Japanese ethnic/folk/rock fusion

Courtesy of a link at Christopher Burg’s blog, I learned of the existence of the Wagakki Band, which according to Wikipedia “fuse[s] Vocaloid songs with wagakki (traditional Japanese musical instruments) and Western rock”.  I listened to the song he provided, and found it intriguing:  so I tried to learn more about the group.  It’s relatively new, having only been in existence for three years and produced two albums so far.

(Click the image for a larger view)

The band’s Web site is heavy on flash imagery, but doesn’t provide much detail.  However, there are a number of their music videos on YouTube.  For your entertainment, here are two of them.  Since I don’t speak or understand Japanese, I can’t tell you what they’re about:  but the combination of traditional and electronic instruments, as well as the nasal, wailing Japanese singing, produces a unique musical expression.  See what you think.

If anyone can point us to sources with more information about the band, I’d be grateful.



  1. (WARNING – old guy comment) It is kind of interesting, but the videos with their typical half-second clips of the musicians lose me. We used to joke that the trailers for movies would change scenes every second, you could tap out timing with your foot. Now a full second is long dwell.

    I'd like to see each of them playing their instruments for at least a few seconds. I don't understand the Japanese instruments so that could be a learning thing. The guitar and bass are conventional western instruments, but I can't tell if they're tuned differently.

    I looked up vocaloid and thought that would be worse than autotune, but at least in the first video, the girl sure appeared to really be singing.

  2. Does Japan have Airsoft versions of samurai swords? IIRC, swords are not allowed to be personally owned there. If real, they must be kept in a museum.

  3. @Peter & Graybeard,


    They start after the 6m mark. At 15.40 you have some demostration about the skill o fthe individual players. Got this video through someone on youtube posting a selection of it.


    Not quite. Swords are cultural artifacts. You can, even as a foreigner, get one and have it exported. As long as you have the papers for it. And you can certainly have one yourself in Japan. You can't "open carry" but you can transport it to your practice. Also, there are _private_ museums with scores of them.

    Then, there are _some_ swords you're NOT going to get the export license for. But I've personally seen on sale, in Japan, XIXth century swords. I think I saw a couple older ones, but I'm not 100% sure.

    I don't want to clutter this with data, but feel free to ask.

    Take care.


  4. It is possible for anyone to own antique Japanese swords and have them sent to any country that allows importation of weapons. It is also possible to own a modern Yamoto Nohonto (Japanese Sword that is made in Japan in the traditional manner) and have it shipped anywhere in the world that allows weapons ownership. BUT: Bring your gold card and be ready to pony up the geld, because the sword WILL come at a dear price. (minimum 5000 to 10000 +++ USD for a bottom rung Japanese made sword) They can go WAY up from there for a renowned maker. If you don't want to shell out the big bucks try Paul Chen- Hanwee Forge you can get a "beater" for 300 to 900 bucks. — I love this music and have been following them for a while. If you like Japanese bands try Stereo Pony/Even Pony/Draft king (all the same. A girl band with an ever changing lineup. They add or subtract a member, NAME CHANGE! POOF!) The girls rock when they want too. —Ray

  5. Anon,

    sort of, sort of not. I'm told by people who raise some extra income from those things tat you can get more or less standard 19th century blades around 2000+ USD, papers included. Not spare change, but not that different from some current US made knives.

    Of course, that's a start.

    Take care.

  6. The oldest blade I have seen for sale in the last month was a documented Tonto made around 1300AD. I have seen documented swords from the 1400's 1500's 1600's 1700' 1800's and early 20th century's, all for sale with documentation, and all for sale within the last 30 days. I don't know where you get your information Shugyosha-san, but I assure that my information is up to date and accurate. The economic crash in Japan has flooded the market with antique and modern Japanese swords, and while not cheep by any means,Real Nohanto's are easy to find with even a brief internet search. And FYI: 2000USD will just cover one of the better Chinese made "Japanese Swords" offered on the internet. If you know of anyone in Japan willing to make a real Katana at that price let me know. But as I follow this market closely, I don't think you will.—Ray

  7. Thanks to NHK TV, I got to see some back ground information on the group. It is an fascinating group with a interesting sound.

  8. Anon,

    I don't know if I can quote my 2500 USD source, and I _might_ be about 1000 low on that.

    BUT http://www.japanesesword.net/ANTIQUE_JAPANESE_SWORD_s/39.htm

    This is certainly not the cheapest store available. Personally I find their store overpriced and catering to the MA tourist. I think I recall 200K items when I was there but, again, my memory might be wrong (and the yen was cheaper back then).

    Take care.

  9. There is an interview with the band here. I believe this is the original recording of "Senbonzakura" "sung" by Hatsune Miku, with a translation of the lyrics.

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