Japanese folk songs on tenor recorder

In our series on Japanese music, we would like to introduce you to some Japanese folk songs on tenor recorder. The Japan Fans performed these (among others) at CAMERA JAPAN, the Manga & Japanese Culture Week in the Neude Library in Utrecht, and the Heuvelrug festival in Driebergen.

Japanese folk songs

The following five Japanese folk songs were selected for the Manga & Japanese Culture Week in the Neude Library in Utrecht. They were all performed on the tenor recorder (Zamra). Listen to new recordings of these five Japanese folk songs on tenor recorder via the YouTube links below.

“What do you see as you leap?” “I see a full moon as I hop,” replied the rabbit In Japan, the moon’s craters seem to outline a shadow of a rabbit, and it’s an ancient saying that a rabbit lives on the moon.

It has been raining all day! A pouty little girl sings a melancholic song complaining that she cannot go outside to play…

The lyrics to this song are in a Western Japanese dialect. “I want to go, but something has come up”, is sung in an interesting rhythm that matches the fun sound created by rhyme.

Using the Lotus flower as an analogy, this is a song about how quickly time passes. Lotus flowers close almost as soon as they have opened.

March the third is the “Peach Seasonal Festival”, better known as the “Doll Festival” in Japan. It celebrates girls’ healthy growth. Decorative dolls are a husband and wife couple dressed in elaborate and formal kimono costumes accompanied by attendants.

Inspired by Japanese folk songs

In our performances, we always like to build bridges, between Japanese cultures and our own, as well as between the past and the present. That is why we also include contemporary pieces rooted in Japanese folk musics, such as “Lotus Blossom”, “Owase Bushi” and “Sunayarna”.


Lotus Blossom by Pam Wedgwood was one of the pieces that Martine played at the Japan Fans Performance during the “Manga & Japanese Culture Week” in the Neude Library in Utrecht (the Netherlands).

Owase Bushi, in the classical transcription by Gordon Saunders, was one of the piece Martine played at the Japan Fans Performance at CAMERA JAPAN. During this event, Jolijn created sumi-e that was projected on the screen behind us.

In the classical transcription by Camille Saint-Saens, Sunayarna is also known under it’s French title “Petite colline de sable”. This piece was selected for the performance at festival “Iedereen doet mee!” in Woerden, where it was played while two kendoka performed their kata (demonstration forms). Martine also played this piece at the “Manga & Japanese Culture Week” in the Neude Library in Utrecht (the Netherlands).

In our series on Japanese music, we would like to introduce you to some Japanese folk songs on tenor recorder.
Japanese music on tenor recorder at CAMERA JAPAN

Japanese Arts & Cultural Centre in Utrecht

The Japan Fans Utrecht strive to open their own centre for Japanese arts and culture in Utrecht, where they can study and perform Japanese flute music every day, in a fitting environment. Follow the link to read more about our dream of a Japanese cultural center in Utrecht.