Japanese bluegrass scene continues with KazCamp ’23

Japan has been a bluegrass music hot-bed for more than 50 years, and one of the principal practitioners and proponents during that time has been Kazuhiro Inaba

Continuing his studious promotion of the music that he loves, Inaba will present the 10th annual Kazuhiro Inaba Bluegrass Camp this coming weekend, May 6, 2023. 

According to Inaba, “The venue is an indoor facility, Masken Culture and Exchange Center, very close to ‘Minoh’ station, Mino City, Osaka Prefecture.”

He “started the KazCamp in 2012,” and in common with musical events worldwide, he “couldn’t have the event for two years – 2020 and 2021 – due to pandemic.”

“We call this event ‘Camp,’ but it is actually a bluegrass music festival, not a workshop event. We will have around 27 bands including a couple of KazCamp jam sessions for those who don’t belong to a band.

I like to run a festival that audience would enjoy the music, and therefore, the band/musicians feel good playing for them.

Also, I’ve been trying to keep the level as high as possible.”

Currently in Japan, “We have around 20 bluegrass festivals during the year. At most festivals, a lot of bands want to participate, so each band has 10 minutes to perform or less. However, I try to keep a 20-minute slot for each band, so that they can express what they want to present to the audience.”

Inaba added, “At most bluegrass festivals in Japan, the pickers go there and enjoy playing by themselves.”

During the day-long festival, “I will be accompanied by other musicians including my brother, Masatoshi Inaba, as the Inaba Brothers, and also my daughter, Alisa, will join us also as a festival MC.”     

The band line-up (with a few performance samples) includes …

  • Bluegrass Colonels
  • Holiday Grass
  • Bitches Brew
  • The Good To Blue
  • Lassie
  • Exclusive Knick Knacks
  • Charchar Riders
  • Switch Back
  • Autumn Foliage
  • Pink Stripe Dogs
  • The Clover Moon
  • Salty Friends
  • Golden Grass
  • Dobro player Shinji Kojima
  • 29strings
  • Tea or Coffee
  • Grass Feel
  • Sakura Kawakami Unit
  • Yoshinari Kawamoto & Grasshoppers
  • Kazuhiro Inaba & The Bluegrass Buddies

Kazuhiro Inaba & Bluegrass Buddies live at Back In Town, Tokyo, on May 13, 2015, special guest Jon Glik (fiddle) – Kazuhiro Inaba (vocals and guitar); Ryuukichi Hayakawa (banjo); Shinji Kojima (Dobro); Taro Inoue (vocals and mandolin); and Tomohiro Kondo (bass). 

Alisa Inaba at the Purple Cow Moograss Jam 2013, Granny White Market on May 25, 2013 ….  with Kazuhiro Inaba, Amanda Contreras, Kyle Tuttle, Matt Raum, Jeremigh Abel, Kurt Storey

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.