Japan

A 2024 Record Store Day Japan exclusive, Kaoru Inoue’s latest album Dedicated to the Island is a collection of compositions based on field recordings captured at the World […]

Seep into the tranquil calm of a Japanese garden with the latest release on Organic Music founder Chee Shimizu’s always quality 17853 Records. Garden of Time features two […]

Sounding something like Neil Young in Japan, Niningashi’s 1974 private press debut Heavy Way is a long-lost Japanese acid folk holy grail that has now been lovingly reissued […]

The opening track on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia, Fieldwork is an ethereal synth-pop jam featuring the haunting vocals of English composer Thomas Dolby. While the instrumentation here […]

A city pop classic, Communication was originally released in 1985 by Junko Yagami, a talented singer-songwriter who has released over 20+ albums across a number of difference genres […]

Osaka-based label EM Records continues to do the “lord’s” work uncovering hidden gems and pushing innovative contemporary music from Japan and beyond (see last year’s Air from Air). […]

Featured in the “Spiritual” section of Chee Shimizu’s Obscure Sound disc guide, 風の使者 (Messenger of the Wind) is the masterpiece debut album by acclaimed Japanese taiko drummer Eitetsu […]

Part of Time Capsule’s Nippon Series, a loose series of compilations exploring different musical scenes from Japan between the 1960s and 2010s, Tokyo Riddim 1976-1985 dives into reggae-infused […]

“A counterculture movement united by an expansive, experimental and deeply soulful sensibility, Japan’s rebel protest music challenged the status quo and changed the country’s music industry in the […]

After Happy End’s amicable break up in 1973, Hosono released Hosono House, an intimate slice of Japanese Americana recorded at home with a back-to-basics approach akin to Music […]

“If Surround can be listened to as music that’s as close to air itself, allowing us to enter each listener’s sound scenery, or as something that exists within […]

Japanese vocalist/producer Dove meets experimental electronic duo Georgia (Justin Tripp + Brian Closed) on this last album of 2023 released just before Christmas on the great EM Records. […]

Featured in Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler, Speed, Glue & Shinki was a Japanese psychedelic rock power trio formed in 1970 by guitarist Shinki Chen and producer Ikuzo Orita. At […]

Luv Master X was a production duo featuring Japanese streetwear icon Hiroshi Fujiwara and Dub Master X “DMX” aka Izumi Miyazaki, who was a member of legendary Japanese […]

Headz

In 1994, the British label Mo Wax tapped into a global movement to release a series of collections called Headz. Combining the rhythms and tempos of hip hop […]

Cult Japanese avant-garde group Mariah is best-known for their 1983 masterpiece Utakata No Hibi. Led by saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu (who released that incredible Kakashi album), the group includes other […]

Essential listening for any Ryuichi Sakamoto fan, Coda is the late Yellow Magic Orchestra member’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence soundtrack performed on solo piano. Somehow better than the […]

A prodigious cello player, Hajime Mizoguchi’s early studio work was not in classical music but the pioneering experimental, ambient, and techno pop music of artists like Seigén Ono, […]

Compiled by NuNorthern Soul’s Phat Phil Cooper, Selected Works 1979 to 1983 brings together five sublime tracks from the long and highly varied catalog of legendary Japanese guitarist Ryo […]

N.D.E. remains one of our favorites from the post synth-pop Hosono era and was made in collaboration with G. Hotoda (musician and YMO tech guru in the early […]

Originally released on CD-only in 1992, Melting Moment is the masterpiece second album from Noriko Sekiguchi aka POiSON GiRL FRiEND. Sharing more than one similarity with Dream Dolphin’s […]

The debut solo album by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Thousand Knives was released just shortly after the composer earned his M.A. in music from Tokyo University and before he formed […]

After working in the avant-garde scene with Kaoru Abe and Takehisa Kosugi, Japanese percussionist Yas-Kaz went to Indonesia to study Balinese gamelan music. Following the trip, Yas-Kaz would […]

Boredoms/DJ Krush - Rebore Vol. 3

The third volume of a Boredoms remix project called Rebore, DJ Krush’s epic 45-minute megamix of sounds, tracks, samples and tidbits from throughout the Japanese experimental legends’ oeuvre, […]

Originally released on CD-only in 1994 and recently reissued by Osaka’s EM Records, Purple Garden is a hidden gem featuring futuristic ambient-Mandarin pop from Shanghai-born vocalist Xiao Yun […]

Modern is a dreamy experimental jazz album from Toshiyuki Honda, a Japanese saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer who worked with Chick Corea, Tatsuya Takahashi, and Kazumi Watanabe in the […]

The Gerogerigegege is the legendary Japanese noise/experimental project founded in 1985 by Juntaro Yamanouchi. The group became well-known for their disturbing early concerts which revolved around 千摺り senzuri (male […]

A hyper limited release on Crue-L, the legendary Japanese dance music label run by Kenji Takimi, Landscape of Smaller’s Music is the debut album by Tomoki Kanda, an […]

Transformative deep listening from percussionist Yohei Yamaura composed in memory of those who lost their lives in the East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. WaNoWa was previously […]

Japanese multi-instrumentalist composer Toshifumi Hinata studied piano at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston before returning to Japan in the early ’80s to explore electronic instruments. […]

The lone album by Jun Togawa Unit, a side project from the Japanese singer alongside sound producer Yoichiro Yoshikawa and recording engineer Yoshifumi Iio, 極東慰安唱歌 (Far East Comfort […]

We’ve been longtime fans of Japanese underground heroes Powder and 5ive (one half of Cos/Mes), so when news arrived of a full LP of “band” material in 2020, […]

Moving further away from his early city pop classics (Prophetic Dream and Seaside Lovers’ Memories In Beach House), legendary Japanese keyboardist/composer Akira Inoue dives into avant-new-wave-pop and experimental […]

Released in Japan on Alfa music sub-label Yen Records and the US on William Ackerman’s Windham Hill, Interior was the short-lived passion project for Haruomi Hosono and the […]

Tropical Dandy is the first album from the great Haruomi Hosono’s “Crown Years” where he explored tropical jazz fusion, soft rock, exotica, and lounge music with his band […]

Japanese guitar master Masayoshi Takanaka presents a collection of more vocally-driven tropical fusion songs on his thirteenth album for Kitty Records. Takanaka’s slick ’80s guitar is obviously all […]

Featured in Toshihito “Dubby” Maeyama’s Midnight in Tokyo Vol.2 compilation for Mule Musiq, Jugando was a short-lived Japanese latin fusion band formed by guitarist Masayuki Furuya. The group […]

Long considered a grail of city pop but only recently reissued on vinyl, Seaside Lovers’ Memories in Beach House brings together three Japanese music icons of the ’80s […]

Featured in the “Ethnic” section of Chee Shimizu’s Obscure Sound disc guide, Solar Wind is the lone release from short-lived ’80s Japanese fusion band Om. Apparently inspired by […]

Veteran Japanese keyboardist and organ master Emerson Kitamura delivers four diverse tracks for EM Records in support of Katsuya Tomita’s 2016 film Bangkok Nites. While the entire EP […]

In 1984, Water Melon aka Toshio Nakanishi and Yann Tomita released a modern exotica classic on Alfa Records titled Cool Music that sounded a bit like an experimental […]

One of the great success stories of the reissue age, Japanese composer Midori Takada now tours the world sharing her singular take on ambient and minimal percussion music. […]

The followup to Ryo Fukui’s widely popular and now thoroughly revived classic Scenery, Mellow Dream pushes forward with even more of that rich modal, bop, and cool jazz […]

The inaugural release on Kunihiko Murai’s legendary Yen Records, Philharmony is a landmark electronic work by Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Haruomi Hosono. The album was recorded almost entirely by […]

The AB’s debut album is a collection of soulful fusion jazz that’s often looped in with other “city pop” releases on Moon Records, but transcends many of the […]

Released on vinyl for the first time on Chee Shimizu’s 17853 imprint, Pier & Loft is a timeless collection of “kankyo ongaku” style ambient compositions written for a […]

You can’t go wrong with an album cover featuring a fluffy cute dog pasted onto Superman’s body… A legend in the Japanese rock scene, Katoh launched his career […]

A crucial and once overlooked Japanese band, Ichiko Hashimoto and Atsuo Fujimoto’s Colored Music formed in 1980 after both musicians took part in Yellow Magic Orchestra’s first tour […]

Yukihiro Takahashi may not have had as prolific a solo career as the other two members of Yellow Magic Orchestra, but that’s a hard comparison to make as […]

The “Music Interior” flagship released in 1985 on Klaus Schulze’s Innovative Communication: Morning Picture. Bassist Yoshio Suzuki’s debut on the imprint was his sophomore solo release, one that […]

Yen Records was a sub-label of Alfa Recordings launched essentially as a home for YMO’s Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi’s production projects. This commemorative compilation features remix versions […]

One of the unsung heroes of the Japanese environmental music scene, Yas-Kaz is credited for introducing Balinese gamelan music to Ryuichi Sakamoto, Midori Takada (Mkwaju Ensemble), and Shoji […]

Featured in the “New Age Electronics” section of Shotaro Matsumoto’s recent Walearic (Japanese Balearic) Disc Guide, Apsaras’ lone album is an underrated Japanese gem that’s surprisingly cheap and […]

Featured in the “Floating” section of Chee Shimizu’s Obscure Sound disc guide, Bad Anima is guitarist/vocalist Katsutoshi Morizono’s first solo album to feature vocals after a series of […]

When you hear the name Hiroshi Fujiwara, the first thing that comes to mind is typically fashion. The “godfather of Harajuku” is one of the most iconic Japanese […]

One of the giants of Japanese pop music, Taeko Ohnuki began her career as a founding member of Japanese pop band Sugar Babe alongside Tatsuro Yamashita. Though the […]

Originally formed as the backing band for androgynous pop star Kenji Sawada (formerly of Group Sounds band The Tigers), The Exotics took their one and only step into […]

Originally released in Japan on JVC’s excellent Music Interior series but also later in Germany on Klaus Schulze’s Innovative Communication, Seigén Ono’s debut album is a minimal masterpiece […]

Years before releasing her seminal solo work Through the Looking Glass, Japanese percussionist Midori Takada led an ensemble of percussionists exploring African drum traditions, environmental music, and minimalism. […]

Partially recorded in Los Angeles, Izumi “Mimi” Kobayashi’s Coconuts High is a perfect tropical fusion album featuring American studio legends Abraham Laboriel (Quincy Jones), Paul Jackson (Patrice Rushen), […]

Japanese traditional music meets jazz, prog, and psych rock on this masterpiece by Osamu Kitajima on Island Records sub-label Antilles. Released during a time when a majority of […]

Released on JVC’s excellent Music Interior series, Lisa is the first solo effort from revered Japanese musician/producer Masahide Sakuma. Sakuma started his career playing bass in B-52s-inspired new […]

Akiko Yano’s wild vocal style, adventurous compositions on the synthesizer, and integration of global music traditions set her apart from her contemporaries. Her third album, Iroha Ni Nonperitou, […]

The album that started it all for the great Haruomi Hosono, Apryl Fool’s self-titled debut is an extraordinary and influential album from the late 60’s “Group Sounds” era […]

Safe Trip once again unearths recordings from Japanese brothers Satoshi & Makoto’s archive of experiments with the Casio CZ-5000. From the first few notes of A1 Closer, the […]

The 1982 self-titled debut by Japanese synth-pop quartet Pegmo is a little hard to place sonically. Off-kilter new wave, synthesizer doo-wop, electronic cabaret or Jacques Brel chanson meets […]

It’s hard to pick a favorite out of the many classic albums by the “king of city pop” Tatsuro Yamashita, but if we absolutely had to, we’d probably […]

Before releasing Awakening in 1980, Hiroshi Sato was already one of the most respected keyboardists/session players in Tokyo, appearing on countless classics while also building his own indelible […]

Entering the world of 80’s Japanese synth-pop can be a little overwhelming. The amount of music seems infinite with thousands of offshoots, sub-genres, and artists. If you’re just […]

Some albums are like a dropper full of CBD – you ingest the content and your muscles start to relax, your face softens, the tension leaves your body, […]

In 1969, four young, ambitious musicians—Haruomi Hosono (bass, vocals), Eiichi Ohtaki (guitars, vocals), Shigeru Suzuki (guitars) and Takashi Matsumoto (drums, lyrics)—found each other in Tokyo. They bonded over […]

Go Hirano’s 2004 Corridor of Daylights sees a first time vinyl reissue thanks to Los Angeles label Black Editions. An outlier in Tokyo’s P.S.F. catalogue, a label known […]

Released in 2017 and built to stand the test of time, Async was Japanese master musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first solo album in eight years, following his […]

Welcome to the spirited, enchanting world of Japanese musical visionary Yasuaki Shimizu. You may know him from his work with Ryuichi Sakamoto, or as the innovative bandleader of […]

Commissioned by Japanese toy maker Bandai in 1984, the Hosono-composed Mercuric Dance is the soundtrack for a contemporary ballet piece of the same name. Each track is inspired by […]

A highly sought after release in digging circles, the sole release by the mysterious Aragon was finally reissued in 2016 by the great Chee Shimizu on his Japanism […]

“Kankyō ongaku,” Japanese for “environmental music,” was a popular genre of functional ambient music in Japan in the 80’s led by electronic artists Hiroshi Yoshimura, Takashi Kokubo, Joe […]

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