The Festival offers many facets of the Japanese music culture. From the Japanese drum (Taiko), harp (Koto), and flute (Shakuhachi), to the three-stringed instrument (Shamisen/Sangen), you can experience and feel the passion of each of the talented artists as they perform for the audience.

Read about this year’s performers on the 2018 Performer Profiles page.

Preview some of the examples below:

Jiten Taiko
Jiten Taiko

Taiko 太鼓

The easily recognizable heartbeat of any Japanese festival, the sacred taiko drum is said to have been introduced to Japan from China in the fifth and sixth centuries. The powerful drumming was historically used in warfare, in religious ceremonies, in Noh and Kabuki theater, and is now popularly used in celebrations by thousands of taiko groups worldwide. Each year, a variety of dynamic groups play throughout the Cherry Blossom Festival and come together for a special collective performance of their own.

Koto performers
Koto performers

Koto 琴

The koto, or Japanese harp, has 13 strings and is traditionally made from paulownia wood. Originally an instrument of the Imperial Court, the koto has long been a symbol of elegance and tradition. Today, many artists are experimenting with new genres of music like jazz and pop. Listen to the variety of styles new and old, brought to you by these talented schools and performing groups.

Reigen Fujii Shamisen
Reigen Fujii Shamisen

Shamisen 三味線 ・Sangen 三絃

The Shamisen or Sangen is a three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument derived from the Chinese instrument, Sanxian. The players holds a bachi to pluck the strings. The Shamisen varies in shape, depending on the genre. Ths square body is covered with skin in the manner of a banjo and amplifies the sound of the strings. The Shamisen became a popular instrument in the entertainment districts of Japanese cities during the Edo period (17th century).

Shakuhachi 尺八 Flute

The Japanese flute, Shakuhachi, was originally introduced from China to Japan in the 8th century and underwent a resurgence in the early Edo Period. The shakuhachi is traditionally made of bamboo, but versions now exist in ABS plastic and hardwoods. It was used by the monks of the Fuke School of Zen Buddhism in the practice of suizen (blowing meditation).