Meet the Otamatone, the friendly instrument with a face


The Otamatone is available in five sizes and eight color varieties in varying prices.

Itzel Luna

With its quirky tadpole-like form, Japanese instrument “Otamatone” has gained an audience of intrigued musicians all over the world..

After its launch in 1993 by Meiwa Denkai, a company based in Tokyo that consists of a group of musicians and toy makers, the Otamatone has sold over 120,000 units. Its popularity is mainly held in Japan, but it has travelled all over Asia and the United States.                              

Fascinating the YouTube community, the Otamatone has been played to cover songs like “Smells like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and “Gangnam Style” by PSY. After hearing about it from a student, music teacher Wes Hambright couldn’t help but be curious as to what this instrument was.

“I thought it was really cool so I ordered one.” Hambright said. “I’m no Otamatone virtuoso by any means. I figured out a few tunes and things like that.”

The Otamatone is shaped like a musical note. Sound is produced by sliding a finger up and down the neck. The instrument ends with a Pac-Man-like face that can be squeezed to adjust the pitch. The instrument comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Hambright is the owner of a small black Otamatone, which caught the attention of senior Nathan Moz.

“I was interested in playing it beforehand,” Moz said. “But when Hambright brought it in, I just thought ‘it’s already in front of me, I might as well try.’”

The Otamatone isn’t considered an official part of Daniel Pearl High School’s music class yet, but Moz believes that it would be a great addition.

“The instrument has a certain amount of charm,” Moz said. “I think having more than one playing in unison would be amazing.”