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Friday, July 10, 2009

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Amami Total Solar Eclipse Festival


It's a promoter's nightmare: an event which must be held in one of the most remote parts of the country, where the centerpiece occurs on a weekday morning, with no chance of rescheduling. Then again, when you're talking about the longest total solar eclipse of the century, certain concessions must be made.

News photo
Takkyu Ishino

Japan will enjoy the best views in the world of the July 22 eclipse, though you'll have to trek down to the small islands between Kyushu and Okinawa to experience the full spectacle. The far-flung location has created all kinds of logistic issues for tour and event organizers, which might explain the limited options on offer for those who were hoping to spend the day partying like it was the end of the world.

The Amami Total Solar Eclipse Festival is the only major festival being held. It's headlined by deeply unfashionable ethno-dance outfit Deep Forest, who will be joined by Italian trance duo Etnica and British ambient techno act System 7. Many of the doyens of the Tokyo club scene are also making the trip, including techno stars Takkyu Ishino and Ken Ishii, with live music coming from jam bands Dachambo, The SunPaulo and Soft. Don't miss septuagenarian folk singer Ikue Asazaki, herself a native of the Amami islands.

For sheer originality, however, it's hard to top the Lucy in the Sky with Diamond Ring Tour, whose organizers decided the best way to spend the eclipse was on a boat with noise-punk-turned- drum-circle group Boredoms. A mere 333 lucky (and financially well-off) people will join the cruise on a Russian passenger ship from Hakata Port to the seas around Akusekijima, an island with a population of 77. Support comes from New York's Gang Gang Dance and a host of Japanese DJs.

Amami Total Solar Eclipse Festival takes place at Myoujinsaki Resort, Amami Oshima from July 16 to 24. Tickets cost ¥30,000 in advance, ¥40,000 on the day. www.totalsolareclipsefestival.jp Lucy in the Sky with Diamond Ring Tour departs from Hakata Port on July 20, returning on July 23. Tickets cost ¥168,000-¥348,000. www.sunmoonfest.net


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