SAN FRANCISCO – The J-Pop Summit Festival, San Francisco’s premier celebration of Japanese pop culture, music, fashion and film, commences this weekend – Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20 – and will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days in the city’s Japantown district.
A special free live concert – J-Pop Live at Union Square – also will take place in S.F.’s notable downtown district on the evening of July 19. Full Festival details are available at www.J-POP.com.
Launched in 2009, the J-Pop Summit Festival has become one of the largest events in the U.S. dedicated to showcasing many diverse sides of Japanese pop culture and fandom. Last year’s festival welcomed more than 80,000 attendees.
The annual event, which is free to attend, presents exciting live concert performances by several top Japanese pop and rock artists, as well as a variety of colorful and edgy “KAWAii!!” fashion events, special theatrical film premieres, pop gourmet Japanese food and spirits, and a host of other J-pop-inspired attractions and activities. More than 100 vendors also will complement the festival on Post Street through the center of Japantown with a wide array of artwork, J-pop collectables, apparel, and other unique items for sale.
Guests of Honor
The J-Pop Summit is proud to welcome several special guests of honor for 2014, including pop stars Tomomi Itano (former AKB48 member), Tokyo Girls’ Style, and May’n, Harajuku fashion models/designers Ayumi Seto, Una, Misa Kimura and Akira, the amazing beat boxer Daichi, along with artist Kei, who created the iconic character design for the world’s first virtual pop singer, Hatsune Miku.
The J-Pop Summit also joins with the 2014 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco to present actor Yûki Furukawa (“Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo”) and film director Mitsutoshi Tanaka (“Ask This of Rikyu”) as special guests.
Fans and attendees can look forward to appearances by all of the guests of honor across a variety of events throughout the weekend. Additionally, several will participate in special meet-and-greet opportunities as well as audience Q&As, exclusive signings and photograph opportunities.
More information at www.j-pop.com/2014/category/guests.
J-Pop Summit attendees are invited to catch some of the hottest Japanese pop and rock acts in a series of free afternoon concert sets on the Pagoda Main Stage in Japantown’s Peace Plaza as well as at a special free open-air live concert in Union Square on the evening of July 19 beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Music headliners scheduled to perform this year include the pop music superstar Tomomi Itano, making her U.S. concert debut, as well as the popular idol group Tokyo Girls’ Style, which also makes its first-ever U.S. appearance at J-Pop Summit. Others set to perform include the amazing beat box vocal skills of Daichi, a special musical performance by Harajuku fashion model/singer Una, Japanese pop singer Kylee, kimono cosplay idol duo Yanakiku (U.S. debut), and J-rock bands Pinky Doodle Poodle and the all-girl punk rock trio The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass.
Full details on the J-Pop Live at Union Square concert are available at www.j-pop.com/2014/j-pop-live-at-union-square.
Also, catch May’n at Slim’s for a special solo show as the closing event of the festival, on July 20. Details at www.j-pop.com/2014/mayn-at-slims.
Festival-goers and fashionistas will not want to miss the return of a variety of “KAWAii!!”-themed fashion shows, contests and live performances showcasing edgy new sides of Japanese pop style along with autograph and meet-and-greet opportunities with several of the J-pop fashion world’s fastest-rising stars.
This year’s “KAWAii!!” events are supported by Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco and presented as the first collaboration with Moshi Moshi Nippon, a new initiative developed by Asobysystem, a prominent entertainment company based in Harajuku, Tokyo, to promote a wider range of Japanese pop culture on an even bigger, more global level.
Fashion programming highlights appearances by several of Harajuku’s iconic models and designers, including Ayumi Seto, Misa Kimura, Una and Akira. Several of these models will join others from the Bay Area to showcase a colorful debut summer collection from Seto’s fashion line “Aymmy in the batty girls.” Many of the same outfits featured in the show will be available to purchase at KAWAii!! Pop-Up Store, located inside the New People building, 1746 Post St.
The action carries over the Pagoda Main Stage in Peace Plaza, where fans are invited to catch solo live sets from Akira, a popular model and singer, as well as Una, a charismatic model with a unique and edgy fashion style.
More fashion programming information at www.j-pop.com/2014/harajuku-kawaii.
Film Premieres and Events
J-Pop Summit film programs are presented in conjunction with the 2014 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (JFFSF), the first and only fully dedicated Japanese film celebration for the Bay Area, which opens on July 19 and runs thru Sunday, July 27. Screenings take place at the New People Cinema, located inside the New People building at 1746 Post St.
J-Pop Festival film premieres include the anime omnibus “Short Peace” and “J-Pop Splash! 2014,” a music video collection presented by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, featuring the hottest J-pop artists, along with “Tokyo Short Shorts: A New Generation of 5 Short Films,” which takes place in Tokyo and other parts of Japan and was directed by a innovative new generation of young filmmakers.
J-pop fans and film-goers will also not want to miss the U.S. theatrical premiere of “Count Five to Dream of You” and “Kotodama: Spiritual Curse.” Both films star the members of Tokyo Girls’ Style in leading roles. The group will host a special audience Q&A immediately following the screenings.
Also, don’t miss special in-person appearances by JFFSF guests of honor — actor Yuki Furukawa, who will help mark the U.S. theatrical premiere of his new short film, “Wo Ai Ni,” and director Mitsutoshi Tanaka, who will celebrate the Bay Area premiere of his newest work, “Ask This of Rikyu.” Both films will screen at New People Cinema during J-POP SUMMIT.
Tickets and additional information at www.JFFSF.org.
Gourmet Food, Ramen and Sake
The Pop Gourmet Food Festival returns for its second consecutive year to present new expanded attractions including sake tasting, Ramen Street, and a Japanese beverage and bites & snacks area, along with an array of the Bay Area’s most unique mobile eateries and food trucks.
Ramen Street is a brand-new attraction presented for the very first time at J-Pop Summit and will give attendees an appetizing look at Japan’s favorite food. Ramen Street is organized and co-presented in cooperation with the Ramen Yokocho Association.
Those of legal age are also invited to sample an assortment of some of the world’s pre-eminent sake brands in a special Sake Tasting Area. Festival sponsor Takara Sake USA will offer a variety of sake and anchor a prominent “J-Pop” booth in the Beverage Area promoting its popular sparkling cocktail Takara Can Chu-hi “J-Pop” as well as present Takara’s official “J-Pop” ambassador, the amazing 23-year-old Japanese human beat-box, Daichi, in a series of special in-booth performances.
More information at www.j-pop.com/2014/pop-gourmet.
Japan Discovery Stage, presented by Biken International. Festival-goers can experience authentic Japanese culture with a wide assortment of traditional Japanese dance, performances by famous calligrapher Rio Haruki, mini-live concerts and much more. J-Pop Summit Festival sponsor Biken International creates opportunities for people around the world to enjoy and experience authentic Japanese culture, from contemporary and innovative artworks and performances by artists to the traditional crafts produced by the hands of skilled craftsmen. www.j-pop.com/2014/japan-discovery-stage.
Real Escape Game — 1,000 Treasure Hunters 2014: A brand new outdoor treasure hunt/puzzle-solving attraction from the creators of the Real Escape Game that will take place throughout the weekend of J-Pop Summit. Legions of players of all ages are invited to take part in what could become Bay Area’s biggest simultaneous scavenger hunt and search for dozens of clues and puzzles ingeniously hidden throughout Japantown. No special skills or familiarity with Japanese or the Japantown area are needed to play. Tickets available at http://realescapegame.com/1000th2014.
Profiles of Music Artists
• May’n (pronounced “Main”) is known as the singing voice of Diva of the Galaxy Sheryl Nome from the blockbuster anime film “Macross Frontier,” as well as many other popular anime series. Her powerful rock and pop vocal style has drawn critical acclaim and legions of fans. In addition to a special appearance at J-Pop Live at Union Square, the festival presents a May’n special live concert at the famous San Francisco live venue Slim’s, 333 11th St., on Sunday, July 20, at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available along with special VIP show packages that include an exclusive artist meet-and-greet (quantities are limited). More info at www.j-pop.com/2014/mayn-live-concert-at-slims.
• Tokyo Girls’ Style is a massively popular Japanese teen idol vocal group consisting of five teenage girls whose funk and disco sounds infused with glossy urban appeal have garnered the group a massive following in Japan. Additional info at www.j-pop.com/2014/tokyo-girls-style. The 2014 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (JFFSF) will present “Count Five to Dream of You,” a feature film starring Tokyo Girls’ Style set in all-girls high school that captures the short-lived and unforgettable moments of adolescence; and “Kotodama – Spiritual Curse,” a J-horror movie about a haunted school based on the bestselling book “Gakkou no Kwaidan,” in which members of Tokyo Girls’ Style play the leading roles. Both films will screen at the New People Cinema following the group’s special appearance. For ticket information, go to www.JFFSF.org.
• Una was formerly a charismatic shop assistant in Harajuku and began her modeling career in 2010. It didn’t take her long to begin appearing regularly in numerous fashion magazines. With her beautiful looks and edgy fashion style, Una represents a new type of model capable of expressing not only kawaii style but also showcasing other cool aspects of Harajuku culture. Una also has a budding singing career and has performed with top artists including Katy Perry and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. She will appear at J-Pop Summit in support of her newest single, “Boom Boom Boom.” Additional info at www.j-pop.com/2014/una.
• Yanakiku is a unique Japanese kimono cosplay duo consisting of members Yana and Kiku. In 2013, they performed for international audiences at Hyper Japan (London) and TIFFCOM (Japan) and have garnered a massive following for their costume and dance performances. Additional info at www.j-pop.com/2014/yanakiku.
• Pinky Doodle Poodle is a high-energy, female-fronted rock band from Tokyo that formed in 2008. The group features lead vocalist/bassist/guitarist Yuria, a successful Japanese anime singer often heard in popular video games in Japan as well as on solo records and with her band Honey Bee. Pinky Doodle Poodle just completed their first full-length record, which was produced by Goo Goo Dolls member Robby Takac. The 10-song self-titled album, “Pinky Doodle Poodle,” was released worldwide in the spring of 2014 on Takac’s Good Charamel Records. Additional info at www.j-pop.com/2014/pinky-doodle-poodle.
• The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass, an all-girl punk rock trio from Tokyo and returns for their third consecutive concert appearance at J-Pop Summit. A favorite with festival-goers, the band plays in support of their two newest releases, “Proclamation” and “Live in Brooklyn.” Additional info at www.j-pop.com/2014/akabane.
• Tomomi Itano rocketed to fame as a founding member of the Japanese all-girl pop idol super group AKB48. The group was founded in 2005 and pioneered the concept of a new breed of J-pop stars with distinct personalities and kinetic live shows. In 2011, while continuing activities as a core member of AKB48, Itano released her first solo single, “Dear J,” followed six months later by her second single, “Fuini,” which topped the Japanese Oricon pop music charts. Since then, she released additional chart-topping singles such as “10nen-go no Kimi e,” “1%,” and “Little.” In 2013, Itano officially graduated from AKB48 to focus on her solo career. Additional info at http://TomomiItano.jp.
• Kylee, born to an American father and Japanese mother and raised on both ends of the Pacific, speaks English and Japanese fluently. The DefSTAR Records/Sony Music Japan recording artist has been performing for large audiences since 2005, when the 11-year-old sang the national anthem for several professional American sports teams. In 2012, she performed the U.S. national anthem in front of President Obama when he toured her home state of Arizona. Her dual life as normal American teenage student and Japanese pop star was discussed on NBC’s “Today Show,” where she also made her U.S. television performing debut. Her break-out single “Crazy For You” sold more than half a million downloads and she has had many of her original songs featured in popular anime films and television commercials. More info at www.KYLEE.jp/.