If you’ve enjoyed listening to melodic, contemplative, electronic based music in the New Age style, you have likely encountered the sounds of Kitaro.  In fact, Kitaro has been recognized as the prime mover in the formulation and popularity of New Age music.Kitaro01

Kitaro was born Masanori Takahashi on this date in 1953 at Toyohashi, Japan. After graduating from Toyohashi Commercial High School, he moved to Tokyo and merged into the popular music culture.

His first inspiration was Otis Redding’s R & B style. But a lasting, shift in Kitaro’s Kitaro_5direction came in the early 1970s when he was introduced to Klaus Schulze of Tangerine Dream. In fact, if you listen to Kitaro’s albums, you will notice the sophisticated Tangerine Dream influences.

Unlike most New Age music, Kitaro’s compositions are more complex and engaging.  There is a feel of neo-classical structure blended with a strong Far Eastern tonality.  The architect of the New Age genre does not create the bland, tinkly mush that tainted the reputation of New Age for most people.  He has pushed the boundaries and has collaborated with a wide array of musicians.

I first heard Kitaro in the late 1970s after reading about him in the underground music press.  My import copy of “Ten Kai” hooked me for life.

Kitaro02In 1980, Kitaro composed the extensive sound track for the NHK television network’s documentary “The Silk Road: The Rise And Fall Of Civilizations”.  The double album set brought Kitaro out of underground status and into the mainstream.  The albums remain popular to this day.

After signing with Geffen in 1986, his first albums were re-released to mainstream buyers.  His collaborations with Mickey Hart of Grateful Dead and Jon Anderson of Yes, supercharged his sales figures.  It was around that time Kitaro received his first three Grammy nominations.  His soundtrack music for “Heaven & Earth” and the Japanese theme in the movie, “Return From The River Kwai” came at this time.

Since the 1990s, Kitaro’s productivity has been prolific.  If you only listen to one Kitaro album, “Thinking Of You” should be it. Critics, including this writer, think it’s one of the most stunningly beautiful records ever produced. As a matter of fact, Kitaro won the Grammy trophy for Best New Age Album for his efforts on that record.

In my opinion, some of his most inspirational music can be found on his series of albums based on the “Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai”.  They epitomize Kitaro’s long interest in promoting peace and inclusive spirituality.  The Japanese temple bells from Shikoku, Japan, featured on the fourth volume, tie that collection together seamlessly.

If you love radically, mellow music, I recommend Kitaro very highly.

Happy 60th birthday, Kitaro!


The Blue Jay of Happiness especially enjoys the mid-1990s album “Mandala”.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Entertainment, music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Kitaro

  1. mandala56 says:

    I shelve these cds at work all the time… I’ll check one out now!

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