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Friday, Sept. 12, 2008





Tell your average Tokyo hipster that there's a subarashi (cool) dance and hip-hop festival taking place in a beach paradise on the far-flung southern coast of Kochi in Shikoku and, before their jaw drops in excitement, you might be met by head-scratching confusion as they try to remember where exactly Kochi is. Shikoku might be the oft-ignored smaller of Japan's main islands, but in its quiet isolation it has developed its own vibrant beach-bum culture.

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Havanero, with its own lazy, sun-kissed sense of purpose, is as happy-go-lucky as the islanders that spawned it. Now in its third year (taking place twice annually, as once is not enough), and run by the owners of cult Kochi City record store Tailgate, this September's bash hosts hot up 'n' comers from Japan's dance, soul and hip-hop canon.

Fusing house, techno, drum 'n' bass and dub elements, eccentric rappers Alpha take top billing alongside wonky-pop femme fatale Sonomi — two acts likely to cause a seismic stir. Meanwhile, eclectic dance DJs Halfby and Yuuzi Miki are guaranteed to orchestrate you into a state of absent bliss as they deploy the artful craft of spinning records.

Taking place in the outdoor Tennen-shoku Gekijo in Konan City, Havanero is only 40 minutes by train from Kochi City and 15 minutes by car from Kochi Ryoma airport — so simply hop on a flight from your nearest domestic airport and mix a day of great music with a weekend to explore a picturesque area of Japan that you wouldn't normally get the chance to. With tickets priced at a reasonable ¥4,000 and boasting a flamboyant lineup in an original location, there's no better place for music fans to be this national-holiday weekend.

Havanero takes place on Sept. 14 at Tennen-shoku Gekijo, Konan City (2-10 p.m.; ¥4000; www.havanero.info)

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