Koichi Hanafusa: ‘I’d like everyone to see that life is worth living’


Staff Writer

Name: Koichi Hanafusa
Age: 58
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Music journalist; editor-in-chief of Fujirockers.org
Likes: Peace, love and unity
Dislikes: Racists, fascists, ism-ists

1. Where do you go to escape Tokyo? Nowhere. Tokyo is a part of me, whether I like it or not.

2. What do you miss most about Japan when you are overseas? Smoking in a cafe or a bar.

3. What’s the most exciting thing you have ever done? Sneaking out of Japan for the first time.

4. What’s your karaoke song of choice? I hate karaoke, but when left with no choice, I would choose Hitoshi Ueki’s “ハイそれまでヨ” (“Hai Sore Made Yo,” or “That’s the End!”).

5. What song best describes your work ethic? Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want.”

6. What is your most memorable festival experience outside of Fuji Rock? Glastonbury, England, in 1982.

7. What is your favorite indoor venue to see a live performance in Japan? Hatsudai Doors (in Tokyo’s Shibuya district).

8. What drives you to run Fujirockers.org, the Fuji Rock fansite? Dissatisfaction.

9. What message/experience would you like festival-goers to take away with them at the end of the three-day extravaganza? I’d like everyone to see that life is worth living.

10. What is the most memorable performance you have ever seen at Fuji Rock? Rage Against The Machine in 1997. You’d know why if you were there.

11. Who are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s festival? A happy audience, to be honest. As far as a performance is concerned, I’m not sure. Perhaps an artist who has never played at the festival before? Minako Yoshida is one such artist this year.

12. Which relatively unknown artist would you recommend festival-goers catch this year if they can? It’s hard to say because audiences always have different expectations about performances — big or small. The only way to find these gems is to follow the festival vibe and be there to judge a performance for yourself.

13. Are there any smaller stages/locations at Fuji Rock you would recommend to first-timers? The Palace Of Wonder always offers an alternative reality. But for some real magic, try walking through the woods early in the morning before the sound checks start. There you can find the music of nature.

14. What is your favorite food vendor at the festival? Queen Sheba (at the World Restaurant area near the Red Marquee).

15. Is there an artist you’ve desperately wanted to see at Fuji Rock that hasn’t been able to attend? There’s too many to mention. Natalie Merchant, Lila Downs, Texas Tornados, Taeko Onuki, Mari Kaneko, Tony Joe White, Jackson Browne … I could go on and on.

16. What is the one item you would recommend festival-goers bring with them to Fuji Rock? Be aware of bugs! I recommend bringing insect repellant rings, as well as some spray or anti-histamine cream — anything to protect yourself.

17. Aside from Fuji Rock, what other music festivals in Japan do you recommend? Asagiri Jam (in Shizuoka Prefecture), which is a smaller version of Fuji Rock. Mount Fuji is right in front of you.

18. If you could share a bottle of wine with any musician from history, who would it be? Didi Duprat. I once interviewed him while he drunk red wine, played the guitar and talked about Django Reinhardt. I should have shared some wine with him then, but didn’t and he died three years later. I deeply regret not taking the opportunity.

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? When I was about 5 years old, I wanted to be Akira Kobayashi. John Woo would know what I mean.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Are you saying I am not young? I am 58 years young! To understand the real answer to this question, listen to the music of Bob Marley, particularly a song called “Soul Rebel.”

Fuji Rock Festival 2014 takes place at Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata Prefecture, from July 25 to 27. For more information, see fujirock-eng.com.

  • kyushuphil

    It was Sōseki who most famously put it that life might be “worth living.”

    This was at the beginning of “Kusamakura,” his great ode to joy and nature in the mountains of Kyushu.

    Musicians such as Hanafusa here, and writers such as Sōseki perennially rediscover this great maxim — but it’s always a true discovery, given the fact that the living dead otherwise generally run all the schools where youth get drilled into the slow deaths of regimentation, cramming, and depersonalized info consumerism.

    Japanese youth have many discoveries they may yet make as to life — real life — apart from all the lies so systematically built into the imported culture of materialism.

    Good going, kids — if you can just survive all the zombie adults around you.