All About Japan

A New Form of Japanese Traditional Art

| Theater , Music

infinity aims to merge Japan’s historical traditions and folk art into a new-age form of entertainment.

Presented by David J. Production at the Maihama Amphitheater in Chiba Prefecture on August 8, 2016, infinity is a musical performance split into three main segments: kyogen (classical comedy), nihon buyo (traditional Japanese dance) and wadaiko (Japanese drums), enabling audiences to enjoy a rich display of historical Japanese performance art in a single event.

The event will include acts by up-and-coming kyogen performer Motonari Okura and Japanese traditional dancer Kotoomi Hanayagi, as well as musical pieces involving the wadaiko, shakuhachi (Japanese end-blown flute) and tsugaru-jamisen (a shamisen variant originating from the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture).

(Photo: David J. Production)

Set to songs from music director Eiichi Saeki, the performance aims to promote a new generation of performance artists who have dedicated their lives to preserving and displaying these beautiful traditions.

The production has called upon the brilliant mind of producer Junya Yamada and the innovative energy of these new-age inheritors of the traditional arts to portray the possibilities that lie within Japanese traditional performance arts on a grand scale.

Interview with Music Director Eiichi Saeki

Eiichi Saeki is a music producer, composer and arranger who currently resides in Tokyo. He has built an impressive career directing music for various film productions, fashion shows and commercials while also releasing an album of his own original works as an EDM artist.

Saeki has previously served as music director for events such as Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival 2015 and RIZIN Fighting Federation tournaments. We took a moment with Saeki to discuss the creative process behind the music he’s designed for infinity.

Asked about the objective of the musical pieces, Saeki informed us that the main focus of his music was to present Japanese traditional performing arts in a way that will be entertaining to modern listeners and viewers. “It’s the fusion of the beauties that lie within wa (the traditional Japanese spirit) and Western cultures,” Saeki said. “I believe we can create a new form of wa by forming a connection with how the world sees Japan and the real beauty offered by Japanese tradition.”

When asked about how his past experiences of being music director for events such as Moshi Moshi Nippon differ from this particular production, Saeki singled out the challenges of adapting traditional folk music to a modern setting. “Modernization is the effect of the diminishing demand for tradition; in that sense, the more you try to bring tradition into a more modern setting, the value of that tradition in and of itself becomes obsolete,” he explained. With countless hours of discussion and trial-and-error sessions with some of the traditional performers and overall producer Junya Yamada, Saeki believes that he's found the perfect balance.

(Photo: Scoop Music Corporation)

While Saeki naturally advises carefully listening to all of his music for the production, he recommends the audience pay close attention to the theme song, “infinity.” “This musical piece is a formation of what I have striven to express the most all along,” he told us.

Utilizing over 20 different types of instruments, including various types of strings, brass, traditional Japanese instruments and vocals, most of the musical pieces will be performed live on stage for the performance. “No technology can match up to the human ability to play instruments,” Saeki explained. “My main focus while creating these musical pieces was to be able to ‘brush up’ the quality of these raw instrumental sounds using technology.” In order for each of these songs to take the form Saeki aimed to achieve, he was very much honored to work with those who not only knew how to play wa-style music, but had the same passion for modernization and the ability to create something new.

Lastly, when asked about what the audience should take away from this musical production, Saeki said, “As for this musical performance, it’s not about getting just a taste of the wa style. Since the performance will be made up of numerous artists who stand on the front lines of traditional folk art, I believe the audience should be able to see the real wa. It's my hope that people from all over the world will be able to see the beauty in the piece, and I hope those who make their way to see the performance will be able to experience this beauty.”

For those who really love the style and beauty of traditional Japanese performance arts, infinity represents an opportunity you won’t want to miss! Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on August 8, and the performance starts at 7:30.

(Photo: Scoop Music Corporation)