Gagaku, Imperial Court Music & Dance of Japan

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Imperial Gagaku in UK and the Netherlands

In 2012 the musicians and dancers of the Japanese Imperial Gagaku ensemble will visit the UK for the first time in 36 years and The Netherlands for the first time in 12 years.

Experience gagaku, Japanese court music that traces its roots to ancient Japan, China, Korea and beyond. Truly an ancient “world music”.


Gagaku is one of the oldest and most fascinating of the world’s continuous musical traditions. It has been performed by musicians at the Imperial Court in Japan as both entertainment and an essential part of religious rituals since the 7th century. The music and its accompanying dance are also a rich repository of now lost musical traditions. Music from the Sui and T’ang dynasties in China, from Korea, India and south-east Asia, and from the city states along the Silk Road all flowed into Japan from the 6th to 9th centuries, where they absorbed and transmitted as part of the gagaku tradition.

As well as being a unique glimpse into the elegant court culture of early Japan, gagaku’s exquisite, otherworldly harmonies and static structures had an inspirational effect on many 20th century composers including Olivier Messiaen, La Monte Young, Toru Takemitsu, and Lou Harrison.

This is a unique chance to hear the elegant and powerful music of gagaku, performed by its most exceptional exponents – the Music Department of the Imperial Household. The ensemble has been designated as a ‘living national treasure’ by the Japanese government, in recognition of the important of the traditions that it preserves.


Head of the touring company / IHA: Jiro Okuyama

Chief Secretary, Music Department / IHA: Koji Takano

Secretary, Music Department / IHA: Hideaki Ota

Chief Court Musician, Music Department / IHA: Shogo Anzai

Deputy Chief Court Musician, Music Department / IHA: Goro Ikebe, Nagao Okubo

Assistant Chief Court Musician, Music Department / IHA:
  Mitsuhiko Ikebe, Hiroaki Togi, Tadaaki Ono, Satoshi Wakai, Kenji Ue, Suenaga Togi

Former Chief Court Musician / IHA: Hideaki Bunno

Court Musician, Music Department / IHA:
  Hokuto Matsui, Fumihiko Yamada, Sadao Okubo, Hiroki Uehara, Joji Shijo, Motoki Ohara,
  Takanori Koyama, Koso Hirakawa, Yasuaki Bunno, Mizushi Hoshi, Takaaki Iwanami,
  Takeaki Bunno, Yasuo Okubo, Seiichi Masuyama, Sotaro Hisatsune

Stage crew / Ideguchi Co.: Shimpei Sugawara, Naoto Oguri, Yoshikazu Kato, Kazuhiro Kurusu

Wardrobe / Otsuki Co.: Shinichiro Otsuki, Chikashi Hirano, Kaoru Nakajima, Michiko Sawada

Drum technicians / Miyamoto Co.:
  Yamashita keiichi, Keita Hayashi, Daisuke Naito, Naoki Kashima

Interpreter: Yuki Kosuge, Mio Kobayashi, Mary Moreton

Assistant: Yoko Koyama

Tour Producer: Hisashi Itoh