4 anecdotes about jazz and saxophone in Japan

4 anecdotes about jazz and saxophone in Japan

Ever wondered how jazz and the saxophone scene differ across the globe? After a month in Japan, I've discovered some surprising and amusing quirks that set it apart from Europe and the U.S. Join me as I explore practicing sax at karaoke bars, spotting Syos in Gundam, and the charming personal touches at Tokyo's jazz clubs!
Mythical Jazz Duets Reading 4 anecdotes about jazz and saxophone in Japan 4 minutes

I've been in Japan for over a month now and I've come to realize that things about jazz and the saxophone are quite different here from what I'm used to in Europe or the United States. I've also learned a few amusing anecdotes. So I wanted to share all this with you in a new article that I hope you'll enjoy.


1. Practice saxophone at karaoke bars

In Japan, unless you have a house in the countryside, you cannot play saxophone at your place because you cannot really make noise, even during the day. So players will go practice at a karaoke bar... In Europe, karaoke bars are generally public places where people sing in front of an audience, often in a large common room. In Japan, karaoke bars are not like those found in Europe. They offer small, private rooms called “karaoke boxes,” which are soundproofed and actually ideal for playing music without disturbing anyone. Since people don't really come to sing at a karaoke during the day, it's cheaper to rent a karaoke box during daytime that renting a practice studio!

Some students, who don't have enough money to pay karaoke boxes every day, have to go practice outside, usually under a train bridge, so it covers the sound of the instrument, like Dai in Blue Giant...


2. Syos in Gundam

Do you know Gundam? It is a popular Japanese science fiction franchise created by Sunrise. It features giant robots called "mobile suits," with the titular "Gundam" being a powerful and iconic model piloted by the protagonist. The series, which began in 1979 with "Mobile Suit Gundam," explores themes of war, politics, and humanity through its various TV shows, movies, manga, and model kits. The franchise has had a significant cultural impact and has a dedicated global fanbase.

There is also a giant statue of Gundam in Odaiba, a Tokyo neighborhood, that I went to see last year.

Well, the music of the latest Gundam game, called "Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Overboost", featured a lot of alto saxophone, performed by Syos artist Brian Yasuhiro Seymour, on his custom Syos mouthpiece! This game has been released last year but is still played in most major arcades all over Japan.

3. Flyers for the next shows

Tokyo is one of the city with the biggest number of jazz clubs in the world. The most famous are Blue Note Tokyo, the Cotton Club, Body and Soul, Shinjuku Pit Inn... There are also a lot of smaller venues that are also nice and cosy. 

When you go to concerts in the small to medium venues, it's common that musicians come to your table to personally thank you for coming to the show at the end. They also take the opportunity to give you flyers for their next shows. And it's not a small flyer, usually it's a beautiful flyer printed on glossy A4 paper!


4. Jazz everywhere

So I said previously that there are a lot of jazz clubs in Japan. But it's not the only place where you can listen to jazz. Actually, there is jazz everywhere in Japan. In most of the cafes I went, there was jazz music, in all the supermarkets too, even in the street sometimes they put some jazz music!

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