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Title: Kitaro  
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"Kitaro" and "Kitarou" redirect here. For the GeGeGe no Kitaro character, see Kitaro (GeGeGe no Kitaro).
  • Kitaro
  • 喜多郎
Background information
Birth name Masanori Takahashi
Born (1953-02-04) February 4, 1953 (age 61)
Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Genres Instrumental, electronica, New Age, folk
Occupations Musician, composer, record producer, arranger
Instruments Keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, Japanese flutes, drums, percussion
Years active 1975–present
Associated acts Far East Family Band

Kitarō (喜多郎?, born February 4, 1953) is Grammy Award and Golden Globe Award winning recording artist, composer, record producer and arranger who is regarded as a pioneer of New Age music.[1][2]

Early life: 1954–76

Kitaro was born in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Japan and is a graduate of Toyohashi Commercial High School.[2][3] After graduating, Kitaro moved to Tokyo to experience and become a part of the music scene, and it was there that he discovered the synthesizer. His first synthesizer was analog, and he recalls having “just loved the analog sound that it made compared to today's digital sound”.

His parents were first opposed to the idea of their son having a musical career. In an effort to maneuver him towards their vision, they made arrangements for him to take a job at a local company. In return, he left home without telling them. He supported himself by taking on several part-time jobs such as cooking and civil service work, while composing songs at night.

In the early 1970s, he changed completely to keyboards. He joined the Japanese music group Far East Family Band which was formed in 1965, and toured with them around the world. While in Europe, he met the German electronica and former Tangerine Dream member Klaus Schulze. Schulze produced two albums for the band and gave Kitaro some tips for controlling synthesizers. In 1976, Kitaro left Far East Family Band and travelled through Asia (China, Laos, Thailand, India).[2][4]

Solo career: 1977–present

Back in Japan, Kitaro started his solo career in 1977. The first two albums Ten Kai and Full Moon Story became cult favorites of fans of the nascent New Age movement. He performed his first symphonic concert at the 'Small Hall' of the Kosei Nenkin Kaikan in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Silk Road

The Silk Road: The Rise And Fall Of Civilizations is an NHK Tokushu documentary series that first aired in April 7, 1980, broadcast over a 10-year period. It took 17 years in production to complete what many consider a landmark in Japan's broadcasting television history.[5] The intention of the program was to reveal how ancient Japan was influenced by the Silk Road trade route. The documentary was narrated by Ishizaka Koji with music composed by Kitaro, who insisted that the show be broadcast in stereo. The music was composed mainly using a Minimoog. The series of soundtracks sold millions and the success created from the program brought Kitaro international attention.[2][3]


He entered into a worldwide distribution arrangement with Geffen Records in 1986. This included a re-releasing of six prior albums titled Astral Voyage, Full Moon Story, Millennia, India, Silver Cloud and Asia (each packaged with Japanesque obi strips) as well as a new album, aptly titled Towards the West. In 1987, he collaborated with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead for the album The Light of the Spirit and in 1992 with Jon Anderson (Yes) for the album Dream. In 1988, his record sales soared to 10 million worldwide following a successful US tour. He was nominated three times for Grammy Award during his tenure at Geffen Records. His soundtrack for the movie Heaven & Earth won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.[6] In 1989, he wrote the Japanese theme for the film Return from the River Kwai.

Kitaro produced an album Scenes released by Shrapnel Records with former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman. Kitaro has also worked with Hong Kong Cantopop singer Anita Mui on the song "Years Flowing Like Water (似水流年)".

When asked about his music, he said, "I never had education in music, I just learned to trust my ears and my feelings." He credits ‘powers beyond himself’ for his music, saying, "This music is not from my mind. It is from heaven, going through my body and out my fingers through composing. Sometimes I wonder. I never practice. I don't read or write music, but my fingers move. I wonder, 'Whose song is this?' I write my songs, but they are not my songs."


Domo Records

Since his 1994 début for Domo Records, the Grammy-nominated Mandala (featuring a bold use of electric guitar), Kitaro has released twelve studio albums. Among them, the live An Enchanted Evening (1995), the deeply spiritual Gaia-Onbashira (1998) and Ancient (2001) are all Grammy nominated. In 1999, Thinking of You, which calls a “journey to ecstasy” and “one of the most beautiful CDs of all time,”[7] won the Grammy for Best New Age Album. In total, Kitaro's albums with Domo Records have received 11 Grammy nominations.[8]

Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai series

Kitaro’s music has long been recognized for its messages of peace and spirituality. In the wake of 9/11, the artist began recording Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai, a series of peace-themed albums inspired by the Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage, the travel of Kūkai more than 1100 years ago. The four volumes in the album series were released in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2011, respectively. The event of September 11 occurred while he was en route from Japan to Los Angeles. Kitaro's flight was diverted to Honolulu for five days, during which time the conceptual endeavor, which he envisioned as an artistic means to help unify people globally, first took shape. Every track on the 4 volumes of Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai contains samples from ancient Japanese temple bells (Peace Bells) from 88 sacred temples on the island of Shikoku, Japan.[3]

Impressions of the West Lake

In 2007, Kitaro composed the music for Impression West Lake, a large-scale opera, directed by the renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. The opera reflects Hangzhou city’s history and culture through music and dance. Using modern technology, the stage is 75 centimeters below the lake’s surface during the day so as not to affect the landscape and boating activities. In the evening, the stage is a few centimeters below the lake’s surface so actors can walk and perform freely over a surprising water mirror that compose with the lights and colors. The one-hour event had its opening night in March 2007.[9] In 2009, Domo Records released the original soundtrack album Impressions of the West Lake which was nominated for the 2010 Grammy Awards.

Touring and other activities

In 2007 to 2009 he launched the ‘Love and Peace World Tour,’ an international tour with which Kitaro hoped to inspire his message of world peace with his music. Kitaro toured Southeast Asia in 2007, Greece in 2008 and Hong Kong, Japan, Southeast Asia in 2009. During his visit to Greece, Kitaro met Greek musician and composer Vangelis, and exchanged musical experience and creative ideas.

In 2010, Kitaro performed in Singapore in March, in Mexico for the Zacatecas Cultural Festival in April,[10] in Xi'an, China for the opening event of Daming Palace National Heritage Park in September,[11] in Aichi, Japan for the Thousand Drums Event at COP10 for the Convention on Biological Diversity in October. From March to April, 2011, Kitaro toured Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He donated part of the CD sales and concert profits to Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami Relief.[12]

While Kitaro has been touring, Domo Records released Kitaro's compilation Album, soundtracks to Toyo's Camera and 442 - Live With Honor, Die With Dignity, as well as the Grammy nominated Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai, Volume 4.

Personal life

From around 1983 to 1990, he was married to Yuki, the daughter of yakuza boss Kazuo Taoka. They have a son. In the mid-1990s, Kitaro married Keiko Matsubara, a musician who played on several of his albums. Along with Keiko's son, the couple lived in Ward, Colorado on a 180 acre (72.85 hectare) spread and composed in his 2500 square foot (230 m²) home studio "Mochi House" (it is large enough to hold a 70 piece orchestra).[13] About 2007 they relocated to Sebastopol, California.


Grammy Awards

Kitaro has received fourteen Grammy Award nominations, winning once in 2000.

Year Recipient Award Result
1987 The Field Best New Age Performance Nominated
1990 Kojiki Best New Age Album Nominated
1992 Dream Best New Age Album Nominated
1994 Mandala Best New Age Album Nominated
1995 An Enchanted Evening Best New Age Album Nominated
1998 Gaia Onbashira Best New Age Album Nominated
2001 Thinking Of You Best New Age Album Won
2002 Ancient Best New Age Album Nominated
2003 An Ancient Journey Best New Age Album Nominated
2004 Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Volume 1 Best New Age Album Nominated
2006 Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 2 Best New Age Album Nominated
2008 Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 3 Best New Age Album Nominated
2010 Impressions Of The West Lake Best New Age Album Nominated
2011 Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 4 Best New Age Album Nominated
Golden Globes
Golden Horse Award (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Film Award
Japan Gold Disc
  • Kitaro won a Gold Disc Award in the category of Fusion Instrumental for his album Kojiki in 1991[16]

Silk Road TV episodes

Kitaro composed music for NHK's Silk Road documentary series from 1980 to 1985. The initial 12 episodes were one hour in length, broadcast once a month in 1980. In 1981, episodes were shorted to 30 minutes in length, broadcast every other week for the following four years.

Episode Title Year Television Broadcaster
Glories Of Ancient Chang-An 1980 NHK
A Thousand Kilometers Beyond The Yellow River 1980 NHK
The Art Gallery In The Desert 1980 NHK
The Dark Castle 1980 NHK
In Search Of The Kingdom Of Lou-Lan 1980 NHK
Across The Taklamakan Desert 1980 NHK
Khotan-Oasis Of Silk And Jade 1980 NHK
A Heat Wave Called Turfan 1980 NHK
Journey Into Music-South Through The Tian Shan Mountains 1980 NHK
Where Horses Fly Like The Wind 1980 NHK
Two Roads To The Pamirs 1980 NHK
Across The Pamir (Silk Road II) - NHK
The King's Road (Silk Road II) - NHK
Legendary Ladack (Silk Road II) - NHK
Xuang Zang's Travels In India (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Scorching Sun And The Southern Road Of Iran (Silk Road II) - NHK
In Search Of Wisdom (Silk Road II) - NHK
Beyond Baghdad (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Road Vanished Into A Lake (Silk Road II) - NHK
Across The Steppes (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Sky Horses Of Davar (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Soghdian Merchants (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Glory Of Samarkand (Silk Road II) - NHK
Across The Karakum Desert (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Other Silk Road (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Caravans Move West (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Horsemen Of Turkey (Silk Road II) - NHK
The Silk City At The Edge Of Asia (Silk Road II) - NHK
All Roads Lead To Rome (Silk Road II) - NHK


Main article: Kitarō discography


External links

  • Kitaro's official website (English)

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