Japanese Music: a small overview

音楽 – Ongaku: music

Sakura – Japanese traditional

Japanese traditional music instruments

Japanese traditional music

There are two types of Japanese traditional music: “Shomyo” and “Gagaku”. Shomyo is the traditional chanting music of Buddhist monks. Gagaku is the orchestral court music. Both can be dated in the Nara and Heian periods. Gagaku was divided in Kangen (instrumental) and Bugaku (dance on Gagaku).


Biwa Hoshi: Biwa playing group of itinerant performers. (telling tales supported by biwa music)

Taiko: Japanese ancient drum music.

Min’yo Folk music: work songs, religious songs, wedding songs, funeral songs, festival songs and children’s songs.

Okinawan Folk songs: Ryukyuan folk: religious songs, dance songs and celebratory music from the Okinawan islands.

Japanese traditional pop music

  • Ryukoka; Japanese music influenced by Western classical music (Ichiro Fujiyama)
  • Kayokyoku: Japanese Westernized pop music (Misora Hibari)
  • Enka: Japanese pop music with Japanese traditional structures (Saburo Kitajima)

Japanese modern music

On this moment, Japan has one of the largest music industries in the world. Due to the gaming and Idols industry, but also thanks to the many subcultures in Japan.

Website with largest database on Japanese pop music: JaME World


Some popular J-Pop bands:



Virtual/Fictional Music Artists

Anime / Game / Film Music

Anime Music – Kimi no Na wa

Anime Music

Game Music

Film Music

Japanese reggae and ska

Japanese Rockabilly