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Kitaro tehran 2014 concert (1).JPG
Kitarō playing in Tehran, October 2014
Background information
Native name
Birth nameMasanori Takahashi
Born (1953-02-04) February 4, 1953 (age 66)
Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan
Genres Electronica, world, folk, classical, new-age
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, record producer, arranger
InstrumentsKeyboards, guitar, bass guitar, Japanese flutes, drums, percussion
Years active1975–present
Associated actsFar East Family Band

Kitarō(喜多郎), born Masanori Takahashi(高橋 正則) (February 4, 1953), is a Japanese recording artist, composer, record producer, and arranger noted for his electronic-instrumental music, and is often associated with and regarded as one of the most prominent musical acts of New-age music. [1] [2] He is the winner of a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album ( Thinking of You (1999); with a record 16 nominations in the same category) and a Golden Globe Award for the Heaven & Earth (1993) original score. [3]

Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments and circuitry-based music technology. In general, a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means, and that produced using electronics only. Electromechanical instruments include mechanical elements, such as strings, hammers, and so on, and electric elements, such as magnetic pickups, power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Examples of electromechanical sound producing devices include the telharmonium, Hammond organ, and the electric guitar, which are typically made loud enough for performers and audiences to hear with an instrument amplifier and speaker cabinet. Pure electronic instruments do not have vibrating strings, hammers, or other sound-producing mechanisms. Devices such as the theremin, synthesizer, and computer can produce electronic sounds.

New-age music is a genre of music intended to create artistic inspiration, relaxation, and optimism. It is used by listeners for yoga, massage, meditation, reading as a method of stress management to bring about a state of ecstasy rather than trance, or to create a peaceful atmosphere in their home or other environments, and is associated with environmentalism and New Age spirituality.

The Grammy Award for Best New Age Album is presented to recording artists for quality albums in the new-age music genre at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".


Early life: 1954–76

Masanori Takahashi was born in Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan, and is a graduate of Sahid University. [2] [4] Kitarō, which is his boyhood name meaning "man of love and joy", a practicing Buddhist himself, was born in a family of Shinto-Buddhist farmers. [5] After graduating his parents were first opposed to the idea of their son having a musical career. In an effort to maneuver him towards their vision, they made arrangements for him to take a job at a local company. In return, he did not show for the job without telling them, and managed to convince them to work on something he loved. [6]

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.

Shinto Japanese traditional folk religion

Shinto or kami-no-michi is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past.

In high school Kitarō played electric guitar in a band that played American rhythm and blues of Otis Redding and covers by The Beatles. [1] [7] [8] After graduating, and learning to play drums and bass, [6] Kitaro moved to Tokyo to experience and become a part of the music scene, and it was there that he discovered the synthesizer. His first synthesizer was analog, and he recalls having "just loved the analog sound that it made compared to today's digital sound".

Rhythm and blues, commonly abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy, as well as triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, economics, and aspirations.

Otis Redding American singer, songwriter and record producer

Otis Ray Redding Jr. was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. Redding's style of singing gained inspiration from the gospel music that preceded the genre. His singing style influenced many other soul artists of the 1960s. During his lifetime, his recordings were produced by Stax Records, based in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led them to be regarded as the most influential band of all time. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and they experimented with a number of musical styles in later years, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.

In the early 1970s he changed completely to keyboard and joined the Japanese progressive rock band Far East Family Band and recorded four albums with them. While in Japan and Europe in 1975, [9] he met the German electronica and former Tangerine Dream member Klaus Schulze. Schulze produced two albums for the band and gave Kitaro some tips for controlling synthesizers. [1] In 1976, Kitaro left Far East Family Band and travelled through Asia (China, Laos, Thailand, India). [2] [10]

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid- to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening rather than dancing.

Electronica encompasses a broad group of electronic-based styles such as techno, house, ambient, jungle and other electronic music styles intended not just for dancing.

Tangerine Dream German electronic music group

Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music band founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese. The group has seen many personnel changes over the years, with Froese having been the only continuous member until his death in January 2015. The best-known lineup of the group was its mid-70s trio of Froese, Christopher Franke, and Peter Baumann. In the late 1970s, Johannes Schmoelling replaced Baumann. Since Froese's death in 2015, the group has been under the leadership of Thorsten Quaeschning.

Solo career: 1977–present

Back in Japan, Kitaro started his solo career in 1977. The first two albums Ten Kai and Daichi were released in 1978 and 1979. He performed his first symphonic concert at the "Small Hall" of the Kosei Nenkin Kaikan in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

<i>Astral Voyage</i> (album) 1978 studio album by Kitarō

Astral Voyage is the first studio album by Japanese new-age musician, Kitarō. Released as Ten Kai in 1978, the album was re-released as Astral Voyage in 1985 by Geffen Records after Kitarō signed a worldwide distribution deal with them.

Tokyo Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan

Tokyo Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan (東京厚生年金会館), also known as Wel City Tokyo, was a concert hall in Shinjuku, Tokyo, one of a number of public concert halls in Japan called Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan. Journey performed a concert here on their Escape tour.

Silk Road

The Silk Road: The Rise And Fall Of Civilizations is an NHK Tokushu documentary series that first aired on 7 April 1980, with sequels being broadcast over a 10-year period. It took a total of 17 years from conception to complete what many consider a landmark in Japan's broadcasting television history. [11] The intention of the program was to reveal how ancient Japan was influenced by the Silk Road trade route. The documentary was narrated by Ishizaka Koji with music composed by Kitaro, who insisted that the show be broadcast in stereo. The music was composed mainly using a Minimoog, Minikorg 700, and Maxikorg DV800. The score received a Galaxy Award, [12] and the series of soundtracks sold millions of copies. The success created from the program brought Kitaro international attention. [2] [4]

NHK Japanese broadcasting company

NHK is Japan's national public broadcasting organization. NHK, which has always been known by this romanized acronym in Japanese, is a publicly owned corporation funded by viewers' payments of a television license fee.

Silk Road Trade routes through Asia connecting Chinza to the Mediterranean Sea

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes which connected the East and West, and was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between these regions from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century. The Silk Road primarily refers to the terrestrial routes connecting East Asia and Southeast Asia with South Asia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and Southern Europe.

Minimoog synthesizer model

The Minimoog is an analog synthesizer first manufactured by Moog Music between 1970 and 1981.


Kitaro playing live in the early 1990s Kitaro 5.jpg
Kitaro playing live in the early 1990s

In 1984, Kitaro embarked on a "Live in Asia" tour. Notably, he was forced to cancel a leg in Singapore because he had long hair and at that time the country had a policy banning it. [13]

He entered into a worldwide distribution arrangement with Geffen Records in 1985–1986. [1] [7] This included a re-releasing of six prior albums titled Ten Kai (aka Astral Voyage), Daichi (aka Full Moon Story), Millennia, India, Silver Cloud and Live in Asia (aka Asia) (each packaged with Japanesque obi strips) as well as a new album, aptly titled Towards the West. Due to his combination of electronic and acoustic sounds, mellow music and repeating chords which resembled the umbrella New-age music category in the United States and Europe, his music was labeled as "New-age". [7] However, he's not comfortable with the term, [14] but it doesn't mean much for him., "whether people say my music is new age or not, it's OK with me, I'm just going to keep calling it Kitaro's music". [5] [6] On his music he noted that his outlook on life, study of philosophy, and responsibility to create music which has a good influence on society, influence his musical creation. [7]

In 1987, he collaborated with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead for the album The Light of the Spirit (which sold two million copies) and in 1992 with Jon Anderson (Yes) for the album Dream . In 1988, his record sales soared to 10 million worldwide following a successful US tour. He was nominated three times for Grammy Award for Best New Age Album during his tenure at Geffen Records. In 1990 was released studio album Kojiki , which was inspired by the Japense 8th century chronicle Kojiki , and it reached #159 on Billboard 200, and #1 on Billboard New Age albums chart. [3] His soundtrack for the movie Heaven & Earth (1993) won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. [15] Kitaro also produced an album Scenes (1992) released by Shrapnel Records with former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman. [1]


Domo Records

Since his 1994 debut for Domo Records, and the Grammy-nominated Mandala , Kitaro has released 24 studio albums. Among them, the live An Enchanted Evening (1995), Gaia-Onbashira (1998), and Ancient (2001) were all Grammy nominated. In 1999, Thinking of You won the Grammy for Best New Age Album. Kitaro’s and soundtrack album The Soong Sisters (2000) received, Best Original Music Award from the Hong Kong Film Award (1998) as well as the Taiwan Golden Horse Film Festival and Award (1997). [3]

Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai series

Kitaro’s music has long been recognized for its messages of peace and spirituality. In the wake of 9/11, during which time the conceptual endeavor, which he envisioned as an artistic means to help unify people globally, the artist began recording Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (2003), a series of peace-themed albums inspired by the Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage, the travel of Kūkai more than 1100 years ago. The four volumes in the album series were released in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2011, respectively. Every track on the 4 volumes of Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai contains samples from ancient Japanese temple bells (Peace Bells) from 88 sacred temples on the island of Shikoku, Japan. [4] [3] [6]

Impressions of the West Lake

In 2007, Kitaro composed the music for Impression West Lake, a large-scale opera, directed by the renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. The opera reflects Hangzhou city’s history and culture through music and dance. [6] Using modern technology, the stage is 75 centimeters below the lake’s surface during the day so as not to affect the landscape and boating activities. In the evening, the stage is a few centimeters below the lake’s surface so actors can walk and perform freely over a surprising water mirror that compose with the lights and colors. The one-hour event had its opening night in March 2007. [16] In 2009, Domo Records released the original soundtrack album Impressions of the West Lake which was nominated for the Grammy in Best New Age Album category. [3]

Recent projects

Kitaro playing in Tehran, October 2014 Kitaro tehran 2014 concert (2).JPG
Kitaro playing in Tehran, October 2014
Kitaro playing with the orchestra in Tehran, 2014 Kitaro tehran 2014 concert (3).JPG
Kitaro playing with the orchestra in Tehran, 2014

Kitaro's latest studio album is Final Call , which is a homage to Kitaro's lifetime reverence for nature and was released in September 2013. A year later, in September 2014, his latest live album Symphony Live in Istanbul was released. It was recorded live at the Halic Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey during Kitaro's Symphonic World Tour, balancing the artist's trademark signature sound and expanding it to new heights with the addition of a 38-piece chamber symphony orchestra. Both Final Call and Symphony Live in Istanbul were nominated for Best New Age Album, becoming Kitaro's 15th and 16th career Grammy Award nominations. [3] More recently he has reissued his critically acclaimed studio albums Kojiki in 2015 and Tenku in 2016.

Touring and other activities

In 2007 to 2009, he launched the "Love and Peace World Tour," an international tour with which Kitaro hoped to inspire his message of world peace with his music. Kitaro toured Southeast Asia in 2007, Greece in 2008 and Hong Kong, Japan, Southeast Asia in 2009. During his visit to Greece, Kitaro met Greek composer Vangelis, and exchanged musical experience and creative ideas.

In 2010, Kitaro performed in Singapore in March, in Mexico for the Zacatecas Cultural Festival in April, [17] in Xi'an, China for the opening event of Daming Palace National Heritage Park in September, [18] in Aichi, Japan, for the Thousand Drums Event at COP10 for the Convention on Biological Diversity in October. From March to April, 2011, Kitaro was on tour titled The Silk Road – East & West, visiting Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He donated part of the CD sales and concert profits to Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami Relief. [19] For the same purpose he participated in the 2011 edition of Musicians United for Safe Energy. [3] In 2012 he released Let Mother Earth Speak , a collaboration album with Native American activist Dennis Banks. [3]

Personal life

From around 1983 to 1990, Kitarō was married to Yuki Taoka, daughter of Kazuo Taoka. They have a son. In the early 1990s, he moved from Japan to the United States. [5] [14] In the mid-1990s, he married Keiko Matsubara, a musician who played on several of his albums. Along with Keiko's son, the couple lived in Ward, Colorado, on a 180-acre (72.85 hectare) spread and composed in his 2500-square-foot (230 m²) home studio "Mochi House" (it is large enough to hold a 70-piece orchestra). [20] Around 2005, they relocated to Sebastopol, California.


Studio albums



Grammy Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1987 The Field Best New Age PerformanceNominated
1990 Kojiki Best New Age Album Nominated
1992 Dream Best New Age AlbumNominated
1994 Mandala Best New Age AlbumNominated
1995 An Enchanted Evening Best New Age AlbumNominated
1998 Gaia Onbashira Best New Age AlbumNominated
1999 Thinking Of You Best New Age AlbumWon
2002 Ancient Best New Age AlbumNominated
2003 An Ancient JourneyBest New Age AlbumNominated
2004 Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Volume 1 Best New Age AlbumNominated
2006 Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 2 Best New Age AlbumNominated
2008 Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 3 Best New Age AlbumNominated
2009 Impressions Of The West Lake Best New Age AlbumNominated
2011 Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 4 Best New Age AlbumNominated
2013 Final Call Best New Age AlbumNominated
2014 Symphony Live In Istanbul Best New Age AlbumNominated
2017 Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Vol. 5 Best New Age AlbumNominated

Golden Globes

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1993 Heaven & Earth Best Original Score Won

Golden Horse Award (Hong Kong) Kitaro and Randy Miller won a Golden Horse Award for Best Original Score for the film Soong Sisters in 1997. [21]

Hong Kong Film Award Kitaro was nominated at the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Original Film Score for Homecoming in 1985. [22] Kitaro and Randy Miller won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Original Score for Soong Sisters in 1998. [21]

Japan Gold Disc Kitaro won a Gold Disc Award in the category of Fusion Instrumental for his album Kojiki in 1991. [23]

See also

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