Recorded in Japan
In the city of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku, the people have a customary dance that goes on for many days and nights in the summer season. It is called Awa-Odori, and this music based on that dance is not unlike the rhythmical music of a carnival.
In Iwate, near the eastern end of the Japanese mainland, this tune is sung by the people when they drive their cattle to pasture. The sound of the shakuhachi conveys the effect of pastoral scenery in a peaceful farming village.
In the middle part of the Japanese mainland there are the beautiful wooded Kiso Mountains. To all people who live in that district this tune is like a theme song. The music starts with a free arpeggio of koto. Next shakuhachi plays a melody which reminds us of a quiet heart of mountains. Then koto and seventeen-stringed koto change into a delightful melody that symbolizes the beginning of day.
Near the Japan Sea coast of the middle part of the Japanese mainland there is a small island called Sado Island. In the old days it was famous for being an exiles' island and for its gold mine. Sado-Okesa is the most popular song among the people of this island. In the Bon Festival in summer the islanders form a circle and sing this song, dancing elegantly. The Festival is a traditional Japanese event when the dead's souls were once believed to return to this world. In the present days the festival still exists as a kind of recreation. The above-mentioned Awa-Odori and Kiso-Bushi, too, are danced in this festival.
This is a song of the composer's birthplace -a district in Kyushu, the southern island of the Japanese mainland. Otemoyan is a girl's nickname. The humorous words tell about her marriage. The melody is comical, too.
Soma District, situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, is a three hours' ride by train from Tokyo to the east. It is famous for its production of rice and breeding of horses. This, too, is one of the tunes sung and danced in the Bon Festival.
This is sung in the Aomori Prefecture, at the eastern end of the Japanese mainland. It is a counting song ranging from No. 1 to No. 12, and it tells about how the mother of a man called Yasaburo bullied his wife. In spite of the gloominess of the words the melody is cheerful.
The name of Hiroshima means much to people who pray for peace. A narrow channel between the coast of Hiroshima and Shikoku is called the Seto Straits. The beautiful sea there dotted with the small islands looks like a picture. The tune sung by boatmen of the strait matches with the tranquil scenery. Sounds of oars are imitated by pushing hard the strings of a koto.
This, too, is a song of the composer's hometown. It is a lullaby of poor people living in the heart of the mountains. The melody of the first half is played by a low-pitched shakuhachi and the latter half with the instrument pitched an octave higher.
Owashi is a harbor town situated on the tip of the Kii Peninsula which stretches to the Pacific Ocean in the mid-part of the Japanese mainland. Until recently no railway had been laid to the town, and the only means of transportation had been boats. This rhythmical tune expresses the jovial atmosphere of a harbor town where much fish is caught.
This tune, too, is connected with fishing. Fishermen of Hokkaieo, a big island lying east of the Japanese mainland, sang this song in celebration of a good catch of herring. It conveys the toughness of fishermen who fight against a cold stormy sea.
In the Bon Festival people of Yamagata Prefecture sing this tune and dance, holding sedge hats decorated with beautiful artificial flowers. It is a colorful sight. The district where this merry tune is sung is a fertile land and it is famous for its production of rice.