Background: Design Week is an event concept that originates in Tokyo and which has extended to over 100 cities worldwide. Within Japan, around 1,800 municipalities hold their own events in conjunction with the Design Week. The aim of the Design Week events is to showcase local creative talent – be in the musical, performing or visual arts. These events also serve to boost tourism in more off-the-beaten path cities in Japan.
The first municipality to hold the Design Week in Japan in 2018 was Matsuyama, the capital of Ehime Prefecture in Japan’s Shikoku Island. The town is generally noted among locals for the Dogo Onsen hot springs resort as well as the imposing Matsuyama Castle. The city is also known for its thriving literature scene―Japanese poet Shiki Masaoka, prolific writer Soseki Natsume and others called Matsuyama home. Matsuyama Design Week was held for four days from 9th to 12th Feb 2018 at the Ropeway Shopping District in the city center.
As with the overall concept of Design Week in showcasing local talents, the Matsuyama Design Week ran a number of musical events with various homegrown acts performing their very best tunes. Guests were treated with the “Onwasai” in two parts, the first by popular artists of various genres and the second by local idols in energetic performances. The musical event was concluded with a “Pihyara” in keeping with the Design Weeks held months before. For the visually inclined, the local population was also treated with Akihiro Nishino’s stunning “Poupelle of Chimney Town” LED exhibition.
Matsuyama Design Week started with an “Onwasai” live performance featuring three artists from all over Japan. First was the sister act, Charan-Po-Rantan. The duo comprises of younger sister, Momo who is a singer while older sister, Koharu plays accordion. The duo was formed in 2009 and debuted on Avex Event in 2014. Apart from their musical endeavors, the siblings are also work as comedians and actresses. They do write musical scores for motion pictures and do professional illustrating and writing on the side.
The second act during the Onwasai was singer songwriter Kohei Dojima. He was born in Osaka and grew up in Toride city, Ibaraki Prefecture. Dojima started young, having made his debut at the age of 18 with “Hard Core POP!”. 17 albums have been released since then. In addition to his solo live act, he’s also the frontman of a number of bands such as “Dojima Kohei x A.C.E.” and “Dojima Kohei Orchestra”. His talents also extend in film, having appeared in the motion picture “The Sayonara Cake and the Mysterious Lamp” in 2014 and “Samurai without name” a year before that.
Rina Katahira, who has performed in some of the past Design Week events, also performed live in Matsuyama. The 25-year old artist traces her musical roots to her father and brother who both played the guitar. She made her debut in 2013 as a vocalist for an orchestral band and held her first solo performance at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo. She has been busy, having released her latest album , “Because of Love” only in December 2017.
After the three acts, local idols from AKB48 Team 8 went onstage to perform. Specifically, this included Kaoru Takaoka, the representative of Ehime Prefecture and the local idol Hime Kyun Fruit Can.
The musical element of Matsuyama Design Week was then concluded with a pihyara later that afternoon with the artists marching around the shopping district with the audience while singing at the top of their lungs. They were accompanied by the Ehime Lieto Brass Band who provided the instrumentation. The pihyara lasted roughly half an hour.
During the entire weekend, visitors also witnessed the spectacle of Akihiro Nishino’s “Poupelle of Chimney Town” in stunning LED display. The exhibition consisted of 41 illuminated images derived from the pages of Nishino’s book. As of this writing, the book which was crowdfunded has seen a print of over 330,000 copies. On the first day of the design week, Akihiro Nishino himself was onsite and held a workshop along with design students from Kawahara Gakuen.