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Demonstrations & Performances

Cultural Performance: Koto by Mitsuki Dazai with students

A close-up shot capturing Mitsuki Dazai in the midst of a captivating Koto performance. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

Enjoy a free koto performance by Mitsuki Dazai at 1:15pm at the Cathy Rudd Cultural Corner in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center. Koto player Mitsuki Dazai invites her advanced students, Amy Shoemaker and Miyuki Sakiyama for her performance.

The program will include both classical Japanese music and some Western pieces:

  • Chidori no Kyoku (Song of Plovers). This piece is in Jiuta genre, music from Edo period for singing accompanied by kotos with an instrumental part in-between.
  • Sarashifū Tegoto (Instrumental Interlude in Sarashi-style) composed by Michio Miyagi (born in the Meiji period for two kotos
  • A song by the Beatles

Artist Bio: Mitsuki Dazai

Mitsuki Dazai is a graduate of Tokyo’s prestigious Kunitachi College of Music, studied koto with the world-renowned virtuoso Kazue Sawai, and received her certificate in koto instruction at Sawai Koto Institute. Dazai moved to Oregon in 2002, serving as a guest lecturer at universities in Oregon, as an artistic director of new koto ensemble group, Oregon Koto-Kai (Japanese Koto Society of Oregon), and touring throughout the US, Europe, South America and Japan.

Mitsuki Dazai performing in the Pavilion during the Garden’s annual Moonviewing Festival. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

In 2010, Dazai was featured on Oregon Art Beat and released two CDs —Autumn, Music for Solo Koto (2007), and Far Away…Romances for Koto (2010) in collaboration with Grammy nominated composer Michael Hoppe. Her artistry is also featured on the album Shanti Samsara: World Music for Environmental Consciousness, produced by Grammy-winning Composer, Ricky Kej. In 2016, she was invited to 21C Music Festival in Toronto, Canada, and played with Continuum Contemporary Music.


The standard Koto is a thirteen-string plucked zither. It was introduced to Japan from China through the Korean Peninsula in the 7th century. The instrument has been part of the Gagaku court ensemble for over one thousand years, gradually becoming popular among the merchant classes of the Edo period (1600-1868). An important member of the traditional Sankyoku ensemble, along with the three-string Shamisen and Shakuhachi (bamboo flute), the Koto developed further in a solo capacity, eventually gaining its place as one of Japan’s most prominent musical instruments. Today a varied repertoire along with a wide range of playing techniques provides a wonderful palette of sound textures, making the Koto appealing to audiences the world over.


Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center

The Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center was designed to be the cultural, educational, and architectural hub of the new Cultural Village. “With a new classroom, library, and performance space, the Learning Center provides an open and welcoming space where visitors can learn more about the culture that gave us the Japanese garden art form,”