The Art

For me, the most influential art is the cultural legacy, the sound which surrounded me at Toyoakimoto, a geisha house in downtown Tokyo where I was born and grew up. I’ve known this sound, this music, and this feeling as far back as I can remember. From my early 20s when I was a rebel wondering whether to go along or go against, everything I have done as an artist revolved around my experiences of cultural legacy – the art and legacy embedded into my very body and soul.

This has always been one of the projects I needed to finish, this reconstruction of our house music. One of my most important goals was to preserve the original essence of fluidity and flexibility and to perform the rawness of REAL sound as I know it. From the environment of my childhood, I inherited the historical and traditional essence of the Tokyo entertainment district’s musical concepts in addition to the basics and value of flexible creations and applications.

In our rapidly moving world where many things are geared towards commercialism and consumerism, where cosmetic manipulation and perfection are valued as “products” more than the natural state, I wanted to recreate the music in the most raw and realistic manner. Something so real and so refined to coexist with roughness and rawness can constitute beauty as in handmade crafts. I longed to be honest in performing this distinctive style of music as I heard and felt it. I would hope that people are still interested in the truth.

I started the reconstruction about five years ago upon meeting two Shamisen grand masters, Chizuru Kineya and Satomayu Kineya from Tokyo. The process began with a collaborative effort of having them learn the music and concepts and then applying the particular techniques distinctive to this style. This took the three of us about three years to learn the songs and become fluent in performing. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to these two fearless master musicians. I am grateful that we are able to present the raw sound of Tokyo geisha house music.

— Toyoaki Sanjuro(aka Tatsu Aoki), July 2012