At the end of last November, a flock of Canadians descended on concert venue Duo Music Exchange in Tokyo's bustling Shibuya district. It wasn't an attack of any sort; the Canuck invasion was only peppered with spirited calls to "Clap with us!"

The event was called "Canadian Blast," a showcase of Canadian artists hoping to break into the Japanese market. It was organized by the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), which is financed by various public and private organizations and partly funded by the government. The bands played to a smattering of fans and a hefty number of music industry bigwigs who were on the lookout for that "next big thing" from overseas.

For the bands, it was an opportunity to get a foot in the door of the Japanese market and to help boost album sales here, something that would also help their profile back home. For Canada, the success of one of its bands in Japan could encourage interest in other Canadian acts, and such "soft power" of cultural exchange could have knock-on effects for tourism and trade.