Otamatone: Nonsensical Musical Instrument by Quirky Art/Music Collective Maywa Denki

A few days ago, I shared a video entitled Thru Tokyo, featuring a collection of sounds from various Tokyo-based musicians. One image in particular caught my attention – that of a man wearing a light-blue outfit, holding what seemed to be a musical note with a smiley face on the end of it.

After looking closer at the credits and doing a little searching, I found out that the man’s name is Novumichi Tosa, and he leads a quirky art/music collective called Maywa Denki. The group takes its name after a company that Tosa’s father used to run, and the outfits mirror a bygone time from Japan’s past:

The costume is designed as a typical working uniform of Japanese electric stores, symbolizing small/medium-sized enterprises that had once supported Japan’s economy during its high-growth period. Its unique style is indicated by a term he uses: for example, each piece of Maywa Denki’s work is called “a product” and a live performance or exhibition is held as “a product demonstration.”

The instrument he’s holding is called an Otamatone, and it’s all sorts of fun. I kind of want one of these guys for Christmas, but perhaps I’ll end up buying them as gifts for my nieces/nephews instead. Check out the instrument in action:

So fun. For a bit more about the group and its “products,” here’s a great behind-the-scenes peek at the Maywa Denki factory:

The Wonderfully Whimsical Instruments of the Maywa Denki Art Group
A Smiley Face Made of Magnets
Disarm: Converting Decommissioned Weapons into Mechanized Musical Instruments, by Pedro Reyes

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