New age music and Japanese tradition

Kitaro Live in Yakushiji


  • Kimi Coaldrake The University of Adelaide



identity, Japanese tradition, Kitaro, new age


This article examines the way that Kitaro, the internationally renowned composer and musician of new age music, recasts resources of traditional Japanese culture in his live performance in 2001 at Yakushiji, a 1300 year-old Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan. It focuses on Kitaro’s deployment of concepts from Japanese tradition and new age philosophies to address different audiences. It then examines his relationship with new age music by reference to a new composition ‘Wa/Peace’ premiered live at Yakushiji. It argues that Kitaro strategically uses his music to explore fundamental narratives of self and tradition in the context of globalization. It concludes that Kitaro’s performance at Yakushiji is used by modern Japanese consumers to make and re-make the cultural world of music and tradition which sustains their own identity in the twenty-first century.

Author Biography

Kimi Coaldrake, The University of Adelaide

Kimi Coaldrake is Associate Professor at The University of Adelaide, Australia where she is Head of Postgraduate Programs at the Elder Conservatorium of Music as well as teaching ethnomusicology and music studies.


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Works by Kitaro:

1979a. Full Moon Story. LP Record. Polydor 810 945-1.

1979b. Oasis. LP Record. Canyon R0030.

1980. Silk Road—Shirukuro-do. Cassette tape. Pony 28P6008.

1981. Silk Road III—Tun Huang. CD. Polydor 811 696-2.

1983a. Hiun. Silver Cloud. CD. Sound Design SDCF 1342-17.

1983b. Silk Road IV -Tenjiku. LP Record. Polydor 831 149-1.

1985. Endress Journey [Endless Journey]. CD. Sound Design 1342-62.

1986. Towards the West. CD. Geffen Records 24094-2.

1987. The Light of the Spirit. CD. Domo Records 71061.

1990. Kojiki. CD. Domo Records CCCN-21011/Geffen 9242552.

1995. An Enchanted Evening. Stanley Dorfman (director). Videorecording. Domo Music Group 71005-3.

1996. Kitaro’s World of Music featuring Yu-Xiao Guang. CD. Domo Records 71011-2.

1998. Healing Forest. CD. Sound Design. SDCF 10005.

1999. Thinking of You. CD. Domo Records DJCP-50044.

2002a. daylight, moonlight Kitaro Live in Yakushiji CD. 2 discs. Domo Records 73015-2.

2002b. daylight, moonlight Kitaro Live in Yakushiji. Kitaro and Gary Barlough (producers). DVD. Dreamusic MUBD 1001.

2002c. Noah’s Ark. CD. Sound Design SDHL-1012.

Other works

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Astro Boy. 2006. Astro Boy (1960). Deluxe DVD Collection. Collingwood, VIC: Madman Entertainment.

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Gens?maden Saiy?ki. 1999. Takashi Sogabe (director). Tokyo: Video Animation. Tokyo Kids.

Gens?maden Saiy?ki. 2000–2001. Hayato Date (director). Television Anime. TV Tokyo. Tokyo: Studio Pierrot.

Gens?maden Saiy?ki: Requiem. 2001. Hayato Date (director). Anime Film. Tokyo: Studio Pierrot.

Gyuto Monks. 1993. Freedom Chants from the Roof of the World. CD. Rykodisc RCD 20113.

Nippon H?s? Ky?kai. 1990. Kitaro at Izumo. NHK Staff (director). Television programme, NHK-G, 7 October.

Nippon H?s? Ky?kai. 2003. Korean/English narrations. Vol. 1: Episodes 1–12 (6 DVD set). Isao Imai (producer). Vol. 2: Episodes 13–30 (9 DVD set). Hirao Koichi (producer). NHK DVD. Incheon, Korea: DS Media.

Nippon H?s? Ky?kai. 2005. The Silk Road. The DVD Collection. 2 vols. Japanese narration. Vol. I: Episodes 1–12 (6 DVD set). Isao Imai (producer). Vol. 2: Episodes 13–30 (9 DVD set). Hirao Koichi (producer). NHK DVD. Tokyo: Nippon H?s? Ky?kai.

Pink Floyd. 1973. The Dark Side of the Moon. LP. Harvest SHVL 804.

Saiyuki. 1978–1980. Toshi Aoki et al. (directors). Television series. 52 episodes. NTV Japan.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture. 1979. Robert Wise (director). Motion Picture and DVD. Los Angeles: Paramount Pictures.

Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV–VI). 1977; 1980; 1983. George Lucas (director). Motion Picture and DVD. Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox.

Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble. 2001. Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet. CD. Sony Classical SK 89782.



How to Cite

Coaldrake, K. (2012). New age music and Japanese tradition: Kitaro Live in Yakushiji. Perfect Beat, 13(1), 49–68.