Is this real life? Canadian musician becomes apprentice to Japan’s world-famous shamisen masters

Musician Norm Nakamura’s movie-like story is a real-life example of how far you can go if you really chase your dreams

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Beautiful shamisen featuring original illustration by Final Fantasy designer now on sale

With its original design of a red-clad female ninja, this shamisen is set to become the collector’s item of the year.

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Sailor Moon’s Moonlight Densetsu as played on traditional Japanese instruments

The classic theme song comes to life in a brand-new way that evokes a different style of “miracle romance.” 

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Final Fantasy VII battle music sounds even better when played on a shamisen【Video】

Raises the possible simile: “That’s as Japanese as Final Fantasy music on a shamisen.”

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Shamisen player, guitarist, and violinist team up for epic impromptu street collaboration 【Video】

They’d never met before, but when they rocked out together they made some incredible music.

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Studio Ghibli’s No-Face appears again on the streets of Japan to rock out on his shamisen 【Video】

Famous anime spirit seems to have gotten even better in the year since his skills were last recorded on video.

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Watch over 20 drones dance in unison with a trio of shamisen players in front of Fuji【Video】

Synchronized blinking drones, Mt. Fuji, and tsugaru-jamisen make for one of the most gorgeous videos we’ve ever seen!

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Six of our favorite songs performed on traditional Japanese instruments to get you to the weekend

From “Shake it off” to “Smooth Criminal”, these Japanese cover songs will definitely have you tapping your toes! 

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Wagakki Band announces second album, due to be released this September

We have great news for all our Wagakki Band fans: The group has officially announced their second album! To be released this September, the record will be titled Yasouemaki and will feature 14 tracks, including some new original songs by the band. Hardcore fans will want to be sure to get a first printing too, as it will included an extra limited-edition song. Read on for more information!

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Famikoto celebrates Nintendo with medley of game music played on traditional instruments【J-Tunes】

It should be no secret that we at RocketNews24 love traditional Japanese music. Whether its Ki&Ki with their tsugaru-jamisen songs or the Wagakki Band with their fusion of vocaloid-inspired rock and traditional instruments, we simply adore the sound. Of course, we’re also fans of Nintendo’s old video games–which is what makes Famikoto one of our favorite discoveries this season!

Check out this group’s music and get ready to take a walk down memory lane with some of Nintendo’s best theme songs!

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Monsters of Shamisen: New music for an old instrument  【J-Tunes】

When it comes to Japanese music, one of the most iconic sounds is that of the tsugaru-jamisen. We’ve written about musicians playing the folk instrument before, but today we have a group with a traditional, but decidedly unique, approach: the three-man group Monsters of Shamisen.

From heavy metal to traditional Japanese music and throat singing, there’s sure to be something here for everyone!

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Rocking out with the Wagakki Band: Giving vocaloids a human voice

While vocaloids like Hatsune Miku are still relatively unknown in the West, they have quite the following in Japan and can be found taking part in everything from live concerts to limited edition smartphones. Though some may worry that the digital singers mean the end of “human” music, so far that’s hardly been the case. In fact, it’s nothing strange to find regular bands performing cover songs of vocaloid originals!

One band has taken the concept a step further by introducing some unique, traditional elements and are garnering quite a bit of attention among Japanese Internet users. Meet the Wagakki Band with Yuko Suzuhana and get ready to rock!

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Ki&Ki: The new face of traditional Japanese music

The world of traditional Japanese music is incredibly varied–there’s exciting min’you folk music, austere gagaku ancient imperial court music, and the ethereal tunes of Noh plays. But one genre in particular stands out among the all others: tsugaru-jamisen.

A fast, lively style of playing born out of min’you as performed by traveling entertainers, tsugaru-jamisen hails from Aomori Prefecture and is the youngest genre of “traditional” Japanese music. And, from Hiromitsu Agatsuma and the late Takahashi Chikuzan to the Yoshida Brothers and Kevin Kmetz, there is no shortage of talented, inspiring performers in the tsugaru-jamisen world.

But for us, one duo in particular stands out: Ki&Ki.

Even if you don’t recognize the name, you may already be familiar with these two incredibly talented young women thanks to their numerous YouTube videos. Recently we got the chance to sit down with the pair to learn a little bit about their history with tsugaru-jamisen.

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