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Japanese Koto Player Yumi Kurosawa on Her New Music Album Metamorphosis

By: Nikoleta Morales| Musician Yumi Kurosawa | Image: Gail Hadani

Cultured Focus Magazine Interviews Japanese Koto Player Yumi Kurosawa

Cultured Focus Magazine recently interviewed famous Japanese koto player Yumi Kurosawa. Her new album "Metamorphosis” comes out on March 24 on ZOHO. It features music inspired from Japanese, Afro-Latin, Jazz, Middle Eastern and Western neo-classical forms and was produced by Arturo O'Farrill and Kabir Sehgal.

There will also be a release concert at Joe's Pub in NY at 7 pm on March 30th, 2023. “I should say you can see something you have never seen before so please come join us at Joe’s Pub,” said Yumi.

Yumi Kurosawa on the Koto

Yumi explained to us the significance of the koto instrument. She said that it is a traditional Japanese instrument more than 1300 years old. At first it was used for training by monks and medical doctors to raise their inner strengths and concentration. After a while, she said, the royal family started using the koto as an educational instrument, which became an instrument for people to play and enjoy.

Even though Yumi’s first interaction with the koto wasn’t by heart but by choice, she grew to love it and inspire others. Her parents were professional koto players. Yumi was trained in the classical Japanese way. She started playing contemporary music with a Western musical instrument when she was a teenager.

“I started composing after I moved to New York 21 years ago,” she said. “It took me time to figure out what my music is. I wanted to discover and expand music, artistic elements. I studied international relations when I was in college. I didn't go to music school on purpose. When I arrived in New York I wanted to play together with other cultures. It’s a lifelong journey.”

Yumi’s first album was made in 2015 called “Looking Up At The Sky.” In addition to playing the instrument, she also composes.

“When I compose music so many notes and melodies come up in my head. I was already thinking about making a trio. I wanted a sustainable instrument,” she said.

Yumi is part of a trio, which was founded in 2020, featuring Naho Parrini on violin and Eric Phinney on percussion and tabla. The album also has guest artists Carlos Maldonado on Latin percussion and Zac Zinger on alto saxophone and shakuhachi. Production by Latin Grammy award winner Kabir Sehgal helped Yumi fulfill the long-held goal that brought her to New York from Morioka-city, Japan in 2002.

Yumi is influenced by all types of music from around the world. See her exclusive interview with Cultured Focus below.

Interview with Yumi Kurosawa

Yumi Kurosawa Speaks to Journalist Nikoleta Morales

Metamorphosis unfolds through a series of aural landscapes—from the percussive energy and busy streets of Yumi’s adopted home in “One Day Monday,” through a series of South America snapshots stitched together on Yumi’s koto (“Journey”), to the Japanese mountains and cherry blossom petals that inspired “Dawn.”

“It was inspired by my hometown's autumn festival. We welcome back our ancestors in farewell again,” she said.

Her advice to other international musicians is: “I was trained in the traditional Japanese way of thinking. It's a certain way. That's my foundation. I still respect that. It’s my base. But when you collaborate with others, and you are outside of Japan you should be open to others. Don't be afraid to open up and start a conversation. That is very important.”

Yumi received an Artistic Projects grant from Chamber Music America in 2022 funded through The Howard Gilman Foundation. This commission led to the creation of this recording.

For more information, visit:

Upcoming Performance Yumi Kurosawa: Thursday, March 30th, 2023, 7:00pm

Joe's Pub

425 Lafayette St, NYC

$25 / $15 students

Metamorphosis links:


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