Michael Jackson‘s popularity remains strong world-wide despite his death six years ago, and that includes in Japan. There is no shortage of MJ fans in the country, and many still consider him one of their favorite artists. Of course, with a discography as massive as his, it’s nearly impossible to choose one “most famous” Michael Jackson song, but “Smooth Criminal” is certainly a strong contender. This has resulted in the tune being covered in nearly every genre imaginable, but there’s always room for one more. Especially when it’s played on shakuhachi and koto…even more so when it’s played this well!
The video was apparently recorded at Meguro Gajoen for NHK World Blends and broadcast in February this year, but it became a hit online when it was uploaded to YouTube earlier this month.
The woman playing shakuhachi is Yoshimi Tsujimoto, a professional musician who has performed both internationally and domestically and been a member of various groups. She even studied shakuhachi in university, so there’s no doubt that Yoshimi’s skill are world-class—she even had a hand in recording the music for Final Fantasy XIII-2.
▼ Yoshimi performing solo
Joining the flutist in the video are Erina Ito, playing the koto, and Yuko Watanabe on the 17-string koto. This isn’t Yoshimi’s first time performing with Erina—in fact, they actually play together as a pair in a group called 523 ~Koibumi~, which they formed in university.
▼ A video of one of their performances recorded last year
Yoshimi also performs with the three-person group Yui, whose members play traditional Japanese instruments, including the koto and tsugaru-jamisen in addition to Yoshimi’s shakuhachi. If you enjoyed any of the other videos above, you’re sure to like their music as well.
For those of you living in Japan, be sure to check out Yoshimi’s homepage to find schedule information for a chance to see her perform live.