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Demonstrations & Performances

Cultural Performance: Koto Harp

Stroll the new Cultural Village as accomplished Koto Harpist, Mitsuki Dazai, shares her music.

About the Koto Harp

Koto master Mitsuki Dazai / Photo by Aaron Lee

The standard Koto harp 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.