Music

Meet Minyo Crusaders: The Group Mixing Japanese Folk Songs With Latin and African Sounds

@minyocrusaders | Instagram

Meet the Minyo Crusaders, they’re a Japanese band that’s fusing cultures together in their music. The group brings traditional Japanese folk songs and fuses it together with Caribbean, Latin and African sounds.

Min’yō is a genre of traditional Japanese music, which Japanese fishermen, coal miners and sumo wrestlers sang hundreds of years ago. They also served as entertainment, dance and religious rituals.

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Today the Minyo Crusaders are on a mission on making these songs relevant on a global stage.

Group leader Katsumi Tanaka (vocals) first met Freddie Tsukamoto (guitar) in the late 90s but Tanaka had no interest in playing min’yō. It wasn’t until the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that Katsumi Tanaka began to question and review his life and Japanese identify. Soon after they formed a band from local musicians in Fussa by 2016 they had become a 10 member band.

Their goal became to revive the min’yō style in the present day, the band hoped to make Japanese folk music as cool as cumbias. Since then they’ve grown in popularity and reached national recognition in 2018.

Minyo Crusader’s latest album is from their performance at the Le Guess Who? Festival, it was released after their European tour of 6 weeks was canceled due to the pandemic.

Their debut album weaves together Japanese folk songs with genres like cumbias, Ethiopian jazz, reggae and more

Echoes of Japan masterfully fuses multiple genres together. It starts off with a Colombian cumbia then moves through Afrobeat, reggae, boogaloo and more. The wistful melodies are intricately paired with horns and percussions from music genres across continents.

Minyo Crusaders joined forces with Colombian cumbia group Frente Cumbiero to create Minyo Cumbiero

These two groups brought two distinctive cultures that couldn’t be further apart. Minyo Cumbiero took two days to record in Bogota. They took traditional Colombian cumbias, fused them with min’yō and created a unique blend of music.

Earlier this year the group preformed on Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. Their tiny desk was a Kotstsu table, a wooden heated Japanese table often used for the winter months. This performance gave fans something new to listen to from home.

Follow @minyocrusaders on Instagram and make sure to give “Echoes of Japan” a listen on Spotify!

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