What is this band doing with a samurai sword?

Story highlights

  • KAO=S is a Japanese band formed in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami
  • Made up of three members, the band fuses Japanese culture with music
  • Performances include masks, kimonos and samurai sword dancing
  • The trio hope to create a new Japanese style by elevating their live performance
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(CNN)What do you get when you combine Japanese culture, rock and musical theater? Chaos. Or more precisely KAO=S -- a band of spellbinding musicians presenting vivid visual performances unlike anything you may have ever seen.

Following the devastating tsunami in 2011, the trio came together with the mission of creating something beautiful out of the turmoil.
    The result is an unusual musical style that blends the vocals and raw acoustic guitar of frontman Shuji Yamagiri with traditional Japanese instruments like the three-string Tsugaru-shamisen played by a musician known as Jack.
    The two instrumentalists are accompanied by powerful sword dancing from "Lady Samurai," aka Kaori Kawabuchi.
    "Music gives me imagination or inspiration by just listening to it. It's like I tell a story by using my body," Kawabuchi says of dancing with a samurai sword known as a katana.
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    "I get an image from the sound by the (band) members under the conditions on that day, energy given by the audience, and the atmosphere."
    Kawabuchi's energetic sword dancing is a fluid, swift selection of movements that translate the musicians' deeply personal sound into a visual spectacle for the band's growing international audience.
    Since their conception, the band has played several high-profile gigs outside of Japan, including at the venerated annual SXSW music and media festival in Austin, Texas. They've also completed a tour of the United States as well as performed for fans at festivals in Germany and England.
    Band leader Yamagiri adds: "A strength and characteristic of our band is, we have [Kawabuchi] between us, and through her movement, she expresses the feeling of sadness and delight that we try to express in our play, using her body.
    "I think it makes it easier for an overseas audience to understand. She can deliver feminine delicacy and tenderness, and also intensity, which is even stronger than men."
    Watch the video to learn more about how KAO=S is turning their live gigs into a visually stimulating sensory experience.