Performing Arts

Like father, like son. Sort of…

Ikuo is the famed mime who launched Yokohama’s Performance Festival (Daidôgei). After a very successful few years in Japan on stage and television, he abruptly abandoned everything and went to France to further hone his skills. He traveled Europe as a performer and eventually became a teacher at the French National Circus. After about a decade in Europe he returned to Yokohama where he has become more of an event producer.

Perhaps it is no surprise that his son, Kiyono Yoshito, is also a performer who has recently returned from a stint in France. Except that Ikuo never once pressured or encouraged his son to take this route. Kiyono explains, “I think he taught me pantomime for like an hour once when I was a kid. But on traveling with my dad to performances, I was exposed to music and was charmed by the sax. A sax is heavy and expensive so I thought I’d take up the harmonica; it seemed easier. Of course, it is difficult if you want to do it right.”

Kiyono played music in a comic-style high school band, but gained deeper exposure to the stage when he went to Oberlin University. There, as a philosophy major with a drama minor, he learned under famed actor Hirata Oriza. Following graduation, he toured for a year and a half with Hirata, working as an actor, but one who played harmonica on stage.

His trip to Europe came shortly thereafter, just as ODA was celebrating its 50-year anniversary. He earned a two-year overseas scholarship to France, where he would further develop his stage and performance techniques. During the day, he attended a circus school, but nights he played harmonica at clubs and festivals. When his scholarship ended, he roamed Europe for another two years, playing the blues. He cites Albert King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and James Cotton as influences.

So why leave Europe? A simple, but ironic answer for a Japanese: “I want to give Japan a try.” Blues has struggled to gain wider acceptance in Japan. And a Japanese harmonica player is going to have some perception hurdles to overcome. But the boy’s got talent and no small amount of worldly experience. In terms of future success, it’s likely to be like father, like son.

See Kiyono Yoshito live (with Tanaka Koei):
@Jirokichi in Koenji, 8/4 & 9/17, 19:30~






ヨーロッパから日本に戻ってきた理由はシンプルだ。「日本で頑張ってみたかったんです。」 ブルースというジャンルは日本ではなかなか本当にメジャーにはなれない。日本のハーモニカ奏者の地位も決して高くはない。でも清野には才能があるし世界中の舞台での経験も積んでいる。将来の成功という点では、「この父親にしてこの子あり」ということになるだろう。

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