One recent night at Note Cafe, a small coffee shop tucked away on a side street off a shopping arcade in the Jujo district of northern Tokyo, two women and a man sat round a table together. They took out a dozen glass bottles of various sizes, shapes and colors, and placed them on the table.

Time for a toast? Not really, because all the bottles were empty.

But to these members of the group La MARS, all those glass containers — from whiskey miniatures to 1/2-liter milk bottles and prodigious 1.8-liter issho-bin sake bottles — were musical instruments just waiting for them to "play" using their bottle-blowing skills to transform them into unlikely Steinways, Stradivariuses or searing Les Pauls.