Essay on Effects of Japanese Music and Music in Japanese in Japan

Published: 2021-08-16
1177 words
5 pages
10 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
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The music of Japan involves a wide range of performers in distinct modern as well as traditional styles. The country is regarded as the largest music market in our contemporary world dominated by artists from Japan. Arguably, the traditional music from Japan is very different from western music since it is based on the breathing intervals of human beings but not mathematical timing. Therefore, the paper seeks to demonstrate how Japanese music and music in Japanese Anime has changed and influenced the country as well as other countries.

Foremost, Japanese music has gradually experienced many changes over the years. Ideally, Japan is the most westernized country in the whole of Asia, but the people have guarded and preserved their tradition. For instance, all forms of music have not been interfered with by the civilization that took place in the recent past. Japanese have an unusual tendency of copying facets of the culture of other people and develop them to make them better. Notably, they have integrated several features of Chinese culture between 1500 and 800 years ago (Tokita & Hughes, 2008). Additionally, they have assimilated the technology and culture from the western countries. Their contact with the Chinese people made them assimilate written characters and several Chinese advancements of the time to Japan. Ideally, the influence is greatly felt in the music industry and all the artworks.

Further, China led to changes in the Japanese music in 608-907 AD whereby they were sending monks, musicians, and scholars to China to advance in music skills and knowledge. Changes were witnessed between 7th and 9th century because the Japanese courts changed and looked like the Japanese ones (Tokita & Hughes, 2008). The music industry changed because the Japanese music artists acquired music skills from east, southeast and central Asia. On the return of the musicians in Japan, they brought numerous styles of music and instruments. Therefore, the music instruments from Asia were preferred to that of Japan. Assertively, the music instruments and dancing styles found in contemporary Japanese music industry are of Chinese origin. From 11th century music from Japanese is said to have evolved on its own.

Japanese musical instruments underwent many changes up to date. For instance, the Japanese traditional instruments in the music industry were not brought to Japan the same day. They were introduced gradually. Arguably, the Biwa and the Wogen were the first version of the Koto music which came to the country during the Tang dynasty while the shamisen landed through Okinawa in 1562 (Tame, 1984). Interestingly, the characters wrote the Japanese instrument names in china language. Biwa musical instrument was introduced to Japanese music during the Nara period in the 553-794 AD. The instrument is mostly used by singers of epic stories of historical figures. It is mostly used by blind musicians as it was used as a percussive instrument. Biwa instrument is even today used during music festivals across the world.

Conventionally, Japanese musical forms and aesthetics are currently played just it was a long time ago. The changes in the music industry in Japanese does not prevent people from playing the old-fashioned music. For instance, Gagaku music was brought in Japan during the Tang Dynasty period and is even played today. The musical instruments introduced in the Japan industry like the biwa, the shamisen, and the koto produced solo forms of music which immensely impacted each other (Napier, 2016). The classical Japanese music principle is jo-ha-Kyo which means there is an introduction, an exposition, and denouement. The Japanese music has been greatly shaped by the above principle which originally came from Gakaku. Musical phrases and segments are built on the jo-ha-Kyo principle. Modernization and westernization have gradually brought changes in how musical and art traditions are maintained. For instance, there has been a decline in Japanese traditional music after the World War II.

Moreover, the number of Japanese musicians learning traditional instruments reduced but increased after the 1980s (Napier, 2016). Advocates of Japanese music opine that Japanese those are currently learning the musical instruments are merely modernizing their uses. For instance, the shakuhachi and the koto are undergoing a contemporary modernization of their styles of playing and the music associated with them. Another change is that huge number of westerners are acquiring skills in Japanese instruments, for instance, the shakuhachi. Arguably, the westerns do follow the traditional methods as well as the musical styles strictly than the Japanese.

Nevertheless, Japanese music and music in Japanese Anime has gradually influenced the country as well as other countries in many ways. For instance, Anime started appealing to many people when it was shown on weekly TV which was acted by manga genius Osamu Tenzuka. People across the globe recognize manga culture created by tenzuka and his followers. Arguably, it became very influential and appealed many people who gained popularity. The smooth artistic animation and the deep story made the music to be considered as a movie which influenced world audience hence raising the status of creators. Japanese animators have been sold globally especially that of tenzuka who reached out to markets abroad because of revenues at home (Fukunaga, 2006). The Japanese music influenced many countries who watch their music on their television channels. Further, it has placed Japan in a prestigious status owing that it produces good music than any other country in the world. The music industry has positively influenced the economy of the country since many foreign countries rely on Japan for most of their music thus providing a market for their artistic work.

Manga culture is geared towards adult readers which makes him exercise a monopoly in the production of books unlike comic books from other countries. Anime from Japan is very popular across the globe since it covers 87.2 percent of the total population. The anime Japanese comic books have attracted many people from other countries to watch artistic videos as well as reading the humorous books. The anime titles are appealing many Japanese to watch the movie like songs tirelessly. For instance, the anime is very diverse from recent statistics because most of the titles target a group of fans (Tame, 1984). Many countries have developed strong relationships with Japan because of their rich traditional music as evident in many international television channels.

In conclusion, traditional music has enormously changed Japan which was influenced by western culture. For instance, there has been a strong movement of modernization of traditional arts which has led to declining of the Japanese music because the learning period of the traditional music has been shortened. Arguably, the western musician has prevalently maintained the traditional music of Japanese. Westerners have developed much interest in the Japanese music which has promoted the Japanese music culture across the world.


Fukunaga, N. (2006). Those anime students: Foreign language literacy development through Japanese popular culture. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(3), 206-222.

Napier, S. J. (2016). Anime from Akira to Howl's moving castle: Experiencing contemporary Japanese animation. St. Martin's Griffin.

Tame, D. (1984). The secret power of music (Vol. 110). Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Tokita, A. M., & Hughes, D. W. (2008). Context and change in Japanese music. The AshgateResearchCompaniontoJapaneseMusic, 1-34.


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