dominant Japanese crowd, there were throngs of Singaporean fans among the crowd. The local fans present probably may not even understand a word of Japanese (we didn’t), but they were equally eager in enjoying without understanding for neither lyrics nor meanings. What’s wrong anyway for enjoying music solely for its rhythm and how it sounds?

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New World Order

If you are an avid Amazing Race fan like we are, you would have caught World Order on the back of an episode of The Amazing Race in their pitstop in Japan. With half the teams left baffled and frustrated in failing to replicate the moves of ‘Welcome to Tokyo’, it speaks volumes for the dedication and hardwork the pop-dance group has immersed into their routine. Their iconic move would arguably be the robotic slow march that is outrightly impossible to land. 

Between the dance moves and vocal drama between each member, there is still opportunity for individuality in their freestyling. Hayato Yuchiyama has proper techniques utilising both arms and neck to develop a machine-like profile for himself while Masato Ochihai spins and contorts with various rotary movements. But as a group, oh do they shine, as they move unanimously in acute precision.

Fatherly Love

During the intermission between Tempura Kidz and World Order, we spotted a father challenging his seven year old son to a dance duel in the middle of the crowd. We admit, the kid had slinky sleek moves but his dad was the worthy submission here for the father of the year. Because we all love a dad who plays good sport. 

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It is impossible not to break into smiles for TEMPURA KIDZ. Five kids dressed in bright neon arrangements moving systematically and introduce choreography into their bodies, movements and facial expressions. It is tough not to remember the highlight of the night, ’Miira Killer’, with Pi-Chan turning up the heat and leading the fans in an amusing dance off, which got our fingers and arms knotted in a criss-cross pattern by the closing line.

The 25-minutes set didn’t last long, as they signed off in a merry holler, ‘We Love You Singapore!’. Encouraging the crowd to swing their hands in the air in recognition of their work, also because no one can ever live with raining on the parade of five adorable children.

As of now we are still squealing for them to return to stage. We just really really really admire these kids very much.

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