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Hobo Nichi Presents: Professor Sakamoto, 8-Bit Music Master

June 30, 2011

It’s 8:00 PM, do you know where your live Itoi Ustream channel is?

In bed, of course! Because everyone in North America is going to start waking up for work and school soon.

Tonight starting at 9:30 PM local Japan time, Shigesato Itoi’s company (Hobo Nichi Itoi Shinbun) will be hosting a live concert by Prof. Sakamoto: Salaryman by day, 8-Bit Music Mastermind by night. Prof. Sakamoto is a musician who wears a cape, slick shades, and–most importantly–a functioning Famicom on his head. When a famicom cartridge is inserted into his head, he plays music from that game. It’s a fabulous superpower to have, and fit for a Japanese Salaryman King.

And if that weren’t enough to warrant superhero status, Prof. Sakamoto has a gift for picking up notes. He can listen to a song and simultaneously write out the sheet music for it, then play it back perfectly.

Music blog Original Sound Version has posted a show of his featuring Earthbound and Chrono Trigger music. Here are some other clips of him in action:


Playing the Mario sound effects and music live in replacement for the game’s own sound. BONUS: He has to blow into the cartridge just to get it to work.


Playing a MOTHER music medley live in concert.

He also has a YouTube channel of his own, featured here.

While Prof. Sakamoto’s scene is video game music, he was meeting with Itoi’s office at one point to discuss promotion events and the topic of J-Rock came up once Sakamoto metioned he had played drums during his school years. He often played music by L’Arc en Ciel, Luna Sea, B’z, and X Japan, to name a few. When the staff asked him to play a J-Rock song, they realized the 8-bit style was making all these old rock songs sound like video game music.

Well, that led to the concert we are presented with tonight–a 90’s J-Rock cover song special. For those of you who enjoy some classic rockin’ Japanese tunes with a Famicom flair, your day in the sun has finally come!

Pictures from the event:

The concert featured special Guest Miu Sakamoto (坂本美雨), musician and daughter of Ryuichi Sakamoto. She had the “honor” of inserting the MOTHER cartridge into Prof. Sakamoto’s Famicom, but not before the obligatory dust-blow. They collaborated on two songs over the night and Miu sang the lyrics. Another two times throughout the night, Prof. Sakamoto looked up a song request he didn’t know on YouTube, whereupon he proceeded to listen to the song and write out the sheet music in the five minutes it took the song to end, and then performed the song perfectly. In the end, 11:30 PM rolled around and they commented on how we all have work tomorrow, so it was time to call it a night.

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From → Events, Japan

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