Traditional Japanese music is used in many scenes, including cultural rituals and traditional entertainment. The instruments that are used originated in ancient China. However, after being brought into Japan, the instruments changed with time, and eventually became an essential part of Japanese traditions and culture.
Japanese instruments known as wagakki, include string instruments, wind instruments, percussion, and religious instruments. Those used for purposes indoors, have delicate and small sounds. For example, the koto, a string instrument, is usually performed as an ensemble, therefore each koto does not make loud sounds. Also, shamisen, a string instrument that looks like a guitar, is used for Kabuki theatre, so the music that it makes is relatively small so as not to drown the actor’s singing and talking. On the other hand, chimes, bells, and drums that are used for outdoor festivals and rituals produce loud and echoing sounds.
Japanese music is unique and is unlike European based music, due to the fact that there is no rhythm. You cannot grasp the beat, because there is no beat. Rather, the music flows on its own. Also, Japanese music does not have any chords like C, or Dm7. So naturally, the music is not based on chord flow.
Some Japanese schools provide extracurricular club activities that allow students to learn how to play wagakki. The students perform at school events, or at regional competitions. These club activities effectively preserve the traditional knowledge, musical techniques, and interest of wagakki.