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陰陽座

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Japan (1999 – present)

陰陽座 (Onmyouza, stylized as Onmyo-za) is a heavy metal band from Japan who released their first commercial album in 1999. They play quite orthodox style heavy metal music mixed with Japanese folk themes and pop music elements. Since their debut, they have appeared in traditional clothing characteristic of Japan’s Heian period.

Their songs mainly deal with oni, yokai, Japanese dragons, etc, but some songs have a more concrete theme and inspiration. For example, Onmyo-za has composed many “Ninpouchou” (Tales of Ninja Magic) songs, which are a tribute to the Japanese author Futaro Yamada and his Ninpouchou series. Kouga Ninpouchou was written for the anime “Basilisk”, whose story is from Futaro Yamada’s “Kouga Ninpouchou”. There are also some other songs inspired by Osamu Tezuka and Kyogoku Natsuhiko. The trilogy “Kumikyoku Yoshitsune” is based on the legend of Japanese ancient tragic hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Each of their stage names has double meaning with a sense of humor. Kuroneko(黒猫) literally means “black cat”, which symbolizes her personality, as well as being a nickname she used before starting Onmyo-za. Matatabi(瞬火) means flashing fire, but it can also be read as a silvervine/catnip (loved by cats). Maneki(招鬼) practically means “summoning oni”, but its reading reminds most Japanese people of maneki neko (beckoning cat). Karukan(狩姦) is not clear in its literal meaning, though Karu(狩) independently means “attacking” or “hunting” and Kan(姦) means evil or debauchery and so forth. However, Karukan when spoken sounds familiar to Japanese people as a brand name of cat food. When written Tora(斗羅) has little literal meaning, but its spoken pronounciation means tiger in Japanese.

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