edited by Alison McQueen Tokita, David W. Hughes
Music is a frequently neglected aspect of Japanese culture. It is in fact a highly problematic area, as the Japanese actively introduced Western music into their modern education system in the Meiji period (1868-1911), creating westernized melodies and instrumental instruction for Japanese children from kindergarten upwards. As a result, now most Japanese have a far greater familiarity with Western (or westernized) music than with traditional Japanese music. Traditional or classical Japanese music has become somewhat ghettoized, known and practised only by small groups of people in social structures which have survived since the pre-modern era. Such marginalization of Japanese music is one of the less recognized costs of Japan's modernization. On the other hand, music in its westernized and modernized forms has an extremely important place in Japanese culture and society, "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony", for example, being so widely known and performed that it is arguably part of contemporary Japanese popular and mass culture. Japan has become a world leader in the mass production of Western musical instruments and in innovative methodologies of music education (Yamaha and Suzuki).
More recently, the Japanese craze of karaoke as a musical entertainment and as musical hardware has made an impact on the leisure and popular culture of many countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas. This is the first book to cover all genres including court music, Buddhist chant, theatre music, chamber ensemble music, folk music as well as contemporary music and the connections between music and society in various periods. The book is a collaborative effort, involving both Japanese and English speaking authors, and was conceived by the editors to form a balanced and provocative approach that comprehensively treats Japanese musical culture.