Hogaku concert in Canada: TsuguKaji-KOTO+ Akihito Obama+ Makoto Yamamoto

Banner of Hogaku concert in Canada: TsuguKaji-KOTO+ Akihito Obama+ Makoto Yamamoto

The Japan Foundation is organizing a four-city Hogaku tour in Canada, featuring the koto duo TsuguKaji-KOTO with two other Hogaku guest musicians. This tour includes a special performance at the closing event for the special exhibition -JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation." at Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. The group will also tour to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

TsuguKaji-KOTO is a koto duo formed 10 years ago by the talented koto performers Tsugumi Yamamoto and Ai Kajigano. They use 13, 17 and 25-string kotos to freely express their sense of musicality. Their repertory includes traditional as well as contemporary works, drawing out the colorful tones of the koto instrument with their matchless skill. Their original compositions, which layer the sound of koto with their singing and narrative voices, are exceptionally well received in Japan and abroad.

On this tour, two other distinguished performers will join the duo: shakuhachi player Akihito Obama, and taiko percussionist Makoto Yamamoto -- both of whom have extensive performing experience abroad. Adding to the flowing melodies of the koto, the expansive sound of shakuhachi and vibrant rhythm of taiko will create an exquisite harmony and dynamic ensemble. This concert tour with the theme -Tradition and Innovation," will present a contrasting range of classical tradition and the artists" contemporary sensibilities, gracefully bringing together the beautiful world of Hogaku.

Dates and Venues

Date: September 28, 2011 (Wed)
Venue: Telus Studio Theatre (Chan Centre for the Performing Arts)
Co-organizer: Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver
Date: September 30, 2011 (Fri)
Co-organizer: Consulate-General of Japan in Calgary
Date: October 2, 2011 (Sun)
Venue: Canadian Museum of Civilization Theatre
Co-organizer: The Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Canada
Date: October 4, 2011 (Tue)
Venue: Jane Mallet Theatre (St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts)
Co-organizer: Consulate-General of Japan in Toronto



Photo of Ai Kajigano During ten years of collaboration, this duo has lived up to their reputation for 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-stringed Kotos, the duo has woven a repertory of enchanting tunes, bridging the traditional and the contemporary. Since 2001, the TsuguKaji-KOTO has participated every year in the Festival of Japanese Sound. The duo’s live performances took them all over Japan, including Tokyo, Kobe, Ibaragi, Okayama, Kanagawa, Kagoshima, Hiroshima, and Okinawa. In 2010, the duo made its U.S. debut at the Asian Society in New York City, Nashville, and Atlanta on a tour organized by The Japan Foundation, expanding the musical potential of their instruments and voices internationally. Their CD “Katari, Uta, Koto” was released in 2008.

Akihito OBAMA Shakuhachi

Photo of Tsugumi Yamamoto Ai KAJIGANO first learned Koto under her mother, Ryorei Kajigano, then studied with Tadao Sawai and Kazue Sawai. After graduating from the NHK Academy for Japanese Traditional Music in 1997, she was selected for the Agency for Cultural Affairs Internship Program in 2000. She has performed internationally in 18 countries in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America. In addition to various TV and radio appearances, KAJIGANO participated in the sound track recording of the annual NHK national broadcast historical drama. 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 honour of her winning both the Kagoshima New Talent Competition and the Kagoshima Bank Foundation Award (2002); and the third in Tokyo (2005). She is a registered artist under the Vitalization Program for Public Auditoriums and a lecturer at the Sawai Koto Academy and the Kagoshima International University.

Official Website

Tsugumi Yamamoto (Koto, Vocal)

Tsugumi YAMAMOTO egan 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 Progressive Artist Research Student by the Agency of Cultural Affairs 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 YAMAMOTO built her career as a recitalist presenting a live concert series “Tsugumi” collaborating with a wide range of artists even beyond the genres of traditional music. Following the success of her recital on the 25-stringed Koto in Tokyo in 2003, she has performed in concerts for 25-stringed and 17-stringed Koto (part of the Tokyo Summer Music Festival), two 25-string Kotos, and formed her Koto duo TsuguKaji-KOTO and an ensemble Ho with whom she has premiered several new compositions. She is a member of Hogakusha and Shingensha of Ikuta Koto School and a player in the Ikuta Koto School Shingensha Ensemble.

Official Website>

Akihito OBAMA Shakuhachi

Official Website

Photo of Akihito OBAMA Akihito OBAMA was born in Kagawa prefecture in 1975. He studied various styles of Shakuhachi under leading musicians such as Toshimitsu Ishikawa (traditional Shakuhachi) and Satoshi Yoneya (minyo [folk music] Shakuhachi). After graduating from the NHK Academy for Japanese Traditional Music, the premier one-year course for hogaku musicians aspiring to be professional performers, Obama won the Second Annual Shakuhachi Newcomer Competition (2000).
In recent years, Obama draws on his musical experiences and incorporates these influences into his own music. In 2004, Obama recorded his first solo Shakuhachi album "Fukoku [Wind Carvings]" featuring improvised works. During the following year, he undertook a walking pilgrimage concert tour to the eighty-eight temples of Shikoku Island and released his second album "Nami to Tsubaki to [Waves and Camellias] " consisting of his original compositions. In 2010, Obama was invited to the Swedish International Festival of Wind Music holding solo concerts and appearing with local musicians. This was followed by a month-long tour of Europe. In 2011 Obama released a CD entitled "visions", a collaboration with electronic music artist hajimeinoue.
Obama is also involved with various ensembles including a Japanese world music ensemble Tohoibun [A Peculiar Story from the Far East] and the minyo-based Takio Band. He has a hectic national concert schedule in addition to international tours throughout various countries in North America, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. Obama has developed and refined his technique by performing in venues from intimate clubs to large concert halls with artists playing Japanese traditional instruments and Western instruments. This has allowed him to penetrate traditional barriers and discover his own distinct sound.

Makoto YAMAMOTO Taiko and percussion

Official Website

Photo of Makoto YAMAMOTOBorn in Nagano prefecture to the family who carry on the local Taiko tradition known as "Osuwa Taiko", a part of the sacred music at the Great Shrine of Suwa. He started to take Taiko lessons at the age of two and a half, surrounded by his drumming family members, such as his grandfather Daihachi OGUCHI the First (grand master of Osuwa Taiko), his father Mikio Yamamoto (former president of the Osuwa Taiko School), and his mother Tomo Yamamoto. At the age of eight, Yamamoto made his foreign stage debut at the Transportation Expo in Australia in front of 25,000 spectators. He performed at the National Theater of Japan in their program "Taiko of Japan", as well as touring in various countries like France and the U.S.A. His TV appearances include NHKs historical drama "Nobunaga" and he was seen in the film "Heaven and Earth". Yamamoto's family tradition inherited from his parental teachers resulted in his involvement with the Osuwa Taiko Children's Association for which he acted as a head drummer and president. Even today Yamamoto offers his performances to the Great Shrine of Suwa twice a year, on New Year's Day and at the Boat Festival.
A Founding Member of the Nippon Taiko Juku School, he expanded the school's teaching and performing activities nation-wide to include Tokyo and Kanagawa, outgrowing its home in Nagano.
As president of the Nippon Taiko Juku School, he supervises public Taiko programs in Tokyo prefecture as well as the cultural classes in Nagano and Yamanashi for a wide range of participants — school children to grownups. As a solo Taiko performer, in his teen years Yamamoto joined an ensemble of Kitaro (synthesizer), Chi BULGOUDE (morin khuur), and Koichi MINAGAWA (gamelan), playing a magnificent piece, "ASHURA", for a combination of five different kinds of Taiko drums. Since 2009, Yamamoto has been leading a series of live performances called "Waon Kyomei [Echoing Japanese Sounds]", in which musicians collaborate, coming from totally different fields such as drums, Fue flutes, Shakuhachi, Koto, tap dance, pianos, and Gagaku, in order to examine "the possibilities of layers of sounds". In 2009, Yamamoto made his North American debut in New York City and his "ASHURA" performance at the San Francisco International Taiko Festival 2010 deeply impressed the audience gathered from all over the continent. Yamamoto has been invited to perform in Houston and St Louis in fall 2011.

  • Yasunori Kajino: Sound engineer
  • Yusuke Okada: Lighting engineer
  • Rie Yamanuki: Production and Stage manager

[Contact Us]

The Japan Foundation, Arts and Culture Dept., Performing Arts Section
Person in charge:Takeda
Tel. 03-5369-6063 Fax. 03-5369-6038

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