National

Japanese-Israeli violinist crosses musical boundaries

by Daisuke Tanaka

Kyodo

Since returning from Israel four years ago, Japanese-Israeli violinist Mei has collaborated with bands in all genres of music from jazz to pop.

“I want to portray many different colors of music,” said Mei, 21, whose new album is coming out in January.

Mei, who does not disclose her real name, was born in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, her mother’s hometown. She was raised in the hot-spring town, set between sea and mountains, until she was 7 years old.

It was during a music class in elementary school in Israel that Mei picked up a violin for the first time, after she moved to her father’s homeland in 1998. Mei was soon enjoying playing the violin and performing on stage.

As a classical musician, Mei began to receive many awards in Israel, and was chosen to represent the country overseas in places such as the United States and Germany.

Yet, no matter the natural beauty in the countries she visited, she never forgot the warmth of her native Japan and hometown of Beppu. “After all, I feel Oita is my home and that’s where I can relax,” Mei said.

She returned to Japan after graduating from high school in 2009 to work as a musician on her native soil. Hoping to reach as many people as possible by not being bound by the classical genre, she began to perform live shows with jazz bands, mainly in Beppu.

Her wide-ranging performances soon became popular, and this spring Mei moved to Tokyo, seeking to expand her activities, and was appointed as Tokyo Tower ambassador for 2013.

“Whenever I want to do something, I just go for it,” said Mei. “But I want to perform live shows in Oita again.”

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