'Eternal Summer' is a series of articles about the promise and reality of Japan, home of aesthetic. Each article is accompanied by a specially compiled playlist which you can listen to while reading.
My experience living in Japan spanned a year from April ’18 to the end of April of this year. Just a year was enough to make me want to go back. I was there as an English Instructor for a company called NOVA, and I was living in a quaint city on Shikoku called Niihama. For the first few days, being one of the few foreigners in the city was a little daunting, but the reception was very welcoming on the whole. The mall I worked in was very modern and visually pleasing, with wide spaces and a multitude of things to see and do. It was quite a contrast to the neighbourhoods which made up the city, as they were much more rural looking. I’m speaking purely for Niihama in this regard. Travelling to larger cities like Osaka, Kyoto or Tokyo showed city life in a much more traditional, bustling and metropolitan way. All in all, life in Niihama was very pleasant and I was never short of things to explore.
In terms of music, the scene on Shikoku wasn’t very present for niche genres such as Future Funk and other electronic scenes. Matsuyama held the biggest concerts as it was dubbed the “Capital of Ehime” but even they seemed few and far between. Sometime around mid-2018 I was introduced to a DJ named “SSC”, who spoke to me about a show he was putting on in Tokushima city, and that he wanted me to join the line-up. It was really exciting, having never played shows outside of England before, so I agreed to join the party!
Arriving in Tokushima reminded me of a smaller Osaka, the streets were wide, and concrete blocks of buildings lined the streets, but strangely didn’t detract from the view. Everything seemed slotted in its place and organised, and these streets ran straight for a long way. It felt very ergonomic. Ergonomic is an adjective I can apply to a lot of places in Japan. Whilst there’s the vision of crammed trains and narrow streets and back alleys (which do exist), a lot of Japan’s daily life felt very convenient to live – and I believe this is why I enjoyed it so much. I was never a few minutes off from a convenience store, or a hotel, or any other facility you think you might need (not to mention the abundance of vending machines!).
The first night meeting the DJs for the show was a Wednesday and I was told to meet SSC and the others in a Shisha bar in the evening. When I arrived, I saw SSC and another, DJ Panane. They were very welcoming and enthusiastic about meeting both me and Future Funk as a whole. In fact, everyone was enthusiastic and just such great people. That night we had a lock-in at the bar, smoked Shisha and jammed to beats all night! We played all manor of Future Funk, Hip Hop and Vaporwave. It was such a time. They took me for dinner at a traditional style Ramen place after. Shoes off, sat on the floor. First time for everything, right! I loved it.
The night after was the show, like many city clubs in Japan, it was quite small, dark, smoky, and held its own atmosphere. The intimacy of the venue made for such a great night, everyone was just jamming, getting wavy, and having a great time.
The final show I did in the Winter of 2018 was in Hokkaido in Sapporo city. It was a different experience altogether. A frosty, snowy city much busier than Tokushima and a much more neon nightlife vibe all around. Speaking honestly, I’d never seen so much snow in my life! I met a VJ named “Chio Midnight” the night before the show. She took me to a club to see a DJ from Akihabara who was performing. The contrast of club atmosphere in Japan and England was so prominent. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in some wicked UK clubs, but the air in these clubs in Japan felt like everyone was for escapism and to enjoy themselves – and that’s exactly what we did. Coming from a Jungle music background myself, when Chio took me upstairs to a smaller room away from the main stage, I was hyped to see a spinning some classic Jungle roller on the decks under a dim light. He was DJ Dai, and Chio introduced us as we would be playing at the same show the next day. Meeting Dai made me realise the sheer diversity of the DJs who play in the same scene in these underground gigs. Even in Tokushima there was hardcore, house, J-Pop, Future Funk DJs, and more! Forgive me if I sound naïve but I didn’t expect to meet a Jungle DJ that night in Sapporo. The next night, the show went down a storm. I was spinning with some bigger players in the game like Mikazuki Bigwave and Kissmenerdygirl, and DJ CA2ULA’s Cardcaptor Sakura wand flashing by the DJ decks- this was a Future Funk show if nothing else was. I had a wicked time performing and exploring in Japan, I’m sure I’ll go back to some degree at some point in the future.
If you’re thinking of spending time in Japan as a musician, worker, tourist or otherwise, don’t wait, do it, get your visas, have a good time, meet the people you want to meet and do the things you want to do!
Go scope out some of the guys and girls I jammed with: shout outs to SSC, Chiyo Midnight, Kissmenerdygirl, Oshio, あゆみ, Bigwave, CA2LA and everyone else that partied with me and made my time there great!
Connor "Mr. Wax" is a freelance music producer and DJ from England. He's known best for his Future Funk and experimental original pieces. He's also available for commission in genres such as Hip-Hop or Synthwave instrumentals/backing tracks. Check out his Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts.