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Female Voices of Japan: Unforgettable Projects & Performances

Discover Six Women Who Inspire Audiences Around The World

By Ashley Tsuruoka
August 23, 2023
Art & Culture

From heartwarming community projects to daring performances with innovative technologies, Japanese women have been pushing the boundaries of creative expression.

Throughout history, women have been instrumental in shaping the landscape of contemporary art and music, and Japan’s female creatives are no exception. From heartwarming community projects to daring performances with innovative technologies, Japanese women have been pushing the boundaries of creative expression. Discover unforgettable projects and performances by six women who have inspired audiences across Japan and around the world.

1. Tomoko Sauvage 

Tomoko Sauvage is a sound artist from Yokohama, Japan with an insatiable curiosity for the delicate, organic sounds of water. A background in classical and jazz music forms the foundation for her mesmerizing soundscapes, which are brought to life through water-filled bowls, hydrophones and sculptures.

In 2022, Sauvage performed her latest piece, For Standing Bells and Amplified Lake, featuring standing bells—ancient Chinese bells revered in Buddhist rituals—played by nine performers in a lake. The bells gracefully danced atop serene waters, their melodies amplified by hydrophones nestled on the lakebed. Sauvage continues to captivate audiences with her ability to uncover the hidden sounds and beauty of water.

2. Anly

Anly is a singer-songwriter from Okinawa, Japan, known for her contributions to numerous anime, commercials and dramas. She is among the first artists to have her concert reproduced with Yamaha’s “Distance Viewing” technology. 

On a large onstage screen, life-sized images of Anly and her band were displayed. She built soundscapes out of looped vocals and guitar, speaking to the audience and bursting into song as if she were performing right before their eyes. The dynamic sound and lighting effects from the initial show were masterfully recreated, transporting audiences to the original live performance which took place months prior to its recreation. Through this melding of technology and music, Anly helped showcase the future of live-streamed concerts.

3. Yuko Mohri

Yuko Mohri is an installation artist from Kanagawa, Japan with a rare talent for transforming the mundane into the extraordinary. With a background in media arts and music, Mohri creates kinetic sculptures born from everyday objects, random trinkets and mechanical fragments. 

In 2009, Mohri stumbled upon leaking, water-damaged corners within Tokyo’s subway stations. This discovery sparked her “Moré Moré Tokyo” (Leaky Tokyo) series, in which she reimagined leaks as whimsical sculptures. Buckets, bottles and duct tape, along with many other quirky combinations, controlled leaks in playful and imaginative ways. In 2024, Mohri will exhibit her works at The Japan Pavilion, representing Japan for the 60th International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.

4. Yumiko Yamashita

Female Voices of Japan: Unforgettable Projects & Performances by Women© Photo by Yamaha Japan

Yumiko Yamashita is a pianist who has been fondly named the “LovePianoの母” (LovePiano’s mother) for her facilitation of the “LovePiano” project, in which colorfully painted pianos were brought to various locations across Japan. Since its inception in 2017, this labor of love has been guided by Yamashita’s artistic vision and planning, fostering collaborations between Yamaha, Hoshino Resorts and students from Ochanomizu Bijutsu Gakuin.

The pianos were installed in spaces where anyone could freely play, unburdened by the pressures and confinement of a practice room. One such piano was located on the wooden deck of Hoshino Resorts in Karuizawa until July 31, 2023, inviting passersby to play and experience the joy and love of music with their community.

5. Mari Kimura

Mari Kimura is a violinist and composer from Tokyo, Japan, known for her work with interactive computer music systems and augmented instruments. Her pioneering spirit has led her to develop new techniques for violin performance, exemplified by her “Augmented Violin” project. Equipped with a motion sensor glove and circuit board, Kimura seamlessly integrated technology into her performances, translating movements into audible expressions.

Her latest composition, “D’Alembert Caprice,” features the new and improved “Mugic” motion sensor, which seamlessly translates the movement of her bowing strokes into a swirl of eccentric sounds. Since its release in 2020, Kimura’s technology has enriched the performances of musicians, actors and dancers around the world.

6. Tujiko Noriko

Tujiko Noriko is an actor, filmmaker and musician from Osaka, Japan, who has written music for films, dance and art installations. Her latest cinematic creation, Kuro, was written and directed in collaboration with filmmaker Joji Koyama.

Kuro invites viewers to immerse themselves in the poignant world of Romi, a Japanese woman portrayed by Noriko herself, as she cares for her disabled partner in Paris. In this experimental art film, the visual story and narrated words are often mismatched, illustrating the intricacies of the human mind. Noriko’s music weaves into the film’s tender moments, interlacing haunting vocals with evocative visuals such as finger massages and stained beds. Presently, Noriko is working on cinematographic work for an electronic music/digital art festival in Portugal.

The work of these six remarkable women serves as a testament to the power of female voices in Japan’s artistic landscape. Through their talents and creative spirits, they shape the future and inspire generations of artists to come. 

Know more unforgettable projects or performances by women of Japan? We warmly invite you to share your thoughts down below!


Comments

Lil says:

Love this! It’s not just girl groups and jpop out there

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