Gagaku, Japan’s ancient performing arts

09 Nov 2016 in Discover Japan

Come and discover the musical traditions of Japan with Gagaku, inscribed on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.

gagaku-japanese-art

Gagaku, meaning “elegant music”, is an ancient art closely bound up with Japanese culture. Its defining feature is that it combines two art forms: dance (bugaku) and orchestral music (kangengaku). The songs are smooth, very immersive, and linked to a gestural choreography. This artform, performed on the occasion of official ceremonies at the imperial palace and in theatres around the country, has been included on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2009.

Three distinct artistic genres

Traditionnal Gagaku musician

Gagaku is expressed in three ways: kuniburi no Utamai, Tōgaku (or Komagaku in the case of a Korean influence) and Utamono. The first style consists of ancient songs sometimes accompanied by a simple choreography to the sounds of harp and flute. The second is music played chiefly on wind instruments, coupled with a native ritual dance from mainland Asia, adapted by Japanese artists. Finally, the third form of expression combines dance and singing, with music inspired by Japanese popular song and Chinese poems.

Gagaku is handed down from masters to students within the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency. It is a strong cultural vehicle of the Japanese identity, and an important marker of the country’s history. It demonstrates that it is possible for different cultural traditions to be combined and continually renewed as time goes by. To pay tribute to this tradition and give guests an opportunity to discover this authentic artform, HOSHINOYA Tokyo organises concerts several times in a month.

HOSHINOYA Tokyo

HOSHINOYA Tokyo

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