Min'yo of Japan - Sakura Ensemble
Japanese traditional music and popular songs






The Sakura Ensemble is based in Paris

Japanese traditional music - Three Japanese singers, all ladies, a shamisen, a koto, a taiko, a mokkin, an uchiwa-daiko and other percussion instruments. This is the Sakura Ensemble (アンサンブル桜), a trio founded in 2003, a few years after Nobuko Matsumiya, a koto player, met percussionist Emiko Ota... in Paris! 

Sakura means 'cherry blossoms'. The group interprets the most popular folk songs from Japan, called min'yo and shin-min'yo (new min'yo). Most min'yo and shin-min'yo express joy, are made for dancing, amusement or encourage work. Some are funny. A Sakura Ensemble concert is an enjoyable musical journey across Japan.

Despite their very exotic sounds, the melodic simplicity of the min'yo makes them universal works of art, easy to remember and which everyone can hum after hearing them just once.

Since it was founded, the Sakura Ensemble has been billed in concert halls across Europe, often accompanied by dances: National Museum of Asiatic Art - Guimet (Paris), Palais des Congrès (Paris), Lyon's National Opera House, Scène nationale d'Aubusson, (France), mediatheques (France), festivals in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Norway, etc.

Videos of Sakura past concerts and shows in music venues

Awa odori (阿波踊り - Dance of Awa)
Awa odori is a min'yo from the Tokushima region. It was created in 1587, as demanded by a lord to celebrate the building of his castle. Today, the O-Bon festival is held every year in August in Tokushima City. It is one of the most famous festivals. With the number of competing groups (ren) and its extravagant atmosphere, it can be compared to the Rio Carnival. People come from the world over. Tokushima City also has a theatre hall called Awa Odori Kaikan where, all year round, various ren perform who only play this title.

Awa odori (excerpt), Lyon's National Opera House, Japan Festival, March 2008  


Otemoyan (
おてもやん - Little Lady Otemo)
Otemoyan is a humorous min'yo from the region of Kumamoto. It tells the tale of a young bride who complains about the ugliness of her husband. She even feels ashamed to be seen with him; Yet she loves her man. What is not said but only hinted through the girl's name (Otemo), is that she is far from being a beauty herself...

Otemoyan, Auditorium, National Museum of Asiatic Art - Guimet, Paris, April 2007


Miyazu bushi (
-Tune of Miyazu)
Miyazu bushi is a min'yo from the region of North-East Kyōto. Miyazu is a port and used to be appreciated for its ‘red light’ district. The song includes some risqué wordplay about a penniless man, but we can also understand that he does not feel penis less...

Miyazu bushi (excerpt), Nuits d'O (Montpellier festival, France), August 2006

 Sakura last CD!   Released October 2008

The Sakura Ensemble from Japan

Fumie Hihara: shamisen - Nobuko Matsumiya: koto - Emiko Ota: wadaiko
Booklet 16 pages, English and Japanese notes * Distribution in 32 countries including Japan * Recommended price: US $ 19,99

CD referenced by:
Musée du Quai Branly, Paris
Musée national des arts asiatiques - Guimet, Paris
Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris

Direct link to Minyo of Japan (at Fremeaux.com)
Buy on-line : La Librairie Sonore (worldwide free delivery) / Soon available on audioroots.com (worldwide free delivery) and  amazon.co.jp

Sakura CD for younger listeners

The Sakura Ensemble from Japan

In 2004, Sakura released their debut CD for younger listeners (quartet with shakuhachi, male voice and choir of children): Japon, Rondes, comptines et berceuses,  Ed. ARB, Paris, coll. 'Terres d'enfance'.
Listen and order from: fnac.com / alapage.com / amazon.fr

Videos of Sakura past concerts and shows in music venues

Itsuki no komoriuta
(五木の子守歌-  Lullaby of Itsuki)
Itsuki no komoriuta is a min'yo from the Kumamoto region. Itsuki is the name of a village. The melody is intended as a lullaby but the song tells of the sadness and poverty of a nursemaid.

Itsuki no komoriuta (excerpt), Un Eté à Bourges (festival, France), August 2008.




Tokyo ondo  (
東京音頭 - Song of Tokyo)

Tokyo ondo is a dance song composed in 1933 by Shimpei Nakayama with lyrics by Yaso Saijo. It is a shin-min'yo (new min'yo). The words are about the might of Tokyo and Emperor Showa.

Tokyo ondo (excerpt), Abbey of Sylvanès, 30th International Festival of Holy Music, July 2007



English translation: Laure Wright from the French texts of Philippe Costa, author

More videos on the French version of this Website

 Our other Website

Artistes Associés - Japon (Japanese traditional music and other shows)


Booking Agents / Venue programming
Contact Artistes Associés - Japon
artistes-associes [at] wanadoo.fr
(Please change [at] for @)

GSM Philippe Costa: +33 (0)6 56 73 40 30
GSM Nobuko Matsumiya: +33 (0)6 18 05 92 77


Published: August 5, 2008
Last update: May 2, 2015
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