GAGAKU An Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan
The first-ever DVD series to cover all of the genres of GAGAKU, the traditional court music of Japan, performed by musicians and dancers of the Music Department of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo
This DVD collection includes representative examples from all three major genres of traditional music and dances performed at the Music Department of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo

kuniburi no utamai
kangen and bugaku
saibara and roei

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With the support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the generous cooperation of the Imperial Household Agency, the Shimonaka Memorial Foundation has had the privilege of producing a collection of videos recording performances by the master musicians and dancers of the Music Department of the Board of Ceremonies of the Imperial Household Agency.

They perform traditional music and dance of ancient origins, which is designated by the Japanese government as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.

This collection includes pieces from all of the genres of gagaku (court music) transmitted and performed by the palace musicians today: kuniburi no utamai, or accompanied vocal music and dance of indigenous origin employed in Imperial and Shinto ceremony; kangen and bugaku, instrumental music and accompanied dance deriving from the ancient performing arts of the Asian mainland; and saibara and roei, genres of accompanied vocal music originating at the Heian court of the ninth to twelfth centuries.

In addition to its music and dance, gagaku also preserves a rich body of masks and costumes. It is a part of Japan's cultural heritage that we are proud to be able to pass on to the people of the twenty-first century. While there has been a growing interest in gagaku in recent years, it is still true that opportunities for viewing its riches are still limited.

In this series, therefore, we have endeavored to capture on video detailed aspects of its performance that are difficult to appreciate even in live performance, in the hope that it will contribute to a broader understanding of the essence of the art.

Chairman of the Board of Directors
Shimonaka Memorial Foundation

kuniburi no utamai                 bugaku                      kangen                                       

1. Introduction within one hour about all ganres of GAGAKU

2. Vocal music - kuniburi no utamai: "azuma-asobi" (37 min.) and "kume-mai" (20 min.), saibara: "Ise-no-umi" and "Koromogae" (19 min.), roei: "Kashin" and "Koyo" (16 min.)

3. Dance music - bugaku: "Taiheiraku" (47 min.) and "Engiraku" (29 min.)

4. Orchestral music - kangen: "Etenraku: nokorigaku-sanben" (41 min.) and "Bato" (29 min.)

5. Materials I: Instruments and Notation (54 min.)

6. Materials II: Costumes, Masks and Properties (104 min.)

Commentary Booklet 1 (in Japanese, on tapes 1-6)
Commentary Booklet 2 (in Japanese, on tapes 7-10 in English, on tapes 1-10)

7. Addendum 1: bugaku: "Ryoo" and "Nasori", kangen: "Bairo", "The BUGAKU Dance" recoded in 1939

Addendum 2: bugaku: "Manzairau", "Ringa", "Genjoraku" recorded originally in 1972 for the Encyclopaedia Cinematographica

TSUGE Gen'ichi, Professor Emeritous, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Musics
ENDO Toru, Associate Professor, Tokyo Education and Liberal Arts University
Steven G. NELSON, Professor, Hosei University
OKADA Kazuo, Director, Encyclopaedia Cinematographica Japan Archives, Shimonaka Memorial Foundation

With the cooperation of TokyoCinema Inc.

Order the DVD series please contact:
Shimonaka Memorial Foundation, Mr. OKADA Kazuo e-mail:

Production of the English version was supported by a grant from the Japan Foundation

DVD 2-4 are without narration so only Japanese and English subtitles are provided. For the convenience of foreign users who understand or wish to study GAGAKU intensively, the Japanese titles are retained in the English version.

price:   132,000 Yen  

We will ship the DVD by EMS (Express Mail Service) and shipment expenses will be covered by us. We regret that SMF cannot accept credit cards. DD (Demand Draft cheque) and TT (Telegraphic Transfer to our Bank Account) are welcomed. Who wish to use PayPal for purchase, please contact us.
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page started 2007.09.19.
final update 2008.07.15.

wall paper courtesy of

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