Historically, almost all famous Japanese composers, including Toru Takemitsu, produced many songs as their masterpieces. Based on longstanding tradition, ancient Japanese poems – such as Tanka and Haiku – penned more than 1300 years ago – are used by composers as the basis for songs.
Japanese songs are melodious and sophisticated, being created with well established compositional techniques rooted in traditional Japanese culture and language, making them unique among the songs of the world.
This uniqueness is rooted in the musical origin of Japanese songs. In the late 19th century when Japan was opened to the Western world, for the first time, the Japanese people began familiarizing themselves with western music – at first just applying Japanese language to existing Western music. However, it soon became clear that the Japanese language and intonation did not ideally mesh when combined with existing “foreign” music, so it became desirable to compose original Western-style music for Japanese poems.
The Japanese government thus dispatched students to Germany to learn Western style music composition. Amongst them, Kiyoshi Nobutoki and Kosaku Yamada are the two most famous Japanese composers. Those two composers mainly composed many Japanese songs after coming back to Japan and established Japanese songs as a unique art form in music.
Though there are historically various style of Japanese songs, we focus on the Japanese songs composed as artistic songs utilizing Western scales, and intended to be sung by operatic vocalization.
This website enables anyone in the world to sing Japanese Songs by providing a comprehensive set of assets to master the pronunciation and meaning of lyrics, as well as the singing style of each song. Until now, despite the high quality of Japanese songs, it was difficult for non-Japanese native speakers to sing because of the unique lettering and grammatical composition of the Japanese language, which differs completely from that of Western languages. But with this set of assets made available on this site, our hope is that anybody in the world can learn to sing – and hopefully to enjoy – melodious Japanese songs.
We strongly believe this site will fulfill all singers’ desires to “sing Japanese songs.” Through this project, we hope that the sophisticated, beautiful, and sometime ethnic melodies of Japanese songs will penetrate the world, and will be performed all over the world by singers of all nations.