Music and Dance in Japan

Music is an international language that transcends cultures, connecting and uniting people around the globe through melodies that soothe and excite us emotionally.

For decades, Japanese products dominated every stage of dance music production from creation to playback: Roland and Yamaha synthesizers; DJ gear made by Pioneer; Technics turntables used by punters.


Music and dance came to Japan centuries ago from China and Korea, where they combined into an ancient form of performance art known as gagaku that reached its pinnacle during Heian period. Over time, Japanese people eagerly adopted Western music courtesy of military bands touring throughout Japan as well as teachers introducing this style into schools and preschools for use as entertainment purposes; over time this musical genre ultimately changed and influenced Japanese musical traditions over time.

Modern Japan has seen an explosion of rock and metal music popularity. Bands such as X Japan, Buck-Tick and Luna Sea have experienced both national and international success, their music reflecting Japan’s rich history and culture through traditional instruments such as shamisen and koto played alongside more modern instruments incorporated into more contemporary arrangements; further influencing visual kei subculture youth subculture.

Japan has seen an upswell of interest in dance music over recent years. One such form is house music, which has grown increasingly popular over time and developed its own distinctive Japanese sound. However, Japan’s house scene includes various styles reflecting different regions and influences; Satoshi Tomiie and So Inagawa have made notable contributions influenced by Chicago, Detroit and New York sounds in their productions; these technical yet innovative works never lose sight of their goal – to get you dancing!

J-pop and J-rock music is a form of modern Japanese popular music that first made an impactful entrance in the 90s. Originating in 1960s pop and rock music, Japanese rock bands began fusing rock with Japanese traditional instruments during this period – further defined by new wave bands like Yellow Magic Orchestra and Southern All Stars.

Japan may no longer lead the pack when it comes to consumer products, but their prominence as producers of dance music remains strong. Their unique cultural and musical heritage have established them as global powerhouses in producing dance music.


Gagaku, one of Japan’s oldest musical arts, is distinguished by slow songs and dance. Originating from ceremonies brought from China, Korea, and southern Asia in ancient times, this form of entertainment includes three distinct art forms – instrumental (harp flute cymbals and cymbals), vocal music played along with Japanese traditional instruments (such as shakuhachi koto and shamisen) as well as ceremonial dance – for an entertaining form of entertainment.

Techno-kayo (transliteration: techno song or techno-sounding song) takes its inspiration from Detroit techno sound of the late 1980s; however, Yellow Magic Orchestra’s synther-driven techno-kayo really began taking shape under their direction in early works of Yellow Magic Orchestra YMO’s early works created a brand new style of synthpop with heavy use of synths and drums to form pacey futuristic pop works that made cultural commentary through parodied exoticism or subverting Western perceptions of Asia.

J-Techno stands apart from traditional techno by placing an increased focus on melody and atmosphere, immersing listeners in an immersive audio experience that transcends simple rhythm. Additionally, its unique sound comes from using traditional instruments like the shamisen; an ancient plucked string instrument with a round, rectangular body and thin neck without frets that is usually played using plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrum plectrums can also be found there as part of its sound.

Avex Trax’s Super Eurobeat series popularised group dance music Para Para, giving rise to artists such as Every Little Thing, Ayumi Hamasaki, Morning Musume becoming Japan’s top selling solo and female singers respectively. Additionally, J-Pop and Eurobeat encouraged foreign artists to debut in Japan.

Today’s dance music Japanese draws from an array of international influences, spanning the sounds of South and Western America to those originating in Japan itself. However, its roots remain very much Japanese with influences drawn from its long tradition and innovation history – technical beats and bass lines coupled with complex melodies from traditional aural traditions guarantee that this genre never becomes predictable or monotonous; additionally using Japanese instruments like shakuhachi or koto gives this form a distinct character not often found elsewhere among contemporary electronic genres.


Music is an international language that transcends borders and cultures, acting as an expressive form of storytelling through melodies and harmonies that communicate history, love, tragedy and humor. Japanese music stands out as having numerous genres that have made their mark internationally.

Japan has always been open to new ideas and influences from around the globe, from borrowing Chinese characters for its written language to adapting Portuguese cooking techniques like tempura into its culture. Japan has long adapted foreign concepts into its own way of doing things.

Between the 6th and 8th centuries, political and cultural exchanges with Korea and China increased substantially, leading to various musical instruments and styles from Korea and China entering Japan through political migration channels. Up until this point, folk songs and instruments had only been utilized at Shinto rituals and ceremonies or used to pass down regional traditions from generation to generation.

From the 9th century on, private parties hosted by upper class residents became popular venues for koto art to flourish. Michio Miyagi is considered an integral figure during this era as he pioneered adapting Western musical theory and instruments to the koto; creating 17-string versions to produce lower sounds; thus giving rise to modern forms of koto art which could suit modern tastes.

At this time, wealthy patrons known as danna began supporting itchubushi and miyazonobushi singers through support from rich patrons called danna. This enabled these singers to become more professional while spreading their talent across the nation and internationally; two itchubushi singers from Shinbashi Kagai were ultimately designated living national treasures during this era.

Japanese hardware companies such as Roland, Yamaha and Korg had an enormous effect on dance music production during the ’80s and ’90s. Synthesizers and drum machines, alongside DJ gear such as Technics turntables and Audio-Technica cartridges were heavily produced there, helping Japan occupy a dominant place on the dance music scene.


In the 2020s, Japanese musicians are pushing boundaries and producing innovative and inventive music across many genres. While some artists have become widely-known outside of Japan, others remain lesser-known; bands like Polysics utilize an expansive knowledge of all music genres from metal to pop to craft an intoxicating guitar- and synth-pop assault.

Radwimps, with their combination of heavy rock sounds with catchy pop lyrics in “Summer Love”, has proven immensely popular with Tiktok users worldwide – being downloaded over one million times since it debuted!

Japanese music may have a bad rep for being sweet and saccharine, but its history shows otherwise. Japanese musicians have taken inspiration from many other cultures over time to shape its dance music scene today – be it Chinese kanji script borrowed for writing, tempura from Portugal, electronic equipment like synthesizers or even electronic equipment used as instruments such as synthesizers.

With easier access to information and music via the internet, the way dance music is created has drastically evolved since its origins in the 1980s. Japanese producers now create and remix songs at will with only a click or two away from worldwide release; creating an increasingly open and democratic music industry.

Although idol groups like AKB48 have become less popular over time, smaller and niche bands have steadily gained momentum in Japan. Many of these bands feature alternative sounds with creative production techniques and intriguing lyrics. Some such as Yoyou (psychedelic punk band) and Tohji continue touring late night clubs across Japan.

Hikam and Hana Watanabe, sister duo from Japan, recently released a mixtape called (Shintoise). This tape displays their wide-ranging musical tastes spanning deconstructed club music to dancehall tracks to straight up techno as well as drill music.