Wakyo (Sound of Japan)

Kokin Gumi

Kokin Gumi's second recording is a collection of traditional Japanese music pieces, played on traditional instruments with some new arrangements by Masakazu Yoshizawa.

Contents of Wakyo

  1. SAKURA (Cherry Blossoms)
    This work is undoubtedly the best known and loved of all traditional Japanese pieces. The anonymous composer gives praise to the representative symbol of Japan - the cherry blossom. This new arrangement is in four sections:

    I. A Visual Appreciation
    II. The Flower Viewing Party
    III. Splendor of Evening Viewing
    IV. A Blizzard of Flowers

    This Shakuhachi solo is a work originating during the early 17th century. It has been transmitted by Zen monks at the temple of Itchoken located in Hakata, Kyushu. Unlike the established meditative pieces, this work was performed only in the afternoon to console new monks who had come from large lively cities - such as Osaka. It was played with much spirit and freedom.

  3. KOJO NO TSUKI (Moon Over the Ruined Castle)
    Equally popular as Sakura, Kojo no Tsuki has been sought by many arrangers for various instruments. After completing his university studies, the composer Rentaro Taki traveled to Leipzig, Germany to further his musical pursuits. Unfortunately, he fell ill and had to return to Japan in 1902. He died at the young age of 24, but left a legacy of brilliant compositions.

  4. MARI TO TONOSAMA (The Lord and the Bouncing Ball)
    This humorous children's song by Shimpei Nakayama is based on a fairy tale originating in Wakayama Prefecture. It describes a child happily bouncing a ball which accidentally lands inside of a lordship's palanquin. The procession continues on. The innocent child awaits, hoping that the ball will be returned. However, as the fairy tale evolves, the ball tu rns into a tangerine and thereafter, Wakayama becomes noted as the tangerine capital.

  5. KOBAI (Plum Blossoms)
    During the late 1 9th century, the composer Koson Suzuki was recognized as the founder of Kyogoku Style - the Renaissance revival of Ancient Koto Music.

    The snow sprinkled upon the shore
    turns into glistening water
    and gradually melds into a stream.

    The restless heart yearns to journey
    through purple fields bursting with new leaves
    towards one's love.

    Translated from a poem by Ryukin Susukida

    This particular performance is dedicated to the memory of Yoko Gates.

    This children's song was written at the turn of the century by Koyo Kawamura. An annual festival was held on March 3rd to celebrate Girls' Day. It is now known as the Festival of Dolls when families display special dolls to honor their daughters.

    Tsugaru encompasses the northeast portion of Aomori Prefecture. The music and large shamisen that developed in this region became known as Tsugaru shamisen. Tsuganu Jongara Bushi is one of the most important repertory of the Tsuganu shamisen and begins with an improvisatory introduction. Jongara is the name of a village and the artist describes, through his shamisen, the historical accounts of their existence.

  8. ITSUKI NO KOMORI UTA (The Lullaby of Itsuki)
    Itsuki is a village located in Kumamoto Prefecture. It is believed that the song evolved from this village of Korean potters. It is in 3/4 time - a meter unique to early Korea.

    This song originated in Hida Furukawa approximately 400 years ago. It is a song of celebration. In the song, Zenze means wealth and mamma means rice. It is believed that centuries ago, when a drought fell upon the land, a benevolent lordship saved his people by giving them food and money. The song reflects his kindness by expressing that the joy of human kindness is more important than material things.

Produced by: Masakazu Yoshizawa

Program Notes by Kayoko Wakita and Masakazu Yoshizawa

Selections 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9 arranged by: MASAKAZU YOSHIZAWA

Performed by:
MASAKAZU YOSHIZAWA - Shakuhachi, Shinobue, Hichiriki & Kotsuzumi
TATEO TAKAHASHI - Tsugaru Jamisen & Shime Taiko

Recorded: March 22-April 4,1997 on Roland VS-880

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