Last updated
Casiopea/Casiopea 3rd
Origin Tokyo, Japan
Genres Jazz fusion
Years active1976–2006, 2012–present
Associated acts Jimsaku, Ottottrio, T-Square
Members Issei Noro
Kiyomi Otaka
Yoshihiro Naruse
Akira Jimbo
Past membersHidehiko Koike
Minoru Mukaiya
Tetsuo Sakurai
Takashi Sasaki
Masaaki Hiyama
Noriaki Kumagai

Casiopea, also known as Casiopea 3rd(カシオペア,Kashiopea, derived from the name of the constellation Cassiopeia), is a Japanese jazz fusion band formed in 1976 by guitarist Issei Noro, bassist Tetsuo Sakurai, and keyboardist Hidehiko Koike. In 1977, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya and drummer Takashi Sasaki joined, leaving out Hidehiko. They recorded their debut album Casiopea (1979) with guest appearances by American jazz musicians Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, and David Sanborn. In 1980, Sasaki was replaced by Akira Jimbo. Casiopea has released over 30 albums in Japan and around the world.

Cassiopeia (constellation) Constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere

Cassiopeia is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the vain queen Cassiopeia in Greek mythology, who boasted about her unrivaled beauty. Cassiopeia was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. It is easily recognizable due to its distinctive 'W' shape, formed by five bright stars. It is opposite Ursa Major. In northern locations above latitude 34ºN it is visible year-round and in the (sub)tropics it can be seen at its clearest from September to early November. Even in low southern latitudes below 25ºS it can be seen low in the North.

Jazz fusion music genre

Jazz fusion is a music genre that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm and blues. Electric guitars, amplifiers, and keyboards that were popular in rock and roll started to be used by jazz musicians, particularly those who had grown up listening to rock and roll.

Issei Noro is a Japanese jazz fusion guitarist who is one of the founding members and the main composer of the band Casiopea. He has released 6 solo albums and a compilation. He also works as an instructor of a guitar clinic, and as a producer.



The first label to sign them was Alfa Records, which released their album Casiopea . "Galactic Funk" appeared on their 1981 album Cross Point (1981) with ten different versions recorded both live and in studio. The album Eyes of the Mind was released in the United States in 1981. They then released Mint Jams (1982), followed during the same year by 4x4 , which was recorded with Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, and Don Grusin. The band's first overseas concert was in the United Kingdom in 1983. The band has toured Europe, South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

Alfa Records record label from Japan

Alfa Records Inc., originally a publisher known as Alfa Music Ltd. and later succeeded by record company Alfa Music Inc., was established in 1969 by composer and record producer Kunihiko Murai. It was formed into an independent record label known as Alfa Records in 1977. A short-lived American subsidiary operated from 1980 to 1982.

<i>Casiopea</i> (album) 1979 studio album by Casiopea

Casiopea is the debut album of the jazz fusion group Casiopea which was recorded between 1978-1979 and released later that year. The album showed two racecars racing each other on a raceway.

<i>Cross Point</i> (album) 1981 studio album by Casiopea

Cross Point is the sixth album by Casiopea recorded and released in 1981.

In 1987, Casiopea signed to Polydor. Two years later Jimbo and Sakurai left the band after years of musical differences. They formed the duo Jimsaku. They were replaced by Yoshihiro Naruse (bass) and Masaaki Hiyama (drums). Casiopea then signed to Pioneer. In 1993, Noriaki Kumagai replaced Masaaki, and a year later the band returned to the Alfa label, then to Pony Canyon. In 1997 Jimbo returned as a part-time member, recording more albums and writing compositions.

Polydor Records multinational record label headquartered in the United Kingdom, owned by Universal Music Group

Polydor is a British record label and company, that operates as part of Universal Music Group. It has a close relationship with Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M Records label, which distributes Polydor's releases in the United States. In turn, Polydor distributes Interscope releases in the United Kingdom. Polydor Records Ltd. was established in London in 1954 as a British subsidiary of German company Deutsche Grammophon GmbH. It was renamed Polydor Ltd. in 1972.

Jimsaku was a Japanese drum and bass duo formed by Akira Jimbo and Tetsuo Sakurai in 1990, after they left the jazz/fusion band Casiopea. They released 10 albums and one "Best of" collection, and disbanded in 1998.

Masaaki Hiyama is a Japanese jazz drummer who participated in some of Japan's more well known fusion bands. He is a former member of Casiopea.

In 2000, the band again signed to Pioneer. Four years later Pioneer changed its name to Geneon Entertainment. On August 1, 2006, Issei Noro, the group's leader, decided to freeze all activities of the band until further notice. In 2007, Noro and Jimbo formed the fusion band Inspirit

In January 2009, Casiopea participated in the album Tetsudou Seminar Ongakuhen, based on Minoru Mukaiya's Train Simulator video games. On May 27, 2009, a limited-edition box set, Legend of Casiopea, was released to commemorate the band's thirtieth anniversary.

Train Simulator is a Japanese train simulation game series produced by Ongakukan. The game is significant as it was one of the earliest of its kind since the series started in 1995. No versions were licensed outside of Asia, therefore all of Train Simulator games are only available in Japanese, except Railfan: Taiwan High Speed Rail which is also translated in Traditional Chinese and English.

On April 20, 2012, it was announced that Casiopea would return with Kiyomi Otaka on keyboards, replacing Minoru Mukaiya, who led the music production team own music production team Mukaiya Club.

Signature songs


In Japanese, "Asayake" means "Morning Glow". The song was first recorded for their second album, Super Flight (1979), then re-released on their fourth album, Eyes of the Mind in 1981, and live for Mint Jams in 1982. The "Mint Jams" version is a regular favorite, and is often played as an encore number or last number. With the bridge of the song having long notes, the lead guitarist (Issei Noro) has a free hand, to pump his fist for the next 1 and a half-measure of the song. The intro of this song consists often of a Rhythm-Guitar Riff. The 1995 J-Pop/Rap song, "Asayake" by Yuki Mori and MC Gaku samples the Intro Guitar riff from Casiopea's "Asayake" extensively.

<i>Super Flight</i> 1979 studio album by Casiopea

Super Flight is the second album by Casiopea recorded and released in 1979.

<i>Eyes of the Mind</i> 1981 studio album by Casiopea

Eyes of the Mind is the fifth album by Casiopea, released in 1981. The album was recorded in Los Angeles.

<i>Mint Jams</i> 1982 live album by Casiopea

Mint Jams is the seventh and the second live album by Japanese jazz-fusion band Casiopea, released on May 12, 1982.

Domino Line

The first recording of "Domino Line" was in Cross Point from 1981. Then it was performed for Mint Jams in a different arrangement. The Mint Jams version includes a part where each instrument plays a note or chord, then is followed by another in the next 16th Note, usually in this order: Drums, guitar, bass, keyboard. On Mint Jams, this builds up to a technical and relatively long bass solo, followed by a drum solo. On the Asian Dreamer version from 1994, this break is modified to be played in different chords, times, tempos, etc. On Tetsuo Sakurai's arrangement from "My Dear Musiclife", the song is further modified, adding a Saxophone solo.

Galactic Funk

Like "Domino Line," the first recording of "Galactic Funk" was also in Cross Point , featuring solos from guitarist Issei Noro and keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya, then bassist Tetsuo Sakurai and drummer Akira Jimbo trading solos. The song was recorded again with guitarist Lee Ritenour, pianist Dave Grusin, drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Nathan East for the 1982 album 4x4 (Four by Four) , with both guitarists trading solos, both keyboardists trading solos, and a trade between the bassists and drummers collectively.

Space Road

This song was first recorded on Casiopea's debut Self-Titled Album, Casiopea (1979). This song is known for its Main Theme, which is repeated 4 times but modulated to an upper Minor-3rd each time. This song is usually played at the Early-to-Middle of their Live Concerts. The Live versions often include a break in which the Guitarist, Keyboardist, and Bassist play the same solo over the Chords from the Intro.

Black Joke

Like "Space Road", this song was included in Casiopea . Intro and ending of this song includes a lot of 16th-note-triplets in impressive unison phrases, and song to symbolize their technical aspects.

Eyes of the Mind

The first version of this song was included in Make Up City as "Eyes of Mind". Then, the song was re-released on its own album, Eyes of the Mind .

Offshoot bands


In 1987, T-Square members Masahiro Andoh (guitarist) and Hiroyuki Noritake (drummer), Issei Noro and current KORENOS guitarist Hirokuni Korekata created a supergroup called Ottottrio. With a backing band composed by keyboardists Chizuko Yoshihiro and Shotoku Sasaji, and bassist Chiharu Mikuzuki, the group released 3 albums, 2 in 1988 and one called "Triptych" in 1998. In 1989, Ottottrio performed on the joint event "The Super Fusion", with all members of T-Square and Casiopea respectively, as well as Ottottrio's backing players.

Casiopea vs. The Square

After Ottottrio, the relationship between Casiopea and T-Square continued in 1993, when former T-Square percussionist Kiyohiko Senba played on one of the songs from Casiopea's album "Dramatic", and, a year later, the bands played together an arrangement of The Beatles "Get Back" on a Japanese Broadcast. In 1997, Casiopea, T-Square and Jimsaku played at Tokyo Jam, and in 2003 both groups played (with some of the players replaced), at the event Casiopea vs. The Square itself. More recently they still have somewhat of an alliance, seeing as Casiopea's former drummer Noriaki Kumagai and T-Square's former bassist Mitsuru Sutoh both in group TRIX, and T-Square Sax/EWI player Takeshi Itoh performance with Casiopea's former keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya in 2006.

Synchronized DNA

In 2005, Akira Jimbo and Hiroyuki Noritake created a Drum Duo called Synchronized DNA, who played in a tour with Casiopea, released as "Casiopea + Sync DNA: 5 Stars Live", and in their last album before hiatus, "Signal".


In 2008, Issei Noro created the band Issei Noro Inspirits, with Akira Jimbo, pianist Kent Ohgiya, keyboardist Ryo Hayashi and bassist Yuji Yajima as members. As of September 8, 2018, they have released five studio albums, one live album, and one live DVD.


In 2009, a director from Tetsuo Sakurai's record company suggested him to make an album for the 30th anniversary of his career, released as My Dear Musiclife. Sakurai accepted his idea but the director asked him to record "Domino Line" in it, as he played that song as Casiopea's Bassist (throughout 1979 to 1990). Sakurai asked the writer of that song, Issei Noro, for permission. Noro answered OK but he said he wouldn't take part in recording. Instead, Noro and Sakurai recorded a new song in Acoustic Arrangement, called "Mirage".

After that, Noro and Sakurai went on a domestic club tour as an acoustic guitar duo, called Pegasus.









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Akira Jimbo, also seen as Akira Jinbo, is a Japanese musician who combines electronic drum technology and acoustic drums. Aside from his solo work, he is the drummer for the Japanese jazz fusion band Casiopea and has participated in side projects with Keiko Matsui, Shambara, and Brian Bromberg.

Tetsuo Sakurai is a Japanese bassist. To date, he has released a total of 37 albums as a member of Casiopea and Jimsaku and solo artist, and has also made 3 bass instructional videos.

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<i>Asian Dreamer</i> 1994 studio album by Casiopea

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