Modern Japanese music comes in every variety from pop (Jpop) to punk, jazz to hip hop. Music has a rich history in Japan.
Early Japanese music was heavily influenced by Chinese music. However, over time Japanese music became distinctly Japanese. Traditional Japanese music has three main types: religious music, musical theatre and folk music.
Buddhist monks in Japan have a long tradition of composing music and performing for alms. Music was seen as an important step to enlightenment for some monks.
There is a long history of musical theatre in Japan. Traditional Japanese theatre such as Noh (èƒ½), Bunraku (æ–‡æ¥½) and Kabuki all have rich musical traditions.
Folk songs became popular in Japan in the Edo era and many of these songs dealt with the day to day life of the people. For example, there were popular songs about farming, fishing or working in the fields. These songs were normally written by anonymous composers and were sung during daily work. Many of these songs were regional with particularly rich traditions in Okinawa. Fold music became more comercialized during the 1920's as many well known musicians composed songs in the folk tradition.
The Meiji restoration introduced Western music to Japan. It was an instant hit. The first songs to get popular were military marches. These were often adapted to Japanese themes. Beginning in the 1920s, Jazz became popular in Japan and there were many Japanese Jazz musicians during this period. However, during WWII all things Western were discouraged. Jazz and Western style music were censored.
After WWII, Jazz and western music such as Rock and Roll regained popularity in Japan. Since then Japan has been at the forefront of every global music trend such as Disco, Punk, Hip Hop, Techno or Emo.
Japanese music also has its own distinct genres. In the early 20th century, a Japanese Ballad called Enka became widely popular in Japan. Its popularity did not wane until the 1970s. Enka is still popular with the older generation in Japan and is a favourite in Karaoke with this group.
Jpop, a distinctly Japanese style of pop music dominates the charts in Japan. As with Western Pop, Jpop has a massive marketing machine behind it. Music groups are often brought together more for image than anything else.
Japan is increasingly well known for Game music. This is music that is shipped with video game titles. This music is often made available on MP3. Some of these compositions have become popular in the West.