The iconic Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall (commonly abbreviated to “Yaon” in Japanese) in Tokyo will celebrate its 100th anniversary in July 2023. To mark this milestone year, a commemorative project aiming to reconfirm the beloved venue’s historical role and value while handing it down to future generations will take place from April to November next year.
Seiji Kameda will lead the executive committee overseeing the Hibiya Yaon 100th Anniversary Commemorative Project. “When I was aspiring to become a professional musician, Yaon was the place of my dreams,” the renowned music producer, bassist and chairman of the Hibiya Ongakusai Music Festival Executive Committee shared in a statement. “When I eventually became a pro and stood on the Yaon stage, I remember how my soul shook from the power of the sound as it soared through the green forest, towering buildings, and into the Tokyo sky. Even now, Yaon is an invaluable place that brings back those same emotions I felt then.”
Billboard Japan is a part of the committee that also includes artists, producers, music industry representatives and theater directors, and plans are under way to hold a variety of musical events and exhibitions centering on live events, archival projects, and promotional endeavors.
Just two months after the Hibiya Yaon opened in 1923, the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake struck and the open-air venue was used to provide wholesome entertainment to the public such as music concerts, balls, outdoor plays, and various other events. Although it was temporarily closed due to WWII, it became a sought-after venue for rock and folk music after the war.
The concert hall became the backdrop for many legendary moments in the history of Japanese popular music, such as rock legend Eikichi Yazawa’s band Carol’s final concert, the iconic ‘70s girl group Candies’ breakup announcement, and solo singer-songwriter Yutaka Ozaki‘s famous stage-jumping incident in the early ‘80s.
It has since become a “unique and special sanctuary” essential to the development of popular music in the country, for example hosting the 10 Yen Concert launched to promote rock in Japan, and YAON no NAON, Japan’s first rock festival featuring only female musicians. The hall continues to be loved by many musicians today for its liberating feeling of being surrounded by nature in the middle of Tokyo, the beauty of the stage lights in the darkness that gradually deepens after dusk, and its liberal atmosphere despite being a public facility.
“The Yaon I know might just be a slight moment in its long history,” Kameda adds. “But the many thrilling moments and legends born from Yaon will live there forever and be passed down to the next generation.”