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Listening to Japanese Traditional Music【11 Selections】

TOPBLOGListening to Japanese Traditional Music【11 Selections】

Listening to Japanese Traditional Music【11 Selections】


Here, without delving into complex music theory, intricate genre categorizations, or the history of Japanese music, let's casually listen to the sounds of Japanese traditional music.



Gagaku, with a history of over 1200 years, can be considered classical music not just in Japan but globally.


It is Japan's indigenous music that matured over time with influences from the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese mainland about 1400 years ago and was formalized into its unique Japanese form during the Heian period (794-1185).


What is Gagaku | Introduction



Shomyo involves chanting Buddhist scriptures with melody by monks.

In this video, you can also hear a bit of new Shomyo composed by the talented composer Yasuno Miyauchi.



Noh is a classical performing art that was perfected during the Muromachi period and has developed a unique style over more than 600 years, characterized by Noh masks, musical accompaniment, and a distinct sense of timing.


Okinawan Classical Music

The music of Okinawa, the southernmost part of Japan, has a distinctiveness different from the mainland. Personally, I am a big fan of Okinawan music and own many records, including those by Rinsho Kadekaru.


Jiuta & Jibyoshi

Jiuta is shamisen music performed in Western Japan during the Edo period. It has a history of being composed and performed by blind musicians.


Koto Music

Koto music, or "Sokyoku," refers to music played with the koto. It is broadly divided into the Ikuta and Yamada styles.



There are many types of shamisen, offering a wide variety of music. The Tsugaru shamisen, originating from Aomori Prefecture, is one mentioned here.



Similar in shape to the shamisen, the kokyū is played by bowing the strings. Personally, I find it to be an instrument that embodies the Japanese spirit while also conveying the atmosphere of the Chinese mainland and a sense of sorrow.



A type of woodwind instrument played by blowing directly into the utaguchi (mouthpiece) cut obliquely at the top of the bamboo.

It originally came to Japan from China's Tang dynasty during the Nara period as a Gagaku instrument. Although it disappeared from Gagaku performances in the 12th century, it is said that komuso monks played it in place of sutras during the Edo period, traveling around the country.


Ainu Music

Music by the Ainu, the indigenous people of the northern part of the Japanese archipelago, especially Hokkaido. Personally, I have many favorite artists in Ainu music.



Music from the period following Japan's Paleolithic era. Toshitaka Tsuchitori has researched and released many recordings of music from this era.


We at Drifter wish to connect people from overseas and those who have not been closely associated with Japanese traditional music to the traditional music of Japan.

Recently, we were responsible for arranging and recording traditional Japanese music for the Hollywood drama "SHOGUN," produced by Disney, starring and produced by Hiroyuki Sanada.

Please have a look.