Kitaro - Biography
Nihongo Kitaro is a Japanese New Age composer and musician. His music is usually characterized by warm, lyrical electronic melodies blended occasionally with western and traditional Japanese influences.
Kitaro was born Masanori Takahashi on February 4th, 1953 in Toyohashi. His musical career began when, inspired by famed Missourian soul guitarist, Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, Takahashi took up the instrument. His parents were opposed to their son pursuing music and attempted to get him a job at a local company. Instead, he left home and moved to Tokyo without telling them. Though he initially supported himself with civil service work and as a cook, when he moved to synthesizer and joined Far East Family Band, he toured the world. They also released the albums Far Out, The Cave Down To Earth, Nipponjin and Parallel World. After touring China, India, Laos and Thailand in 1976, he left the band to go solo as Kitaro.
Ten Kai (1978 Geffen), Daichi (1979 Geffen) and Oasis (1979 Polydor) established his sound and he performed his first solo show at Small Hall of the Kosei Nenkin Kaikan in Shinjuku, Tokyo. In 1980, a joint venture between China Central Television and Nippon Hoso Kyokai, led to the epic documentary series, The Silk Road, which Kitaro scored, released as Silk Road (1980 Polydor). A live version conducted by Paul Buckmaster and performed by The London Symphony Orchestra was released as Silk Road Suite (1980 Domo). His own live Person Digital (1980 Canyon Records) came out the same year. Silk Road III - Tunhuang (1981 Canyon Records), Radio House Ginga (1981 Canyon Records) and Ki (1981 Canyon Records) all followed. In 1982, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under John Lubbock released another orchestral take on Kitaro’s music, World of Kitaro. Utopia (1982), the Queen Millennia score (1982), Silk Road IV — Tenjiku (1983), Aura No Saiten (1983), Silver Cloud (1984), Asia Super Tour Live (1984) and In Person (1985 Gramavision) followed and his fame in Asia grew.
In the wider world, Kitaro was still mostly unknown when he signed an international distribution deal with Geffen, who re-released six of his earlier albums. His first albums released after the deal were Toward the West (1986 Geffen) and Tenku (1986 Geffen). For The Light of the Spirit (1987 Geffen), Kitaro was joined by The Grateful Dead’s Micky Hart, Pablo Cruise’s David Jenkins and Yes’s Jon Anderson. It sold over two million copies in the US alone (and ten million worldwide) and he underwent his first tour of North America. Kojiki (1990 Geffen) and Live In America (1990 Geffen) was followed by collaboration with Anderson, Lady of Dreams (1992 Geffen).
For Kitaro’s score for Oliver Stone’s 1993 film, Heaven and Earth (Geffen), Kitaro incorporated Vietnamese and Chinese instruments (the latter played by Yu Xiao Guang). 1994’s Tokusen II included one best of disc, and one recorded live in Osaka. For Mandala (1994 Domo), Kitaro undertook composing an opera. The live An Enchanted Evening (1995 Domo) was recorded whilst touring in support of Mandala. Peace on Earth (1996 Domo) was Kitaro’s take on Christmas music.
Kitaro's World of Music Featuring Yu-Xiao Guang (1996 Domo) and Kitaro's World of Music Featuring Nawang Khechog (1996 Domo) featured other musicians interpreting Kitaro’s music. 1997’s Cirque Ingenieux (1997 Domo) was Kitaro’s scored for a silent Broadway play. It was followed by the score for The Soong Sisters (1997 Pony Canyon), Gaia Onbashira (1998 Domo) and Thinking of You (1999 Domo).
At the dawn of the new millennium, Kitaro returned with another score about ancient cultures, Ancient (2001 Domo) and its follow-up, An Ancient Journey (2002-Domo). Yakushi-Ji (2002 Sony/Columbia) was recorded live at the temple containing the ashes of Genjo Sanzo, the Buddhist monk who walked from Japan to India in the seventh century. Mizu Ni Inorte (2002 Oshiba). Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (2003 Domo), Shikoku 88 Places (2004 Sony), Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Volume 2 (2005 Domo), Spiritual Garden (Domo 2006) and Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai vol. 3 (2007 Domo) followed. In 2007, he composed another opera for Impressions of the West Lake (2009 Domo), directed by Zhang Yimou. That year he embarked on a two year long, international Love And Peace World Tour — resulting in Live In Shanghai (2009 Domo), Live In Singapore (2009 Domo) and Live In Hong Kong (2009 Domo). The score for Toyo's Camera - Japanese American History during WWII (2009 Domo) was followed by Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Vol. 4 (2010 Domo) and the score for 442 - Live With Honor, Die With Dignity (2010 Domo).