Jamming with J-pop Music and Artists


Western music was introduced to Japan during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912). The Japanese initially experienced Westernized pop music, kayōkyoku, in a dramatization of the Tolstoy classic Resurrection.  Shinpei Nakayama’s 1914 song Sumako Matsui was a best-selling record in Japan. The pre-war period saw the ryūkōka genre as a popular form of music from the 1920s through the 1960s; it developed […]

The G-Cans Project: Japan’s Lifesaving Underground Wonder


Japan is an island nation with mountains occupying 75 percent of the land.  That land is threaded by rivers that flow into the ocean. Japan has experienced some of the world’s worst natural disasters ,yet the amazing resilience of the Japanese people has brought about astounding engineering wonders.  One perfect example of Japanese ingenuity is […]

Kazoku: the Exalted Japanese Lineage


Japan’s culture and traditions are greatly influenced by Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. Several gods or spirits called ”kami” are revered by many Japanese. One of them is the goddess of the sun, Amaterasu who, according to Shinto belief, is the Emperor of Japan’s direct ancestor. Japan is also known to have the oldest continuous hereditary […]

Taiko Drums: The Symmetry of Music and Movement


Ensemble taiko drumming is catching on fast in the U.S. The first organized American taiko groups started in California in the 1960s. Today, there are over 300 groups across North America that incorporate influences from different types of musical genres such as hip-hop, Latin, and jazz. Taiko (太鼓) encompasses a wide variety of Japanese percussion instruments. In […]

Places to Enjoy Autumn Scenes in Japan


Autumn in Japan can be described as colorful splendor. The leaves of gingko and maple trees turn into rich hues of red and yellow. There’s no better way to appreciate the culture, history, and people of Japan than taking a stroll in some of the most beautiful places in the country. Here are scenic places you […]

Japanese Artistry: Paintings and Painters


Every culture has its own artistic style that expresses the proud tradition and history of the forever evolving nature of mankind and gives us a glimpse of the treasured past. Japan has a continued philosophical and cultural belief in the preservation of arts that is quite different from contemporary preservation techniques.  Japanese art preservationists give importance to the terms […]

Gwen Taylor on the Joys of KCP


KCP alumna Gwen Taylor describes how studying at KCP and experiencing Japan have touched her life. She also offers valuable insights about the program. Thanks, Gwen! I had always felt held back by the speed of language courses at my university. And I thought Japanese culture was something easily understood through textbooks. I wanted to learn so […]

Izu Ōshima : Paradise Island


Izu Ōshima is just 45 minutes away from bustling Tokyo via a high-speed jet boat from Takeshiba Pier in Minato-ku, Izu Ōshima Island. A breathtaking retreat to paradise, it is the closest and largest island to Japan’s capital. Sunset over Izu Ōshima. | Ignat Gorazd The 1923 Great Kantō earthquake that caused so much devastation  in Tokyo […]

The Craft of Japanese Swordsmithing


Japanese samurai, the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan, have long captured the interest of many. The teachings of the samurai are an important aspect of Japanese culture and way of life. It isn’t difficult to be in awe of their strict adherence to their set of rules known as bushidō, their code of […]

The Sakoku Years of Japan


The 17th to the 19th century saw Japan adopting a policy that isolated the whole country from the outside world. This long period of national isolation was called sakoku.  During sakoku no Japanese could leave the country on penalty of death, and very few foreign nationals were permitted to enter and trade with Japan.  Sakoku […]