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In love with Chindon and winning the Mayor's Prize!

Miho Yoshimura
Saori Wakamatsu
Morika Sato

Merry music comes from street corner. They are chindon-ya, a group of eccentrically dressed musicians who parade through the streets advertising and announcing events and handing out flyers. The WASEDA Chindon Club (WASEDA University officially certified club) is the only student chindon club in East Japan. It is active handing down chindon that invigorated postwar Japan and made the citizens smile. We interviewed Miho Yoshimura, Saori Wakamatsu and Morika Sato of the Genji Team that won the Mayor's Award equivalent to the Grand Prix at the 8th Amateur Chindon Contest held in Ichinomiya City, Aichi Prefecture about the attractiveness of chindon.

"Once you experience the joy of it, you can't stop!" The three of them who devoted themselves to brass and light music until high school and got in touch with chindon at WASEDA for the first time unanimously says so. Initially, with their musical experience, they just wanted to try it out, but they later came to realize that they were totally into chindon. "You can find a whole new you!" the Director General of the group, Miho, says about the attractiveness of chindon. "Eccentric clothes and thick makeup open your mind, and enable you to casually talk to passers-by. I once thought it was easy to be alone, but now I feel it is much more enjoyable to be with other people," Morika says. One of the attractive aspects of chindon is, different from performing on stage; the distance from the audience is closer. "We can immediately get friendly with the people who stop to listen," Saori says. She still remembers when senior students told her about their childhood, running after chindon-ya.

Members of the Chindon Club. At an amateur chindon contest

Requested by not only WASEDA University Nanmon Shopping Street but also municipal governments and shopping streets from various regions, WASEDA Chindon Club travels across Japan. The members want to reduce the number of shuttered up streets. During a tour, they have also come across professional chindon-ya, and every time they are overwhelmed by their superb performances and sales talks, and they become even more motivated to improve their skill. Their commitment to chindon really bore fruit.

In Ichinomiya City, Aichi Prefecture, known as a Chindon Town, they host an amateur chindon contest every year. From every corner of Japan, amateur chindon bands get together, advertise assigned local companies and stores, and compete with each other. Usually, restaurants serve as a requester, but this year's requester was a delivery service company. At first they were at a loss, wondering, "How will we advertise a delivery service company?" but as they investigated the contents of the business, they came to learn that the company not only transported parcels but also developed warm and comfortable services by opening their site to the public to offer a place for community events. After grappling with the question of how to advertise such a requester, they decided to perform chindon based on a kabuki program, "Kanjincho."

After practicing it again and again, the day of the contest came. The members dressed up as Yoshitsune Miyamoto, Benkei, and Shizukagozen (characters from Kanjincho) played and danced in an eccentric manner, while playing their instruments, and the audience became riveted on the performance. They concluded it with a heart-warming sales talk about the service the requester developed. As a result, they won the Mayor's Award as they successfully advertised difficult contents.

The three of them say they want to conserve chindon that enabled them to find new parts of them. At the University, they actively advertise club activities. "Chindon is a full mixture of enjoyable things. If you don't try it, it would be a shame!" If you have a request for an advertisement, please contact the Chindon Club.

Advertising a lottery wheel event at Nanmon Shopping Street

In a parade at the "All Japan Chindon Contest" in Toyama Prefecture

On an Asakusa tour with new students (Morika on the extreme right)


Miho Yoshimura (left)

Born in Mie Prefecture. Graduated from Otsuma Senior High School. She is the Director General of WASEDA Chindon Club. She is now learning belly dancing. "It is full of exotic tastes and as much fun as chindon!"

Saori Wakamatsu (center)

Born in Hokkaido. Graduated from Hokkaido Sapporo Kita High School. 3rd Year, School of Culture, Media and Society. She is a master of the trumpet. She is now really into watching sumo wrestling. "My favorite wrestlers are Takekaze and Aminishiki. Both of them are so cool!"

Morika Sato (right)

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from Kanagawa Prefectural Oppama High School. She is a great clarinet player. Sometimes, she takes a slow train to travel alone. "Katsurahama in Shikoku was beautiful, but it was too far (laughing)."