Traditional Japanese music will make Sunday special


Local organization Friends of Mukai will sponsor a free performance by Japanese koto ensemble group Seattle Miyagi Kai at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 30 at Camp Burton Lodge.

The program will include traditional and modern Japanese ensemble pieces performed on Japanese instruments, such as the koto (a 6-foot-long, 13-string zither that lies flat in front of the musician); the sangen (a three-string long-necked instrument without frets) and the shakuhachi (a thick bamboo flute, with five finger holes).

Ensemble director Kuniko Takamura is a renowned player who studied and taught in Japan for 10 years after WWII. She came to Seattle in 1957 and premiered Miyagi Kai in 1960. Ensemble member Marcia Takamura, Kuniko’s daughter, is a second generation koto master who has performed throughout the Northwest including with Aono Jikken Ensemble and One World Taiko.

The Takamuras will be joined by at least seven other players on Sunday. One of those players, islander Ann Irish, is also involved with Friends of Mukai and came up with the idea of ​​bringing the ensemble to Vashon.

Irish has been a member of the ensemble since 1991, which she joined after learning to play koto during a one-year stay in Japan. At that time, Irish said that she wanted to intensively study an aspect of Japanese culture and chose koto as her starting point. After returning to Vashon, Irish helped establish Vashon High School’s still thriving Japanese learning program, which includes classes, trips to Japan by VHS students, and opportunities to host Japanese students here on Vashon.

Irish said she was excited to bring the set to Vashon.

“The music is lovely,” she said, adding that the concert would be a rare opportunity to hear koto and other instruments played on Vashon. “I have been here for 50 years and I don’t remember anything like it. “

At Sunday’s concert, the ensemble will perform compositions by Michio Miyagi, considered by many to be the greatest koto master of his generation and a leader in integrating Western music with traditional Japanese music. Works by other composers will also be presented.

Friends of Mukai, concert organizers, celebrate Vashon’s Japanese-American and agricultural heritage with programs that showcase the contributions of the Mukai family and the Japanese-American community to agriculture, business and society. 20th century community life. Mukai Farm and Garden, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers a glimpse into the life of the Mukai family from 1926 to 1942. The site includes a house, a fruit barreling factory, a Japanese garden and trails and trails. For more information, visit

Camp Burton Lodge, where the concert will take place Sunday, is located at 9326 SW Bayview Dr.

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