For the past four decades the band Hiroshima has been combining elements of traditional Japanese music with genres like R&B, pop, and easy listening music.
And on Sept. 9, the band will grace the stage of Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center with a sound they describe as a fusion between Asian and western music.
“Our music taste is pretty eclectic,” said Kimo Cornwell, keyboardist. “Most of us are products of the 60s and the 70s, so we grew up with rock, Latin, funk and progressive jazz music. We love to incorporate as much as we can.”
He said much of the music is written around the traditional Japanese stringed instrument, the koto, played by June Kuramoto.
“June is pretty much the voice of the band as far as the sound of it, so a lot of songs are written around her playing,” Cornwell said.
In addition to the koto, the band brings together the sounds of flute, guitar, drums, and voice.
“We’re bringing a vocalist with us who is originally from Ewa Beach, Yvette Nii,” Cornwell said. “She has a beautiful voice.”
It’s been more than a decade since Hiroshima performed at the KCC stage. Cornwell said he and other band members are excited to return to Kauai during their Hawaii tour — which kicks off on Kauai and continues on to the Big Island.
Cornwell said Hiroshima has always been an experimental band, tweaking traditional styles and blending different genres to create new styles of music.
“The music evolves and as music changes throughout the years, we try to incorporate some of the things that are happening now,” Cornwell said. “And everybody comes from a varied background.”
Hiroshima also endeavors to include social commentary in their songs, and that social commentary extends to their name.
“The name Hiroshima conjures up the horrific event that happened (1945 U.S. bombing of the city) back then, but the main reason for picking the name was to look at the positive side of what it meant,” Cornwell said.
He continued: “That’s the rebuilding, the aftermath of the bomb, sort of like a phoenix rising. Hopefully, that’s a positive message that we bring.”
In their popular song, “A Thousand Cranes,” Hiroshima details the story of a little girl who was dying from exposure to the bomb’s radiation.
“Someone told her if you fold a thousand cranes it might help you,” Cornwell said. “She got to 600 when she died and so people everywhere started to fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima.”
He said the band got a chance to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where there is a memorial of paper cranes dedicated to her story.
“When we write a song, we try to include a message,” Cornwell said.
Hiroshima will be at performing 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $45 for general admission and $65 for Gold Circle.
Tickets are available at www.lazarbear.com, at 808-896-4845, or at Kauai Music & Sound, Hanalei Strings, Progressive Expressions, Kauai Harley Davidson, K-Mart, Kukui Grove Shopping Center, Scotty’s Music and Jacqueline On Kauai.