Sheet music

JAPAN : Japan National Anthem
Japanese National Anthem
National Anthem of Japan

  • Author: Selected from the poems collection of Kokinshu, 9th century
  • Composer: Oku Yoshiisa (1858-1933)
  • Adopted: 1999
  • National Day: December 23 (1933) - Birthday of Emperor Akihito
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  • Further details: 'Kimigayo', the title of the National Anthem of Japan, means 'The Reign of Our Emperor'.

    The words of anonymous authorship have been taken from the seventh volume of 'Kokinshu' dating from the 9th century.

    In 1860, John William Fenton, the Englishman who was the first bandmaster of the Japanese Army, composed a melody for 'Kimigayo'. This was used until 1881 when a committee was appointed to select a more suitable melody. The composition submitted by OKU YOSHIISA (1858-1933), a Court musician, was finally selected. It had been composed primarily for traditional Japanese instruments and it was found necessary to harmonize this piece according to the Western musical scale. Franz Eckert (1852-1916), a German bandmaster and successor to Fenton, harmonized the melody to the Gregorian scale which was the basis of medieval Church music. Thus, the stately harmony has an almost religious solemnity. This version was played at Court for the first time on the Emperor Meiji 's birthday on November 3 1880.

    'Kimigayo' was officially adopted as Japan's National Anthem on August 9 1999.

    ERRATUM The sheet music does not give the correct name of the composer of the music.