Celebrating 50th anniversary of ASEAN – Japan Friendship and Cooperation

The MIKAGE PROJECT ASEAN TOUR WITH ASMIDAR, in honour of the 50th ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation anniversary, recently concluded last Wednesday, 25 October 2023. This event beautifully represented the enduring partnership between ASEAN and Japan, symbolising our commitment to regional harmony and prosperity. It was a momentous fusion of cultures and traditions, featuring the renowned MIKAGE PROJECT, consisting of SATO Kouki, ASANO Sho, and HONMA Takashi, and Malaysia’s sensation, Asmidar, with the aim of strengthening bonds and trust between both regions.

MIKAGE PROJECT, a music group dedicated to modernising folk songs from various regions of Japan, embodies the name “mikage,” meaning “divine spirit” in Japanese, reflecting their mission to uncover the spirit within ancestral folk songs. Joining them in the ASEAN Tour in Malaysia is Asmidar, a remarkable performer with an illustrious career in the world of music and a celebrated Malay traditional song artist who is dedicated in promoting traditional Malaysian culture. She passionately believes in preserving and celebrating the unique sounds of Malay traditional music for generations to come.

The 1st concert took place exclusively by invitation on 24 October at Dewan Seri Budiman, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam. They concluded their ASEAN tour at Stage1 Theatre, PJPAC, 1 Utama E, with a concert for the public on 25 October.

In addition to the concert performances, a special workshop took place at UiTM Shah Alam, introducing the Japanese instruments featured in the concert. This workshop provided a unique opportunity to engage with local music students on campus, fostering cultural exchange. During the workshop, students received an introduction to several traditional Japanese instruments, including the Shamisen, Shinobue, Shakuhachi, and Koto. A select group of students had the first hand experience of trying to play these instruments under the guidance of the MIKAGE PROJECT members. Moreover, they had fun teaching the students the famous traditional song and dance, Soran Bushi, which originates in the Hokkaido fishermen’s community.

During the press conference, ASANO Sho, a member of MIKAGE PROJECT, expressed his admiration for collaborating with Asmidar, stating, “Asmidar is a wonderful artist and is someone who truly loves and treasures the Malaysian traditional music and culture. It was a wonderful experience being able to create music together with her. She also greatly respects Japanese culture and its traditional art form, ‘minyo‘ or folk song. She can perform one of the Japanese ‘minyo‘ songs with impeccable pronunciation. When I asked how she managed to do it, she said she got a friend to give lessons for a long time in preparation. And I was truly touched by her passion for this project.”

Furthermore, he expressed the importance of this collaboration, especially in the 50th year of friendship between ASEAN and Japan. He highlighted their commitment to strengthening the bonds between the two countries through folk song culture, intending to continue this long-lasting friendship for generations to come.

Asmidar also shared her excitement about the collaboration, stating, “This was a significant opportunity for me to collaborate with them [MIKAGE PROJECT] because, in my view, we share a similar background. MIKAGE PROJECT, like me, are musicians known for playing traditional instruments and singing traditional songs. Our journey began in a comparable way. After studying these traditional songs, we’ve both ventured into creating new styles, which is truly fascinating. I’ve realised that this collaboration shares the same goals, which is why I’m very excited about it.”

Additionally, Asmidar mentioned her preparations for the performance, which included seeking assistance from her friend in Japan to perfect the pronunciation of the lyrics of Kokiriko-bushi and understand their meanings. She went the extra mile by listening to various song versions, including the original rendition.

She also expressed her openness to the possibility of collaborating with MIKAGE PROJECT in Japan one day, with the aim of sharing this cross-cultural fusion with Japanese audiences.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here