[Wakamatsu, the Birthplace of Jazz in Kyushu]
Kitakyushu City's Wakamatsu Ward has a history of jazz bands formed by young people who were exposed to "jazz" coming from Shanghai in the Taisho and early Showa periods and spreading it throughout Kyushu.
It is believed that jazz was first introduced to Japan around 1900. There are various theories as to where it landed, but after the opening of Japan to the outside world, it spread from port cities such as Kobe, Yokohama, and Osaka, which had active contacts with foreign countries.
Shanghai was Wakamatsu's main coal export destination from the Meiji period to the early Showa period, and was a thriving trade center. At the time, Shanghai was the largest commercial and industrial city in China and the center of the modern Chinese economy. The city was already home to British, American, and French companies, as well as foreign settlements, and the economies and cultures of the West and the East intersected.
One of the many foreign cultural souvenirs brought back on the ships that unloaded coal was the musical culture of "jazz."
In the 1920s, when Shanghai became one of the world's leading cities, jazz was the music of the era, so much so that the United States was known as the "Jazz Age." Social parties were held in the residential areas, and the unique rhythms and sounds of Western instruments played by the band members as dance music at the party venues thrilled the hearts of many young people.
Attracted by the appeal of jazz, a completely new kind of music that they had never heard before, these young people formed a band in order to have more people listen to jazz. The "Wakamatsu Pearl Salon Orchestra" and "Wakamatsu Pearl Jazz Band" were the first jazz bands to be born in Kyushu. Their activities were based around the Wakamatsu City Public Hall and other familiar places such as ryotei (Japanese-style restaurants), dance halls, and social halls, and jazz music became more familiar to people.
Jazz culture has taken root in Wakamatsu for more than 100 years. Even today, as the "Cradle of Jazz in Kyushu," jazz events are held and efforts are made to make Wakamatsu feel like a "jazz town" in the stations and in the corners of the streets. The jazz cafe "El Evans," which plays a part in the history of the city, is another great place to visit.
Jazz music is also played inside the Wakamatsu Showroom. Looking out at the sea in front of you and thinking that music also came from here on a boat, you will see Dokai Bay, which has a typical image of the industry, in a different light.