The Japan Foundation organizes performances of Three duos: TsuguKaji-KOTO (koto), OYAMA×NITTA (tsugaru shamisen), and HIDE&MIHO (taiko, percussion) in New York as APAP showcase.  Three duos also tour around Nashville and Atlanta, and in Nashville, the lecture demonstration about the Japanese traditional music will also be held.

Tour Schedule


New York Performance (including pre-concert lecture)
Date: Saturday, January 9, 2010
Venue: Asia Society
Nashville Lecture Demonstration
Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Venue: Belmont University Performance (including pre-concert lecture)
Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Venue: Nashville SymphonySchermerhorn Symphony Center
Atlanta Performance (including pre-concert lecture)
Date: Friday, January 15, 2010
Venue: University of Georgia (UGA) Ramsey Concert Hall


TsuguKaji-KOTO (Tsugumi Yamamoto Ai Kajigano)

WebsiteOfficial Website

TsuguKaji-KOTOFormed 8 years ago, this duo is renowned for its keen attention to the koto's unique sound. Blending song and voice into their sound, they have produced unprecedented contemporary works in collaboration with various composers. Using 13, 17 and 25-string kotos, the duo has woven a repertory of enchanting tunes, bridging the traditional and the contemporary.

[Video Clip] (TsuguKaji-KOTO Website)

Ai Kajigano (koto)

Photo of Ai KajiganoAi Kajigano (koto) studied koto under her mother Ryourei Kajigano, Tadao Sawai and Kazue Sawai and graduated from the NHK Academy for Japanese Traditional Music in 1997. She was selected for the prestigious Agency for Cultural Affairs Internship Program in 2000. She has performed internationally to 18 countries, including the U.S., various countries in Asia, Europe, and Australia, and has also been featured on TV and on radio. She has held three solo recitals, the first of which took place in her home prefecture of Kagoshima (2000); the second, also in Kagoshima was in honor of her winning both the Kagoshima New Talent Competition and Kagoshima Bank Foundation Award (2002); and the third in Tokyo (2005). In addition to her teaching at Sawai Koto school in Tokyo and Kagoshima International University, she actively performs both as a solo player and as a member of Tadao Sawai Ensemble and the koto ensemble Radentai, as well as two groups she founded, CrackHead and TsuguKaji-KOTO.

Website Official Website

Tsugumi Yamamoto (koto)

Photo of Tsugumi YamamotoTsugumi Yamamoto (koto) began studying koto under Shoko Moriya, Katsuhiko Yoshizaki and Keiko Nozaka. She graduated from the NHK Academy for Japanese Traditional Music in 1993 and was selected as the Agency of Cultural Affairs Progressive Artist Research Student in 2002. She won the Copper Award at the National Koto Competition in 1996, and passed the NHK Japanese Traditional Music audition in 1997 and 1998. Her first recital took place in her home city of Kobe in 1999. Since then she has performed numerous live concerts as Tsugumi, collaborating with a wide range of artists across genres. Following her recital on the 25-string koto in Tokyo in 2003, she has performed in concerts for a 25-string and 17-string koto (part of Tokyo Summer Music Festival), two 25-string kotos, and formed the koto groups TsuguKaji-KOTO and Ensemble Hou with whom she has premiered several new compositions. She is now a grandmaster of Ikuta school.

Website Official Website

OYAMA x NITTA (Yutaka Oyama x Masahiro Nitta)

Yutaka Oyama, who hails from Aomori, the epicenter of rich folkloric music, joins forces with Masahiro Nitta from Hokkaido. With both classical and original repertories, they are two of the leading performers in the tsugaru shamisen scene. Their virtuosic improvisations display the versatility of the shamisen.

[Video Clip]

Yutaka Oyama (tsugaru shamisen)

Photo of Yutaka OyamaYutaka Oyama (tsugaru shamisen) is a third generation tsugaru shamisen player of the Oyama School, and started studying the shamisen at a very early age from his grandfather, the head master of Oyama shamisen school. He won at the National Folkloric Music Association’s Tsugaru Shamisen Contest two years in a row in 2001 and 2002. In addition to live performances, he is also active in recordings, TV appearances, and commercials, among other venues.
Through envoy initiatives of the Foreign Ministry and The Japan Foundation, Oyama has performed internationally to such countries as Russia, Morocco, Ghana, Madagascar, Uganda, Greece, Qatar, Singapore, Ukraine, and Lithuania. In 2003, he founded an ensemble around his tsugaru shamisen called soothe with Japanese taiko, guitar, bass and drums; the band has performed live and their music has been used for stage, fashion shows, film, and websites. The band has released three albums to date: Soothing (2004), Habitual (2006) and Bolinho De Arroz (2009).

Website Official Website

Masahiro Nitta (tsugaru shamisen)

Photo of Masahiro NittaMasahiro Nitta (tsugaru shamisen) is a second generation tsugaru shamisen player of the Nitta School who began his study of the shamisen at the age of 14 under his father. In 1998 he won the Tokyo National Tsugaru Shamisen Championship, Junior and Senior High School Division. Following this achievement, he went on to win the Kanagi National Tsugaru Shamisen Championship two years in a row (2000, 2001), as well as the National Tsugaru Shamisen Contest in 2002. He released his first album, Shamisen Kid, in 2000, when he was still in high school. Other albums include Sou (2001), Yuki (2002), Takumi and Wagokoro in 2004, and the rerelease of ra in 2005. Nitta has performed extensively nationally and internationally, including various countries in Asia and Europe, the U.S., Russia. He has formed bands with Minneapolis-based American guitarist Dean Magraw and also performs as a member of Monsters of Shamisen formed with Californian shamisen players Kevin Kmetz and Mike Penny. He is also active in the film industry, both as a musician and as an actor.

Website Official Website


Photo of HIDE&MIHO(HIDE&MIHO)The two taiko soloists reunite once again for this performance as HIDE & MIHO. Each bringing the instruments they specialize in to the spotlight (the chappa and other percussion instruments for HIDE, the taiko for MIHO) they showcase the versatile range of folkloric performing arts.

[Video Clip]

HIDE (percussion)

Photo of HIDEHIDE (percussion) was a member of the internationally acclaimed taiko group KODO based in Sadogashima island with whom he played taiko, sang and danced. After 17 years with the group, he launched his solo career in 2005 as HIDE. Branching out from his taiko playing, he began to garner attention for playing the chappa (small cymbal), and then moved from being a chappa accompanist to soloist. Now he performs and gives workshops all over Japan as Japan’s only chappa soloist. In 2005, he formed the song and koto duo Renovatio and in 2006 the taikopercussion trio Casket, exploring new genres of music. He has drawn attention as the soundmaker for the new century.

MIHO (taiko)

Photo of mihoMIHO (taiko) was one of the original members of the taiko group Kodaijin until she launched her solo career in 1999. In 2002 she began performing with the internationally renowned taiko player Leonard Eto’s taiko ensemble Leopro as one of its core members. In 2006 she formed a new taiko group KUNOICHI with DJ JURI and a 5-person ensemble of guitar, bass, drum, and taiko called BY THE POWERSUPREME. In 2009 she founded eno, a group featuring traditional and indigenous instruments of Japan, Africa and Australia, whose focus is to create a festive atmosphere with their live performances through song dance and taiko. MIHO is also active as a solo performer, performing for numerous events and live concerts.

About the Lecturer

Takafumi Tanaka was born in 1955. In 1987, he founded the monthly magazine Hogaku Journal, and has been continuously working for the promulgation of Japanese traditional music, while settling the various issues associated with it. Tanaka acts as the liaison between artists and devotees and has introduced more than 1,400 titles of CDs and books through the journal and website. In 2001, he organized the Nippon no Oto Festival, which was the largest Japanese traditional music festival of its kind. In 2006, Tanaka founded the Hogaku Association and began publishing a monthly magazine of Japanese traditional instruments called Wagakki Bunka.

Hogaku Journal is available online at www.hogaku.com.

[Contact Us]

Performing Arts Section, Arts and Culture Department, The Japan Foundation
Tel: 03-5369-6063 Fax: 03-5369-6038

Page Top