Long recognized as one of the most acclaimed recording artist in the Orient and America, Kitaro has always taken his music far beyond the borders of his native Japan. As a composer and multi-instrumentalist, he has reached millions of people on every continent with his stellar recordings.
Though his public presence has always been cloaked in the tradition and mysticism of the culture into which he was born, Kitaro's music does not yield to boundaries or national categories. Perhaps,as one writer notes, it is his "honesty and consistencythat people seem to trust" that keeps him in the forefront of modern music. It is, as another suggests, his compositions,which weave "a boundless playworld of a thousand pictures. . . a web of gentleness and wonderment."
Since the early 70's, Kitaro's music has been a reflection of a consciousness that displays a reverence for nature and for the world as humanity's natural habitat. "Nature inspires me," he says. "To me, some songs are like clouds, some are like water."
The beauty of nature was part of Kitaro's earliest days. He was born into a Buddhist/Shintoist farming family in Toyohashi Prefecture in Central Japan in 1953. His rural youth gave him an early feel for the simplicity and grandeur of nature. "I found a place in nature when I was very young," he recalls. "And spirituality, I was always a universalist in my outlook."
As a high school student, he discovered the electric guitar. Completely self-taught, he fell in love with American Rhythm and Blues. Kitaro says, "I love classical music, which is like pictures, and rock music, to me, means power and energy. We have music so we can feel the Universe." With some classmates, he formed the rock group Albatross, which featured his early poetry set to music. In the early 1970's, at which time he switched from guitar to keyboards, he recorded with a group called The Far East Family Band. He recalls, "I had switched over to keyboards and we were doing a rough form of the kind of impressionistic music that I would later start playing."
"I remember when I first created the wave sound. I could create an ocean, a winter coastline, a summer beach." The Japanese became fascinated by Kitaro's music and the critics referred to it as 'sound pictures' and 'mind music.' In 1980, he created the music to Silk Road, an hour-long documentary about the overland trade route from Europe to Japan. The Japanese National Television program was so well received that it evolved into a series that ran on Japanese television for five years.
For many years, a small and devoted audience in America, through albums imported from Japan and Europe, knew Kitaro. By 1985, that audience widened considerably when Geffen Records simultaneously released a number of Kitaro compliations.
In 1986, came Tenku. The title, which means "Heavenly Sky," reflects the open air environment of Kitaro's home studio - a 200 year old farmhouse in the Japanese Alps, where the album was made. On the opening track, a child's laughter is heard. The album's theme concerns images and impressions of childhood.
In the fall of 1987, The Light of the Spirit was released, co-produced with Grateful Dead Percussionists Mickey Hart, a long time Kitaro admirer. Thematically, The Light of the Spirit includes Kitaro's vision of life, death and rebirth, and continues his musical exploration of the life cycle that started with Tenku. Kitaro earned his first Grammy nomination for "The Field" in the category of best new age performance.
Later that year, Kitaro toured the U.S. and played to sold-out venues in many cites, including New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Atlanta and was often required to add a second night to satisfy demand. A young Japanese woman, after one of the concerts, remarked, "his music is like the heartbeat of an unborn child, you can feel it."
In 1992, Kitaro became even more accessible to pop culture in the U.S. by a collaborating with Yes' Jon Anderson for the Dream album. And later that year, was enlisted to score the music for Oliver Stone's final chapter in his epic trilogy about the Vietnam War, "Heaven and Earth". The soundtrack to this critically acclaimed feature earned Kitaro a Golden Globe Award.
In the following years, Kitaro earned a number of Grammy Nominations for Mandala, An Enchanted Evening and Gaia Onbashira. The accolades were made official when after an amazing six nominations, Kitaro captured the prestigious Grammy Award in the 'Best New Age Album' category for Thinking of You. Kitaro notes, "The Grammy Award was always an incredible dream and to actually win was truly a dream come true."
In 2001, Kitaro was commissioned to record the accompanying soundtrack to the NHK special, "Messages from the Past" and inspired the music for Kitaro's seventh Grammy Nominated album, Ancient.
Released earlier this year, An Ancient Journey takes us on a campaign, which began with his previous release, Ancient. Merging the finest of Eastern and Western culture, Kitaro invites you to experience the life and spirit of the world's ancient people.