Romance on the Streets

Crescendo Time Lover is very easy to find on the streets of Osaka. Wherever they perform they tend to draw the largest crowds, even when nearby heavy metal bands all but drown them out.

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Crescendo Time LoverCrescendo Time Lover’s romantic ballads obviously stir something in the hearts of the people that interrupt their daily lifes to listen to this duo. It is quite remarkable. Low-key romantic music usually doesn’t attract crowds on the streets of Japan.

Vocal Harmonies

Crescendo Time Lover consists of Takahiro Kato (1979) and Akinori Ikeguchi (1980). Their music is strikingly honest: simple lyrics about feelings we all encounter every day performed on piano and vocals. That is all there is to it. But Kato’s and Ikeguchi’s beautiful vocal harmonies and the romantic manner of expressing everyday emotions carry Crescendo Time Lover to a different plain.


The voices and musical ideas of Kato and Ikeguchi make a perfect match. You’d expect they met through music school or by hearing each other in other bands. In reality they met at their part-time jobs at a gasoline stand.

This job seems to attract many creative minds in Japan. Before MORI Chack’s Gloomy became a big hit, Mori also spent some time working at a gasoline stand. The flexible hours make it very easy to wrap the job around gigs and inspirational explosions.

For Ikeguchi it has also been the place to learn to perform. Japanese gasoline stands are high octane places where staff literally run at the first sight of a potential customer. Windows are washed, ashtrays are emptied and other needs are taken care of while the tank is filled up. There is a whirlwind of activity.

As an attendant at a gasoline stand you have to be on your toes all the time while constantly communicating with the customer. Ikeguchi: “Because I was forced to communicate with total strangers it turned me from an introvert into an extrovert. It completely changed my personality.”


Music kind of crept into the lifes of Kato and Ikeguchi. “My father used to play sax and liked jazz a lot,” explains Ikeguchi. “He often took me to Jazz concerts.” One day Ikeguchi’s father took him to see Stevie Wonder. He had no idea who he was watching, but concerts like this one left a big impression on him.

When at a later age he became a fan of Siam Shade, he felt so encouraged by their music he decided to become a musician. “I heard them at a time when I felt awfully depressed. Their music gave me courage and cheered me up. There and then I decided that I too wanted to cheer up and encourage other people.”

Kato was similarly inspired by the band Bowy. “I thought they were real cool, so I also started to write songs. In the beginning I could only hum the melodies, but I soon taught myself to play the piano. I couldn’t read music, so I just trusted my ears.”


Undoubtably these simple beginnings influenced their music philosophy. Kato: “How can I say this…? I want people to listen to my music without having any difficult thoughts. I want them just to listen, to immerse themselves in my music, and then discover themselves.”

These discoveries don’t have to be revolutionary thoughts. “Even something simple like ‘O jeez I spit out chewing gum on the train’ or something like that. Things that are perhaps not right to do, but that we do anyway. I want people to notice their true actions, not the ‘face’ they show to the world.” For Ikeguchi it is even simpler. His main goal is “to encourage others”.

Their simple and straightforward way of thinking about music is also evident in the things they consider most important in life. “Memories, both good and bad ones,” says Ikeuchi immediately. “Because of my past I am the person that I am.” “For me it is time,” explains Kato. “If there is no time, nothing ever gets off the ground.”


Of all their songs, probably none expresses what Crescendo Time Lover is all about as well as Hanabi, Japanese for “Fireworks” (Download mp3 file). The simple yet pervasive melody, the vocal harmonies, the romantic and imaginative telling of a feeling of longing, it all combines to make a beautiful song you want to hear to the end.

In Hanabi, Ikeguchi describes his feelings for the girlfriend he just broke up with. “It felt like a big mistake. I really regretted breaking up with her. I realized nothing was as important to me as she. But she lived 300 kilometers away. It was really difficult for us to make up. So I wrote this song about her being too far away for my hand to reach. That I would instead shoot up fireworks high into the sky so she could see my feelings. I gave her the song and it brought us back together.”

Ikeguchi suddenly stops and blushes. Although he sings the song in front of crowds all the time he is clearly embarrassed when he talks about it.

But neither is embarrassed when it comes to expressing their goals: “We want to become world famous”. They almost say it in unison.


The studio-recorded tracks on their two CD’s unfortunately don’t even come close to their live performances. On the tracks their voices are almost overpowered by the piano. Until they find themselves a better studio it is probably better to first hear them perform on the streets, usually in front of JR Kyobashi Station in Osaka.

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

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