These tattooed badasses are not, in fact, extras from that bafflingly misguided 47 Ronin movie. They’re the members of the newly-signed Wagakki Band, which combines the chunky guitar chords and shredding of pop metal with traditional Japanese instruments for a totally awesome sound.

While the name Wagakki Band (Literally, “Traditional Japanese Instrument Band”) isn’t going to win any awards for creativity, the group’s head banging videos are a spectacle to behold; Sure to please fans of J-Pop, metal and old-timey Japanese imagery at once.

You might notice from watching the videos that Wagakki Band incorporates modern instruments, including bass, electric guitar and drums, but also utilizes a surprisingly wide range of traditional Japanese instruments, including:

Taiko drums – Already fairly well-known in the West, the taiko drum probably needs the least introduction, especially for anyone with a decent Taiko Drum Master track record.

Tsugaru-Shamisen – Both an instrument and a play style, Tsugaru-Shamisen are a three-stringed guitar-like instrument that’s larger than a normal shamisen, and with thicker strings. It’s distinctively twangy, and if you’ve seen basically any documentary or film set in Japan, you’re probably familiar with its sound.

Shakuhachi – Otherwise known as Japanese flute, shakuhachi are 5-holed wind instruments traditionally played by men wearing funny hats.

Koto – The koto is a sort-of dulcimer style of instrument that’s played across the lap or laid on a stand. Like the taiko drum, this one is also an increasingly common instrument outside of Japan, played most awesomely by David Bowie himself.


Most of the members of Wagakki Band come from deep instrumental backgrounds, with at least one of them attaining the amazingly cool-sounding “master title” of YoZan for being so proficient with the shakuhachi – which we think means he can beat you senseless with it in addition to playing it normally.

Check out a few more of Wagakki Band‘s videos here. If you’re really into what you see, keep in mind their first album is on sale April 23, although we’ll have to get back to you about an international release:

Source: DDN Japan
Feature photo: Official website