We've seen the wonderful sounds of traditional Japanese instruments fuse old and new in fantastic ways before, with several artists treating us to traditional Japanese instrumental renditions of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal", "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses, and an awesome medley of nostalgic Nintendo music. As Japanese Instrumental Ensemble band Mahora (真秀) is showing us, however, adding Shinto-style fox spirit masks to the mix makes for a killer aesthetic.

Lupin the Third

Mahora is a group of five graduates from the Tokyo University of the Arts, and they've taken to YouTube to show off the awesome sounds of traditional Japanese instruments such as the koto, shamisen, shakuhachi, and 17-string koto. Mahora tells Grape Japan that they originally formed with intention of just having fun, but also are motivated by having the audience enjoy traditional Japanese instruments, and ditching the image those instruments have of being boring. To do this, they apply those instruments to popular modern music from anime, movies, and pop stars. Here's a few that demonstrate how the instruments being used can create a feeling of hearing a song for the first time.

Pirates of the Caribbean

The Secret World of Arrietty

Sakura Nagashi by Utada Hikaru

They hope to gather a following on YouTube, where you can check out more of their videos. Their kitsune fox spirit masks seem to help them stand out quite a bit, and given the refreshing shine we've seen the instruments give to modern hits in the past, they may be on their way. Foxes were said to be the messengers of the Shinto god Inari, so perhaps Mahora looks at themselves as messengers for these overlooked instruments.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.