The Appeal of Tokyo for Hideki Togi
Performing in other regions of Japan is always a treat. Typically I’m guided to a resort hotel nestled in some gorgeous locale. Yet personally, given a choice between natural surroundings and fresh mountain air, I’ll take the crowds and bustle of the big city every time. People say Tokyo is a noisy city; I find it relaxing.
Tokyo is a whirlwind of the latest trends. I can catch them here in real time, with no time lag at all. No city in the world changes as quickly as Tokyo does, yet it continues to hand down its traditional arts to successive generations.
When most people think of gagaku and other traditional Japanese music forms, they probably have an image of Kyoto or Nara as the heir to those traditions. Yet in fact it’s the Gagaku Department of the Imperial Palace that is most active in preserving the traditional gagaku style of the Nara period. There the pinnacle of accomplishment in this art form is faithfully preserved and remains the standard for gagaku excellence today. So even as Tokyo keeps on changing, it holds fast to artistic traditions that are more than a thousand years old.
Born in Tokyo in 1959. The Togi family is a dynasty in the gagaku field, with a 1300-year heritage dating from the Nara era to the present. Togi spent his early childhood overseas, growing as a musician by absorbing an eclectic mix of rock, classical and jazz influences. During his enrollment in the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency, Togi played the hichiriki, a double-reed wind instrument; the biwa, a type of lute; a variety of drums; and the cello. He also danced and sang. In addition to appearing in gagaku performances at court ceremonies of the Imperial Palace, Togi has participated in performances overseas, introducing Japan’s traditional culture to the world and playing a role in building international goodwill. Following a rapturous reception to his eponymous debut album, Hideki Togi released Nihon no Uta (“Songs of Japan”) in 2015. Today Togi is active in collaborations across a diverse range of genres, devoting his passion to unique compositions and expressions that bring the unique flavor of gagaku to life in new and captivating ways. Literary works by Togi include Togike no Kosodate: Saino ga Afuredasu 35 no Riyu (“35 Reasons Why My Upbringing in the Togi Family Helped Me to Shine”).