Shuta Hasunuma is a musician engaged in alternative creative activities that are difficult to categorize. In addition to his solo activities, he started the Hasunuma Shuta Philharmonic – a contemporary philharmonic pop orchestra performing concerts in Japan and abroad. His music productions straddle film, theater, dance, commercial music, and music production. As such, Shibuya is very much Hasanuma-san’s stomping ground. Long before he started performing at “Bunkamura Orchard Hall ” and “LIQUIDROOM,” he would go to Shibuya every day for the CD stores on his way home from junior high. How does the sound of the city resonate with musicians truly “born and bred” in this area?
Shibuya, where everything is new for a teenager
“I’ve walked around here more times than I’ve had hot dinners!” So muses Shuta as he strolls from Meiji Jingu Shrine to Yoyogi Park. The Yamanote Line passes under the Gorin Bridge from Harajuku to Shibuya and this area, along with Meiji-dori and Dogenzaka, is “quintessential Shibuya landscape” for him.
“At school I was in the “go-straight-home” club. I always had too much time on my hands, so once the bell rang, I would always make a beeline for Shibuya. Music, literature, art… I was absorbing new culture every day. When you’re a teenager you are pretty much a blank slate. For me, Shibuya was this fun district where I could always encounter something new.”
Observing Shibuya under SOE as a musician
So, what exactly is the “Sound of Shibuya”? After the man-made sounds of the scramble crossing, Hasunuma brings up the sounds that can be heard at Meiji Shrine, where we were earlier.
“The morning after the SOE was declared in spring 2020, I did some field recording in Shibuya. What creeped me out was the scramble crossing. Despite being deserted, the area was bursting with the clamor of outdoor billboards and transit ads. Yet just a stone’s throw away are these man-made forests like Meiji Shrine, another thing I love about Shibuya. Amid the silence, birdsong resonates, and train noises seem to echo. While these are sounds that were always there, they are in a constant state of flux. I think a positive attitude toward change is important for a musician.”
A musical general store in an urban void attracts kindred spirits
“I think I might be drawn towards void-like spaces. They seem to inspire me”.
Having described Meiji Jingū as a “void,” Hasunuma then heads for “à côté,” in Nishihara, another store that falls under that category. “Owner Maki Imamura and I go back a long way. He holds events for composers, always has great music playing, and while it is a daily goods store, it is very much a musical one. Music isn’t limited to performances; it’s essentially something that can be felt in many different places.
“With these words, Hasunuma peruses the natural wines in the back of the store. He buys two bottles of “Cumpf et Maier” from Alsace, France, which Mr. Imamura recommends, adding, “I don’t really drink run-of-the-mill wines.”
A music-lover’s store is a magnet for musicians
Shops that Hasanuma likes have a common thread; that is, they are run by owners with a genuine zeal.
“They love what they sell, so they want you to drink, eat or use it too… With music, they want you to check it out. I think that simple sentiment really resonates with people. In this regard, NEWPORT serves up music and food that owner Sohei Tsurutani likes in a natural way, making it a lovely space to be in. You’ll often find me here, and he even held a birthday party for me here”.
Known for its quality music pumped out through sonihouse dodecahedron speakers, NEWPORT in Yoyogi Hachiman is enduringly popular as a restaurant to enjoy DJ events and other authentic music.
“The music playing right now is a perfect fit. I think it’s Brazilian Joao Gilberto. …… Yep, thought so, Gilberto. If a restaurant has no music, then you can hear the noise of the kitchen and it stresses you out, if you know what I mean. I love restaurants where there is music playing that neutralizes that kind of ambiance without being overpowering.”
During dinner, Hasunuma is invited by the owner to the 14th anniversary party to be held the following week. The expressions on their faces are telling of a close relationship between two genuine music lovers.
1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizonocho, Shibuya-ku
Hasunuma likes the Yoyogi area where the north approach extends. He especially recommends visiting after the rain, when it is easy to hear the echoes in the mist.
1-7-5 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku
The name of the store comes from the French word meaning “next to” or “nearby”. As well as daily necessities, they sell natural wine and hold tasting events.
1-6-8 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku
Restaurant serving vegetarian dishes with seasonal vegetables and natural wines. Falafel sandwiches are also available for take-out.
SHIBUYA PUBLISHING & BOOKSELLERS
17-3 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku
SPBS is a “bookstore that publishes” in the back end of Shibuya. In the past, 300 of Hasunuma’s personal items, including books and CDs, have been sold here.
Bunkamura Orchard Hall
2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Japan’s first large-scale shoebox-type hall, with impressive and deep sound reverberation. Hasunuma’s Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance “○○ → ○○” was held here in 2021.
3-16-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku
One of Tokyo’s leading live music venues, located in Ebisu. The Hasunuma Shota Philharmonic Orchestra has held many concerts there.
Born in Tokyo in 1983. Musician, artist who launched his career in earnest in 2006. In 2010, he formed the “Hasunuma Shuta Philharmonic Orchestra,” and in addition to his concert performances in Japan and abroad, has been active on the global stage through a variety of music productions, exhibitions, and other projects. In 2019, he received the 69th Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. His major exhibitions include “Compositions” (Pioneer Works, New York/ 2018) and “~ ing” (Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo / 2018). His latest release is “Good News,” his third instrumental album with tabla player U-zhaan.