Although it’s only a small city, Kobe is the birthplace of numerous musical artists of a range of genres. Checking out their music is a great way to gain a feel for what Kobe is about.
In addition to being a musician, Masaaki Suzuki is a conductor and the founder and director of an orchestra and chorus. He started his professional music career at age 12, playing the organ in a church. He later became a harpsichord instructor and is currently recording Bach’s complete works for the solo harpsichord. He has received several awards for his musical achievements.
An award-winning jazz and classical pianist, Makoto Ozone’s name is familiar worldwide. In addition to his solo work, he founded the big band No Name Horses and collaborated with Polish vocalist Anna Maria Jopek as well as with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. He also performed in a duo with Kimiko Itoh at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Named after his dog, Piko is a J-pop singer with an extensive vocal range, covering notes typical to both male and female vocalists. He became Internet-famous after uploading covers to the video-sharing site Nico Nico Douga. To date, he has released 14 singles and seven albums. He also makes songs as a Vocaloid producer under the name Chuutoro-P.
Jazz pianist and singer Ichiko Hashimoto was born in Kobe in 1952 and started learning piano at age five. She has released a large number of albums in addition to composing several movie soundtracks and working on collaborations with other artists. She sometimes performs with her sister, Mayumi Hashimoto.
Another jazz pianist from Kobe is Yoko Miwa. She began learning classical piano but later focused fully on jazz, now favoring an acoustic post-bop style. She began her education in Kansai, attending Osaka College of Music, where she studied under organist Minoru Ozone (father of Makoto Ozone). Later, she studied jazz theory and performance at Berklee College of Music and has since remained in Boston.
Indie rock band The fin. is currently made up of Yuto Uchino (lead vocalist) and Kaoru Nakazawa (bassist). Now a two-piece band, the group originally had four members when it formed in 2012 — Kaoru Nakazawa was the drummer rather than bassist in this lineup. The fin.’s style is a fusion of synth-pop with shoe-gaze and chill-wave.
Classical composer Takeuni Hirayoshi was born in Kobe in 1936 and died in 1998. His music spanned many genres, including orchestral, band, concertante, chamber music, and piano pieces, although he is best known for his choral works. He also composed the score for the Japanese anime version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, released in 1975.
The love for music is reflected throughout Kobe. For instance, the city is a great place to attend concerts and hear live music at bars. There’s also the annual Kobe Jazz Street — the oldest jazz event in Japan and still one of its biggest festivals. Whatever your taste in music, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest.