The music of Japan includes a wide array of distinct genres, both traditional and modern. Samurai listened to and performed these music activities, in their practices of enriching their lives and understanding. The root of Biwa music was The Tale of the Heike. The biwa is Japan's traditional instrument.
Japan Preserves Ancient Asian Music Around the world, the koto and shakuhachi are known as typical Japanese instruments. And the theatrical forms of classical Noh, Kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theater, all forms where music plays a very important part, have international fame as well. Ancient court music or Gagaku came to Japan from the Asian continent along with religion and a system of government with the establishment of a state centered on the imperial house. It is still preserved in Japan long after it has disappeared in the countries of its origin. Japanese Original Music Flourished in the Samurai Period In the middle ages, Noh emerged as a masked drama with recitations of dense poetic texts accompanied by a very spare percussion and flute ensemble. Then, in the early modern period, a vibrant commoner culture seething with energy underneath the dominant warrior class found its expression in the exuberant Kabuki theater and the intense, sophisticated drama of the puppet theater. For contemporary Japanese, even though all of these traditional forms of music are overshadowed by more popular western style, they continue to be performed and appreciated as a living bond to Japan's past.
Modern Japanese music includes a range of different music styles both traditional and modern. Whilst more western styles of music are popular amongst the younger generation, the interest in traditional and folk music still remains. Both types of music are rarely available in mainstream Japanese music and are mainly enjoyed by the older generations. Musical theatre also developed in Japan from an early age and can still be enjoyed in certain theatres by tourists and those interested.
Historically, Japanese folk music was strongly influenced by music from China, with some of its forms being imported from China more than a thousand years ago. Many popular Japanese musical instruments originated in China and were then adapted to meet local needs. Gagaku is the oldest of Japan's musical traditions and includes dances and songs in two styles — kigaku , which is instrumental music, and seigaku , a form of vocal music. There are several Japanese dramatic forms in which music plays a significant role. The main ones are kabuki and noh.