Embassy of Japan in South Africa



The Embassy of Japan in the Republic of South Africa is also accredited to
the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Kingdom of Lesotho

CoRai SA Tour

CoRai – Celebrating 100 years of friendship – linking the past and the future

"CoRai", the Japanese music duo comes from two Japanese characters; Co去 meaning past and Rai 来 meaning future. CoRai is made up of Mr. Kentaro Kihara, who is a Jazz pianist with distinguished technique and strong sense of melody, and Mr. Hiroshi Yamaguchi, who is a Tsugaru Shamisen (Japanese traditional three string instrument) player with splendid performance skills and comes from a family with a long history of Shamisen players.  Due to Mr. Yamaguchi’s ambition to spread the sound of shamisen into the other genres of music, he gladly accepted this invitation from the Embassy of Japan to perform three concerts in three different areas in South Africa from the 7th to 11th of August.
Their South African tour began at the prestigious Brooklyn Theatre in Pretoria on Wednesday 8th of August. Coincidently, this day was exactly 100 years since the establishment of the Japanese Consulate in Cape Town which was the first Japanese mission on the African continent and is now a symbol of the long history of bilateral ties between Japan and South Africa.
Mr. Shigeyuki Hiroki, Ambassador of Japan to South Africa gave the opening address for this memorable concert and at the end of his address, he suddenly removed his jacket and shirt revealing a white T-shirt on which was written "Ichiban" in Japanese which means "number one" in English. Ambassador Hiroki now wearing his "Ichiban" T-shirt started shouting "Ichiban" to call CoRai to the stage. This was very surprising for the audience who appreciated the gesture and they could not stop being moved by Ambassador's hospitality and humor.

Ambassador Hiroki revealing his secret on stage of Brooklyn Theatre on 8th on August 2018

CoRai is made up of the Piano which is a traditional western musical instrument and the Tsugaru shamisen which is a traditional Japanese musical instrument, and together create a unique sound with a sense of tension.  This talented duo played not only their original songs such as "Bridge" which was inspired by their visit to South Africa, but also covered Japanese traditional songs, the well-known South African lullaby "Tula Tula" and the National Anthem of South Africa. The audience of over 200 gave a standing ovation to CoRai's breathtaking beautiful sound and celebrating this memorable day.

CoRai celebrated 100 years of the bilateral relationship between Japan and SA
with their melodious song at the Brooklyn Theatre on 8th of August
 The next day, Thursday 9th of August, was National Women’s day in South Africa and CoRai visited “Home Lounge” which is located north west of Pretoria in Mabopane. Home Lounge is run by the passionate young man “Kgomotso Sekhu”, who wishes for the growth of his community and conducts music workshops for young students who love music and who wish to express their ideas, hopes and dreams. For this reason, Home Lounge invited CoRai to play their music, bridging two music cultures. Kgomotso started Home Lounge in a deserted house, therefore space and equipment are limited. However, they make do with what they have and the house is good for fulfilling the purpose of CoRai’s visit which was “cultural exchange through music” and exchanging sounds between local artists and CoRai to evoke future collaboration.


CoRai with Local Artists from Mabopane at Home Lounge on 9th of August 2018

On the 10th of August, CoRai flew to Cape Town and held their final concert at a cutting-edge art space called Young Blood Africa which is located in the central area of the city of Cape Town. Mr. Yasushi Naito, Consul of Japan in Cape Town spoke about the historical connection between Japan and South Africa and linked this to “CoRai” who connects old traditional music with the future. CoRai’s hybrid music style was well received by Cape Town’s enthusiastic audience. When Mr. Kihara’s melodious piano solo was finished, the audience gave a storm of applause. After Mr. Yamaguchi’s passionate tremolo picking, the audience presented loud and prolonged cheers. The 90 minute concert was filled with colorful sound which combined east and west, past and future.

Counsul Naito mentioned the long history of the relationship between Japan and SA in his speech
at Young Blood Africa on 10th of August

Mr. Kentaro Kihara and Mr. Hiroshi Yamaguchi from CoRai concluded their first South African tour by saying, “We were really glad to be able to start our South African tour from the very memorable day 8th of August, which commemorates the beginning of the relationship between Japan and South Africa, which is our first place to visit on the African continent. It was an honour to present our music as a bridge connecting our culture with the culture of this wonderful country. This fruitful tour gives us motivation for our future composing and performing. We are going to bring back this deep experience to Japan and spread the news about this fascinating country. Then, we will be back here with brand new songs.

CoRai singing “Sukiyaki” along with the audience
 at Young Blood Africa on 10th of August