Revolutionary digital instrument KAGURA is live on Kickstarter!

Original article at DTM Station: (by Ken Fujimoto / in Japanese)


A reimagining of the musical instrument that is nothing less than a revolution in musical performance is upon us with the introduction of KAGURA. KAGURA (available for Windows or Mac) is not just a new piece of music software, but a new way of thinking about the musical instrument.

KAGURA is played in real time using your computer’s camera and monitor that features a completely new performance style with the unique benefit of being able to display what you are playing on stage. It is refreshing to say that KAGURA is very easy to get into and play, without any musical performance or music theory experience necessary, but with practice, still offers high technical musicianship for professionals. Through August 25th, KAGURA will crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Pledge prices start from $30, so I highly recommend taking a look to see what it is all about.

KAGURA – A completely new and inventive musical instrument

KAGURA can be best explained by watching it in action, so take a look at video here.

How about that!? Lead developer Nakamura Shunsuke of SHIKUMI DESIGN did the performance for the video, and does a good job of getting across the instrument’s feel.

I had a chance to demo KAGURA while it was in development, and I can say I had a blast playing it. When you start it up and press play, the computer’s web camera picks you up, so you can see yourself positioned among the song’s instrument sample triggers and sliders.

I had a great time with KAGURA during development. (Even though I look serious here.)

KAGURA is played by touching the various pads and sliders to trigger the different instrument sounds.

For those of you already familiar with digital music systems, the big questions you may have right off the bat will be with latency and detection response, and how well one could actually perform. But I can tell you it performs with aplomb in all these areas.

Each trigger pad can be quantized separately

For example you have an icon pad with a hi-hat on it. Through the camera feed, you touch the pad for a single click, but with the BGM running (although you can turn the BGM off), if your timing isn’t just right, it will sound off beat. Here is where the quantization comes in, so you can set the note to play a 1/8 or 1/16 note or triplet for example. This lets you play the note without being off beat. So for the latency side, I do not see any problem.

The pads and sliders can be adjusted however you like, including screen positioning and size, and sounds can be freely assigned to any of them. WAV files are listed on the right side of the display, and then drag-n-drop to assign the samples to the trigger image icons.

Copy-pasting test with the DTM Station logo

KAGURA comes with preset songs and samples to get started with right away, but you can add your own sounds from your collection, then drop them into the tripper pads for complete personalization.

The DTM Station logo now has a nice ring to it

For a little test, I took the DTM Station logo and threw it up on screen. Then I added an 8bit tremolo for the sound. To put this together, I pasted the logo, drag-n-dropped in the sound, and that was it. Simple enough for anybody. Looks like WAV files and Ogg Vorbis are compatible.

In our test above, I assigned a kick, a snare and a hi-hat to the three pads on the top of the screen, and already I had a playable piece. I didn’t have a back track yet, so pulled up some ACIDized files to put on the Loop function.

Setting the Loop with an ACIDized file. With the tempo matched up, the track is complete

It performed just as I had hoped! KAGURA read the BPM, the beat count and measure, showing them all on screen. This I can use. So now I had the loop running as my BGM, and the pads set up on screen ready to go when I start to move.

I just plugged in a short ACIDized files this time, but the fun starts when you put in your own track to make a full-length song. It wasn’t like playing a piano or guitar, but with the back track there, you can get a good percussion jam going which would be perfect for up on stage.

Drums and percussion are the easiest to get started with, but with the aforementioned sliders, you can move up and down on them to produce phrases for a melodic sound. There is a lot of freedom here, and seems only limited by how far you want to take it.

KAGURA is compatible with a suite of MIDI functions

If we stop here, we could sum up KAGURA as a body motion activated, sample triggering system that is enabled through a webcam. But the bigger point here is KAGURA’s amazing potential to extend beyond all of that.

Clicking the MIDI button on the right lets you assign MIDI NOTEs and MIDI CCs

One way KAGURA does this is with its MIDI tuning options. MIDI Notes can be adjusted to tune your sound just right with the channel, note number, velocity and duration parameters. Through you can play external samples such as those running on another PC. If you are using tools like LoopMIDI, you can play sound samples from different software running on your system.

Control NOTE on/off, MIDI CCs and MIDI Clock through KAGURA

What’s more, the MIDI Control Change can be used to control external devices.

Checking the MIDI clock box synchronizes the clock signal through the MIDI

That means you have a synchronization function through your MIDI you can use in the studio. KAGURA becomes the master for the MIDI clock to sync external devices using a MIDI device. If needed, multiple hook-ups are allowed to sync loops played on KAGURA with AIRA or Volca modules.

And if you are running a DAW like Ableton Live on a separate machine, you can use a MIDI cable to sync it with KAGURA. The options here are endless.

YouTube Preview Image

Plus, if you have an Intel RealSense3D camera on board, you can use gestures to control objects rather than just touching to trigger them. An up or down hand motion can change the tempo, or giving a palm out gesture will let you make a sample to turn into a trigger pad. It gives the impression KAGURA can do pretty much anything.

RealSense3D installed PC. If you look closely, you can see two internal cameras

As a side note, you can get the 3D camera from Intel or licensor at about $100.

KAGURA, while still in development, took home the Grand Prize at the Sonar+D competition this summer, and looks to be gaining world-wide attention. What do you think from what we’ve shown here?

At the recording session for the KAGURA sound samples collection

Now for the price list. The KAGURA Minimal Pack without image icons and sound samples goes for $30. The Starter Samples Pack with an introductory selection of image and sound samples is $60. And the Premium Samples Pack with 20 different sound samples recorded especially for KAGURA is $120. Also available is a PC that comes with a RealSense3D camera installed.

At the current development schedule, KAGURA will be coming out February next year. If you want it, get it now while it’s bargain time!


[Update] 2016.08.09

After the publishing of this article, I pledged for the $60 Starter Samples Pack. Can’t wait for the release!

I am the 89th backer!


– LINK –

KAGURA on Kickstarter




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Next-Gen Musical Instrument KAGURA Takes Grand Prize at Sónar+D Startup Competition 2016

June 21, 2016 , Japan | SHIKUMI DESIGN Inc. won the Grand Prize at the Sónar+D Startup Competition 2016 for their next generation musical instrument, KAGURA. The ceremony took place at the Barcelona event on June 17th, and is the first time the award has gone to a participant from Asia. KAGURA was doubly honored by also receiving a special award from the global angel investor network Keiretsu Forum.


KAGURA won the Grand Prize with high marks for its user-oriented presentation approach, and also took home a special prize as the startup with the most potential for internationalization. A panel of 20 European entrepreneurs, investors and industry professionals choose winners based on not only on creativity and technology, but a wide range of criteria including the viability and scalability of the project. The results are on the Sónar+D Startup Competition website at


KAGURA is the musical instrument for a new age that turns your gestures into music. Creating and performing music are as simple as moving your body. From beginners to professional musicians, in the studio or on stage, KAGURA is the new music tool of choice.


“We are very happy to see Europe so highly value KAGURA for its ability to combine music and technology that transcends language and culture. With various collaborative offers coming into the project, this will be a big step for KAGURA to take it to the global stage.” –SHIKUMI DESIGN director and developer, Shunsuke Nakamura.


Coming off of the Sónar+D Startup Competition Grand Prize win momentum, KAGURA will to continue to push forward into the global market with the launch of a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign this summer.


Free demo version (limited time availability) with sign up:
KAGURA (You Tube):
Dancers Perform KAGURA (You Tube):


Contact Information:
Tetsuhisa Nakamura (Manager)
TEL/FAX: (+81)92-474-0153

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The exhibition of SHIKUMI DESIGN in CANAL CITY


At canal city Hakata SHIKUMI DESIGN had an exhibition at two of the open spaces there. The exhibition was a part of “Focus on Asia : Fukuoka International Film Festival 2014″.
The open spaces location were at the 1F & 2F in city Hakata south building.
The first location exhibit content was detecting face and motion. The content was set to change by a definite period of time.
Kids, adults were moving waving, laughing, after seeing them selves on the screen, the area was full of people who wanted to try the contents.
The other exhibition was in a shape of a hexagon, A total set of six monitors have been arranged to each side, special permission of third-party clients was obtained, our so far designed digital signage and games were exhibited and tried by the shoppers of all ages and many nationalities at Canal city.
The space was full of laughs that gather more and more visitors, the hexagon shaped display allowed more people to participate at the same time with different contents at the same time.

Thanks to Canal city for the great opportunity and wonderful experience ! And thanks to our clients, And big thanks to all of the participants, We are looking forward to have Shikumi design caravan all over Japan, and more!

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The “paintone” Release Event in Apple Store Ginza


At Apple Store Ginza our iOS app paintone releasing event was held on August 19th.
The well known Mr. DJ KOO was the guest of the event, and N.Shunsuke was the representative.
The audiences were from a wide range of age, and some were familiar with our application and some were totally new, after the demonstration and trying it we received a warm complements and comments, such as ( I wish there was such a tool when my kids were younger) and things like ( it so simple and easy, with clear sound) , and more that we were thrilled to hear.
The presentation pointed to the real creativity in each child, and how somewhere on the road of growing the creativity get lost in forming the perfect child to fit the surrounding, forgetting the important part that originality plays in our modern world.
Paintone allow it all, to let your children creativity grows more and more with them, and of course it will be a new tool for you as well to get created and bring some joy around.
To download paintone please go here



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iPhone/iPad App paintone release !


Finally “paintone ” a free app of the iPhone / iPad has been released !!

paintone is a special tool that allows anyone to use it easily with just own voice and fingers.
Just by adding a sound to any photograph you take or picture you draw, with only few steps that even little kids are able to use.
After your work is created, Don’t stop there ! Go internationally and share it with the world!
There is no limits for sounds and pictures …. All wide open!
This application your work will connect to other works, it’s a huge step toward the next-generation of nonverbal communication and native digital users.

Official website here >>
Apple Store (EN) >>
Apple Store (JP) >>


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Digital Signage Award Silver prize !


We got the Silver Award at Digital Signage Awards 2014!
Please check it here.

The awarded work was ” TRF 20th Anniversary Tour Live “! The live production collaboration with TRF’s!
Please check about it here.

The work was awarded for uniting the audiences and the music on stage in a creative interactivity.
Thank you for the opportunity and appreciating of our work.


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EdTech Camp Award First prize !


EdTech Camp Award took place on May 29 and in the “innovator department” Shunsuke was awarded the Excellence Innovator Award!

The two words “Education” and “Technology” were combined to as EdTech.
At the event companies like NTT DoCoMo Ventures, Microsoft, Benesse Corporation were co-hosting the EdTech Camp for the people who have and who are innovate using technology in education scene.
Presentation time was 5 minutes for each Speaker. Shunsuke used about half of the given time showing a video taken for his own daughter playing and creating with the new paintone.

Everyone was very impressed when they figured the girl of 2 years old is mastering the paintone, make happily works. It is a real great digital native generation. One of the judges comment “Please pass the trophy to daughter”.

paintone that was showed here will be released soon! More information, click here! (to get a notice of the release, please register your e-mail address!)

That’s not everything also at this event , at the “idea & Future Division” SHIKUMI DESIGN was a sponsor that presented an award called “mechanism design award”. The award was given to a Mr. Taniguchi a student from Nagano National Collage of technology.

The proposed program GUI environment to create a questionnaire that can feed programming thinking of “Qaramell”. We evaluated this program on how thinking happily using the friendly tool ! We were excited meeting such a thing for first time …! And looking forward to use it.

As for our new paintone, Please stay tuned!

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NICT Entrepreneurs’ Challenge

“Entrepreneur Expo”, is an event that announced a new business (products and services), ICT venture, business matching, business alliances and financing, market expansion and staffing across the country.
After getting the FBDC prize at “NICT Award” in last February we had the opportunity to represent Kyushu district this March at “Entrepreneur Expo”.

Shunsuke present and played “KAGURA for PerC” as usual. The audience reaction was more than satisfying for us, not only they liked it, but also they voted for our contents, and yes! We won the “Audience Award”! We got almost half of the audience votes ! Thank you all !

For more info about this event please check the report about it at NICT organizers site here (only Japanese).

At this stage we are thinking of giving everyone the opportunities to play and enjoy KAGURA for PerC. Please keep on going with us, we are working on these developments !




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“KAGURA for PreC” won the grand prize at Fukuoka Business Digital Contents Award 2014!
That’s not all! We got another 3 prizes!
The NICT Award ( Judge Award )
The Special Award ( DLE Award )
The Audience Award!

We are so honored and happy with these awards that support and inspire us to create more. We are truly looking forward to share our success and “KAGURA for PerC” with all of you.

Thank you all!





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Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge Grand Prize Winner!


Among 2800 works from 16 countries, our work ( KAGURA for PerC ) got the grand prize at Intel® Perceptual Computing Challenge. For this matter we flew to Las Vegas and had a demonstration of our winning work at the 2014 international CES that was held on the 6th of January. After that and during the opening keynote speech of Intel CEO Mr. Brian Krzanich, Nakamura Shunsuke was introduced as a very important innovator to lead the new generation of UI & UX.




YouTube Preview Image


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Microsoft Innovation Award 2013


We got an award of excellence at Microsoft Innovation Award 2013!
More information is here.





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paintone iPad App got the Grand prix and Special prize of FUKUOKA BUSINESS DIGITAL CONTENTS AWARD 2013 !


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iPad App paintone new release

Paintone allows you to combine your drawings with sounds that you can record. Not only that! you can also take a photo, trim it, control the sounds you recorded with the pitch bend.
Let your Original characters come to life on the screen.

Paintone is a simple tool, yet it’s magically widely open to your creativity. Your creativity with Paintone is unlimited, let your imagination lead your creative usage.

With Paintone,

You can make your own picture book, and let your characters and drawings talk and sing!
You can make your special musical instruments!
You can share your original creative work with your kids, and let them add their touch or make their own.

Try it, and let the drawings talk!

Apple Store>>

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