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J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2014 TURNS IT UP TO 11 by Kenneth Eric Tran (J!-ENT Event Coverage)

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The 6th annual J-Pop Summit Festival returned to the beautiful confines of Union Square for a twilight exhibition of the top musical artists from Japan. On the heels of last year’s very successful matinee main event featuring Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, organizers succeeded in providing programming surpassing any other previous festival to date. The headlining show, dubbed J-Pop Live, featured singer/model Una, human beatboxer Daichi, idol group Tokyo Girls’ Style, former-AKB48 member Tomomi Itano, and vocalist May’n.

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Starting the night off was Una, a Harajuku fashion icon who debuted as a singer just one year prior. Donning an incredible yukata-like outfit befitting of a charismatic Aomoji-kei queen, she sparkled in her performance of her heavily electro-pop setlist, including her debut single “Juicy-Juicy”.

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Next on stage was the return of Daichi, known around the world as one of the best beatboxers alive. Besides his amazing skill with the mic, Daichi was incredibly entertaining cracking jokes and initiating audience participation.

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A brief intermission featured Koji Mizutani’s Merry Project. The project featured umbrellas printed with smiling faces from the children affected by the Fukushima tragedy. It is a reminder to stay strong despite overwhelming obstacles.

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Anticipation grew as Tokyo Girls’ Style slowly appeared on stage, amidst a sea of sunflowers, and started singing “Himawari no Hoshikuzu”. The crowd went absolutely wild, cheering and dancing through their whole performance.

As a surprise, TGS sang “Himawari no Hoshikuzu” once again, this time in English.

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The momentum continued with Tomomi Itano, who suddenly appeared from the curtain to the greeting of “Tomochin” chants. In her Swagalicious attire, she struck the audience with the same type of charisma as her days with AKB48, leaving many in attendance yelling “SWAG” as a recognition of her debut album.

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Finally, May’n greeted the San Francisco crowd. But rather than just promoting her performance planned for the following night, May’n gave everyone a treat and began performing, much to the delight of everyone.

After such an amazing headlining show, it is easy to forget the rest of the events planned for the weekend. The rest of the fun would be held in Japan Town for the duration of the festival. Live events would be held at the Pagoda Stage, as each of the headliners performed once again along with many other artists such as Kylee, Yanakiku, Pinky Doodle Poodle, Black Diamond, DJ Coco and DJ Amaya. Cosplay, fashion, and idol events would also be held on stage.

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Besides the main stage, New People Cinema hosted the inaugural Japan Film Festival of San Francisco featuring screenings for the entire week. The top floors of New People were reserved for the fashion events, with numerous appearances by iconic figures in Japanese youth fashion: Ayumi Seto, Una, Akira, and Misa Kimura. The fashion events featured live performances by Akira and Una, meet and greet sessions, and a fashion show.

Along the main street of Japan Town were dozens of vendors and booths of every kind. Kinokuniya and SEGA hosted a special signing session with Miku Hatsune illustrator, KEI, as well as featuring the upcoming video game of the digital diva. Along the other booths were many meet and greet opportunities with most of the Guests of Honor.

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Down Post Street was the crowded Ramen Street event, with patron standing in line for over an hour just to try each ramen masterpiece. The Pop Gourmet Food Festival was also held offering creative snacks and sake tasting.

The J-Pop Summit had something for everybody, as intended by the organizers. This year’s festival easily surpassed last year’s attendance of 80,000 people with 120,000 attendees in 2014.

“The 2014 J-POP Summit was the biggest and most successful we have ever staged. The addition of the Ramen Street attraction and the array of artists, performers and other events also made it one of the most exciting. We are looking forward to presenting an even bigger J-POP Summit for 2015!”, said Seiji Horibuchi, President/CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. and Chairman of the J-Pop Summit Festival Committee.

With this momentum, it is likely J-Pop Summit will continue to grow in popularity and feature even more headliners in the near future. We could be witnessing the genesis of a future marquee festival.

Our interviews from J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2014 will be featured in our upcoming J!-ENT ANNUAL 2014 issue to be released in late SEPTEMBER. Stay tuned!

Article by Kenneth Eric Tran, J!-ENT

Photos by Dennis A. Amith, J!-ENT

Videos by Charles Amith, J!-ENT

2014 J-POP SUMMIT ANNOUNCES FIRST GUEST OF HONOR JAPANESE SINGER MAY’N AND PREVIEWS EXPANDED PROGRAMMING FOR THIS YEAR’S MASSIVE CELEBRATION

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Annual Japanese Pop Culture Festival Returns In July To San Francisco For 6th Consecutive Year With Impressive Array Of Live Music, “Kawaii” Fashion, Anime & Live-Action Film, Gourmet Food And Entertainment

San Francisco, CA, April 29, 2014 – The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival, San Francisco’s annual celebration of Japanese pop culture, music, fashion and film, returns over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, July 19th and 20th with a unique mix of colorful pop-inspired fun. This year’s exciting program leads off with the announcement of world renowned Japanese rock singer – May’n – as an official Guest of Honor.

Additional top tier J-Pop/J-Rock/Kawaii artists, events and other programming will be detailed in coming weeks. An exciting roster is being finalized that promises to be the most extensive and diverse the J-POP SUMMIT Festival has ever presented. Details on the 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival are continually updated at: www.J-POP.com.

The annual J-POP SUMMIT is FREE to attend (although certain activities require a modest admission fee) and has become one of the largest events in the United States dedicated to showcasing the many sides of Japanese pop culture and fandom. Attendance in 2013 exceeded 80,000 people. The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT takes place from 11:00am to 6:00pm throughout San Francisco’s entire Japantown district on July 19th and 20th and also will present a special free J-Pop/J-Rock concert in the city’s downtown Union Square on the evening of Saturday, July 19th.

Japanese pop/rock/anime star May’n (pronounced “Main”) is known as the singing voice of Diva of the Galaxy Sheryl Nome from the blockbuster anime film, Macross Frontier, and also performed theme songs for numerous popular series such as, Accel World, Aria: The Scarlet Ammo, Shangri-La, Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha, Blood Lad, Btooom and M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane. Her powerful rock and pop vocal style has drawn critical acclaim and legions of fans. May’n sold-out Tokyo’s legendary Budokan in a single day and first performed in San Francisco for her “May’n Rock Your Beats” World Tour in 2012. She returns to the Bay Area for her very special J-POP SUMMIT live appearance as part of her 10th Anniversary “Dots and Lines” World Tour.
In addition to her special appearance on the J-POP SUMMIT main stage, the J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2014 proudly presents a May’n Special Live Concert at the famous SF live venue, Slim’s (333 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103) on Sunday, July 20th, at 8:00pm. Advance tickets are available along with special VIP show packages that include an exclusive artist meet-and-greet. Details on the Slim’s show are available now at: http://www.j-pop.com/2014/mayn-live-concert-at-slims

May’n debuted with a pair of singles in 2008 that instantly became smash hits, each placing in the Top 3 on the Japanese Oricon weekly music charts during their debut week. In January 2009, her debut mini album, May’n*Street, was released and reached #2 on the Oricon chart during its first week. All of May’n’s subsequent singles have entered the top music sales charts in Japan and as her international fame continues to grow, she epitomizes the must-see New Generation Japanese Female Rock Vocalist. Official May’n Website: http://mayn.jp/en/; Official May’n YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/MaynOfficial.

“Each year we strive to present a compelling mix of the hottest entertainment trends happening in Japan right NOW, and the J-POP SUMMIT has become a wonderful and unique composite of pop and rock music, edgy Kawaii-inspired fashion, modern graphic art, and film and anime content,” says Seiji Horibuchi, Chairman of the J-POP SUMMIT Festival. “This year’s event promises to be another important milestone for the evolution of J-Pop culture and its fan base in the U.S. We look forward to announcing more news throughout the coming weeks and to people of all ages and walks of life joining us in July for the 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival!”

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival will deliver a wide array of Japan’s hottest live bands and artists, theatrical film premieres, Harajuku Kawaii-themed fashion events, a special sake-tasting and fine foods attraction at the POP Gourmet Food Festival, in addition to dance and singing contests, interactive gaming, and a host of celebrity appearances. The Festival also presents a FREE Union Square Live concert in downtown San Francisco and celebrates the launch of 2nd annual Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, which takes place July 19th-27th at the NEW PEOPLE Cinema. The week-long film festival will be highlighted by red carpet events featuring appearances by additional Guests of Honor and daily theatrical premieres of many first-run anime as well as Japanese live-action movies across a variety of genres. Additional information will be updated in coming weeks on the official website: www.jffsf.org.

Stay tuned for additional J-POP SUMMIT Guest of Honor, programming and event announcements!

About J-POP SUMMIT Festival
Launched in 2009, J-POP SUMMIT Festival is an annual street fair held in San Francisco, CA that celebrates Japanese popular culture. By introducing the latest in Japanese music, film, art, fashion, gaming, anime, food, as well as niche subcultures, the festival has become a prominent platform to showcase the latest pop trends and creative innovations from Japan.

The 5th annual J-POP SUMMIT held July 2013 welcomed more than 80,000 attendees, making it one of the largest Japanese festivals in the United States. In addition to the original Festival held in Japantown, new attractions include the Union Square Live concert in downtown San Francisco, the Bay Area’s very first Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, and sake-tasting and fine foods events at the POP GOURMET Food Festival, which have each further enriched the experience. Additional information about J-POP SUMMIT Festival is available at: J-POP.com.