82 St Marychurch St
London SE16 4HZ
Love, loss, hardship and a nostalgic pining for one’s hometown are the subject of the Japanese “enka” and “minyo” performed by virtuoso musician Hibiki Ichikawa (Tsugaru shamisen) and Akari Mochizuki (voice). The marriage of the distinctive rhythms of this unusual instrument with Akari’s quintessentially Japanese vocals will transport you to Hibiki’s native Tohoku, north eastern Honshu, the main island of this Far Eastern archipelago.
The tsugaru shamisen is a traditional 3-stringed instrument played using a large pick called a bachi. In recognition of his great skill, Hibiki Ichikawa has been qualified to perform under a “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa”, which is granted only to the most proficient Japanese artists. Hibiki frequently performs at festivals and formal occasions, including the Japan Matsuri in Trafalgar Square, and at the Japanese Emperor’s birthday celebrations at the Japanese Embassy, as well as at the Edinburgh Festival.
Akari is from Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture. When she was 3 years old, she started singing enka (a variety of traditional Japanese music which often takes the form of sentimental ballads) thanks to the influence of her father, who was a great fan of the genre. Akari studied drama in Cambridge and modern music in London, and started working as a professional singer in 2009. She has performed at WOMAD 2010, Hyper Japan and Japan Matsuri.
The venue is a deliciously sumptuous sofa-filled home-crafted cinema like none other, housed in a beautiful building oozing the history both of the neighbourhood and of costume creation. Uniquely a ticket entitles you to free tea/coffee. Stronger stuff is available at the riverside Mayflower Pub, only a few cobble stones away. Sands Films is an inspiringly intimate place to hear fabulous music.