Article Viols in Japan

‘The Origin of the Kokyū’ Journal of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, 47(2012)

Research by Yukimi Kambe presents new evidence which makes the case that the instrument (Kokyu) was developed in the seventeenth century as a result of Japanese exposure to the viol and other European instruments brought to Japan by Christian missionaries. The Kokyu is thus an interpretation of European instruments adapted to Japanese taste and musical aesthetics. (from editorial note by Robert A. Green, Editor of the Journal of the Viola da Gamba Society of America)

‘Beautifully written and comprehensively researched article. … Historians of cross-cultural influences will be as interested as those who study organology and musicology. I especially admire the variety and depth of evidence you cite to support your conclusions.’ Dr. M. Luciana Lombardi, Santa Cruz, CA (1, September 2013)

“Viols in Japan in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries”
Journal of the Viola da Gamba Society of America 37 (2000)

This article proves that Japan shared the European vogue of viols through Portugal in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. An examination of bowed string instruments’ terms in archival documents, called Kirishitan monjo, demonstrates that Jesuit missionaries, then active in Japan, employed viols in both religious and secular ceremonies. Christians played a set of viols for polyphonic music. Japanese envoys who visited the Iberian Peninsula and Italy from 1584 to 1586 brought a small viola da braccio to Japan. The following terms are found: viola(s) de arco, violoni, viola da gamba, viola, rabequinha and viola semplice. (from RILM abstract)
If you want to request this article, please send an e-mail to Yukimi Kambe.

Yukimi Kambe’s groundbreaking research examines for the first time the history of the viol in Japan during the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods and its connections to European practices.

(from editorial note by Stuart Cheney, Editor of the Journal of the Viola da Gamba Society of America)

Lecture at Pan-Pacific Gamba Gathering in Hawaii 2007
Viols in Japan – Edo era to Today –