Last updated
Casiopea/Casiopea 3rd
Origin Tokyo, Japan
Genres Jazz fusion
Years active1976–1988, 1990-2006, 2012–present
Associated acts Jimsaku, Ottottrio, T-Square
Members Issei Noro
Kiyomi Otaka
Yoshihiro Naruse
Akira Jimbo
Past membersHidehiko Koike
Tohru Suzuki
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, drummer Tohru Suzuki, and keyboardist Hidehiko Koike. In 1977, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya and drummer Takashi Sasaki joined, replacing Koike and Suzuki. 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.



Casiopea 1st

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. In 1987, Casiopea signed to Polydor. Akira Jimbo and Tetsuo Sakurai, who played drums and bass, respectively, as part of the first "Classic Lineup" of Casiopea, left the band after years of musical differences. They formed the duo Jimsaku.

Casiopea 2nd

With only Issei Noro and Minoru Mukaiya remaining from the original Casiopea lineup, Yoshihiro Naruse (bass) and Masaaki Hiyama (drums) joined the band. Casiopea then signed to Pioneer. In 1993, Noriaki Kumagai replaced Hiyama, 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.

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. [1] 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.

Casiopea 3rd

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

During the 2010 decade Casiopea 3rd resumed album releases, and both Casiopea 3rd and Inspirits held a joint concert as a result of having a common bandleader in Issei Noro.

During the Covid-19 crisis, Issei Noro released a song thanking all those on the frontlines.

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.

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.









Related Research Articles

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.

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.

<i>Thunder Live</i> 1980 live album by Casiopea

Thunder Live is the third and first live album released by the jazz fusion group Casiopea in 1980. This album marked the first appearance of drummer Akira Jimbo, who replaced Takashi Sasaki that same year.

<i>Make Up City</i> 1980 studio album by Casiopea

Make Up City is the fourth album by Casiopea released on November 21, 1980.

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

Mint Jams is the seventh album and the second live album by Japanese jazz-fusion band Casiopea, released on May 12, 1982. The album's title is an arrangement of the band members' first and last initials.

<i>Photographs</i> (Casiopea album) 1983 studio album by Casiopea

Photographs is the ninth album by Casiopea, recorded and released in 1983.

<i>The Soundgraphy</i> 1984 compilation album by Casiopea

The Soundgraphy is the 11th album by Casiopea, recorded and released in 1984 in Japan. This is also Casiopea's first Compilation album.

<i>Down Upbeat</i> 1984 studio album by Casiopea

Down Upbeat is 12th album by Casiopea, recorded and released in 1984.

<i>Halle</i> (album) 1985 studio album by Casiopea

Halle is the 13th album by Casiopea released in 1985.

Casiopea Live is the third live video by Casiopea, released in 1985. This is also Casiopea's 14th album overall.

Ottottrio are a Japanese jazz fusion band.

<i>Casiopea Perfect Live II</i> live album by CASIOPEA (1987)

Casiopea Perfect Live II is the fourth live video released by the jazz fusion group Casiopea.
On February 25, 1987, it was released with a laser disc from laser disc Co., Ltd. 7" single record "Asian Dreamer" was distributed as the first board purchase privilege.
On July 10, 1987, it became a LP record from Alfa Records.
In 2000, it was recurred as DVD "CASIOPEA LIVE HISTORY PART-I". Finally, as a privilege picture, Issei Noro interview was added.
This is contains tour final concert at U-Port hall that was Cassiopeia’s tenth anniversary tour.

Platinum is the 17th album released by the jazz fusion group Casiopea in 1987. The album featured a cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water"--a song originally written by Paul Simon.

Euphony is the 18th album released by the jazz fusion group Casiopea in 1988.

<i>Casiopea World Live 88</i> live album by CASIOPEA (1988)

Casiopea World Live '88 is the fifth live album released by the jazz fusion group Casiopea in 1988. It is a compilation Album consisting of recordings of some of their songs played in concert during Casiopea's World Tour in 1988 that promoted their previous album "Euphony". It is also a collaboration album with two Japanese horn sections from two other bands, the brass section of "Spectrum" and the brass Section of "The Tops". Additionally, it is the first album Spectrum recorded since their breakup in 1981, and is their penultimate album. Lead trumpeter/vocalist of Spectrum, Ichiro Nitta, was also the Producer of "The Tops" at the time this album was released. Tops released one more album, "Soul Children", the following year, before they disbanded in 1991. This was also the last album to feature Tetsuo Sakurai on Bass and Akira Jimbo on Drums, who both left to form the band Jimsaku.

T-Square is a Japanese jazz fusion band formed in 1978. They became famous in the late '70s and early '80s along with other Japanese bands in the genre.

<i>20th</i> (album) 2000 live album by Casiopea

20th is the seventh live album by the jazz fusion group Casiopea released in 2000. This is also a live recording of the 20th anniversary of Casiopea and their thirty-third album overall.

PLACES is the thirty-seventh album by the jazz fusion group Casiopea recorded and released in 2003.

Signal is the 40th album by jazz fusion group Casiopea and their first collaborative studio album with Synchronized DNA, a drum duo comprising former and current Casiopea member Akira Jimbo and former T-Square drummer Hiroyuki Noritake. The album was recorded and released in 2005. Issei Noro put Casiopea on hiatus in the year after, but reactivated the group with new keyboardist Kiyomi Otaka taking the place of Minoru Mukaiya in 2012.


  1. "Casiopea Web News". CASIOPEA Official Web. August 1, 2006.