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Japan - Television

This page is a chronicle of all the Japan and solo TV appearances and videos that I know of between 1978 and 1982, both on UK and foreign TV. If you know of any that I have missed, or if you would like to add comments to any section, you can e-mail me with your contribution. I am sorry but I can not trade or sell any of these videos.

Update 3/4/11 - I recommend checking out toolateforheaven's YouTube channel for some excellent quality clips of Japan at the BBC.

New find - Japan performing Adolescent Sex on French TV with David singing live over the backing track

Adolescent Sex on Toppop 1978

1978 - Adolescent Sex promo video clip

The group perform the song (LP version) with various visual FX providing multiple images, a bit like a mad ABBA video. Quite amusing.  Released officially on the Japanese Video Hits DVD.

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1978 - Don't Rain On My Parade promo video clip

Ryan Burger had the following to contribute (thanks Ryan!):

"Late 1978, Japan got exposure in Australia, via national Top 40 Music TV show 'Countdown', who pride itself on breaking such acts as Blondie into the national top ten chart, before any other country in the world.  Thinking that they could do the same for Japan, CD started a light-hearted debate comparing Barbara Streisand's original version to Japan's newly released version of "Don't Rain On My Parade", as well as playing the promo-video.  CD's host/producer Ian "Molly" Meldrum was backing the second at the time. 
Meldrum interviewed Bette Midler for CD, during the time Japan's household status was starting to show signs of promise.  When asked for her opinion about Japan, she expressed humourlessly how she thought they were all "chicks", when she saw one of their album covers.  It's actually an episode that's worth searching for, since Japan and the single was the main topic of show.  That episode of CD, has only had a re-run once, in 1994 on Australian Music television program Rage, which also has played Japan's "Don't Rain On My Parade" promo clip, a number of times during the 1990's.  As for the success of the single "Don't Rain On My Parade", I believe, judging from the episode's top 40 rundown, that it might have reached the top 20.  Anyhow, Japan did become flavour of the month in Australia during 1978, which eventually was to lead towards cult status." 

(Clips from this video also appeared on the Chrysalis Music/Channel 4 programmes "Top Ten" and "Rock N Roll Tales" (see later) and it also appears on the Video Hits DVD.)

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1978 - Communist China promo video clip

This is a fairly basic performance video shot in a studio which is a good example of the colourful, loud and fun early days of the band. They wear the same outfits as for "Don't Rain On My Parade". First a Japan logo appears before the group launch into the song. The camera uses a fisheye lens at times, focusing on David in such a way as he positively leaps out of the TV towards you as he lunges to the microphone. Mick and David dominate, but Rob also gets a good look-in, shaking his head now and then during the good bits. David stomps around the stage a lot, looking hard, with his low slung guitar and blonde mane all over the place. Mick's hair swings from side to side (the way his earring does during Oil On Canvas) and the overall effect is that the band are a super-charged dynamic ball of energy that nobody should mess with. The video ends suddenly on the final note with the Japan logo again. The version of this video that appeard on the Video Hits DVD omits the Japan logo and just displays a blank screen where it would be.

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1978 - Top Pops - Dutch TV show

This clip of Adolescent Sex was broadcast in Japan on a video request show (BS-2 channel) in 2001. Thanks to Michael Mitchell for the images.

1978 - Sometimes I Feel So Low promo video clip

A clip of this was shown during the VH1 Japan documentary.

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6 October 1978 - TV appearance - "Disco 78" Germany

  • Automatic Gun

Good quality copies of this performance are in circulation because the show was syndicated at the dawn of the satellite TV age. It is a pretty standard Top Of The Pops type show, with a brightly coloured set, lots of kids in the audience and early use of cheesy graphics in the intro. The stage is rather small, so Rob, Mick and David stand in a row with Rich to one side and Steve somewhere at the back, practically inside the backdrop. In fact, I think he's leaning against it. Steve is the star of this clip, not for anything he actually does, but for the mirth of seeing him in those glasses, looking like some kind of cross between the first Y.M.O. album cover, Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music, circa 1972) and an X-Files alien.

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4 March 1979 - "11pm" (Japan)


  • The Unconventional

A mimed performance in a TV studio with the group wearing the 1979 tour outfits.

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7 March 1979 - "Interview" (Japan)

A rather shambolic interview (with interruptions from Japanese translators). There are also brief clips of Steve drumming solo at a soundcheck and of the group arriving at a venue in Japan.

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12 March 1979 - Let's Go Young (Japan)

  • European Son
  • Sometimes I Feel So Low

Live performances. Both performances are on the bootleg CD "European Son". Appears to have been filmed in a very large theatre (the Budokan?) but for the TV cameras benefit all the venue lights are on full blast. Lots of shots of screaming girls jumping up and down!

Thanks to Michael Mitchell for the info on this and most of the other Japanese clips.

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April 1979 - Life In Tokyo promo video clip

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29 May 1979 - Dienst Jeugd/Tienerklanken  - Belgian TV

  • Life In Tokyo
  • Automatic Gun
  • Adolescent Sex

For this appearance Japan are wearing the outfits that appear on the Japanese Life In Tokyo cover and the later Quiet Life album. It is an interesting appearance because of the way Sylvian performs. Throughout, he comes across as acting rather happy for a change, bending double during parts of Automatic Gun, the camera panning in to reveal that he is trying to cover up the fact that he is laughing. He also stumbles a few times, while Mick and Rob can be seen to give each other looks and smile at what he is doing. Even Rich nods his head rather a lot at one point. This appearance seems to be a classic example of UK bands doing TV on the continent, enjoying the hospitality, whooping it up and not caring in the belief that nobody important (UK or US press, mums and dads or auntie Maisie) will be watching. Now, thanks to VH1's Beat Club and other such shows, the true horror of such TV is coming back to haunt them.

Thanks to Dirk for some corrections.

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14 March 1980 - Town 5 (Japan)

Another amusing Japanese interview with the group visibly embarassed.

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17 March 1980 - Let's Go Young (Japan)


  • Quiet Life
  • I Second That Emotion

Live performances in a large TV studio or concert venue with lots of screaming fans. 

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March 1980 - Quiet Life promo video clip

This was filmed at one of the London Venue dates in early 1980 and is probably the best known Japan video clip. The soundtrack is the original UK/German 7" version (with Rob's guitar solo but fading out before the final chorus). The video begins with a view of Richards hands at the keyboards before cutting to a shot of the whole stage, cutting back to Rich then a close zoom to Mick for the "Boys!" before David comes in. Each time the band sing "Boys!" there is an exciting zoom in to Rob or Mick, then David, then clips of Rich and Steve. David looks really cool in this video - the classic "Polaroids" look with two-tone hair, blue jacket and tie, legs apart and swaying to the beat. Mick's hair is pink and white, greased back, so he looks pretty similar to later videos. My favourite parts are Rob's guitar solo (this is a good video for him) and the part where David goes "STOP!" and bangs his head forward so his hair gets messed. Then in the same movement he flicks his hair back and it's perfect again! That's cool! Released officially on the Video Hits DVD.

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May 1980 - I Second That Emotion promo video clip

Likewise, this is a fairly well known clip which has been released commercially on a number of UK chart video or nostalgia compilations. It was also shown on Top Of The Pops (BBC TV) when the remixed version of the song went into the UK Top Ten in 1982. Japan are shown playing the song in a white and blue studio, with scant decoration making it appear like some kind of heavenly nightclub. On the Video Hits DVD.

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October 1980 - Gentlemen Take Polaroids & Swing promo video clips

Both appear on the "Instant Pictures" videotape released in the UK. Polaroids was filmed onstage at a soundcheck and Swing was shot in a studio, and is fairly shadowy and atmospheric throughout. Sylvian has immaculate teeth in both of these videos.

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20 December 1980 - "The Old Grey Whistle Test" BBC TV

  • Swing
  • My New Career

Japan's first networked UK TV appearance, with a lengthy but very positive introduction from DJ Annie Nightingale (a woman of taste who would always play Japan on her show). This performance was shown twice in the same week and was also repeated in 1983/84, so there are some good quality tapes in circulation. A good performance. It is interesting that both songs sound different to the other live and studio versions.

This picture taken from the BBC website. So, they must still have this one in the archives then!

24 September 1981 - "Top Of The Pops" BBC TV


  • Quiet Life

This clip has special significance for me as it was the first time I saw and heard Japan.

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10 October 1981 - Mick Karn "flanned" on Tiswas. ITV.

Classic trash TV. Mick is trying to look and sound his best - despite the fact that he had been called in at the last minute and had not slept. He is sitting amidst a load of kids and Sally James is trying to interrogate him about his "sculpturing" (without much response, Mick is not very talkative). Then he gets flanned before they play the "Quiet Life" video! Interestingly, Mick was appearing as a favour for someone else who had dropped out at the last minute - imagine if Sylvian had been flanned?

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September 1981 - Sounds  - Australia

Info from Tony: "I have footage of Sylvian and Jansen being interviewed by Australian TV in what i guess to be around late '81.  David talks about a recent illness which put him in hospital, the album they are currently working on; "Tin Drum" and their vague plans to visit Australia.  I have a feeling the interview is filmed at AIR studios."

Having now seen the footage I can add the following - Steve and David are promoting the Australian "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" album. David says he thought of the song title first, then built the song and album up from there. He says he does not believe in pop videos as they can limit the imagination of the viewer. Steve says they are recording "Tin Drum" and hope to finish it "in about a month and a half", which puts this show at about September 1981. David says that they had hoped to visit Australia but his illness meant that they could not (he went into hospital the day after the Hammersmith Odeon concert on 17th May 81).

Info from John Hewitt - This show was on Channel 7 - Sounds was a Saturday morning music show hosted by Donny Sutherland. Aswell as the interview, the video of "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" was played.


Visions Of China promo video clip

Available on the "Instant Pictures" video tape. This clip was voted one of the top 50 all-time best videos by Record Mirror in 1985.

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20 November 1981 - "Oxford Road Show" BBC TV

  • Quiet Life
  • Visions Of China
  • Cantonese Boy

The group look very relaxed and all appear to be enjoying this show. David smiles a lot throughout, perhaps relishing the chance to shock the audience with the contrast between Quiet Life and the Tin Drum material. Cantonese Boy is an interesting choice. Elsewhere on the site you will read an interview where the band state that Virgin did not want to release Ghosts as a single, so was Cantonese Boy planned to be the next one at this early stage? If you have this clip, listen to the drums on Visions Of China - just before the drum solo the tape cuts out and you can hear Steve pounding away live, making a very interesting racket that would have done as a remix. For this performance, David wears a red checked shirt and during Cantonese Boy puts on his round "Lennon" specs.

This edition of the show marked the TV debut of Ade Edmonson and Rik Mayall, appearing as "20th Century Coyote" (thanks to Dave Johnson)

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1982 - Sylvian on Warhol's TV show (USA)

More info required.


1982 - Sylvian VJ's on MTV (USA)

Information from Greg Huerter:

"I remember the David interview segment being very quiet with long moments of silence before someone spoke again.  I do recall seeing one of those "I want my MTV"  promos with David saying "Hi I'm David Sylvian from Japan you are watching MTV with a quick flash to the visions of china video.  As far as I know MTV in the USA only showed visions of china  it was the only Japan  video I have ever seen.  I watched MTV almost every day its first year of operation and saw the video maybe three times  the most significant time being when Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes of duran duran played it.  Nick talked about how Japan was his favorite band and tin drum was an amazing album.  I thought it was great that he went out of his way to promote Japan in the USA  and it gave them great exposure because there guest VJ  spot was in prime time and the only time I saw visions of china before that was late at night.  I often wonder what would have happened if Japan had stuck together and tried to conquer America with the backing of hugely popular duran duran."


4 March 1982 - "The Old Grey Whistle Test" BBC TV

  • Ghosts
  • Cantonese Boy

With Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Rhodes

This performance took place when they were recording Bamboo Music. Ghosts is a new version, unique to this performance, allegedly re-arranged by Sakamoto. David Rhodes had been Japan's guitarist for the Visions Of China tour, but by the next tour had been replaced by Masami Tsuchiya. The band look pretty glum during this performance, which took place during a pretty dark period in the group's history. Ghosts is available on the Best Of The Old Grey Whistle Test DVD.

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11 March 1982 - Mick Karn and Angie Bowie on "The Old Grey Whistle Test" BBCTV


Mick plays some basslines later heard on his debut album and Angie reads some of her poetry. It was all improvised and arranged on the spur of the moment after Japan's appearance the week before. At the time, Angie had business connections with Japan and NOMIS, and she particularly began to socialise with Mick. The Sun (with publicist supreme Connie's help no doubt) even suggested there might be a romance on the cards.

Mick and Angie

18 March 1982 - "Top Of The Pops" BBC TV

  • Ghosts

This appearance was well staged by whoever organised it. During suitable parts of the song David's face melts into a ghostly image and dry ice surrounds everything, making you forget that the whole of the TOTP hubbub is surrounding them. A lot of you will remember this well. It's a legendary clip, good enough to work as a video.

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June 1982 - "Top Of The Pops" BBC TV

  • Cantonese Boy

During this clip things seem very grim indeed. David looks unwell, pale with unkempt hair, standing apart from the rest, cocooned in his long coat, holding his arms in a protective way. He does not look at the camera, just straight ahead, ignoring the audience, who are a strange bunch dressed up like extras from Fame. I remember my Dad criticising the music for being too strange and also Steve's hair, so of course I had to make sure I played it all the time after that.

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Sylvian & Sakamoto - Bamboo Music promo video clip

Never shown outside Japan. Some stills appeared in the Sons Of Pioneers tour programme, the fanzine "Bamboo" and the Japanese magazine "Viva Rock".

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1982 - Mick Karn as a contestant on "Pop Quiz" - BBCTV  

Mick Karn - Sensitive & The Sound Of Waves promo video clips

Co-starring Hazel O Connor and shown on British TV. Mick made several TV appearances at this time to promote "Titles". If anyone has any more of these videos I would appreciate some grabs. The shots above are from the few seconds I have of each (Dave Jensen not included).

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Nightporter promo video clip

Available on the Instant Pictures videotape. Only features Sylvian and Karn.

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1982 - Mick Karn/Japan feature on Midland ATV News  

22 October 1982 - Old Grey Whistle Test

  • Nightporter
  • The Art Of Parties

On it's first showing, The Art Of Parties was faded out during the closing credits, but on the repeat showing (24/10/82) the full version was shown. Nightporter was also repeated during the 1982/1983 New Years Eve show and during the 1989/1990 New Year show. Masami goes absolutely mental during "Art Of Parties"!

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October 1982 - French and German TV

The group are shown performing "The Art Of Parties" and "Gentlemen Take Polaroids" live on stage. Details are sketchy, but this may have been filmed at Le Palace in Paris. Thanks Tony!


December 1982 - David Sylvian on "Riverside"


  • The Other Side Of Life (acoustic)
  • Ghosts (acoustic)
  • interview where he talks about Japan splitting up
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The Secrets of Japan (VH1 Germany, 1996)

2 hour documentary featuring many video clips and interviews with Sylvian, Karn, Jansen and Barbieri.

Top Ten (Channel 4 UK, 13/3/99) & Rock N Roll Tales

Featuring clips of Don't Rain On My Parade, I Second That Emotion, Visions Of China, Ghosts and The Shallow Pool by JBK. Further interview segments, and a different clip from Don't Rain appeared during "The Biz" edition of Rock N Roll Tales.

Don't rain on my parade: web design and content 1996 -2011  Paul Rymer unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved. This is a fan appreciation site and is not affiliated to any of the record companies who have released material by Japan. It has not always been possible to establish who the copyright owner is for all of the material on this website. Please feel free to contact the webmaster with any questions.