All About Japan

Ken Shimura Rocks the Shamisen

Japanese TV Music Comedy Japanese Commercials

Comedian Ken Shimura is well known for his Bakatono ("Foolish Lord") character, as well as his almost ubiquitous presence on Japanese variety TV shows. What's much less known, however, is that he can apparently rock the shamisen.

Initially appearing as Bakatono to goof around with some instruments, Shimura is suddenly revealed in hakama pants with shamisen in hand, and joined by Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (a.k.a. Sukapara) for a high-impact rendition of "Paradise Has No Border." The track is the commercial song for Kirin Hyoketsu, a highly popular alcoholic beverage made from shochu (distilled liquor akin to light vodka), soda water and fruit juice.

Along with the release of the short web movie on July 12, 2016, it was revealed that Shimura would be joining the nine-member Sukapara for a limited engagement under the moniker "KEN from EVM." EVM stands for East Village Mountain, the English transliteration of Higashimurayama, the region of Tokyo where Shimura was born.