When scrolling through Twitter yesterday, I couldn’t stop seeing this short video published by Al Jazeera English. Clocking in at just under two minutes, it’s a short profile of 82-year-old Sumiko Iwamuro, a dumpling maker who moonlights as a DJ. (The tweet below mislabels her.) She has parlayed her side hustle into viral fame.
By day, this 87-year-old Japanese woman makes dumplings. By night, she's spinning records in Tokyo's red-light district.
Once a month, Iwamuro takes over DecabarZ, a club in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, under the stage name DJ Sumirock. Attracting consistently fervent, youthful crowds, Iwamuro’s set list is a melange of techno, jazz, French chanson, and some classical thrown in there just for good measure.
Iwamuro began DJ-ing in her 70s, encouraged to do so after she had to DJ on the spot for her grown son’s birthday party. In the audience was a French event producer who admired her taste and persuaded her to spend a year in DJ school. She was especially drawn to disc jockeying as a hobby to fill the void of her late husband's death.
But Iwamuro and her brother Masashi have been running a Chinese restaurant for much longer—approximately six decades. The pair inherited the business from their father. Iwamuro attributes the demands of her job (she has to stand all day) to giving her the stamina that allows her to DJ at all.
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At 82, a star is born. Iwamuro’s attracted a spate of coverage well outside Japan over the past few days and, in the process, become a global sensation. Earlier this month, Iwamuro told Reuters that she's had fantasies of gracing New York with her talents. If that happens, you best believe I'll be in the crowd, bopping along to her beats.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.