Who says the sho, a traditional court instrument, is obsolete?!

As we’ve shown you many a time before, there is still a place for traditional Japanese instruments like the shamisen, shakuhachi, and the koto in today’s modern music. In fact it’s almost trendy to use those instruments to play popular music, or at least to feature them in contemporary pop songs.

But what about the sho, a piped instrument first introduced from China in the Nara period (8th century)? It’s an instrument that has been traditionally used in the imperial Japanese court for centuries, but it seems to be overshadowed by the more popular shakuhachi and shamisen. Few people will have ever even heard of it, even though it’s an equally versatile instrument, as comedian and sho player @Catfish_nama has shown with a video of them playing…the fryer alarm at McDonald’s?

“If a Heian Period noble worked at McDonald’s”

Alright, well, perhaps the sho is not quite as harmonious with pop music as the other instruments, but you have to admit, this video gives the pipe instrument a humorous appeal! @Catfish_nama starts off playing the instrument, which sounds like an organ, as if welcoming noble visitors in the Imperial court, but then it suddenly breaks off into a repetitive “we-wo-wee”. If you have ever spent any amount of time in a McDonald’s in Japan, you’ll instantly recognize the notes, since that’s the sound the fryer makes when the french fries are ready.

To add to the humor, @Catfish_nama slides a McDonald’s french fry container around the base of the instrument, making it look like the sho is just made up of giant fries. Mmm. It’s a funny surprise, which Japanese netizens found to be pretty humorous too:

“It went from a noise I thought I’d heard somewhere to a noise I definitely knew lol”
“I never would have expected McDonald’s french fries hahaha”
“Now I can only see french fries where the pipes should be haha”
“Shoot, I shouldn’t have watched this at McDonald’s lol”
“There would be oxcarts at the drive-thru”
“XL French Fries”

Of course, the sho isn’t limited to just two-note sounds! It’s also extremely proficient at playing the Family Mart door chime.

▼ “If a Heian Period noble worked at Family Mart”

It’s pretty funny to imagine a Heian noble, in full garb, standing just inside the doors to Family Mart, playing the jingle every time somebody came in. Or another sounding the alarm by the deep fryer every time the french fries were finished. In fact, they should do both in Kyoto, where the traditions of the old imperial Japanese court are strongest. See, the sho does have modern uses!

Source, featured image: Twitter/@Catfish_nama
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