Sakerock: Pleasure Trip & Nihon no Hito

If you like indies music, pop music mixed with jazz and other beats, do check Sakerock out. They play instrumental tracks - with Hamano Kenta on trombone as the driving force. The drummer is terrific. And it just so happens that they come from Hanno City, Saitama. They also do Japanese folk music and they are heavy on "cool" if that word is even used these days, but their suits and hats are a give a way. They like "cool" and they like graphic design (as noted by Ian Lynam over at Neojaponisme, writing about graphic designer Ohara Daijiro, who does the lettering for their albums and videos).

Hoshino Gen (guitar) was born in 1981 and got his first taste of fame in the 69 film (2004, Director: Sang-il Lee) based on Murakami Ryu's novel about a high school in turmoil in Sasebo, Kyushu back in 1969, as students were protesting all over the world. Hamano Kenta (trombone) was born on August 5, 1981. Watch him in the drama Honey and Clover.

Free schools of course have a different approach to learning. The school here in Hanno that Sakerock credits as its origin is called Jiyuu no Mori Gakuen (Free Forest School) and there is both a Junior High and a High School under their administration. The school opened in 1985 with lofty goals such as "independence and self-reliance" and "freedom" but I can't find any official English information about them - does anyone know? In fact - not easy to find information about Japan's 250+ free schools at all.

Japanese link:
Free School Zenkoku Network

English link:
An Alternative Education in Japan: Five Weeks in a Free School in Tokyo

I also learnt a lot from Alternative Education in Japan – a thesis by Heather Nelson on Education in Japan Community Blog:

Why do Free Schools Exist?

A Response to the Phenomenon of School Non-Attendance

If schools such as Jiyu Gakuen were already in existence, what caused a sudden proliferation of free schools across Japan in the 1990s? The simple answer is the phenomenon of school non-attendance. Whereas the early free schools were founded with lofty educational ideas and ‘opt out’ ideals, (on a par with the famous ‘alternative schools’ Summerhill School in the UK and Sudbury Valley School in the US), the modern free schools came into existence in direct response to the needs of children who were dropping out of the compulsory education system. Tokyo Shure, which was founded in 1985 and currently has more than two hundred students, is now widely recognised as the first of the modern wave of free schools, and is typical of all that have followed it in that it was started by the mother of a child who had dropped out of school, with the specific goal of helping ‘drop out’ students.

But, let's give the music a try. Sakerock's latest album (Dec. 2010) was called Muda (Youtube) but I prefer this track, 慰安旅行 Ianryokou (Pleasure Trip):

Here is a performance with Sakerock and vocalist Saho Terao: 日本の人 Nihon no Hito (Japanese Person):


Pandabonium said…
Fun music. The dissertation by Heather Nelson was very interesting to me as Kimie has told me of a child at the jr. high where she teaches who refuses to attend due to social problems. I hesitate to use the term "bullying" in this case.

As a kid who was a victim of and rebelled against the groupthink of education in the 50s and 60s in the USA, I fully support alternatives.

An aside - I have been disgusted by the concrete modernist architecture of Japan's schools which make them look more like prisons than places in which the important work of education takes place. How can we expect children to aspire to learn and do great things in such an environment?

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