The Watanabes have about as much in common with the popular Japanese surname as the English band The Smiths have with, well, Smith. The 80s English band once said “[The Smiths] was the most ordinary name and I thought it was time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces.” And it’s with a similar dedication that British brothers Duncan and Selwyn Walsh decided to form the Watanabes and establish Japan as both their base and muse.
Active in the music scene since 2005, the Watanabes are an indie folk band who blend Simon and Garfunkel-esque melodies with the Japanese experience. It’s as if Belle and Sebastion were airlifted out of Scotland and dropped in the center of Tokyo. The brothers are often joined by Ayumi Sato on bass, Tomoyuki Yamada on drums and Lensei Nishizawa on piano.
The music is lovely but the videos, too, are essential watching for any fan of Tokyo as the band routinely films along rivers and in streets and parks that Tokyoites may recognize. Their most recent video Over Romantic is embedded above.
I would also recommend checking out some of their older stuff like Yuriko Yuriko (below). The Watanabes play live gigs around Tokyo several times a year so check them out if you’re around.