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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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