Japanese Music

Brief Overview of Japanese Music

Live concert of Japanese music

Japan is the Second Largest Music Market in the World
Japan is the largest physical music market in the world, with 2 billion dollars, and the second largest overall music market include online market, with 2.6 billion dollars as of 2014. Japan has variety of music genres include J-pop, J-rock, J-hip hop, Japanese reggae, Japanese Jazz, Japanoise, Anime Music, Game music, Traditional Minyo, Traditional Wadaiko, Traditional Kagura, Traditional Dengaku, Traditional Gagaku and so on. As Japan is the inventor of Karaoke, you can find Karaoke everywhere in Japan, and you can enjoy and sing almost all the Japanese music in Karaoke. ORICON announces the most influential music ranking in Japan as with the billboard in U.S.A.

GLAY Concert with 200,000 audience in 1990 at Makuhari
J-Rock band "GLAY" Concert with 200,000 audience in 1990 at Makuhari
Southern All Stars Concert in Tokyo Dome with 100,000 audience
Southern All Stars Concert in Tokyo Dome with 100,000 audience
J-Pop Group 'Momokuro' live in Tokyo
J-Pop Group 'Momokuro' live in Tokyo
J-Rock Band B'z Live at Osaka Dome
J-Rock Band B'z Live at Osaka Dome
AKB48 Concert at Nissan Stadium
AKB48 Concert at Nissan Stadium
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Modern Music of Japan

J-Pop and J-Rock

J-Pop concert in Nagoya Dome

Main Stream of Modern Japanese Music
J-pop and J-rock are a musical genre that entered the musical mainstream of Japan in the 1990s. Modern J-pop and J-rock has its roots in traditional Japanese music, but significantly in 1960s pop and rock music, such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys, which led to Japanese rock bands such as Happy End fusing rock with Japanese music in the early 1970s. J-pop and J-rock were further defined by new wave groups in the late 1970s, particularly electronic synthpop band Yellow Magic Orchestra and pop rock band Southern All Stars. The terms were coined by the Japanese media to distinguish Japanese music from foreign music, and now refer to most Japanese popular music. The musical genre has been immensely influential in many other music styles, and hence those of neighboring regions, where the style has been copied by neighboring Asian regions, who have also borrowed the name to form their own musical identities.

Female J-Pop
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Male J-Pop
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Japanese Reggae

Raggae Live at Yokohama Stadium

Strong Connection with Jamaican Reggae
The first reggae band to perform in Japan was The Pioneers who toured in 1975. However it was not until 1979, when Jamaican singer Bob Marley visited Japan on holiday that reggae would gain momentum. Marley wanted to attend a concert by the Flower Travellin Band and when looking for information, he met famed Japanese percussionist "Pecker" who informed him that the group had already disbanded. The two became good friends, and Pecker suggested to Marley the collaboration between acclaimed Japanese and Jamaican artists. This suggestion resulted in the albums Pecker Power, and Instant Rasta being recorded in Jamaica at "Channel One" and "Tuff Gong Studio" in 1980. The albums featured Japanese artists Minako Yoshida, Ryuuichi Sakamoto, Naoya Matsuoka, Shigeharu Mukai, and Akira Sakata, alongside Jamaican artists Augustus Pablo, Sly & Robbie, The Wailers, Rico Rodriguez, Carlton Barrett and Marcia Griffiths. These two albums influenced both Japanese and Jamaican artists, and are regarded as spreading reggae to Japan. Musical relations between Jamaican and Japanese artists continue to remain strong, often with collaborations between artists.

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Japanese Jazz

Japanese Jazz Music

Uniquely Developed Jazz Scene in Japan
Japanese jazz refers to jazz music played by Japanese musicians, or jazz music that is in some way connected to Japan or Japanese culture. In a broader sense, the concept is often used to refer to the history of jazz in Japan. Japan has, according to some estimates, the largest proportion of jazz fans in the world. Attempts at fusing jazz music with aspects of Japanese culture in the United States are commonly termed Asian-American jazz. Japanese jazz had frequently been criticized as derivative, or even as an unworthy imitation of U.S. jazz, both by American and Japanese commentators. In response to the belittling attitude of their audience, Japanese jazz artists began adding a "national flavor" to their work in the 1960s. Expatriate Toshiko Akiyoshi drew on Japanese culture in compositions for the big band she co-led with her husband and long-term collaborator Lew Tabackin. On Kogun (1974) they first utilized traditional instruments, such as the tsuzumi, and Long Yellow Road (1975) features an adaptation of a melody from the Japanese tradition of court music ("Children in the Temple Ground"). Inspired by the analogies Akiyoshi presented to him between jazz music and Zen Buddhism, jazz writer William Minor has suggested that a Zen aesthetic can be perceived in the music of Masahiko Satoh and other Japanese jazz artists.


Classic of Japanoise

One of a Kind Music Style of Japan
Japanoise is a portmanteau of the words "Japanese" and "noise": a term applied to the diverse, prolific, and influential noise music scene of Japan. Primarily popular and active in the 1980s and 1990s but still alive today, the Japanoise scene is defined by a remarkable sense of musical freedom. Some of the most popular groups range from the high-energy free improv stylings of Hijokaidan, the punk demolition of Hanatarash and its subsequent psychedelic Boredoms evolutions, to the tabletop electronics of Incapacitants and Merzbow. Aside from artists often releasing tapes and records in extremely limited quantities, countless side-projects, and collaborations exist within and outside the scene, making the pursuit of Japanoise media an intimidating quest for collectors. Japanoise, and particularly harsh noise, as opposed to some other post-industrial related styles, is often much less aggressively "serious" image-based, being focused more on the sole act of "jamming" as hard, loud or ridiculously as possible.

Anime Music

Anime Music Concert 2015

Japanese Music is developed with Anime Evolution
The opening and credits sequences of most anime television episodes are accompanied by Japanese pop or rock songs, often by reputed bands. They may be written with the series in mind, but are also aimed at the general music market, and therefore often allude only vaguely or not at all to the themes or plot of the series. Pop and rock songs are also sometimes used as incidental music ("insert songs") in an episode, often to highlight particularly important scenes. More often than not, background music is employed as an added flavor to series either to drive story plot lines or to simply to decorate particular scenes and animated sequences. Furthermore, some series offer all applied music available in the form of OST, or original soundtracks.

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Game Music

Game music concert 2016

Attractive Music of Worldwide Famous Game Titles
The first game to take credit for its music was Xevious, also noteworthy for its deeply (at that time) constructed stories. Though many games have had beautiful music to accompany their gameplay, one of the most important games in the history of the video game music is Dragon Quest. Koichi Sugiyama got involved in the project out of pure curiosity and proved that games can have serious soundtracks. Until his involvement, music and sounds were often neglected in the development of video games and programmers with little musical knowledge were forced to write the soundtracks as well. Undaunted by technological limits, Sugiyama worked with only 8 part polyphony to create a soundtrack that would not tire the player despite hours and hours of gameplay. Another well-known author of video game music is Nobuo Uematsu. Even Uematsu's earlier compositions for the game series, Final Fantasy are being arranged for full orchestral score. In 2003, he even took his rock-based tunes from their original MIDI format and created The Black Mages. Yasunori Mitsuda is a highly known composer of such games as Xenogears, Xenosaga Episode I, Chrono Cross, and Chrono Trigger. Koji Kondo, the sound manager for Nintendo, is also prominent on the Japanese game music scene. He is best known for his Zelda and Mario themes.

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See Also
Encyclopedia of Japan