Kitarō playing in Tehran, October 2014
|Birth name||Masanori Takahashi|
February 4, 1953 |
Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan
|Genres||Instrumental, electronica, new-age, folk|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, record producer, arranger|
|Instruments||Keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, Japanese flutes, drums, percussion|
|Associated acts||Far East Family Band|
Kitarō (喜多郎?, born February 4, 1953) is a Japanese recording artist, composer, record producer and arranger who is regarded as a pioneer of New Age music. He is the winner of a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe Award.
- 1 Early life: 1954–76
- 2 Solo career: 1977–present
- 3 1994–present
- 4 Tour
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Awards
- 7 Silk Road TV episodes
- 8 Discography
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life: 1954–76
Kitaro was born in Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan, and is a graduate of Sahid University. After graduating, Kitaro moved to Tokyo to experience and become a part of the music scene, and it was there that he discovered the synthesizer. His first synthesizer was analog, and he recalls having “just loved the analog sound that it made compared to today's digital sound”.
His parents were first opposed to the idea of their son having a musical career. In an effort to maneuver him towards their vision, they made arrangements for him to take a job at a local company. In return, he left home without telling them. He supported himself by taking on several part-time jobs such as cooking and civil service work, while composing songs at night.
In the early 1970s, he changed completely to keyboards. He joined the Japanese music group Far East Family Band which was formed in 1965, and toured with them around the world. While in Europe, he met the German electronica and former Tangerine Dream member Klaus Schulze. Schulze produced two albums for the band and gave Kitaro some tips for controlling synthesizers. In 1976, Kitaro left Far East Family Band and travelled through Asia (China, Laos, Thailand, India).
Solo career: 1977–present
Back in Japan, Kitaro started his solo career in 1977. The first two albums Ten Kai and Full Moon Story became cult favorites of fans of the nascent new-age movement. He performed his first symphonic concert at the 'Small Hall' of the Kosei Nenkin Kaikan in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
The Silk Road: The Rise And Fall Of Civilizations is an NHK Tokushu documentary series that first aired on 7 April 1980, with sequels being broadcast over a 10-year period. It took a total of 17 years from conception to complete what many consider a landmark in Japan's broadcasting television history. The intention of the program was to reveal how ancient Japan was influenced by the Silk Road trade route. The documentary was narrated by Ishizaka Koji with music composed by Kitaro, who insisted that the show be broadcast in stereo. The music was composed mainly using a Minimoog, Minikorg 700 and Maxikorg DV800. The series of soundtracks sold millions and the success created from the program brought Kitaro international attention.
In 1984, Kitaro embarked on a "Live in Asia" tour. Notably, he was forced to cancel a leg in Singapore because he had long hair and at that time the country had a policy banning it. He entered into a worldwide distribution arrangement with Geffen Records in 1986. This included a re-releasing of six prior albums titled Astral Voyage, Full Moon Story, Millennia, India, Silver Cloud and Asia (each packaged with Japanesque obi strips) as well as a new album, aptly titled Towards the West. In 1987, he collaborated with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead for the album The Light of the Spirit and in 1992 with Jon Anderson (Yes) for the album Dream. In 1988, his record sales soared to 10 million worldwide following a successful US tour. He was nominated three times for Grammy Award during his tenure at Geffen Records. His soundtrack for the movie Heaven & Earth won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. In 1989, he wrote the Japanese theme for the film Return from the River Kwai.
Kitaro produced an album Scenes released by Shrapnel Records with former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman. Kitaro has also worked with Hong Kong Cantopop singer Anita Mui on the song "Years Flowing Like Water (似水流年)".
When asked about his music, he said, "I never had education in music, I just learned to trust my ears and my feelings." He credits ‘powers beyond himself’ for his music, saying, "This music is not from my mind. It is from heaven, going through my body and out my fingers through composing. Sometimes I wonder. I never practice. I don't read or write music, but my fingers move. I wonder, 'Whose song is this?' I write my songs, but they are not my songs." 
Since his 1994 debut for Domo Records, the Grammy-nominated Mandala, Kitaro has released 24 studio albums. Among them, the live An Enchanted Evening (1995), Gaia-Onbashira (1998), and Ancient (2001) were all Grammy nominated. In 1999, Thinking of You won the Grammy for Best New Age Album. In total, Kitaro's albums with Domo Records have received 15 Grammy nominations.[not in citation given]
Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai series
Kitaro’s music has long been recognized for its messages of peace and spirituality. In the wake of 9/11, the artist began recording Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai, a series of peace-themed albums inspired by the Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage, the travel of Kūkai more than 1100 years ago. The four volumes in the album series were released in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2011, respectively. The event of September 11 occurred while he was en route from Japan to Los Angeles. Kitaro's flight was diverted to Honolulu for five days, during which time the conceptual endeavor, which he envisioned as an artistic means to help unify people globally, first took shape. Every track on the 4 volumes of Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai contains samples from ancient Japanese temple bells (Peace Bells) from 88 sacred temples on the island of Shikoku, Japan.
Impressions of the West Lake
In 2007, Kitaro composed the music for Impression West Lake, a large-scale opera, directed by the renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. The opera reflects Hangzhou city’s history and culture through music and dance. Using modern technology, the stage is 75 centimeters below the lake’s surface during the day so as not to affect the landscape and boating activities. In the evening, the stage is a few centimeters below the lake’s surface so actors can walk and perform freely over a surprising water mirror that compose with the lights and colors. The one-hour event had its opening night in March 2007. In 2009, Domo Records released the original soundtrack album Impressions of the West Lake which was nominated for the 2010 Grammy Awards.
Kitaro's latest studio album is Final Call, which is a homage to Kitaro's lifetime reverence for Nature and was released in September 2013. A year later, in September 2014, his latest live album Symphony Live In Istanbul was released. It was recorded live at the Halic Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey during Kitaro's Symphonic World Tour, balancing the artists trademark signature sound and expanding it to new heights with the addition of a 38-piece chamber symphony orchestra. Both Final Call and Symphony Live In Istanbul were nominated for Best New Age Album; Final Call for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards and Symphony Live In Istanbul for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, becoming Kitaro’s 15th and 16th career Grammy Award nominations. 
Touring and other activities
In 2007 to 2009 he launched the ‘Love and Peace World Tour,’ an international tour with which Kitaro hoped to inspire his message of world peace with his music. Kitaro toured Southeast Asia in 2007, Greece in 2008 and Hong Kong, Japan, Southeast Asia in 2009. During his visit to Greece, Kitaro met Greek musician and composer Vangelis, and exchanged musical experience and creative ideas.
In 2010, Kitaro performed in Singapore in March, in Mexico for the Zacatecas Cultural Festival in April, in Xi'an, China for the opening event of Daming Palace National Heritage Park in September, in Aichi, Japan for the Thousand Drums Event at COP10 for the Convention on Biological Diversity in October. From March to April, 2011, Kitaro toured Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He donated part of the CD sales and concert profits to Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami Relief.
While Kitaro has been touring, Domo Records released Kitaro's compilation Album, soundtracks to Toyo's Camera and 442 - Live With Honor, Die With Dignity, as well as the Grammy nominated Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai, Volume 4.
- 1986: "Japan Tour" (17 cities)
- 1987: "1st North American Tour" (24 cities, 26 shows)
- 1989: "1st Europe Tour" (15 cities, 16 shows)
- 1990: "Kojiki World Tour" U.S., Japan, Europe (39 cities, 41 shows)
- 1992: "Dream World Tour" U.S., Japan, Asia
- 1992: "Her Majestry Queen" Sirikit Birthday Anniversary Concert, in Bangkok, Thailand
- 1994: "The Kitaro Mandala World Tour" Latin America Tour (4 cities, 6 shows)
- 1994: The Kitaro Mandala World Tour" The USA Tour (32 shows)
- 1995: "Southeast Asia tour" (4 cities, 9 shows)
- 1995: "Kitaro Enchanted Evening Tour" (22 cities, 22 shows)
- 1997: "Kitaro's Peace on Earth Holiday Tour" in USA (5 cities, 5 shows)
- 1998: Europe Tour (13 cities)
- 1999: "Kitaro 1999 New Millennium World Tour in USA" (21cities)
- 1999: Kitaro 1999 New Millennium World Tour in South America"
- 2000: "Kitaro Asia 2000" in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong
- 2002: "The Silk Road Tour in USA" (6 cities)
- 2002: "The concert for 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Japan and China" in China (2 cities)
- 2004: "Asia Tour 2004" (7 cities, 8 shows)
- 2007: "Love & Peace World Tour 2007" in Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand
- 2008: "Love & Peace World Tour 2008" in Athens
- 2009: "Love & Peace Planet Music Tour 2009" in Malaysia, Singapore, India, Japan, Hong Kong
- 2009: "31st Harmony Festival" in Santa Rosa, CA
- 2009: "Silk Road Arts Festival" in Hong Kong, China
- 2010: "Love & Peace Planet Music Tour 2010" in Singapore
- 2010: Zacatecas Cultural Festival" in Mexico
- 2010: "Opening Ceremony for 32nd Harmony Festival" in Santa Rosa, CA
- 2010: "Opening Event of Daming Palace National Heritage Park" in Xi'an, China
- 2010: "Thousand Drums Event at COP10 for Convention on Biological Diversity" in Aichi, Japan
- 2010: "Asian Art Museum" in San Francisco, CA
- 2011: "Silk Road East & West Tour" in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Singapore and Malaysia
- 2011: "Closing Ceremony for 33rd Harmony Festival" in Santa Rosa, CA
- 2011: "Opening Ceremony for Musicians United For Safe Energy (MUSE) Benefit Concert" in Mountain View, CA
- 2012: "Festival International Farosor 2012" in Montevideo, Uruguay
- 2014: "Symphonic World Tour 2014"
From around 1983 to 1990, he was married to Yuki, the daughter of yakuza boss Kazuo Taoka. They have a son. In the mid-1990s, Kitaro married Keiko Matsubara, a musician who played on several of his albums. Along with Keiko's son, the couple lived in Ward, Colorado on a 180-acre (72.85 hectare) spread and composed in his 2500 square foot (230 m²) home studio "Mochi House" (it is large enough to hold a 70 piece orchestra). About 2007 they relocated to Sebastopol, California.
|1987||The Field||Best New Age Performance||Nominated|
|1990||Kojiki||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|1992||Dream||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|1994||Mandala||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|1995||An Enchanted Evening||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|1998||Gaia Onbashira||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2001||Thinking Of You||Best New Age Album||Won|
|2002||Ancient||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2003||An Ancient Journey||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2004||Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Volume 1||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2006||Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 2||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2008||Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 3||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2009||Impressions Of The West Lake||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2011||Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai Volume 4||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2013||Final Call||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
|2014||Symphony Live In Istanbul||Best New Age Album||Nominated|
Golden Horse Award (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Film Award
Kitaro was nominated at the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Original Film Score for Si Shui Liu Nian in 1985. Kitaro and Randy Miller won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Original Score for Soong Sisters in 1998.
Japan Gold Disc
Silk Road TV episodes
Kitaro composed music for NHK's Silk Road documentary series from 1980 to 1985. The initial 12 episodes were one hour in length, broadcast once a month in 1980. In 1981, the episodes were shortened to 30 minutes in length and broadcast every other week for the following four years.
|Episode title||Date||Television broadcaster|
|Glories Of Ancient Chang-An||7 Apr 1980||NHK|
|A Thousand Kilometers Beyond The Yellow River||5 May 1980||NHK|
|The Art Gallery In The Desert||2 Jun 1980||NHK|
|The Dark Castle||7 Jul 1980||NHK|
|In Search Of The Kingdom Of Lou-Lan||4 Aug 1980||NHK|
|Across The Taklamakan Desert||1 Sep 1980||NHK|
|Khotan: Oasis Of Silk And Jade||6 Oct 1980||NHK|
|A Heat Wave Called Turfan||3 Nov 1980||NHK|
|Through the Tian Shan Mountains by Rail||1 Dec 1980||NHK|
|Journey Into Music: South Through The Tian Shan Mountains||5 Jan 1981||NHK|
|Where Horses Fly Like The Wind||2 Feb 1981||NHK|
|Two Roads To The Pamirs||2 Mar 1981||NHK|
|Across The Pamir (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The King's Road (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|Legendary Ladack (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|Xuang Zang's Travels In India (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Scorching Sun And The Southern Road Of Iran (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|In Search Of Wisdom (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|Beyond Baghdad (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Road Vanished Into A Lake (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|Across The Steppes (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Sky Horses Of Davar (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Soghdian Merchants (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Glory Of Samarkand (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|Across The Karakum Desert (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Other Silk Road (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Caravans Move West (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Horsemen Of Turkey (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|The Silk City At The Edge Of Asia (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
|All Roads Lead To Rome (Silk Road II)||-||NHK|
- Kohanov, Linda. "Biography: Kitaro". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "喜多郎" [Kitarō]. Nihon Jinmei Daijiten (日本人名大辞典) (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Bonzai, Mr. (December 2007). "Kitaro's Sacred Journey". Keyboard 33 (12): 38, 40, 42.
- 喜多郎 キタロウ. "喜多郎 / DIAA株式会社". Diaa.net. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
- 50 Years of NHK Television (1980-04-07). "50 Years of NHK Television". Nhk.or.jp. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
- "Refund for Kitaro's shows". The Straits Times. September 14, 1984. p. 10.
- "Kitaro to move heaven and earth at Taipei show". The China Post. November 7, 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- "Impression West Lake". Hangzhou Impression West Lake Culture Development Co. LTD. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- "Kitaro conquistó a miles en Zacatecas". zacatecasonline.com. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- "Kitaro at Daming Palace National Heritage Park". bandsintown.com. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- "图：郑少秋汪明荃携手喜多郎举办演唱会". hexun.com. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Zwiebel, Richard (August 1996). "Kitaro's Recording Studio". Mix 20 (8): 52–54, 56–58.. Describes the Mochi House studio.
- "第5回日本ゴールドディスク大賞 / Gold Disc Hall of Fame 5th｜The Gold Disc". Golddisc.jp. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
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