I love the mix you can get sometimes between modern and traditional music, when the right people are involved. In this case it is heavy metal guitar and Taiko Drums, with the guitar played by Tomoyasu Hotei. The first song is Battle Without Honor or Humanity, the second is Devil’s Sugar, and the setting is live in front of a famous Buddhist temple. If they sound familiar, there is a good reason. The first track alone has appeared in the movies Shin Jinginaki Tatakai (where it originally was used), and then in Kill Bill, Hotel for Dogs, Shrek the Third, Transformers, and Team America: World Police. If you don’t see many movies, it was used in the games Dance Dance Revolution and Gran Turismo HD, as well as a number of TV shows and radio programs.

Taiko Drums are traditional Japanese instruments used in temples and festivals, and often played in groups. Taiko actually means “wide drum” or “great drum” in Nihongo, so calling them Taiko Drums is a bit redundant, but that is the usual English usage. The third track is a traditional Taiko performance and trust me when I say the recording did not capture the depth of sound those drums are producing, nor could your speakers reproduce it. One of the most moving episodes in the 2011 season of J-Melo was their broadcast of the live performance by the surviving members of the Fukushima Taiko competitive team. If you don’t have J-Melo available from your cable company or satellite provider, you can watch it and the rest of the programming online from NHK World; just check their schedule to see when your shows will be on.