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Sounds of Japan / VARIOUS ARTISTS

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Item#: PMR-102


Japan's traditional instruments have a sound that is deeply mystical, simple, pure, and honest. Based on traditional Japanese music cultivated through a history of living in harmony with nature, Sounds of Japan is an album that colorfully captures the beauty and aesthetic of the East.

Instruments include: shakuhachi(vertical bamboo flute), koto(Japanese zither), wadaiko (Japanese drum), shinobue (Japanese transverse bamboo flute), and others.

Listen to Samples

01. Silver Moon / Naoyuki Onda from Dream
Keyboardist Naoyuki onda gives voice to new Japanese culture using two classical Japanese instruments: the koto (Japanese harp) and the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). This piece was composed, arranged and performed by Onda himself to evoke a still, moonlit night. The mystical tones of the koto represent the awe-inspiring shimmer of the moon.
02. Sea Wind / Mizuyo Komiya from Color
The elegant plucked tones of the piece are by 25-string-koto player Mizuyo Komiya, who started playing the koto at a young age and went on to study western music at the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. Delicate yet dignified, graceful yet powerful.
03. Sakura Mai / Bonten from Ageha
This piece is by wadaiko (Japanese drum) troupe bonten, known for their unique style that adds the element of melody to the rhythm of the taiko. The powerful wadaiko beat and shinobue (Japanese transverse bamboo flute)melody capture the life energy and sadness embodied by the graceful scattering sakura petals, and recreate the enchanting air of sakura trees in full bloom -- leaving a deep, lasting impression. Written and arranged by Kiyoshi Yoshida.
04. Second Image / Uttara-Kuru from East Wind
East meets West in this piece from musical innovators Uttara-Kuru fusing together classical Japanese instruments and traditional melodies with digital sounds created on computer. The koto paints a scene of fluttering snowflakes outside of paper sliding doors.
05. The Mountain Pass / Tone from Tone
This piece is by Tone (pronounced TOH-neh), a trio comprised of shakuhachi, koto, and guitar. Since ancient times dosojin (guardian deity of travelers) have resided in stone markers near mountain passes, where travelers would put their hands together to pray for protection along their journey. They took in the majestic view before them, and rejuvenated, they continued on their trek. Written by Mihoko Ono, the group's koto player.
06. Shinra / Bonten from Bonten
All things are constantly in flux, constantly changing shape and form... Mountains grow dense with trees, insects and animals repeat the cycle of life and death generation after generation. Therein lies an unseen but underling reality that expands ever outward. In this piece the shimedaiko (small high pitched drum) is played by hand rather than drumsticks, to produce a slightly softer sound.
07. Brilliance of Edo / Kiyoshi Yoshida feat. Yukihiko Mitsuka from Warriors
This piece by keyboardist Yoshida Kyoshi evokes the chic, brilliant cityscape of old Edo: the hustle and bustle of the lively streets, the pleasure quarters all made up and decked out. The sound of the shakuhachi is powerful but mysterious, not unlike the passion of a woman.
08. Interlude -Dizi- / Kiyoshi Yoshida feat. Bonten from Asian Drums II
09. Like the Wind / Kiyoshi Yoshida feat. Yukihiko Mitsuka from Warriors
With the shakuhachi at front and center, the backdrop of ethnic percussion, and the six-eight time, this piece has a unique momentum reminiscent of the wind that blows across the Earth. The subtle sounds of the shakuhachi act in concert with the warmth of the percussion, giving the entire piece a continental, border less feel.
10. Tono II / Tone from Tone
The Tono region of Iwate Prefecture is known for its rich folkloric culture that includes many mysterious tales that have been passed down for generations. Even now, the region is full of echoes of the worlds of folklore, with an air that transports you across time and space to a place long past. Written by the group's shakuhachi player, Yukihiko Mitsuka.
11. Another Day / Kiyoshi Yoshida from Asian Drums
A gorgeously colorful piece grounded in the uplifting, euphoric rhythm of the wadaiko beat. Keep your ears peeled for the Tsugaru-shamisen that joins in partway-- the cheerful, lively sound is reminiscent of matsuribayashi (festival ensembles that play music to accompany divine processions).
12. Miroku / Bonten from Gaifu
The feathered robe of the celestial maiden flutters as swirls around her as she climbs higher and higher. Enlightenment, no-mindedness...and salvation. The Bodhisattva's solemn expression soothes us as we continue in search of peace of mind, and ultimately, the sublimation of the soul...The wadaiko drives the beat while the shinobue melody is like a prayer, drawing you towards an ever-distant higher plane of existence.
13. The Sword / Kiyoshi Yoshida feat. Yukihiko Mitsuka from Warriors
In a time long since past, a samurai's katana was more than his weapon -- it was thought to house his soul. It had a weight and a profundity that had been instilled gradually down through bloodlines, across generations, and throughout history itself, and it possessed a mysteriousness luster deeper than the darkest night. This piece was inspired by Japanese sword.
14. Silent Forest II / Bonten from Ageha
They say that if you stand in the woods and listen carefully, you'll hear not only the wind, but also the breath of the trees and insects. The sound of the koto respondents in the air and projects a vivid scene. Written and arranged by shinobue player Rie Nakabayashi.
Like The Wind (Kiyoshi Yoshida) / Compilation album 「日本 Sounds of Japan 」(Official Audio)
  • Bonus:
    CD has Nippon Kodo's incense sample sticks in the hinge section of jewel case.