Saturday, August 30, 2014

DAY IV in Japan 2014 TV Asahi Appearance

Nakamura Mitsuko and I
(L2R) Me, Kuroki Motoko, and Sawano
Day 4 had to be the best day I ever had in Japan. That was the day of filming. I was met once again in the lobby of my hotel by Suwano from TV Asahi. While I was down there I was also able to meet another one of the contestants named Villacon. He was challenging Miyaji Osamu (宮路オサム) . Villacon was going to be singing "Anata" by Kozaka Akiko.  He has a very sweet and high voice! Reminds me of my voice at his age, If I remember correctly he's only 14 years old!

We all arrived at the TV Asahi station where I was given a huge dressing room all to myself! Normally here in Hawaii we have to share dressing rooms! This was super cool! I got a whole room to myself, where I could sing super loud and no one could hear me, I even got a TV! Little did I know that 3 doors down Nakamura Mitsuko was getting ready to challenge me!
The big time came sooner than I though, very shortly I was back stage and I could see Nakamura Mitsuko from afar. She smiled at me waved, I
could see that she was going to be super sweet. Right before we entered Nakamura Mitsuko and I had to stand next to each other while the gates opened. Her and I talked a little bit, then it was time to start. She really calmed my nerves down!

playing around with Kuroki
While I was being interviewed by the Kanjani Eight members, the entire time "I'M SITTING NEXT TO NAKAMURA MITSUKO...." was continuously going through my head! Maybe to some people they don't understand, but Nakamura Mitsuko is a huge Enka singer, I've been singing her songs from when I was really young. I sing her song 'Kawachi Otoko Bushi' every year at the Waipahu Soto Taiyoji Mission Bon Dance for pete's sake!

Then it came time for me to sing 'Kawachi Otoko Bushi,' against the original
singer Nakamura Mitsuko! I
performed with all of my energy. I wanted Nakamura Mitsuko to see me so bad, singing her song, which I've been singing from when I was really young. I got a score of 91, and Nakamura Mitsuko got a 92.
I didn't care if I won or lost, I was just so happy that I got to meet Nakamura Mitsuko! She is so awesome!

Afterwards, Kuroki-san and I went out for dinner at Tenkaippin. She even bought me me shave Ice from the Natsu Matsuri that TV Asahi was hosting! We talked for so long, we were both very sad when we had to part at the end of the night. It was a very ”絆” moment. The human connection to each other. She is a very awesome woman, and I hope that I get to see her once again when I return to Japan!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day III in Japan 2014 TV Asahi Appearance

朝が来た。Morning came and I was so nervous on what was going to happen. The day prior to this day they liked my fashion sense, which is kinda urban, alternative so they told me to dress like how would normally dress during the day. So that morning I got my snapback (hat), gangster TV shirt, drop crotch pants, hightops (shoes), and tied a plaid button shirt around my waist. I was looking super slick I thought, until I got down to the lobby. The directors apologized for telling me to dress how I wanted, not just that but now they wanted me to dress in a kimono to walk around Tokyo in, in the middle of HOT summer.

I rushed back up to my room to get my Kimono on. That wasn't the problem, but after I got back down to the lobby we had to walk like 2 blocks to catch a bus to get to Tower Records to film me shopping for Music. After everything I didn't mind it, a lot of people took my picture as I walked by; I must've looked super crazy! (笑)

We got off the bus and walked to Tower Records in the next city which wasn't too far and met up with Kuroku Motoko who was waiting for Yamazaki to arrive with their cameras. I was dripping in sweat, the heat in Japan in Summer time isn't the nicest. The Tower Records in Japan is super big, not like the small one we used to have in Pearl Ridge! Yamazaki finally arrived and we were lead to the back entrance of Tower Records where we met with a Police Officer and the publicist for Tower Records, we were given passes to film and walk around Tower Records with no trouble!

There I found a lot of music that was really cool, I didn't know that a lot of American artists actually sell CDs
there, like I found Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Skrillex, etc. L
ike I could recognize the songs but the album covers were different then the ones released in America. I was also shocked that a really popular song in Japan is 'Happy' by Pharel Williams! Kuroki told me about how she tried singing "Happy" at Karaoke and couldn't. I told her "Don't worry; at least you can sing English songs - I can't sing english songs at all!" I think that cheered her up just a bit!

Next we took a cab with Sawano, Yamazaki, and Kuroki to Asakusa to film at Sensoji Temple and Youroudou (ヨーロー堂) Music shop. I was so happy to find out that some of the shop owners in Asakusa remembered who I was, so I gave them my CD: Akai Tsuki as a present! I was so happy! I got to see the Semi Bugs (cicada bugs), buy Omiyage and walk around Asakusa. I always brings back memories of when Grandma, and Amy were here exploring everything!

Yo-ro-dou was awesome as usual! The owners of the shop all remember me from 2 years ago when I sang at the Nippon Amatuer Kayosai! That always makes me feel happy! Their CD selection is awesome as usual! That has to be one of my super favorite shop in Asakusa!

After filming we went next door to You Rou Dou to Sushi Zanmai to Eat Sushi again! I can't get enough of Toro Sushi!

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Day II in Japan 2014 TV Asahi Appearance

The following day after I got to Japan from Hawaii we had to work on my vocal scores on the Karaoke Machine. So basically it's called "Saiten" which is a score based on how correct you sang the song, if you kept rhythm, vocal technique, emotion etc. In actuality it's kinda complicated to do.

I was met in the lobby of my Hotel in Roppingi by one of the directors of the Kanjani no Shiwake show named Sawano, she brought me to the karaoke place next door which I must say was extremely fancy looking. Not like our tiny karaoke rooms we have in Hawaii, this place was like a 5 star hotel.

At the Karaoke room I met three other people who we're very important to my stay there in Japan. Ueda Hiroki who was the director - he was very strict but he was very kind. Yamazaki Satoshi who I called "Yama-Dono" he was in charge of the entertainment department; he was very playful and loved to laugh. Then was Mrs. Kuroki Matoko who was my translator; to be honest she was my favorite she's very quiet but she is the most sweetest person I have ever met.

We worked on many different songs from Abare Daiko by Sakamoto Fuyumi to Hakodate no Hito by Kitajima Saburo. When I first started singing my scores were actually very low; I kept getting in the low 80s. Like when I sang Abare Daiko the first time I got a 82. The director I don't think liked that too much - he left the room actually. I was so embarrassed! With Yamazaki, Sawano, and Kuroki in the room we went over some other songs and though of different ways on how to sing the song to push my score higher in the machine. Finally after many trys I was able to keep a steady score of 90 - 93. I was super happy and everyone in the room looked super happy as well.

After about 3 hours of practicing the same song "Abare Daiko" over and over again we decided to sit down and talk about the show. Everyone was content with me singing Abare Daiko by Sakamoto Fuyumi because my score was the highest for that song, then I asked who the guest was going to be for my portion on the show. I was so excited to hear that it was going to be Nakamura Mitsuko! You know I've sang her songs from when I was a child so this was going to be a great honour. They also said that she will be singing Kawachi Otoko Bushi, which is the first enka song I've ever sang in my entire life. So I asked to change my song to "Kawachi Otoko Bushi."  They told me that we'd have to get the approval from Nakamura Mitsuko. Luckily she (Nakamura Mitsuko) was delighted and said "yes," to me singing Kawachi Otoko Bushi!

So I practiced Kawachi Otoko Bushi over and over again at Karaoke for about another 4 hours, note - we were there from the morning time - by the time we got out it was night time and ready for dinner. Sawano-san asked me where I wanted to go. I've been to Book-Off in Japan and I know they always have cheap
music there, so I asked her to take me to Book-Off. The closest one was in Shibuya. Sawano happily took me to Shibuya! The book-off is so crazy! It's like 5 floors, ours in Hawaii is only a small room. I went to the Enka section and all the music was only 100yen which is about $1.00 each. I ended up buying the entire shelf. Yeah I'm kinda crazy!

After that Sawano-san asked me what kind of food I wanted to eat for dinner, Of coarse I don't know what kind of food is in Shibuya so I told her it was her choice, I don't mind. Anything is awesome! So she took me to a Okonomiyaki and Monjayaki shop. I've had Okonomiyaki before but never have I been to a restaurant where you cook the food yourself! It was so cool! I mean the waiters bring the ingredients and you just cook it! I had the Maguro with Green Onion Okonomiyaki, well actually we ended up eating about 5 different kinds of Okonomiyaki that night! The final dish that Sawano cooked for me was called "Monjayaki." I have never heard of Monjayaki in my entire life so I was kinda hesitant to try it.  There is no american dish I can say that explains what Monjayaki is but its super awesome, if you're ever in Japan make sure to try Monjayaki!

After all that we went to Baskin Robins 31 for Ice Cream and it started raining! Super fun! We crossed that large crossing in Shibuya and got to see the Hachiko Statue, we caught the train back and I went to my O-Furo and went to sleep that night! Super fun night, had to go sleep early cause the next day we had more filming to be done!

Day I in Japan 2014 TV Asahi Appearance

Dear Team Torao,


So since it has officially aired on TV Asahi in Japan I can finally publicly announce the reason for my recent trip to Japan. Heres a hint "Ha enya kora se no Dokoi se~" I think the young kids might be able to get that reference; I was on a TV show called "Kanjani no Shiwake" with the boy group Kanaji 8 who is apparently is a really big pop group from Japan.

This is the definition from Wikipedia - "Kanjani Eight (関ジャニ∞(エイト) Kanjani Eito?, stylized as Kanjani∞) is a seven-member Japanese boy band from Japan's Kansai region. They are managed by the multimedia talent agency, Johnny & Associates, and signed to Imperial Records. The group was formed in 2002 and made their CD debut in 2004 as "Johnny's modernenka group", though after the year 2006, their sound and style has become a mix of pop and rock. Like the rest of the acts managed under Johnny & Associates, Kanjani Eight also perform in various other areas of the Japanese entertainment industry such as variety show hosting, television, movie, and stage acting, and radio talk show hosting." 

It was a super fun experience. There is so much to talk about so each post will be about an individual day through out my 6 day journey through out Tokyo and the Kanaji no Shiwake TV show.

DAY 1

My flight in Hawaii was delayed due to the hurricane that NEVER SHOWED UP. My flight was supposed
to leave at 11am but was rescheduled to leave at 3pm but they wanted all the passengers to arrive at the airport by 10am for stand by. We we're shifted in and out of a room for passengers who were leaving the plane. I felt that was very unprofessional of the airport. Ugh Hawaii I swear..

I was late for the first meeting but luckily a producer of the Kanaji no Shiwake show waited for me at the airport for almost 6 hours, I felt terrible but there really was nothing that I could do, I mean there was a hurricane for Pete's sake. He understood and everything just went by fine.

Got off the plane in Japan and had to catch a 2 hour bus from Narita Airport to Roppongi. I fell asleep and in no time we were in Roppingi. Super quick. I was starving and Katsuda (man from TV Asahi who waited for me) took me out to eat dinner at I guess is a chain Sushi restaurant called "Sushi Zanami." There are so many Sushi Zanmai in Tokyo it is crazy! Super cheap and I learned that I like this kind of Maguro (Tuna) called "Toro" which is very fatty. Darn I couldn't get enough of that.

After dinnder Katsuda showed me a little of Roppongi then it was off to bed for cause I had to be able to sing the next day at the Karaoke Saiten (Karaoke Point) battle practice with some of the staff members.

I took a long bath in my O-furo tried to hook my laptop to the wifi but didn't work. It was weird cause it worked fine for my cell so I wasn't able to call out but I was able to skype with my friends back in Hawaii.
I fell asleep and that was my first day in Japan.

 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Youth in Summer

Dear Team Torao,

     Hello ladies and gentlemen - you would not believe how much I've been obsessing over small things right

now like the 'Pretty Perks Card' at Icing, Bath and Body Works, Instagram, my gosh I'm turning into a teenage again. Funny how since I turned 18 I've been starting to like a lot of mainstream things here in America. Odd, usually I used to only like things that were underground
but now I'm starting to like a mix of different things.

     I've been out of the House a lot recently, usually I keep myself in the house and lock myself into my music and making things, but I'm really loving going out and exploring things. I guess now I've opened my eyes
to the world and I see it as a huge place. I wanna travel the world, I wanna try new things, I wanna be crazy, I wanna be young - I don't want to grow old, look back and regret not doing crazy stupid things that teenagers are supposed to be doing.

     Recently I've been filming for a project that I cannot release any information about, so somethings I need to film was me workings, going out with my friends, eating, just my life, but to sum it up in a nutshell. For example my friend Elena and I went out to film, with the help of Bryson Pacheco and we checked out a
new super market that just opened up here in Waipahu. We were super excited, we found a whole bunch of things that were just so cool and exciting, eventually we found this "Tofu Mousse" in different flavors. We bought them and went to find a place to sit down and eat. We found the most interesting place to chill. It was cool, it was just in the corner of the Waipahu Shopping Center - like near Taco bell. I just love hanging
there.

     One Video I had to go to the beach and film and I did some crazy things that I never thought that I would ever be doing. Bryson and I went exploring in Makaha at a place called sewers and sat down on this blow hole and the waves would hit us. I even went jumping off rocks and hiking. I adrenalin rush is very interesting. I never thought I'd be doing
those kinds of things.

    This summer has been very interesting, and so far I can say that this summer has been one of the best summers of my life. Life can only go up from here and I'm remaining optimistic. A big thank you to all of my readers who have stuck with me through everything.

Love you Guys so much,
Torao

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Hale Ikena at Fort Shafter 2014

Dear Team Torao,

    Last we was the annual Karaoke Uta Matsuri at Hale Ikena in Fort Shafter. As usual always such a nice
performance, it's great to see the other karaoke groups perform all together. Right now I'm in my room so I don't have the program with me at the moment but I think that the performance consisted of Omoshiroi, Hoshikage, Aiko Kai, and Tomo no Kai. I belong to Omoshiroi club so we always do such interesting things and try to be fun at these kinds of events.

    This year I sang a duet with Amy Katsumoto aka Utagawa Akemi called Hourouki by Seguchi Yuki, actually the original song was sung by the late enka singer Murakami Sachiko. The meaning is very beautiful and I'm glad Amy and got to practice the harmonies are the chorus of
the song, I think harmony in songs sound beautiful and I wish I could quire the technique that Amy has.

    I got to sing my original song "Akai Tsuki," I was very happy that everyone enjoyed it. I got a lot of compliments on how strong and powerful my song was. Unfortunately Testuji (the man in charge of the music) cut my ending before I got to do my final dramatic pose, but late that
day I got to pose in the hallway.

    Carolyn Shimamura was also there and she sang a beautiful cover of Takahashi Mariko's meikyoku "For You." I feel like that song really matched her singing technique and style. Oh, in case you live under a rock and didn't know who Carolyn was - she is this year's (2014) Kzoo Radio's Karaoke Taikai Grand Champion. She is super sweet and always down to earth. I'm so glad that I know who she is! You can keep up with her by follwoing her on instagram at @carolyn_miki http://instagram.com/carolyn_miki

    Hope everyone is having a great week, Love you guys and will talk to you soon.

Love,
Torao <3

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Waipahu Soto Taiyoji Mission Bon Dance 2014 Day II

Yes, so they got out music correctly this time. Very happy.
Everything Turned out Awesome! Got to meet Hokulani that cute dog!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Waipahu Soto Taiyoji Mission Bon Dance DAY I

Dear Team Torao,


       Tonight was the first night of Waipahu Soto Taiyoji Mission's Bon Dance and it went nicely but not as

planned. Everything from the dancing to the great food went awesomely. We got to the Bon Dance about 1 hour late because we had to drive from Palama to Waipahu, so that drive is about a 1 and a half drive. Well for me it is, cause currently I'm learning how to drive so I'm too scared to drive on the freeway so we drive the long Airport way.
 
      Like I was saying we arrived an hour late but didn't go on until 9:15ish. I got to sing Hitomi no Shinseki Ondo, and Heisei Ondo. The night before that during practice I had brought in the updated KEY to Kawachi Otoko Bushi so that Amy and I could sing it correctly while we were there. Apparently the sound man must have mixed up the songs cause he played my key from 3 years ago which was +4 keys higher than ours, so we both strained at the ending notes where we  sing "Kawachiiii~~~~~~~~" So tomorrow night we're making sure we have the correct keys prepared, we're bringing a backup.

     Hope you all are having a great week as well. I'll be heading off to Japan again on August 8 - 14. I cannot release the reason yet, but know it's something pretty cool.

Love,
Torao


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Shimizu Voice Studio New Location!


Today was Craig Shimizu's (Shimizu Sensei) first day at the New location, Palama Supermarket since the move from Palama Settlement. Prior to the move I couldn't help but feel a sense of mixed emotions. To my understanding the Shimizu Voice studio had moved about three times before Palama Settlement, even though I've been going to Craig for about 5 years going on 6 in the eyes of the studio I was a new comer - so I only knew of Palama Settlement. I remember going to his office crying about my days, getting frustrated, being happy, being lonely, being sad, being creative, just having a connection with that place. So I left Palama Settlement with a heavy heart filled with bitter sweet memories.

After seeing the New Office I feel much better now. The room that we practice in is so much bigger now, the colour scheme is so beautiful. Its very green and organic looking. It gives a very "fresh" look to it, being organic it's like the Studio is still growing. In my Opinion the New Studio seems like a tremendous step up. The set up is still in process but I can say about 70% is finished so far.

I am super happy about this new move, and I am super proud to say that I am from the Shimizu Voice Studio! Thanks guys for reading and have a great week!

- Torao

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