Japanese Traditional Music Program
Summer 2018


The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens proudly announce the establishment of a yearly Japanese traditional music education program aimed at the general public and school children. This groundbreaking program coincides with the museum’s 40th year anniversary and will include hands-on workshops and special musical events.

Program content includes practical instruction on the Japanese shakuhachi and the 13-string koto for both children (grades 3-12) and adults. In addition, the program will feature special classes on Japanese music theory and history, culture, and an introduction to Japanese traditional performing arts.

Led by Dr. Joseph Gashō Amato, coordinator of the program and koto teacher, the faculty also includes ethnomusicologist and shakuhachi performer Professor Christopher Yohmei Blasdel and Japanese music professor Dr. Minako Waseda. The Japanese Traditional Music Program is proudly supported through special grants received from the Toshiba International Foundation, Japan Foundation and the Morikami Wisdom Ring Members.






This project is sponsored in part by the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Instructor Bios

Dr. Joseph Gashō Amato

Coordinator, Japanese Music Program

Koto Instructor

Dr. Amato received his Ph.D. in music composition in 1998 from New York University with primary studies in Italian contemporary music. In 2000, he was awarded the prestigious Bunka-chō Japanese Government Artists Fellowship to pursue formal study of Japanese traditional music at Seiha Hōgaku-kai. He continued studies receiving his teaching license and his professional name Gashō in 2003. Concurrently, Dr. Amato founded the Yokohama International School Japanese Music Program – the first and only traditional Japanese music program in primary/secondary education in the world – directing and teaching until 2011.  In 2011, Dr. Amato established the International Center for Japanese Culture (ICJC), an NPO promoting Japanese traditional arts and culture and is currently continuing his post as director. Pursuing his work on sharing Japanese traditional music on the international level, in 2016, Dr. Amato established the Seiha Hōgaku-kai International Summer School and currently continues as its director. Dr. Amato has held teaching positions and special lecturer posts at Robert Stockton College of NJ, Fukuoka International School, Heidelberg College, Seiha Hōgaku Gakuin and Yokohama National University.

Professor Christopher Yohmei Blasdel 

Shakuhachi Instructor

Christopher Yohmei Blasdel began the shakuhachi and studies of Japanese music in 1972 with Living National Treasure Goro Yamaguchi. In 1982 he received an MFA in ethnomusicology from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and is

one of only two non-Japanese to be accredited as a shihan master by Yamaguchi. Performing in Japan and around the world, Blasdel maintains a balance between traditional shakuhachi music, modern compositions and cross-genre work with musicians, dancers, poets and visual artists. His discography includes numerous CDs of traditional and contemporary music. He has also composed and performed music for NHK documentaries and various films. He was the Artistic Director of the International House of Japan from 1987 to 2013, co-organized the World Shakuhachi Festival ’98 held in Boulder, Colorado and the Sydney World Shakuhachi Festival in 2008. He was a founder of the annual Prague Shakuhachi Festival. His semi-autobiographical book, The Single Tone—A Personal Journey through Shakuhachi Music (2005) and The Shakuhachi, A Manual for Learning (1988) are two of the most important English language resource books on the shakuhachi. Presently, he is an adjunct lecturer at University of Hawai’i, Mānoa and holds a fourth-degree black belt in Aikido. 

Fushu Daiko Taiko group

Taiko Instructors

Top performers from South Florida’s Fushu Daiko will conduct the workshop. The group is recognized by Seiichi Tanaka, the master of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, who brought taiko to the United States and who trained senior members of the Fushu Daiko group.


Children’s Music Summer Camp Program


Date: June 25-29, 2018
Cost: $250
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm

For grades 3rd to 12th grade students.
Advance registration is required.

To register your child for camp, please do the following:

  • Fill out the application and send to Lisa Niven at lniven@pbcgov.org
  • Pay for camp (Must be paid in full 1 week prior to the first day of camp; which is June 18, 2018).

Application Form Here  Pay for camp 2018 Summer Music Camp Program Schedule 

The program includes three different workshops for three age groups:

  • Group A: Grades 3 – 5
  • Group B: Grades 6 – 8
  • Group C: Grades 9 -12

Students will have sessions on: a) Japanese culture, b) 13-string koto and c) shakuhachi, d) taiko with professional musicians, Joseph Amato, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, and members from Fushu Daiko Taiko group. Instruments and sheet music will be provided for use in the workshops.

The curriculum will allow students to have both practical and knowledge-based (theoretical/historical) classes. The knowledge-based component is a Japanese culture class, with topics that include the following:

  • Introduction to Japanese language and culture – (Students will learn basic phrases, kanji numbers to read the music sheet, etc.)
  • Introduction to the history of Japanese traditional music
  • Craft project: Make a koto practice board and shakuhachi fingering tube to take home for practicing finger techniques and songs
  • Learn about kimono culture and its history. The students will learn how to wear a kimono for their recital.
  • Introduction to Japanese language and culture – (Using Morikami’s exhibit, Japan Through the Eyes of a Child, the students will tour and learn about Japan’s geography, schools, home life in Japan, and etc.)
  • Creating a variety of Japanese craft projects
  • Learning Japanese folk songs and dances

The practical classes include Japanese music instrument instruction. Dr. Amato will lead the basic koto workshops, teaching the students how to use tsume (finger plectrums), how to read Japanese musical notation and how to execute basic koto performance techniques through simple compositions. Professor Blasdel will lead the shakuhachi workshops, teaching the students proper breathing, posture, how to execute simple long notes and how to read Japanese traditional music notation.  He will also teach the students a short shakuhachi piece.



Guest Artist Workshops: Japanese Traditional Music

There will be two opportunities for adults to take the Japanese traditional music workshops at the Morikami Museum with our professional musicians from Japan. Instruments and sheet music will be provided for use in the workshops.

Adults will have the choice to choose which instrument they would like to study: 13-string koto or shakuhachi. The program is aimed at absolute beginners (those with no previous experience with the shakuhachi or koto) and basic beginners (those who have had a little experience with the instruments and want to improve). An intermediate course will be offered for those who have taken the beginners course and want to go to the next level.

Register for a Workshop

Weekday Workshop Schedule:

Dates: June 26 -28, 2018

Cost: $200
Time: 3:00pm-5:00pm
Location: Morikami Theater (Koto class)
Location: Tea House (Shakuhachi class)
Advance registration is required

Weekend Workshop Schedule:

Dates: June 30- July 1, 2018
Cost: $200
Time: 9:00am-12:30pm (10am-10:30am break) (Beginners)
1:30pm – 5:00pm (2:30pm – 3:00pm break) (Intermediate)*
Location: Morikami Theater (Koto class)
Location: Tea House (Shakuhachi class)

Advance registration is required
*prerequisite is the beginners course or prior experience with the instrument


Sessions Date Time Total Hours Cost
Weekday (3 days) June 26-28 3:00pm – 5:00pm 6 $200
Weekend (2 days)
June 30 & July 1 9:00am – 12:30pm

(10am –10:30am break)

6 $200
Weekend (2 days)
June 30 & July 1 1:30pm – 5:00pm
(2:30pm -3:00pm break)
6 $200