Live Earth Japan

The Japan portion of the Live Earth event went off July 7th without any problems in Chiba and Kyoto.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore not only appeared via hologram to greet the 10,000 people who attended the Chiba event at Makuhari Messe Convention Center, but he was also introduced by a hologram. Lumi, the 17-year-old self-described extraterrestrial lead singer of Genki Rockets, showed up as an anime hologram before the Live Earth figurehead.

Local media were a bit skeptical of the event, saying its aim of promoting greater awareness of global warming and getting people to conserve energy seemed lost on the crowd, which generated a lot of trash and, when interviewed by reporters, wasn’t clear on the ecological goals of the concert.

The Chiba show, which featured among others Linkin Park and Rihanna, lasted nine hours while the shorter, more energy-efficient Kyoto show with Yellow Magic Orchesta was a compact two.

The following week, Japan’s own ecology-minded festival was to take place. The AP Bank Festival is held in the leafy, rural Tsumagoi resort area west of Tokyo. AP stands for Artists Power, an organization founded by Ryuichi Sakamoto and influential record producer Takeshi Kobayashi as a way to fund research into "natural energy" sources. Sakamoto is a prominent anti-nuclear power advocate. Nuclear reactors provide between 30 and 40 percent of Japan’s electricity needs.

However, nature conspired to truncate this year’s festival. Typhoon Man-yi, one of the most powerful in years, hit land during the weekend of July 13 and caused the cancellation of the first three days of the four-day event.

The typhoon itself did not affect Tsumagoi so much, but it disrupted transportation throughout western Japan. Therefore, many artists could not make it to the festival because of canceled flights and the closing of train lines and expressways.

The last day of the festival, July 16, which was headlined by Mr. Children, one of Kobayashi’s most popular acts, went ahead. But even that was spoiled slightly by the huge earthquake that struck northern Japan, disrupting a major train line that would have brought people to the festival site.