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Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Songs of the Countryside

Folk songs are long-lived songs created and sung by the public, and passed on by oral tra-
dition. Folk songs are called 'min yo' today, but since they were created and passed down
in the remote provinces, they were called 'inakauta (countryside songs)', 'riyo (provincial
songs)' or 'zokuyo (secular songs)' until the Meiji period. Folk songs of big cities such as
Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and Edo were rare.
Some think that the category of the folk songs includes the traditional children's
songs and lullabies. But according to the classification of the ethnomusicology at present
folk songs classified as folk music are distinguished from traditional children's songs, based' ,1
on the purpose, circumstances, and the meaning of the lyrics of the songs.
The folk songs that are songs passed down for generations meet six conditions as
illustrated on the right page: the spontaneity, the oral tradition, the migration, the collec-
tivity, the artlessness and the locality. However, today's well-known folk songs do not
necessarily meet these conditions. Initially sung unaccompanied or occasionally sung to
handclaps, they were brought into banquets and private parlors where they were trans-
formed into shamisen music as drinking and parlor songs with the accompaniment of
shamisen and other instruments. They were passed along into cities and evolved into the
refined shamisen music such as hauta, kouta and zokkyoku (ballads) at the gay quarters.
Soon some folk songs became a fixed model called 'seicho', a standardized melo-
dy. As a result, those refined popular songs lost their original nature such as the oral tradi-
tion, the locality and the artlessness as the "ever-changing" folk songs. This is what we
know as folk songs today.
Before and after World War II, there were a few folk song booms that triggered
professional folk song singers to appear. The recordings of their songs were released and
placed as "folk songs" in the popular song category. Folk songs in the rural regions, un-
known until then were discovered and released as the popular songs and "new folk songs"
by the professional musicians were created during these booms. These new folk songs led
the later Japanese traditional songs.

Traditional Japanese Music at n Glanco

litI' son9
r provincial songs created and sung by the public
fO , pular_::_:
f foil< songs, pO
o. : - - - ~
Local belief Kagura , prayers, spells •Another cetegorlzat,on,
Work 1ong1\

Utagaki, dengaku, furyQ

Work songs

Ceremonial songs
Dance songs

Songs by street performers

. , (folk songs)
,MinY0 Me11. .1period · the word 'min'y()' referred to folk songs.
After the on s were called seculer
til then, folk .s g opular songs •Ringai Maeda's definition:
Un provincial songs, Pd ' ("Collections of Japanese Folk Songs·, 1907)
sangs. . . ted songs, an so on.
soph ca15t1 Min'yo Songs In rural areas made of melodies in free
___ • •• -, (folk songs) tempo, free dynamics, and free form without
···· instrumental accompaniment.
( ~olkentertainment RiyO Songs sung in the dialect in a specific area in
performance by street (provincial songs) free form without instrumental accompani-
.___ _ ____, ment.
songs or They were not
rformers. .
pe d d as artistic music but Songs in forms with instrumental accompani-
regar e Zokuyo
rtainment for common , (secular songs) ment. Often taught by instructors.
, ente :
: people. . .... .. .. .. .. ... .. .. ....... .. .... .... .. ,
~-···................. .
,Attributes of folk songs
Natural generation A song generated and spread of itself.
Songs transmitted and gradually developed through oral tradition without any
[9ral Tradition I musical notation system.

[ Migration I Songs carried and transplanted by people into an another local area.
[ Collectivity I Songs created for and by the local people, not by an individual.
[ Simplicity
I Songs to express our fundamental life without musical sophistication.
( Provincial
I Songs with unique characteristics such as rhythm or texts of the local areas.
•Ever-changing folk songs
Originally folk songs were for labor classes.
Banquet Party songs } Recordings and
Shamisen songs songs Drinking songs live performance
Via media
\ Fixed melodies Seicho Singing contests
folk songs (standardized Professional singers
melodies) Broadcasting
Natural folk songs

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Work Songs

The total number of folk songs is probably 58,000, ranked after the top 70,000 or mor
school songs among Japanese songs. Since many folk songs were changed in the oral e
d1tion h d tra.
process or renamed in the other regions where t ey were passe along' di~er ,11 enty
• 1
titled songs could be the same or could have originated from the same one. The numb
. ~~
folk songs mcludes those duplicated songs.
There are several classification methods of folk songs. This book uses the thr
. h k ee
category system shown on the right page. The first group 1s t e wor (labor) song th
. J l
seems to account for 80-90 percent of all the folk songs m apan. P aying music in
~orking place, for example, the background music in manufacturing plants has proven t:
improve performance of workers. In the past it was manual labor by a team of workers in
the agriculture, forestry, fishery, mining and construction industries, and the work songs and
the interjected (usually meaningless) shouts to mark time or of encouragement, seem to be
necessary for concentration on the job and improvement of performance. That is why there
are so many work songs. Among work songs, the agricultural songs, specifically
rice-producing songs, are minutely subdivided according to the working process. The
process of rice production in those days can even be compiled in a manual by collecting
these songs. Farmers and fishers worked in the same way nationwide and the same titled
work songs existed in each village. Today's changes of mechanization and modernization
in the manufacturing system have affected the work songs. Songs related to the abolished
working process disappeared in large numbers.
The second group is the ritual song. The festive dance songs to pray for a good
harvest and ancestor worship or songs for the wedding celebration belong to this group.
Religious services are often accompanied by songs and dances. Probably, people's prayer
and gratitude to gods and Buddha were expressed as dance songs.
The last group is the entertainment song by strolling entertainers. Among them,
especially the songs and stories by the blind female entertainers, called gaze, or blind male
entertainers, called zato, who sang or played sharnisen for a night's lodging and a meal,
were one of the biggest pastimes for the public at the time. The entertainers who strolled
from a village to another passed the songs unique to the area to other areas.

Traditional Japanese M .
us,c at a Glance

and Purpose of Folk songs

see be categorized based on Where and for Wh t th
- on9s can (Categorization by the Agency for Cultural Affair:an ey are sung.
f ol~ s d the scholars. Kunio Y .
anag1da and Kash
folk songs in Japan? OMachida.)
~oW rox. 58,000 folk songs, 80-90% of which are w
~re are
(jllrin9 th8
break in the farms, mountains, seas and h~: (la~or} songs. Work songs
coordinate timing}, and es in order to: are sung
duct a · As our life styl
, eopnrove labor efficiency. songs directly ~! !~~ ~~~~ty chang~, old work
, lf1'1 em are disappearing.

Agriculture Mountain For lumbering sawing .

and forestry songs tree cutting, m'owing, mg~~~~1~'cTi~b~oal bu~ning , camphor
mg, rafting, tea farming
Farm For paddy-field tilling · . ·
songs harvesting. · nee planting/harvesting, weeding, wheat
Yard For rice threshing rice hullin . . .
songs wheat cleaning, millet cleani~g n~e ~lea~mg, moc~, pounding,
straw mat weaving, straw beati'ng~ain gnnd1ng, m1so making,
Agricultural For cotton beating spinning we · .
process expression, lacquer-tapping ' bre:~gg, Ptpebrmak_mg, tea-picking, oil
agar making. ' , sa e rewmg, fine noodle making,

For sailing boating oarin h' .

Fishery whaling si'n in at b g, ne~ s 1P.1aunching, net casting, net dragging
live bait'. ha~e~ting see~~e~~~d~~edbg~ ~ifosg~nfn~~r, renewing seawater for
Others 0
fe; gr:;~~~tgry'c~tpepping_0.n bellow s. ~r.ewing, lev~ling ground, silk reeling,
, per mining, coa 1 mining, quarrying, coal sorting.
Carrier/ For ri_
din~leading a packhors_e, her~ing cattle, dealing in horses, boating
transportation carrying eavy logs, palanquin bearing, chest carrying, riverboarting. '

Construction For p_reparing ground, carrying stones, pile driving land reclaiming
carrying heavy logs. ' '

,Religious songs for Shinto rituals, events, and lives

People in the community or region mutually aid and enjoy songs, dance and banquets.

Rituals For greeting the god~. entertainment for the gods, sending off the gods,
portable shine returning.
ICelebrations I Wedding, house opening, banquets, aniverssaries, celebration of a birth.
For New Year's Day, Torioi (chasing off birds), lnoko (a harvest celebration
Events in the fall), Mushiokuri (driving away crop-eating insects), Bon-tsunahiki
(tug-of-war for bon festival).
\Songs fo~
u ance ~
]1------ Kagura dance, b_on dance, fury_O,_ta-asobi (rituals to pray for a successful
rice harvest), a ritual dance to bring ram, bumper crop dance.

,Songs by entertainers
Songs by street or roaming performers were g~eat pleasure for people in the rural areas. Such songs
settled in the local areas and became the province songs.

Songs by street or Narrative songs Goze songs, zato songs, kudoki-bushi

roaming performers
Manzai, harugoma, daikoku-mai by street performers and
Celebrative songs gan'ninbozu.

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Folk Songs of Early Modern Age

. . . f h ~ lk songs in a scholarly and scientifi

It IS difficult to analyze the charactenstICS o t e 10 . . IC
. . d a great vanety of styles exist Th
fashion smce an enonnous number of songs an . h h n, · e
. ~ lk gs is so umque t at t e vvestem nota
rhythmic and melodic structure of Japanese 10 son . -
· . . . . t scribe the melodies of the folk so
tlon system Is only partially applied. If we try to ran . . . ngs
into the staff notation the resulting scores are incomplete, hke a foreign language written in
· ' . · r~ lk songs
English. Though not perfect, transcnbed music o 10 .
is useful for our research Th
· e
characteristics based on analyses are summarized on the nght pag~.
The first factor is the syllable meter of lyrics. Nearly mnety percent of the folk
songs have the seven-seven-seven-and-five syllable meter. This syl~able meter is not found
in the songs older than the early modem age, namely the Edo penod ~ 1603-I 868). This
means that the majority of folk songs existing now appeared or changed m or after the early
modem age.
As for the scale, the min yo scale (anhemitonic pentato~ic s_cale: mi-so-I_a-ti-re) is
mostly used, followed by the miyakobushi scale (hemitomc pentatomc scale:
mi-fa-la-ti-do). The folk songs in other scales are usually unique to the specific region with
local colors, for example, okinawa scale (hemitonic pentatonic scale: do, mi, fa, so, ti) in
Okinawa, and ritsu scale (anhemitonic pentatonic scale: re, mi, so, la, ti) in the mountain
regions and islands.
The rhythmic structure is classified into two contrasting groups: the yagibushi style
of a fixed rhythm (or a metrical rhythm) and the oiwake style of the free rhythm (or
non-metrical rhythm).
As for the singing style, basically, a solo singer sings. Occasionally there are the
antiphony style (a call and response style) and the ondo style (a leader and others style), but
singing together in chorus seems to rarely exist, except for the interjected shouts. There is
no hannony.
When the work songs, which account for the great part of the folk songs, became
independent of labor and were sung at drinking parties, their purpose changed to pleasure
rather than work efficiency. As a result, the accompaniment of an instrument such as
shamisen was added and the keys or scales changed. The tuning system of shamisen also
ch_anged from honchoshi (basic tuning, for example, D-G-D) to niagari (the second string
raised, for example, D-A-D) and sansagari (the third string lowered, for example, D-G-C).
The rugged tone was refined, and the stiff mood was replaced with showy, cheerful, stylish
and sexy one reflecting the trend of the times. The character of work songs completely
changed to that of the parlor songs.

r Traditional Japanese Music at a GI

·cal Structure of Folk Songs

,ALJSI ,, f texts are in the 7-7-7-5 syllable pattern found in
,1v• , ao-90 ~o o most of modern kouta.
1e,ctS· oday's folk songs _were created after the Edo period.
' ~ 0st oft often improvised.
'r11e texts ~rethe patterns shown below:
, orne are in . " - .
•S 35 _3 syllable pattern found in Hoha1bushi" of Aomor' p f
1 re ecture
i t,e 5· • f d · "N .
e 5-7-5 syllable pattern oun in aniy~torara" of Iwate Prefecture . .
ih eated 5.7.5 syllable pattern found 1n Saitarobushi" f M' .
The r:tinuously repeated 7-7 syllable pattern found in "Ya;ibu l~~.91 fPrefecture.
jhe c . ... . . s 1 0 Gunma Prefecture.
For example, "Kudok1bush1 , a poetic epic song, is in this style.

. Mostly ·min'yO scale'

~ Min'yO scale • Found in the entire Japan but less found in so th K .
~ u ern yushu and Okinawa.
• • Modern urban popular songs migrated t th
Miyakobusht sea 1e province folk songs. 0 e rural areas and settled as

~ ~~~~~e contrary to the above two scales, this is found in Okinawan folk

~ is~~~~oa~lo;:oJ~~~~~ound in isolated areas such as mountain villages or

·yakobushi variant • Tbhe scale has the lowered ~id tone of the miyakobushi scale found in the
M1 =----~ ur an songs sung by professional folk song singers.

To coordinate timing for a group:

Yagibushi style
For dance songs, seine net songs, ground-pounding songs,
children's songs.
In the metrical or divisive rhythm independent from dynamics.
Syllabic melodies accompanied by drums and shamisen.
Oiwake style For an individual:
Packhorse riding songs, sawyer songs, boat songs, lullabies.
In the free rhythm and accompanied by shakuhachi.
Melismatic melodies with texts mainly placed at the beginning.

,Singing: Folk songs show the character of Japanese music.

• Mostly sung by a solo singer or a chorus in unison following a leader's solo part.
, Occasionally an antiphon style is found but no harmony is created by multiple parts.
, No absolute pitches for singing in antiphon or unison. Even accompaniment is in heterophony
composed of a single melodic line.

•Shamisen: The song is characterized by the tuning.

[HonchOshi) Grave and calm Tendency [ Work songs J Folk songs gradually
J became more sophisticated
[ Niagari ) Gay and lively
[sansagari) Erotic and stylish I [ Banquet songs
and standardized to become
[ Gay quarter songs J concert music.

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Accompaniments for Folk Songs

· fi lk ngs mostly work songs were sung un

Before refined mto party or parlor songs, o so , . ' ac-
. · ·hh h ts to mark time or encouragement So
compamed by mstruments but wit uman s ou · on,
handclapping joined the singing during the happy circle in ~ recess from work or the rev-
eling after work. We can imagine people had an enjoyable time.
In the late Edo period, work songs were brought into broth els a the gay quarters
in various places, where geisha and maids who served clients a worked as prostitutes
sang to their own shamisen accompaniment. Work songs became e parlor songs to be
sung, listened to, and enjoyed.
At present the accompaniment instruments for the folk songs include most of the
traditional Japanese musical instruments: strings, pipes, and percussion. Among them,
shamisen is the most important. Tsugaru shamisen is used in the northern region, and
sanshin in Okinawa. Packhorse driver's songs and boatman's songs, characterized with a
singer's sonorous voice, are more accompanied by shakuhachi than shamisen. Some songs
are sung to the accompaniment of shamisen and shakuhachi along with a wide range of
traditional Japanese percussive instruments such as shime-daiko (small drum played with
sticks). The uncommon instruments used for folk songs include a wooden cask for "Yagi-
bushi" and "Niigata Jinku", and kokyu (two or three stringed fiddle) for "Echizen Ohara-
The rhythmical, interjected chants or shouts, called 'kakegoe', are indispensable for
the unaccompanied folk songs. In other words, there is no folk song without interjected
chants or shouts. As illustrated on the right page, some songs have interjected chants longer
than t?e song lyrics. For the folk songs in Aomori (Tsugaru) and Akita (Nanbu) regions, six
meanmgless characters, 'a, i, u, e, o, and n', are prolonged and chanted in the melismatic
sty~e, similar to scats in jazz. Though the words are meaningless, the melismatic melody is
an mtegral part of the song.
Since these various, characteristic interjected chants or shouts make the personality
of the song, so~e are ~ven named after the kakegoe. What is good about folk songs is that
we ~an feel as 1f we sm~ the song only by participating in the interjected chants and we
don t have to b~ a good s'.n~er. One of the pleasures about singing a folk song is, unlike the
karaoke, there 1s no restnctJon such as fixed pitches or tempo.

Traditional Japanese M .
us,c at a GI

anirnent of Folk songs

ACcorTlP folk songs .
ir ppella were not accompanied by any instrum
AcS talk songsfolk songs were accompanied mainly b enths bu~ only With h
' .. sllY . ed from . . . Ys am,sen. and cla .
~,~ den" • Sham1sen: Ma!n a~companiment instrument for PP1ng. Gay quarter
~ ·ng • rsugar_u sham1sen. For folk songs in northern all folk songs in an
stnnients Hokkaido. . Japan, especially Ysty!e and I .
instru RyOkYO sham1sen: For folk songs in south Aomori PretectuOCation.
• ern Jap re and
Kyushu. an, especially Ok·
• Ko!<yO: Used only for folk songs in the H k . rnawa and SOlJthe
. . o unku region (Ja . m
• Shakuhach1: For 01wake-bushi and magout Pan Sea Side of JaPa
• Shinobue: Always for bon (summer festival)dstyle songs, both Packho . , n).
. . anee songs and ri ~ riders son s
• Shime-da1ko (tightened drums) of a horizo t ce Planting songs. 9 ·
rcussion songs such as rice planting and gay quarten a Yplaced short body type· F
pe • ayouchidaiko (tack-fixed drums) of a horiz;n~ ~gs. · or older
in the northern part of Japan. a Yplaced short body type· U .
k (I d ) f 1 •
• 0 da1 o arge rums o a ong1tudinally placed Ion • sed mainly
songs. g body type: Essential to bon d
• Waist drums or kakko of a keg body type· H Id ance
· e and struck by dancers.
• Hand-held gongs such as shoko· Various ty
• Others: Kegs, wooden clappers, ·dobyoshi
~ vaious size~..
ym als), kok,rtko, conch shell hom.

,Hayashi-kotoba . ,--- -· ---- ... ...

hi-kotoba (meaningless words in a
H8Y8lor rhythm), integral parts for folk j Folk song~ = / [_Texts] + Hayashi- i A~mpaniment
song are used in order to: :1 kotoba : + instruments
•eoordinate timing of a group of
workers, b
, Herd cattle and horses, or steer a oat
• - ~(~i~;;~~~;:,~;i;l:~-;fter hayashi-kotoba
e hayash1-kotoba represents the song.).
or a raft, . d For example:
Assist a song or cheer singers, an "Soranbushi", "Yosarebushi" "Yosakoibushi" "H-h 'b h'"
: Fill the space rhythmically without texts. "Donpanbush'" , 0 a1 us 1
1• "A.iyabus h''1','"Okosabushi", "Kanchororin'. '

,Boatman's songs: They have longer hayashi-kotoba in general.

, 'Kaigarabushi" of Tottori Prefecture has shouts of seamen who came from foreign countries:
'Yasah6-o-e-e-ya, ho-o-e-ya, e-e-e, yoiyasano, sassa, yansano, e-e, yoiyasano, sassa."
, 'Mogamigawa-funauta" of Yamagata Prefecture, probably derived from boatmen's shouts around Sakata
'Yo-i, sanomagash6, en'yakorama-gase, e-en'yaa,e-eyaa, e-e, e-eyaa, e-do, yo-i, sanomaga-sho, en'yakorama-gase.'
The longer the hayashi-kotoba are, the shorter the texts.
•Horse driver's songs: Kakegoe by drivers/keepers of a horse or cattle are not long in general.
•The kakegoe against a horse or cattle are variations of "hai hai" or "hai hai".
•Folk songs of northern Japan: Some songs in Aomori and Akita have very long hayas~~-kotoba.
•Inmany cases, because the vowels of the texts are prolonged in the melismatic style, the transition
between the texts and the hayashi-kotoba is not clear. . .•
'E.g. "Tsugaru Yosarebushi", "Tsugaru Sansagari", "Akita Oiwake", "Aki!a Oharabushi · el) not words.
'Hayashi-kotoba is made of a single vowel such as 'a, i, u, e, o, or n (n is rega rded as a vow '
•Bon dance songs: The meaningless words are close to kakegoe, ra ther than hayashi-kotoba.
Yoiyoi, d6shitad6shita, dokkoisho

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Diffusion of Folk Songs

Folk songs were handed down locally with time, of course, but many of them spread to
other places, sometimes far from their homes.
The folk song titles of the northern Japan including southern part of Hokkaido
(Esashi), Aomori (Tsugaru) and Akita (Nanbu) are listed on the right page. Note that "Ai-
yabushi", "Yosarebushi", "Oharabushi", "Magouta (packhorse driver's song)", "Kobikiuta
(sawyer's song)" and "sansagari (shamisen's third string lowered)" are common titles with
a prefix of a place name such as Esashi, Tsugaru and Nanbu and so on. The common title
prefixed with a place name is not unique to these northern regions but is found everywhere
in Japan. In the Edo period, traveling to other regions was restricted and the means of the
transportation and communication were not well developed. Then, how did the folk songs
spread to the whole country in those days?
The answer is "the carriers of the songs existed". The Tokugawa shogunate em-
ployed a system that demanded a feudal lord to reside in the Tokugawa castle at Eda for
periods of time, alternating with residence at his own castle, while his wife and heir remain
in Edo as hostages. It led to the improvement of communications between each domain and
Edo and the development of a commercial economy along the route of the procession to
Eda. The procession was a long trip staying at many posting towns. For example, the
procession of the Tsugaru feudal clan had to go through ninety posting towns to arrive at
Edo. When the procession took the seaway or crossed a river, it experienced confinement
for a few days depending on the weather. As a result, the posting towns and harbors became
bigger and the brothels and the gay quarters in them prospered. Here the local folk songs
were brought in, changed, and refined, and then spread nationwide.
The peddlers, the itinerant entertainers, and the ordinary pilgrims in addition to the
procession stayed at posting towns, where the packhorse drivers, the palanquin bearers, and
the maids, who served clients and worked as prostitutes, also helped travelers. Those
people were "the carriers of the songs" and played a part in changing and spreading the
songs. This is how folk songs spread, changed in nature, and established new identities and
characteristics through migration and passage of time.

·on° f Folk Songs
OifflJ mission (vertic~I axis) vs.
, oral ~rat~!nsmission (honzontar axis)
1ert1Praph1c Temporal transmi .
'veOg - (Vertical axis)s1on
In transmission
forn'l uon
a~i:t n t
Geographic trans . .
1r9n Diffusion (horizontal 10

tne new new Identity.
s1nongs find a ----1
f songs:
110n o dopting the The common folk son s
~1gra 1111grate ~s and dialect in
5on9~rs. cus.ton and settle as the hav~ ~een adopted a~d Esashi Oiwake
1118 nn w10 cat10
mod1~1ed in the new Esashi Okesa
ine ~eclal songs._ _ _ _ __ location. Each region name
Esashi Sansagari
ro"'n ;uch as Esashi (Hokkaido)
Esashi Jinku
P •
earner .
s· su~aru (Aomori), Nanbu ,
Esashi Funakatabushi
(A~1ta+lwate}, Echigo
Esashi Magouta
,son9 d servants for daimyo's (N11gata), and Soma
Esashi Mochitsukibayashi
,.,.r,io~ anEdo residence
,v1·,,,at1ng (Fukushima) were prefixed
to the common title. Hamagoya Okesa
site gay quarters Matsumae lwaiuta
Nanbu Ushioiuta Matsumae Oiwake
pos n seamen, packhorse riders, Nanbu Ushikatabushi Matsumae Oharabushi
•aosf3ealers Nanbu Umakatabushi Matsumae Kenryobushi
nors sen (cargo ships that sailed Nanbu Komabikiuta Matsumae Sansagari
ports, Nanbu Dochuumakatabushi Matsumae Nikatabushi
tne Japan_ _taru-kaisen
kite~::), __ (cargo ships)
Nanbu Kobikiuta Tsugaru Aiyabushi
Nanbu Aiyabushi Tsugaru Oharabushi
Nanbu lsobushi Tsugaru Ondo
Nanbu Komoriuta Tsugaru Kazoeuta
Nanbu Sakayamotosuriuta Tsugaru Gan'ninbushi
Nanbu Jinku
Tsugaru Kobikiuta
Nanbu Sumojinku
Nanbu Taueuta Tsugaru Sansagari
Nanbu Daikokumai Tsugaru Jonkarabushi
Nanbu Chayabushi Tsugaru Jinku
Nanbu Nagayabushi Tsugaru Tantobushi
Nanbu Nikatabushi Tsugaru no Komoriuta
,Plgrim_s_____________ Nanbu Bonuta Tsugaru Bayashi
Nanbu Mochitsukiuta Tsugaru Bon'uta
lse Shrine or Mt. Daisen Tsugaru Yamauta
Nanbu Yosharebushi
Tsugaru Yosarebushi
,Transportation in the Edo,_p_e_r_io_d______________
,At post towns of land rout~s: Land routes:
Packhorse riders, pal~nquin Sea routes:
bearers, maids (prost1tute_
a s) at • Five main highways: • Ten main ports (tsu) and harbors (minato):
ninn were the song earners. • Tokaido (53 post towns) • Ano-tsu (Tsu, Mie)
• Nakasendo (69 post towns) • Hakata-tsu (Hakata, Fukuoka)
,Af ports of sea routes: , NikkO Kaid ii (21 posttownsI , Sakai-tsu (Sakai, Osaka)
Boatmen and seamen had lo , OshU Kaid0 (90 post towns) , Mikuni-minato (Sakai, Fukui)
stay tong waiting for_good , KOshu KaidO (35 post towns) , Motoyoshi-minato (Hakusan, Ishikawa)
wea~er and transmitted songs , Wajima-minato (Wajima, Ishikawa)
lo prostitutes at gay quarters. • Other highways: , lwase-minato (Toyama, Toyama I
•Songs were transmitted: lseji, Hokkoku Ka!do,. _ • lmamachi-minato (Joetsu, N11gata)
. Slowly on the land ro~~e village ChOgokuji, tv_1_iku~1 ~a,do • Tsuchizaki-minato (Akita, Akita) .
to village with oral trad1t1on. Sadoji,
-At a bound to another port on Nagasakiji Mino11, M1to11, • Tosa-minato (Goshogawara, Aomori)
sea routes.

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Haiyabushi: Main Body of Folk Songs

Many folk songs spread to various places away from their homes, among which the lineage
of "Haiyabushi" spread the most widely and in the largest numbers. The current state of its
lineage is illustrated on the page on the right.
The "Haiyabushi" variants are characterized by an opening word 'haiyae' (or
han 'yae) from which the song title was derived. With the texts in the seven-seven-seven-
and-five-syllable-meter, and the accompaniment of shamisen tuned in niagari (for example,
D-A-D) as well as loud drums, this party song is played in a fast tempo with dances in
general. After spreading to various places, the opening word and the song title changed
from 'haiya' to 'han ya' or 'aiya' reflecting the dialect of the local area.
The word 'haiya' originated from the word 'hae' referring to a south wind, used by
the fishermen in Amakusa, the southern islands. Though the song spread nationwide, the
original song is thought to be "Ushibuka Haiyabushi" of Kumamoto, the southern part of
Japan, based on the line "sailing with the south wind" in the text. This song is dotted about
along the coast line of Sea of Japan. Starting at Ushibuka, it was probably brought north
because the sailors of the cargo ships that sailed the Japan Sea during the Edo period passed
it from harbor to harbor. The brothels and gay quarters at each harbor probably gave the
sailors an ideal opportunity to spread the song while they spent time for loading and un-
loading and waiting for a favorable wind and tide.
The famous folk song "Sado Okesa" is thought to be a lineage of "Haiyabushi".
Probably "Haiyabushi", brought into the Sado Island, was combined with the lyrics of the
old, local folk song "Okesa". This theory is convincing because the song is a dance song
with a similar opening word and the syllable-meter type as "Haiyabushi". On the hand
another famous folk song of the Sado Island, "Awa Odori", does not have the characteristics'
of "Haiyabushi". That is because the song, that had once been the authentic "Haiyabushi"
in the late Edo period. It disappeared in the Meiji period and was restored during the Taisho
period with the original dancing and shamisen accompaniment and a completely different
song, "Yoshikonobushi" of Nagoya, from which dodoitsu songs were later derived.

Traditional Japanese Music t
a a Glance

. bushi: An Example of Diffusion via Sea R

,ri .,
uc31ya ... . . outes
or "AiyabushI , found m various places are variants of "U h'b
•Haiyabushl 1<usa, Kumamoto.
s , uka Ha1yabushi" of Ushibuka
• port in Arna
s with the hayashi-kotoba (meaningless words) 'ha,·y" ""' , .
nQ Start , , , I 0,:J or a,yae•
, 'ftl8 so rd 'haiya· was derived from hae (the south winds)' used by fish · .
•'ftl8 wo. nts of "Haiyabushi" exist and spread more and broader than :~:~ at Ush1buka.
, 'fh8 " 8"~- ns mainly along the coast of the Sea of Japan and skipping f Y her folk songs in Japan.
•11'18 toca :en.sties of the sea route migration. rom one port to another, show
1,.ocation Ushibuka Haiyabushi, Amakusa Haiyabushi
(~~ Kagoshi~a: Kagoshim~
Tasuke Ha1
Han'ya_bushi, Ro~ucho, Akune Haiyabushi
yabush1, Goto Ha1yabushi, lkitsuki Haiyabushi
( Nagasaki:
(3) Kabashima Haiyabushi •
Yobuko Haiyabushi
(4) saga: . Han'nya Odori
(5) yama~uch_ 1: Mihara Yassabushi
(6) Hirosh1m~- Hamadabushi (17)
(7) Shima~e. . Awa Odori
(B) Tokush1ma. Migration map of
(g) Kyoto:
Miyazu Aiyae Odori "Haiyabushi" variants
Hase Okesa (18)
(10) Nara:
Miyama Haiyabushi
(11) Fukui:
(1Z) Ishikawa: Kaga Haiyabushi, Shiramine Haiyabushi (16) (1 9)
(13) Nagano: Otari Okesa
(14) Niigata: Sada Han'yabushi (Yamada no Han'ya),
Sado Okesa (Aikawa Okesa, Senkoba Okesa), (15)
Ogi Okesa, Akadomari Okesa, Niigata Okesa,
Teradomari Okesa. lzumozaki Okesa.
Kashiwazaki Okesa, Sanjo Okesa, Yakata Okesa, (14)
Shiozawa Okesa,
Jizodo Okesa (1 2} (13)


(21 )



(15) Yamagata: Shonai Haeyabushi

(16)Akita: Daishoji Okesa
(17) Hokkaido: Esashi Mochitsukibayashi .. Kitamaesen
(18) Aomori: Tsugaru Aiyabushi, Tsugaru Shiogama1mku (a cargo ship that sailed
from Hokkaido to markets
(19) Iwate: Nanbu Aiyabushi in Osaka through the
(20) Miyagi: Shiogama Jinku, Sakamoto Okesa Japan Sea)
(21) lbaraki: ltako Jinku

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Esashi Oiwake: More Than a Folk Song

"Oiwakebushi" (or simply "Oiwake") spread through various parts of Japan where it
transfonned and took root in a similar manner to "Haiyabushi". Among its variants, the
most famous is "Esashi Oiwake", the melody of which is so refined and artistically mag-
nificent that we think it is wasteful to sing it at a drinking party. According to an established
theory, "Oiwakebushi" originated from a packhorse driver's song called magouta at the
Oiwake inn in Nagano Prefecture where main highways meet. Some advocate that a
packhorse driver's song in Mie Prefecture was passed to Gifu Prefecture where it became
"Kiso Umakatabushi", which became "Komurobushi" in Nagano Prefecture, and then be-
came "Oiwakebushi" at the Oiwake inn. This theory has not been established. "Shinano
Oiwake", the "Oiwakebushi" in Nagano Prefecture, was passed to distant Hokkaido by the
carriers of the song who were, probably, goze or zato roaming on a land route unlike
"Haiyabushi" on the sea route. However, this song did not only take a one-way traffic to
Esashi but was passed back to south on a Japan Sea route from Matsumae of Hokkaido to
Akita Prefecture and became "Honjo Oiwake".
The variants of "Oiwakebushi" are not always in the magouta style like "Esashi
Oiwake". Generally, magouta in the free rhythm is sung to the accompaniment of
shakuhachi, not shamisen. "Shinano Oiwake" and "Oki Oiwake" were originally parlor
songs sung to the accompaniment of shamisen, while "Echigo Oiwake" and "Izumo Oi-
wake" are more like a packhorse driver's song in the "Esashi Oiwake" style. Even "Esashi
Oiwake" was concurrently sung in the two styles, the magouta style with the shakuhachi
accompaniment and the parlor song style with the shamisen accompaniment, until the early
years of the Meiji period. In 1909 the home town of the song established "Seicho (stand-
ardized) Esashi Oiwake" as we hear it today. At present, there are more than two hundred
'so-and-so bushi' national contests specifically for a famous folk song and the "Esashi
Oiwake Contest" is the earliest example of that kind. Since the contestants are evaluated for
the established details of the fixed melody, "Seich6 Esashi Oiwake" might have deviated
from the definition of a folk song. In its generating process, "Esashi Oiwake" adapted
"Matsuzaka Kuzushi", the celebration song sung by goze, and "Kenryobushi" sung by the
zato, Matsuzaki Kenry6. The complexity of the generating and propagating process gave
the song inexpressible subtlety and mystique.

Traditional Japanese M .
us,c at a Glance

. Kebushi: An Example of Diffusion via L

01wa .,, " . ,, and Routes
, 1t4Sgou
rJ ckhorse riders and palanquin
•1h6 P8 at QiWakeshuku and Komoro (or
a,earers Nagano, the post towns.
tcornu~~linQ entertainers such as gaze,
. k bUShl (or 0 1_w~ke ) found in various lac .
•OiWa eta. (a packhorse nder s song) of Shinano OiwakatioNns are variants
Transmitted • .
e, agano.

0 iwake ~o
routes. places, even via sea • Esashi Oiwake
•1118 U:nd kadozuke. aNatsumae
"zst(>, tyles were generated and spread simultaneously Sansagari
: ; ~utes were both the southward and northward. ·
~·----- oTsugaru
• Akita Oiwake
oHonjo Oiwake
. . • Sakata Oiwake
• 0 910 1wake
• Echigo Oiwake
dblock "Oiwakeshuku"
b~K~isai Eisen (1790-1 848) oOki Oiwake oGokayama Oiwake
• lzumo Oiwake oKatashina Oiwake
oShinano Oiwake

oHase Oiwake
oAsa no Dekake

• = "Magouta" style
o = "Sansagari" (shamisen) style

,Two styles of "Oiwakebushi": "Magouta" and "Sansagari (with shamisen)"

Magouta style Slow and flexible free rhythm \ Sansagari style \ Fast and metered rhythm

, Originated from "Magouta" at Komoro .. • Accompanied by shamisen tuned in sansagari

(or Komuro) and Usui Pass, Nagano. (third string lowered)

- •
Another song "Komurobushi" "Umakata Sansagari" or "Shinano Oiwake"

, Settled as "Matsumaebushi" or "Echigo Oiwake" • Became "Tsugaru Sansagari" and "Nanbu

in Niigata Sansagari" in northern japan.

• Packhorse riders a~d Standardized in 1909 • Fishermen and sailors carried

seasonal workers earned "Esashi Sansagari" and "Shinchibushi" with:
"Tsumikiishibushi" and "Hamagoyabushi". in the niagari Shakuhachi and Maeuta (prelude).
tuning as:
"Seich6 (standardized) Esashi Oiwake"
In "Seicho Esashi Oiwake", not only the melody but also all grace notes are fixed which, some think,
makes it no longer a folk song.

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Children's Songs

The definition (or the category) of the folk songs differs whether or not to include tradi-
tional children's songs. Traditional children's songs are artless songs spontaneously gen-
erated, passed down by the oral tradition, and developed in a manner similar to that of folk
Though they are traditional, the children's songs are a little different from adults'
folk songs since children's fertile imagination and creativity routinely alter and improvise
the lyrics, melodies and the way to play with the song. Since children's play, such as
beanbag juggling, hopscotch, and traditional rope skipping are disappearing at present, the
various play-songs listed on the right page also hang by a thread.
Often regarded similar to traditional children's songs, modem Japanese children's
songs are the songs written for the children by adult composers and lyricists after the Taisho
period ( 1912-26). They did not spontaneously generate and are fundamentally different
from the traditional children's songs.
A lullaby is a song usually sung by a mother, to calm a child while putting it to
sleep. Japanese traditional lullabies were often also sung by young children who were put
into service, for example to baby-sit. As a result, some advocate that the traditional lulla-
bies are a sort of children's songs. In those days peasants would often sell their children into
service to reduce the number of mouths they had to feed. It should have been hard for the
children who were still at a playful age but had to baby-sit for another family. Thus, it is
possible to think that the lullaby is not the kind of the traditional children's song but a work
song among the folk songs. A lullaby sung by a baby-sitter, carrying a baby on his/her back
is not necessarily a soothing song. For example, popular "Takeda Lullaby", "Itsuki Lulla-
by" and "Shimabara Lullaby" were a sort of lament songs to moan about a hard job like
baby-sitting or one's misfortune, and "Hakata Lullaby" is a cynical song to call the master
of the family names. Once we know the true meaning hidden behind the rustic dialect
words, we feel gloomy about the terrible circumstances of the baby-sitters in those days.
Apart from the songs, it is a good thing that such baby-sitters do not exist anymore.

Traditional Japanese Mus .
,c at a Glance

.d en's Songs and Lullabies

Chtl r
Ill s are songs that young
-:....tttren'.s sontg alter, and share among Children's songs in folk
(,f!"'"...;,.n inven ' created by adults. songs are not songs for children
• Word game songs: shiritori (word- .
(tong~e twister) songs chain game) songs, hayakuchi
• Ekak, (drawing) songs· e "M' .
• Ohajiki (tiddlywinks) s~ng~· is~r:~u(~a sanbiki.. ."
• Otedama (beanbag game ' opscot?h) songs.
• Maritsuki (ball boun · ) songs, Hanetsuk, (battledore game) songs
• Nawatobi (rope jumcp;~gg)game) ~ong:: ~~g. "Anatagata dokosa·
•J , songs. e.g. OJosan ohairi.. ."
anken ( paper, stone and scissors' game) songs
• Oteawase (hand gam ) . • ·
• .. e songs. e.g. Sessesse, yoiyoiyoi..."
Kara~aaso~, ~mddor/outdoor active game) songs: e.g. "Agarime,
sag.anm~... , Daruma-san ga koronda .. ."
Songs for : Omasob, (tag ga~e) s~ngs: e.g: ·~agome kagome...", "Toryanse.. ."
Songs for nature. Ash1ta tenkm1 nare (Rain, rain go away!)", "Osamu,
kosamu ...(a nursery rhyme sung by children on cold days)"
• Songs for animals and plants: "Karasu Kanzaburo", "Tsukushi
Songs for darenoko".
events • Children's songs for annual events in provinces:
E.g., pon~on'yaki (a bonfire ceremony held on the 15th of January),
Dolls F~st1val (on. March 3rd), Mushiokuri (a ritual to exterminate
harmful !ns~cts with torches in a farming village). lnoko (a harvest the fall), Kamakura (a festival observed in the middle
of January m northern Japan, featuring snow huts in which children
play house.)

ullabies as work songs

,L , Lullabies sung by children who served as a nurse for master's baby are regarded as work songs
rather than children's songs.
• Some asobaseuta (songs to amuse toddlers) are regarded as both work and children's songs.

Songs to put
a baby to bed • Texts can be improvised between repeated phrases, e.g. "Nennen
kororiyo .. ." and "Boya yoikoda nen'ne shina .. .".
Songs to • Game songs or folk songs are sung by young servants, e.g. "Usagi
amuse kids usagi, nani mite haneru, jugoya otsukisan .. .".
Songs to • Work songs to divert oneself from the sadness or homesickness:
whine • Songs to whine about the pain of nursing at master's house and
own misery,
Carrying children • Songs for missing parents at ho~e or dead parents.
in the Meiji period, about 1886
. • Songs to criticize others sarcastically.

Example 1: Sleep, baby, how lovely a sleeping baby i~, sleep, sleep,
Sleep, baby, how spiteful an awake ba~y is, sleep, sleep.
A spiteful baby shall be put on a chopping block,
And chopped like vegetables, sleep, sleep.
master ave me a broken umbrella spitefully, .
Example 2: Xf a result,ghis beloved baby girl is soaked to the skin.
Example 3: My mistress looks like a sweet fruit,
But she tastes bitter.

Chopter 12: Folk Songs

New Folk Songs

Folk songs arc defined as long-li ved songs crcutcd and sung by the public, and passed on by
oral tradition, but there arc nonstandard fo lk songs written by known lyricists and com-
posers. Such songs include "Takcdabushi" in Yamanashi, "Chakkiribushi" in Shizuoka,
and "TenryG Kudarcba" in Nagano. They arc called shin min yo and created during a lim-
ited period of the Taisho and Showa periods. The lyricists and composers were sympa-
thizers of "Shin Min'yo Movement" who reconsidered the excessive Westernization in
mu ic after the Meiji Restoration. They arc basically commercial songs to attract tourists or
songs for events in a speci fie region and arc accompanied by instruments, even Western
instruments. The public, however, consider the newly created folk songs to be traditional
folk songs and we should not persist in the definition of folk songs in this case.
The songs were created not only in big cities with few folk songs but also local
areas with plentiful folk songs. In the northern and southern parts of Japan, regarded as the
goldmines of folk songs, not so many new folk songs were created. That is because these
regions could not afford to commission the artists to write new songs, not because they did
not need new ones. As a result, old folk songs were revived and arranged in a new style in
these regions.
Nagano prefecture, the cradle of "Oiwakebushi", has nine new folk songs even
though it has plenty of famous folk songs. All nine songs were composed by the star
composer of those days, Shinpei Nakayama, probably because Nagano was his home town.
The Shin Min 'yo Movement ended in the Showa period. After WWII, kayokyoku
or enka, Japanese pop songs in the half - Japanese and half - Western style, bloomed.
Some of them targeted a specific province. [n a way, the pop songs with a regional theme
succeeded the new folk song movement.

. ..... ->,c.; at a Gt

olk songs .
..1eW f Taisho pen~d.t~ the Showa period, ther
.ii, nd of th0 ned "Shin Min yo (New Folk Songs) e
, tt,e e 111ent ca
rid119 r11o"tf ----'

tfJ,,-- r,4e111be Westernization reconsidered
: poets: hU Kitahara
: ~a}us uchi New provincial songs in the
' UjO N09 ..6
: v so salJ . folk songs style were composed.
' ill o5ers-
: co~P ei Nak~yama
: 5111nP6 Ma~_h1da Deviati_o_n from the general
definition of folk songs.
:, ~iyorr11
~ash . fuj11
_________ _
\__ .. --·,K songs created by song writers
ew fo fecture, Year)
L ··
ync1st Composer
11tle (Preh.
bUS I • 1955)
A1sh1 Yoneyama Kyosei Akem t
oo A hometo
i8~eda h1 wn song for everyone.
('ia!fln_baun;~i ' Hakushu Kitahara Kasha Machida
181<1<1 1927) A tourist attractio
Cl 5hiZuoka, Yaso Saijo Sh Railroad. n song for Shizuoka
( oOndo inpei Nakayama A bon dance songs . .
iok1rokY0 • ) Mikihiko Nagata sh· "Marunouchi Ondo"' ongmally called
1•·• Kudareba mpei Nakayama At . -
ren!YNuagano, 1934) ounst attraction song for 1
_( hama Ondo RyGji Namioka Ryuji Namioka ¥~11ey. enryu-kyo
5h1ra . ) th· ere was no folk song in Chiba unt·11
(Chiba, ··hi
Kichi Tani w 1s new one.
Hrnada u b S
) ri~en to promote the the bank
a(Shimane, 1916 Kunio Kobayash·1 K tection works in Hamada Sh. pro-
. 0 Yoitoko asho Machida Th · . , 1mane
Sh1nan 1934) e winning_song of the contest sp~n-
kfgaugchaangou Umakko Kinjiro Ono Naoyoshi Ozawa sAored by _
Shmano Mainichi Newspaper
c'"'(1Wate, 1957) promotion song for Iwate National ·
Sports Festival.
;..,ash·imurayama Ondo Tadashi Tsuchiya Jun'ichi Hosokawa An .
H,:, 9 anniversary song for the establish-
(iokYO, 194 ) ment of a municipal system.
,Fewer folk songs in big cities
, Big cities su?h ~s Tokyo, ~agoya_, _Kyoto, and Osaka have fewer folk ~ongs than do the provinces.
, party and dnnkmg songs m the c1t1es -+ hauta, kouta , parlor songs with shamisen derived from local folk
songs. . . .
, Northern Japan, the northern regions on Japan Sea side, the middle region of Shikoku and Kyushu are
rich repository of folk songs -+ Old folk songs have been revised in the new folk song ~tyle
, Forgotten songs -+ Revived through the media such as records. • ·

,Shinpei Nakayama, the composer • Demand for new folk songs

...Ja..... New folk songs were sought in the
Hisnew folk songs were mostly written for Nagano. .......,. regions with few folk songs for
Tokyo: "Tokyo Ondo" tourist attraction and celebrations.
Fukushima: "lizaka Kouta" The New Folk Song Movement
Gunma: "JoshG Kouta" ended after WWII.
Niigata: "Niigata Kouta" and "Tokamachi Kouta"
Saitama: "Omiya-odori" • However,
"Suzaka Kouta", "Ryukyo Kouta", New enka, pop songs in Tourist spots,
such as

"Osuwabushi", "Nakano Kouta", "Misasa the Western and Amusement
Kouta", "Mochizuki Kouta", "Chikuma Kouta", Japanese mixed style, quarters,
"Asamabushi", "Nozawaonsen Kouta" titled after Big cities, and
'!here are many famous folk songs in Nagano where "Shinano specific places: Hometown.
Oiwake' was born.

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Instrumental Music Derived From Folk Songs

· · 1s
For folk songs smgmg · the core. Untt·1 the m1'ddl e of the Edo period ' they were rarely
· ' · I · struments which were subordinately
accompanied even by handclaps. Some mus1ca m
used for the folk songs became independent and established new genres: tsugaru shamisen
and Japanese drums.
Tsugaru shamisen developed as the door-to-door or street performance by the
beggars or strolling musicians in the Tsugaru (present Aomori Prefecture) region, the
northern part of Japan. Altered from thick neck shamisen, tsugaru shamisen uses a very
heavy string for low notes, an improved bridge to make higher notes resound well, and a
smaller plectrum for faster and acrobatic pounding movements to make its sounds loud and
penetrating in the noisy marketplaces. Tsugaru folk songs with the accompaniment of
tsugaru shamisen and additional drums are so rhythmical and unique that they outclass all
the others.
The Tsugaru folk song has an introductory part performed by a shamisen player
where he can display his unique improvisation and virtuosity before a singer starts. This
showy, introductory part became so popular among the young people that it became inde-
pendent as the instrumental music, 'tsugaru shamisen'. Recorded or live performances by
young "star" players are broadcast from TV stations, more often than by singers ofTsugaru
folk songs.
Another modern genre is new drum music. The Japanese drums used for the folk
entertainments have a longer history at various places than folk songs. Recently, drum
music became independent of the folk entertainments, and the ensembles exclusively
composed of Japanese drums, have emerged. Sometimes, surrounding a miya-daiko drum
a big drum with a long body which is more than three feet across in diameter, a group of
players in costume beat drums and handle the drum sticks skillfully in choreographic or
acrobatic motion or in perfect coordination. The performance with thunderous sounds has
won popularity as the new and visually delightful shows in foreign countries as well. The
number of new drum companies including female only ensembles or groups of cute chil-
dren is rapidly increasing. Contests are also getting popular and there are many Japanese
drum festivals all over the country.
Because most of the works played by those companies are newly created, they are
not regarded as traditional Japanese music today. But the drum music represents the Jap-
anese culture, without a doubt.

_,.., a, a Glance

enta\ Music Derived from Fo\k Songs

f\ (U sham
~ 11g8
or-to-door performance
, 1 ed on tt,e ~od male entertainers),
03s arns (bl.1nen was began by .
bY ~rt/ shB~~ara Village, Aomon (Tsugaru).
•Thinner b
• Louder a;g
• Rapid tempo
• Suri (glissa~~)~rf~ ~ounds
ec nique
• Plucking .... Beating
r, ,\
ts~t>b of l(a ~ ( Beating technique j
~ ___ shoei Kidarin (robu~t style)
~ l(inob0 bo-Chikuzan_~aka~ash, (elegant style)
Many private
J ~
~- chosal<U Gunpachiro Shirakawa
% (left hand's kamashi technique) schools & factions
Chikuzan Takahashi
~ .
. tsugaru sham,sen
t!"er-' : .. . .................... .
, i;. • ent for Aomon. folk songs
()f11P8n1m Tsugaru shamisen music
,~cc lude (an acrobatic part of shamisen) The parts developed to\
Acrobatic technique
Arhythmic and ornamental accompani-
Independent instrument
~ rnent part to a song .................... ............. ............ . ,

Big-3 rsug~on1<arabushi", "Tsugaru Yosarebushi", "Tsugaru Oharabushi" Tsugaru shamisen music
'isugaru aru works: we hear today.
Big-5 rsug rks + "Tsugaru Aiyabushi", "Tsugaru Sansagari"
009-3 wo
~ k0 (drums) Well-known drum music Description
,Tai Ori~inated from war drums of Kawanakajima Battle by Takeda
, traditional drums Osuwa daiko Shmgen (1521-1573). Today, it is used for grand kagura and
kobu (drum dance) at Suwa Grand Shrine.
used tor. Originated fr~m the _legend ~hat Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578)
•RitUals at temples/ Gojinjo daiko attacked Wa11ma. Villagers m demon mask, beating war drums,
shrines drove away his army. A drum is struck by a pair of drummers.
.war drums
, FestiVals or bon Hosokawa Tadaoki (1 563-1646) who rebuilt Kokura Castle
dances . Kokura Gian daiko established Kokura Gion Festival adopting Gian Festival of
•Folk entertainment Kyoto. A drum placed sideways is struck from both sides.
Famous in the movie "Rickshaw Man".
The bon dance drum music revived after the end of WWII,
Sec0ndary ~ ~~::ary Edo Sukeroku based on the drum music preserved at Yushima Tenjin,
ro1e daiko Tokyo. It is regarded as the first kumidaiko (a drum ensemble)
which is extremely popular now.
Modern drums

Kumidaiko (a drum •Popularity of Japanese drum music

ensemble) and newly , There are 600-800 drum groups in the Osuwa daiko style alone .
composed drum • The traditional style drum music in the local areas has been preserved and
developed. .
, Orum groups. , Countless kumidaigo drum groups have been established.
•Exciting and • The drum festivals promote the
colorful sounds. drum music everywhere.
•Performance in
• New works have been
, Choreographic and composed, stimulating
acrobatic motions . performers. A live concert of
• Delightful show- modern kumidaiko
manship. (Fukushima Taiko Festival 2013)

Chapter 12: Folk Songs

Songs since the Age of Gods: Summary of Folk Songs

We do not know when the folk songs or folk entertainments began. We can trace them back
to the mythology "Amano Iwato (or Amano Iwayato)" that depicts the earliest singing and
dancing in Japanese history. In ancient times, there was utagaki, a gathering of men and
women who sang courtship songs to each other and danced, though no melodies of such
songs were left. We may assume that the songs were daily necessities of life in those days,
based on many waka poems by the public found in the "Kojiki (Records of Ancient Mat-
ters)", the oldest extant chronicle in Japan dated from the early 8th century, and other re-
gional chronicles. Soon, kagura songs of religious services and rituals as well as saibara of
gagaku and azuma-asobi appeared. Those songs not only included songs of the noble and
warrior classes but also a large number of songs sung by common people.
In the Heian period, the songs regarded as the original form of the later work songs,
such as a rice crop song, already existed among the public and so did popular or secular
songs called imayo or fuzoku-uta. The public entertainment such as dengaku and sarugaku
were originated from those work songs and folk entertainments related to farm work.
When the shamisen was introduced and developed in the Edo period and the songs
and dances evolved as the performing arts such as joruri and kabuki, the quality improved
and style of the songs varied. However, only big cities could enjoy them and the folk en-
tertainment in the countryside developed based on the models from the cities. Derived from
the work songs, the folk songs, as a part of public entertainment in the countryside, became
party songs with the accompaniment of shamisen at the gay quarters in the local cities, the
posting towns and the harbors. They spread all over the country along the major domestic
trade routes and musically evolved influencing each other with other early modem popular
Though the Westernization policy at the Meiji Restoration alienated many types of
traditional Japanese music, folk songs survived the cultural and social changes and became
indispensable to at drinking parties and gatherings. The prosperous record industry in the
Taisyo period triggered a folk song boom and encouraged musicians to create new songs or
discover songs in various local regions, which further accelerated the popularity of the folk
songs. At the same time, pop songs, called kayokyoku, appeared and fused with the folk
songs. They held an established position in the pop culture.

, mmr,ona/ Jopanese Music at
0 Glance '
of Folk Songs
HlstorY nd of Am no lw to. • Ancl nt aonga air dy exist
- • A clay dancing figurine (the origin f b
- - - - : - - : :.,:-:--:,':":""':""~ o on dance?) exca
okl appear In Ko1lld (The Record of Ancient Mattera)" . Vated (ca 3C)
clent songs appear In the books ("Kollkl", "The Chronlclea of J • AzumautfJ appear
• An • end ·Fudokl") (ca 8C). span , and "Colltction of.,. •
1.,1 1101 . r----- ••n 'Thoutanc1
vogura songs, sa,bara & fu zoku-uta appear (early Hela )
W k songs such as boat songs and rice crop songs a
' ~,-~.., Pillow Book", and 'Tosa Diary") (10C).
. ----.J •·~
Gagaku e1tabll ......
ppear in tales and chronicle, r,-,~i,
, /mayo &[dengaku \appear (11C) .
• JmsYO songs become popular among the nobles, warriors and the com
• "Ry0jln Hlsh0 (Co\lectlon of /mayo Songs)" compiled (1179). ______moners (11 -13C).

• ·Shin Kokln Wakash~ (New Collectlon of Poems Ancient and Modern)" compiled (1205) - - - -
, /mayo, public entertainment, and dengaku contain work songs related to rice fa~ming.

, serugeku-noh &\dongaku-noh,\ beime ipu\ar (14C).

• Medieval kouta becomes popular among the nobles (ca 14·15C).
• •Kan lnsh0 (Collection of Japanese Songs and Ballads)" compiled (1518).
Shamisen introduced (ca.1558-69). • Kouta in the folk song style appear.
• "Tauez0shi (Collection of Rice Farming Songs)" archives work songs in the old language and tunes.
• Shamisen accompanies\ joruri \(ca 1580). \ Ningyo-joruri\ begins (1595).
• Nenbutsu and furyo dances become popular.
---... ----_
".' ---:-·-"-_,
" .'-----
• Jiuta \shamisen-kumiuta \ established (ca. 1600).
• Okuni begins \kabuki dance \(1603) .
• Shamisen becomes a standard accompaniment for songs including kabuki (HC) .
• RyDtatsu-bushi, the origin of modern kouta , are popupar (16-HC).
• \ Kitamaesen \ (cargo ships that sailed the Japan Sea) begin (mid-Edo period).
SdO • Shamisen's popular songs such as ryatatsu, rosai, katabachi, and nage-bushi in the gay
..,,.., quarters become home music for towners .
• Provincial songs such as dance, folk and children's songs in the local areas appear.
• \Nagauta \established (1730's). Folk songs diffuse and
• \ Tokiwazu\ begins (1747). become banquet songs.
\ Hauta \blooms (1800's). ~ -----
.__ ___. • Shamisen becomes a standard accompaniment for folk songs.
• TOdO system and Fuke Sect abolished (1871). • ~haku~ach! ~pens to public_.
• Ongaku Torishirabegakari (lnstitue of Music) established m Mm1st of Edu~at1on (1879).
• Utazawa begms (1895).
• \Kouta \becomes popular (1900 s). • "Seicho Esashi Oiwake" established (1909).

ah record released for the_first time (191~iolk songs bloom as popular songs.
• Folk son sin the local areas are _
r7v1ve~: r (1927)
~w~ fo~lk~ so
~:==! _._________ ~n~g~s~
c:h~ak~k:ir~1b:u;sh~i::a~p;p;e~a~;:~· everywhere but lost their~;-;,-7
: ;;~;;;;;;i~;;~~-
read locality.
• Records of major folk songs releas~d (19371~sT=~~d~~ show "Amateur Sing_in_g Cont~~~~
• NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corpo~~ 1!tfulk song boom and folk s~~~t~a~gii~;rs appear.
• Kouta blooms (1950's). • e_ ( ,s) bars, con ·
. popular m Tokyo 1960 ·
• Tsugaru sham1sen becomes