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ParaFes 2018: 6,000 Audience Get Together with Paralympians, Olympians and Artists! (Part II)

The “ParaFes 2018 – UNLOCK YOURSELF” event was held at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza on November 23. 6,000 people—a record number—showed up at this third installment of the event, which is hosted by the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center (Parasapo). This year, Olympians and Parasapo Special Supporters joined in on the action, in addition to the usual para-athletes and artists, to make the event even more amped-up and exciting than the year before.

Awe-Inspiring Performances by Giants of the Music Industry

With the audience all revved up and excited for parasports, the event shifted to its greatest defining show, the “ParaFes UNLOCK LIVE.” This live event, unique to ParaFes, features performances by blind singer-songwriter Koshi Kishita, who has performed at the event since its inception, Johnatha Bastos, an artist with no arms, and blind drummer Hibiki Sakai. Afterwards, popular artist May J. emerged onto the stage for a powerful collaboration with all three artists.

There was also a “blind concert,” where the audience was asked to wear eye masks and experience the music’s vibrations in their souls

Kishita’s delicate, yet dynamic voice and piano, singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” echoed through the now silent venue

Bastos, who came under attention after his performance in the Closing Ceremony for the Rio 2016 Paralympics, played “Just The Way You Are” on the guitar with his feet, inviting the audience wordlessly to clap along

The beautiful sound of his guitar captivated the audience, much like his awe-inspiring performance the previous year

Blind drummer Sakai, a sixth-grader, performed for the first time at ParaFes, bringing the event to the next level with his performance

The four artists performed “This Is Me” in a special session, only for this event

May J., as if to answer to the passion of Kishita, Bastos, and Sakai, also gave the performance her all

The four artists from “UNLOCK LIVE” also spoke with the Special Supporters in a talk-show style conversation on-stage

“I want to go on tour with all of us!” said May J.

Special Supporter Inagaki also joined the event after finishing up a play he is a part of, saying, “I just got here, but I’m already feeling so inspired”

The Special Live, the climax of the show, had popular singer-songwriter Motohiro Hata performing three songs — “Ai”, “Uroko”, and “Himawari no Yakusoku”.

As he played “Himawari no Yakusoku,” all the event’s performers came up on stage, and the audience was bathed in yellow light, as if sunflowers had actually bloomed inside of the venue.

All the performers came together to sing “Himawari no Yakusoku”

And finally, when the parasports support song “Ameagari no Step” came on through the speakers, the audience erupted in its loudest cheers yet. Inagaki, Kusanagi, and Katori took to their positions, grabbed their mics, and performed the song, bringing the performers and audience together as one.

Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori, who have come to be known for their work in parasports

Lower House member Seiko Noda also participated in the finale, amongst others

The crowd came together as one in a celebration of ParaFes, waving their light pens back and forth, with some people in the back even standing up to enjoy the show

The theme of this year’s ParaFes was “Serious Match.” ParaFes 2018, with the energy of its athletes, all vying to be the best in their sports, and the artists that wanted as much as possible to liven up the Paralympics with the power of music, most certainly won over the hearts of the audience that day.

Serious Match
Taekwondo: Chikara Ito vs. Yusuke Hoshino
Table Tennis: Koyo Iwabuchi vs. Maharu Yoshimura (Olympian)
Wheelchair Fencing: Shintaro Kano vs. Ryo Miyake (Olympian)

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Koshi Kishita
“Just The Way You Are” by Johnatha Bastos, Hibiki Sakai, May J.
“Isn’t She Lovely” by Koshi Kishita, Johnatha Bastos, Hibiki Sakai
“This Is Me” by Koshi Kishita, Johnatha Bastos, Hibiki Sakai, May J.

“Ai”, “Uroko”, “Himawari no Yakusoku” by Motohiro Hata

Grand Finale
“Ameagari no Step” by Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Shingo Katori

*Honorifics omitted

text by Asuka Senaga
photo by Hiroki Nishimura, X-1

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