Photo/IllutrationKabuki actor Nakamura Shido and virtual singer Hatsune Miku dance together on stage in “ChoKabuki: Hanakurabe Senbonzakura.” (Provide by Shochiku Co.)

In a mesmerizing blend of old and new, a stage collaboration between the Kabuki performing art and a digital voice synthesizer hit all the right notes.

It was one of productions recognized in the first-ever "Cool Japan Matching Award" grand prix, which awards excellence in collaborative initiatives between various industries seeking to spread Japanese culture overseas.

The Cabinet Office-led award honored Shochiku Co., a large film studio and Kabuki production company, which fused traditional Kabuki and state-of-the-art digital audio, 3-D animation and projection technologies.

Shochiku undertook the productions, which were held in Japan and the United States in 2016, with support from Dwango Co., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and Panasonic Corp.

“The theater production market is small and to expand it, we need to market globally and appeal to a younger audience," said Shochiku President Junichi Sakomoto, upon receiving the award. "Cooperation with different industries is crucial.”

One production was “ChoKabuki: Hanakurabe Senbonzakura,” a fusion of the centuries-old Kabuki classic “Yoshitsune Senbonzakura” (Yoshitsune and the thousand cherry trees) and “Senbonzakura,” a song produced using singing voice synthesizer Vocaloid. The performance was shown at Makuhari Messe in Chiba in April.

The play featured popular kabuki actor Nakamura Shido and a digital projection of virtual singer Hatsune Miku, who danced together on stage.

“The performance on stage was made possible through the magic of Hatsune Miku," Nakamura said in a video message at the awards ceremony. "I would love for this experience to lead to another opportunity.”

The other production was “Kabuki Lion, Shi-shi-o: The Adventures of the Mystical Lion,” a new Kabuki play that fused actors' performances with digital projection mapping, staged in Las Vegas in May.