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Tohoku Remix

The Gem of Folk music culture from Tohoku encounters European Electronics Pulse

The sound of the bamboo flute echoing round the local forests and mountains, the mask dance dedicated to Shinto gods, the passionate beat of the Tsugaru-shamisen roaring in a blizzard. The music of Tohoku, North East Japan, has accompanied the lives of the local people for more than a millennium. For the first time in history the sound of Tohoku now encounters 21-century electronic beats and rhythms.

Tohoku Remix is a project of no other. Powered by an innovative collaboration between two outstanding folk musicians from Tohoku.  Tsugaru- shamisen player Etsuro Ono, and Tsugaru-flute player Bunta Sato explore the sound and stories of Tohoku. 

They visited small villages in Tohoku to meet traditional kagura (神楽, かぐら, “god-entertainment”)  groups . They recorded and edited the sounds unique to each village and carried on  studio works in Tohoku and Europe.  

Tohoku, the North East region of the Japan archipelago, is referred to as a “treasure chest” of folk arts.  People there celebrate seasonal festivals in honour of divine spirits by dancing and playing music. Tohoku Remix explores these authentic arts combining them with the 21st century electronic pulse and rhythms to bring the energy and essence of these regional arts to the ears and eyes of audiences of all ages today.  Tohoku Remix will be  brought to the world soon through live performances and digital streaming.


Profile of Tohoku artists

Etsuro Ono: Tsugaru-jamisen (Traditional three string-banjo from Tsugaru)

Etsuro Ono is regarded as one of the most prominent performers of Tsugaru-jamisen (Traditional three string-banjo) in the world. He is also a composer and arranger, which enable him to explore new aspects of the unique powerful rhythm and sound. He was born and raised in Akita, Tohoku (North East Japan), a gem of folklore and folk music. Later he moved to Tsugaru, just north of Akita, to study with the famed Tsugaru-jamisen master Chisato Yamada. Following his studies, he was a prize-winner at the renowned national Tsugaru-jamisen competition in Hirosaki. Ono has also been a core member of the acclaimed folklore theatre company Warabiza which won many critical accolades on their worldwide tours. In June 2014 Ono released his first album “Nine Stories” comprising original pieces together with traditional offerings.Etsuro has been invited to perform at the best music festivals in the world including Rainforest World Music Festival (Malaysia),  WOMAD (UK, NZ and Australia) and Festival Mawazine, (Morocco).


BUNTA SATOH, Tsugaru-bue (Japanese bamboo flute from Tsugaru) master / Composer

The passionate Tsugaru-bue player Bunta Satoh introduces to the world the history and culture of Tsugaru-bue, a Japanese bamboo flute (fue) from the Tsugaru region of Aomori prefecture. Tsugaru-bue is often played in the local festivals and seasonal ceremonies. One in every six people learns to play it in Tsugaru. Mr. Satoh won First Place as the second youngest winner in the history of the Hayashi (festival music) Contest in Japan. In 2011, he organized a challenge for Guinness World Records with Tsugaru-bue players and set a world record of performing together with 3,742 players.

 Mr. Satoh lives in Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture, and performs throughout the country and internationally. He plays both traditional Japanese music and world music. He performed at the Festival des Cultures du Monde de Gémenos in France in 2013, was featured in a concert in Singapore with the local taiko/Japanese folk dance group Hibikiya in 2014, and was invited to perform with the MuSE Chorus in New York, USA and at the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Arts in Mexico in 2016. In October 2019, Bunta gave a hugely successful solo recital at Carnegie Hall, NY, with guest performers. He also composes for the instrument and organizes workshops to inspire new generation of Tsugaru-bue players. In January 2017 he released his third album, ‘The Wind of Tsugaru’.