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New York group to play traditional Japanese harp and guitar concert in downtown Knoxville

The concert will be on Clinch Avenue on Sunday. Audiences can also register to join a Zoom concert and watch from home.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A group hailing from New York City will play a unique concert in downtown Knoxville on Sunday to celebrate the new year.

The group features Masayo Ishigure, who started playing traditional Japanese instruments when she was 5 years old. Since then, she has expanded her skills and sound. Her koto performances are traditional at their core, but also merge modern kinds of music.

She will be joined by other professional players of the Japanese harp and guitar, called the 'koto' and 'shamisen'. The koto is the national instrument of Japan.

Their performance will be on Clinch Avenue, next to the East Tennessee History Center. The event will be public, and people are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

It starts at 2:15 p.m. and the group will play until 2:45 p.m.

People will also be able to register for a free Zoom concert, so they can enjoy traditional Japanese music from home. That concert starts at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Another event will also kick-off at 4:15 p.m. on Clinch Avenue: traditional mochi making, or 'mochitsuki.' If you've never seen mochi being made, it's an impressive activity using a large mortar and mallets.

There will also be Japanese New Year activities including calligraphy, a Kimono photo booth and traditional toys for children through the day. People will also have a chance to learn how to make traditional Japanese crafts.

The event is organized by the Knox Asian Festival. Anyone who wants to participate can register online.