Birkin Books Herself

English singer-actress Jane Birkin, who lives in France, made an impromptu visit to Japan April 6 to perform a free club concert in support of relief efforts for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Birkin is a regular visitor to Japan, where her brand of French pop is considered a seminal influence on the so-called Shibuya-kei movement that bloomed in the ’90s, spawning artists such as Pizzicato Five and Cornelius.

Dressed in a simple white shirt and black tie, Birkin came out on the stage of the Shibuya Club Quattro and said, “I’ve never loved a country so much.”

The concert was streamed live over the Internet to tens of thousands of viewers.

Reportedly, Birkin, who lives in Paris, did not travel to Japan through any agency or promoter.

She simply booked her own flight, paid for her ticket herself, and came to Tokyo, where she hooked up with a local French-Japanese cultural organization to find ways of raising money for relief efforts. Donations were collected at the concert for the physicians group Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Fittingly enough, Birkin’s musical accompanist for the evening was pianist Takuma Watanabe, who lives in Sendai, the largest city close to the quake’s epicenter.

The day after the concert, Birkin visited several evacuation centers in Tokyo to talk to people who had been bussed out of the stricken area at least temporarily.