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  • So today's video is a story, a story of how I met two Japanese shamisen players called Kiki and

  • How we ended up

  • traveling the world together and a little bit about how this basically became my job. How it took me out of a

  • Corporate job that I'd worked for nearly a decade and into a brand new world of getting to travel and enjoy

  • Japanese music and make videos and you know, what? If I don't leave this hotel room right away, we're gonna be late

  • So let's just get going

  • Thank you

  • We're in Vancouver and while the weather is actually really nice right now it snowed this morning

  • It's weird to see the mix of cherry blossom petals and snow

  • The girls are actually doing like a tour of Vancouver right now

  • So we've had like performances, events, workshops pretty much

  • Every single day since we've got here and today's our last day

  • There's a marathon today so

  • The streets are like empty and we're just about at the girls hotel

  • So, this is Hikari and this is Kanami and together. They're a Japanese shamisen duo called KiKi

  • And while right now these two are top level

  • Japanese shamisen players and we are touring the world together sharing their music. It wasn't always like this

  • So let me go back a little bit so I can tell you the story from the beginning

  • So the story actually starts back in about 2011. It was I believe January 2011

  • I had gone out to Meiji Shrine to check out the coming-of-age Day ceremony

  • which is one of my favorite ceremonies here in Japan and

  • Afterwards I went into Shibuya and for some reason all the streets were closed off for

  • Performances as I was walking along the street I ran into these two shamisen players. They were just playing on the street

  • But we didn't talk at that time, right (KiKi: no)

  • At the time all I had was like a little iPod touch

  • So I took a bit of a video of them didn't put it online

  • In fact, it wasn't until probably six months to a year later when I ran into them again at Yoyogi Park

  • That I actually recorded a proper video on a DSLR that I had just bought for the first time by the way

  • By that time I had actually just started my own shamisen training

  • And so I asked the girls if it was okay to put the video up on YouTube. They said (KiKi:Yes)

  • We rehearsed that and that was kind of the first time I ever really seriously put something up on YouTube

  • I named the YouTube channel shamisen in Tokyo

  • And I pretty much intended on putting up like every single piece of shamisen music from any player that I found around the city

  • but after a couple months of recording different players

  • the only pieces that I really felt were upload worthy were the ones from

  • Kiki so I kept recording them kept uploading them and then one day something really interesting happened.

  • A few years after all of that we ended up performing at the exact same event

  • Kiki was like the main act for that event and somehow, I still don't know how, I ended up playing before them

  • So funny side story

  • I have the good fortune to actually be learning from the Yoshida brothers and one of them

  • showed up to support me at the performance and sat like right in the front row and

  • Kiki didn't expect him to be there

  • So they came out and saw him and they were like wait, why is one of the Yoshida brothers here?

  • That night was a good start

  • We had a chance to have some food some oden and drink and that was kind of the start of our friendship

  • So now shortly after this that I realized that very first video that I uploaded of them had hit over 10,000 views

  • So I invited them over for coffee so we could like celebrate

  • and

  • Then we made the very first ever like Kiki promo video on shamisen in Tokyo

  • We came to Tokyo 8 years ago

  • So we just watched that video yesterday and the two girls were like, oh my god it's so embarrassing

  • And all of this gave birth to a project. I started to shoot pretty much

  • every

  • Single performance that Kiki would do in the hopes of someday making a documentary, but we also started a series

  • Called shamisen under the cherry blossoms

  • And it was started with the entire purpose of landing us future work

  • So we're, we're like literally like in the of a middle forest right now

  • There's like a pond over here, I don't I don't even know what this is

  • There's some Canadian Geese over there

  • Canada!

  • The under the cherry blossoms video came up because sakura season itself was right around the corner

  • and the first year we didn't actually do the video with the girls in kimono

  • we just had them in what's called fudangi, which is just their normal clothing and uh

  • There was an old man who just like walked through this frame in like the middle of the video

  • But we liked it so much that we just left it in the final version and then uploaded it

  • The next year we decided to do it again and it was around the third year that we decided to put the girls in kimono

  • (KiKi: yeah!) And

  • Really, really give some impact to the video and while the shamisen under the cherry blossoms video series was

  • Popular it did take at least three years for them to start gaining any real traction

  • So in between these videos we would just travel the country together. we would go up to the shamisen taikai

  • in Aomori. We went down to like shikoku

  • basically just go all over the place and do performances and make music but but the girls have a performance up in like like

  • 15-20 minutes. So I'm gonna let them get prepped for that and we'll talk about this a little more afterwards

  • Performance is finally finished.

  • So it kind of brings us back to where we were before talking about putting up content and making videos like the shamisen

  • Under the cherry blossoms videos.

  • (everyone gasping)

  • I just introduced the girls to the green apple suckers, I don't know if you've ever had these but I love them.

  • It's really good.

  • So the more content we made and the more of the video started to spread out the more the job offer started to come in

  • most of them were in Japan

  • But in this time I found myself kind of becoming like a like a producer or manager or something.

  • It was at the same time exciting and overwhelming and everything

  • But it was at this time that I made Kiki a promise and I promised them that I would

  • Take them overseas at some point

  • I remember.

  • Now even at the time I was very aware of how bold of a promise it was that I would take them overseas

  • For a performance someday

  • But considering that was part of the plan when I first started everything I had confidence that I'd be able to pull it off.

  • I knew who's just gonna take consistent work and above all else

  • Patience. Which by the way is something that a lot of people seem to really undervalue in the grand scheme of things

  • I probably could have squeezed it in a much shorter time

  • But all too often people will trade out the long-term win for some kind of short-term gain

  • And it's not worth the sacrifice. So I wanted to do this properly, which means I knew it was gonna take some time.

  • Did you bite it?!

  • Yeah.

  • Wow

  • Just wow. So with all that being said it brings us a little closer to where we are now

  • Which is how we started getting overseas, but I'll tell you guys about that in a minute.

  • So around 2017 the offers started coming in but pretty much every offer would fall through right away

  • When they realize the intense costs of bringing two to three people all the way overseas to do a show

  • I'll spare you all the details, but it's it's not cheap

  • There's actually around that time that I started this channel

  • thought it might be nice to also showcase some of the behind the scenes on my adventures and the adventures

  • I was doing with Kiki so there's that.

  • and it was shortly after starting tokyo lens that we got our first

  • really serious offer for a job overseas.

  • The job was actually for here, Canada, Vancouver

  • KiKi's gonna do some shopping. I'll see you guys later

  • And that was only the first of the overseas shows to roll in and it was good practice and it was a good warm-up for

  • Everything that would follow because since then we got offers for places like Italy

  • Australia the states like you name it?

  • In fact in May Hikari's going to Germany while Kanami and I go to the states so that'll be fun.

  • But the point is that we're here and what got us here was consistently pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone to put up

  • Content. You see when I put up that very first introduction video with Kiki that I showed at the beginning

  • The girls were wildly uncomfortable, but they really wanted to do it and that level

  • Of perseverance despite the discomfort is definitely one of the things that inspired

  • me to start Tokyo Lens. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for meeting Kiki and

  • Working on the projects that we're doing together that this channel right here that you're watching right now

  • wouldn't exist. That in my mind that that's a win in its own but that being said

  • I've got to buy some omiyage a or gifts and then find the girls and we have a dinner in like 20 minutes

  • But it just goes to show the amazing things that can happen

  • If you actually push yourself to consistently step outside of your comfort zone and I really like that message

  • My last morning in Vancouver before heading back to Tokyo so Tim Hortons

  • Like it's not even particularly great coffee, but it's Tim Hortons

  • So it's one of those Canadian ritual things that you've got to do before you go back

  • Getting back to the main topic at this point

  • I've explained how I met Kiki and hopefully given a rough idea of how this

  • Became my job. More than anything. It came down to just believing in my own vision of the future and just consistently executing on that

  • Despite any failure, roadblocks or challenges that came up in the way.

  • I knew that making content was going to be the key when I first started which is why we took this approach and so far

  • Every single job that we've done overseas

  • Has come out of this content that we've made I never could have imagined when I bought my first

  • DSLR that it would eventually lead to me getting paid to travel the world with some of Japan's best

  • shamisen players

  • let alone have an entire channel of my own to share all of this with you and the three of us like, all three, not just

  • me, I want to say that we have so much gratitude for each of one of you who takes the time to actually watch the

  • content that we've made you might feel like you're just sitting there watching something but you're really

  • Contributing and helping. So thank you

  • Also fish

  • And there we go back in Japan and actually today the day that I'm releasing this video

  • We just arrived back in Japan and the girls are

  • Releasing their first major album through a label like I'm talking like CDs and stores and Spotify, you know

  • It's all gonna be linked down below if you're interested

  • But the best part of all of this is that it's not even close to the end of our plans. The future is still

  • Very bright. Now I've tried not to go too deeply into more technical or boring details

  • But hopefully still giving you kind of an idea of how we got here and this video was actually based on one of the most

  • popular episodes of the Tokyo lens

  • Podcast that I've ever done so I'm gonna link that down below in case you're interested in hearing a more detailed version of this.

  • Now that I'm back I've got to start getting this office sorted out

  • I've managed to unpack a couple of the boxes, but I think it's gonna have to wait because

  • Tomorrow I'm doing a day trip out to a samurai

  • Battlefield something I've never done before so

  • This will be something new. Thank you guys so much for watching up to this point in the video

  • It would mean the world to me if you guys would give that like button some love if you enjoyed this one

  • Maybe share it somewhere. Definitely leave me something in the comments.

  • I will see you guys again in just a couple days.

  • So I'm gonna get to work on this for now pack my bags for tomorrow, and you guys know I will see you again

  • Real soon. Thanks guys

So today's video is a story, a story of how I met two Japanese shamisen players called Kiki and

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How I Get Paid to Travel The World With Japanese Musicians

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    周建丞 posted on 2020/04/20
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