Novmichi Tosa, the Willy Wonka-like figure like genius behind Maywa Denki made a rare US appearance at GR2 in Little Osaka. They were selling the Otamatone, a new instrument/toy that's sort of like a cross between a đàn bầu and a theremin.
Maywa Denki's so-called Nonsense Objects are kind of like a mix of Harry Partch's instruments, Rube Goldberg's overly elaborate machines, a bit of Kenji Kawakami's absurdist Chindōgu filtered through the utilitarian, mid-century futurist spirit (if not the aesthetic) of prop designer Wah Ming Chang.
After the soft-spoken Toshi san signed autographs and demonstrated the pachi-moku and otamatone with stirring renditions of "Greensleeves" and "Amazing Grace," it was all over and I went outside, where a beaming stranger said to me, "Now my life is complete!" as she proudly clutched her new toy.
What follows is my really... avant-garde version of "아리랑" ("Arirang"). Very dissonant and occasionally atonal. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "I don't play accurately -- anyone can play accurately -- but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the otamatone is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."