If you’ve watched Kubo and the Two Strings, chances are you’ll probably already be familiar with a shamisen, a traditional Japanese string instrument. Enter promising young Japanese shamisen player Niya, whom we had the pleasure of meeting at the Hello Hokkaido! Fair.
You may think that the shamisen is old and outdated just because it’s traditional, but Niya wants to dispel that myth. Niya was first introduced to the shamisen when he saw it on TV at age 7, and asked his parents to buy him one for Christmas. They bought him a toy shamisen, but over the next year, he fell so in love with it that his parents went and got him a real one. This shamisen is the same one he’s been using up till today, for 14 years, so it holds a lot of sentimental value.
Now, Niya has just released a new mini-album: VersuS, that fuses traditional shamisen music with strong modern influences, incorporating synths and drums into the tunes. Niya wants to show the world that even traditional music has its place in our world today, and hopes that his music can convince more people to support traditional Japanese music and keep it alive.
Niya’s master died 5 years ago, but left him with some important words. He told him that Niya possessed great gifts and talent, and should use these to the best of his abilities. Now, Niya has taken that baton, and has his own apprentices, never forgetting his master’s motto to ‘keep going, keep playing’. With his talent and drive, Niya’s future looks set to be very bright, and we wish him all the best in spreading the culture and music of the shamisen, and to continue lighting up the world with his music.
Hello Hokkaido! Fair is on till 27 November, 11am-10pm at the Resorts World Convention Centre.