Official Language: Japanese
Current Population: 125,120,000
Area: 377,975 sq km
Climate: Although summers are temperate everywhere, the climate in winter varies markedly from cold in the north to mild in the south. Typhoons and heavy rains are common during May–October. Temperatures in Tokyo range from −6°C (21°F) to 30°C (86°F).
Main Religions: Shintoism and Buddhism
All Shintō music traces its origins to the myth of an erotic dance performed by the goddess Ame no Uzume no Mikoto before the Rock Door of Heaven to entice out the Sun Goddess, who was hiding her light from the world and causing crops to fail. Kagura, written with Chinese characters meaning ‘music (and dance) for the gods’, was regarded as a branch of wagaku, music of Japanese origin, as opposed to various kinds of foreign music being introduced at the court...the cycle of songs (kagura-uta) was re-edited in the second quarter of the 17th century, after a hiatus caused by the civil wars of the 16th century. The text of each song falls into two parts, the moto-uta and the sue-uta; in each part the first verse is sung solo and the later verses in unison chorus. Instrumental accompaniment is provided by a Wagon (six-string zither), kagura-bue (transverse flute) and hichiriki (short cylindrical oboe). In addition to mi-kagura, music of the imperial cult includes other ancient song-types: Azuma asobi, Ōnaobi-no-uta, Yamato-uta, Kume-uta, Ta-uta and Gosechi-no-mai.
There are three kinds of Japanese song for children: (shōgaku-)shōka (songs for primary school use); dōyō (songs for children composed by professional musicians); and warabe-uta (traditional game songs). The last type is different from the other two mainly in that its form is simpler and it is always combined with some kind of game. Significantly, warabe-uta predominantly use traditional pentatonic scales and modes: they are ‘traditional’ products and are generally passed from child to child. Many warabe-uta are still sung by children, regardless of where they live throughout the country. Warabe-uta melodies, simple in structure, are usually within the range of a 6th or an octave, and in many cases they are based on one or two tetrachords. Text setting of warabe-uta is almost wholly syllabic. The metrical forms, however, depend largely on the form of the particular game. Skipping-rope songs usually have a slow duple metre, whereas ball-bouncing songs show more variety in rhythm, depending on how the players bounce the balls.
This performance form combines elements of dance, drama, music and poetry into a highly structured stage art. Mainly based in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya, it is performed throughout the country by professional artists (almost entirely men), many of whom are carriers of the tradition as passed down through family lines for numerous generations. There is also a wide following of both male and female amateur performers throughout the country who practise and perform one or several aspects of the form. An art that developed in Japan’s medieval period, it has in turn been a major influence on later performance arts, most notably kabuki theatre and the music of the koto.
(2): Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (Japan), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 15 December 2021 from http://www.europaworld.com/entry/jp.is.2
(3): Country Flag (Japan), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 15 December 2021 from http://www.europaworld.com/entry/jp.FLAG
(4): Ferranti, H., Kishibe, S., Hughes, D., Adriaansz, W., Thompson, R., Rowe, C., Berger, D., Malm, W., Malm, W., Waterhouse, D., Marett, A., Emmert, R., Koizumi, F., Tanimoto, K., Kanazawa, M., Fujie, L., & Falconer, E. Japan. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 15 Dec. 2021, from https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000043335.