This list is an attempt to compile a general overview of the currently available book-length studies on Japanese music written in English. I’ve written previously here about the frustrating lack of decent ‘populist’ material on the subject, particularly in regard to contemporary music – an issue also raised in two excellent articles on the topic in The Guardian and The Japan Times. I have listed titles below in Harvard citation style, sub-divided by decade, in descending order. Volumes that are most likely to be of interest to the more general reader are underlined.
Nagahara, H., 2017. Tokyo boogie-woogie: Japan’s pop era and its discontents. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Cope, J., 2016. Japrocksampler. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Martin, Ian F., 2016. Quit Your Band! Musical Notes from the Japanese Underground. Awai Books.
Matsue, J. M., 2016. Focus: Music in contemporary Japan. New York, NY ; Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Groemer, G., 2016. Goze: Women, musical performance, and visual disability in traditional Japan. New York: Oxford University Press.
2015. Made in japan: Studies in popular music. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Manabe, N., 2015. The revolution will not be televised: Protest music after Fukushima. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Wade, B. C., 2014. Composing Japanese musical modernity. Chicago ; London: University of Chicago Press.
Overell, R., 2014. Affective intensities in extreme music scenes: Cases from Australia and Japan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
2013. Music, modernity and locality in prewar Japan: Osaka and beyond. Burlington: Ashgate.
Novak, D., 2013. Japanoise: Music at the edge of circulation. Durham: Duke University Press.
Galliano, L., 2012. The music of Jōji Yuasa. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Gillan, M., 2012. Songs from the edge of Japan: Music-making in Yaeyama and Okinawa. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Bourdaghs, M. K., 2012. Sayonara Amerika, sayonara Nippon: A geopolitical prehistory of J-pop. New York: Columbia University Press.
Bigenho, M., 2012. Intimate distance: Andean music in Japan. Durham: Duke University Press.
Johnson, H. M., 2010. The shamisen: Tradition and diversity. Leiden: Brill.
Malm, W. P., 2010. An Anthology of Nagauta. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan.
Matsue, J. M., 2008. Making music in Japan’s underground: The Tokyo hardcore scene. New York : London: Routledge.
Ferreira, M. P., 2008. Medieval sacred chant: From Japan to Portugal. Lisboa: Edições Colibri : Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical.
Tokita, A., & Hughes, D. W., 2007. The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Aldershot, Hants, England ; Burlington, VT, USA: Ashgate.
Stevens, C. S., 2007. Japanese popular music: Culture, authenticity and power. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York: Routledge.
Blasdel, C. Y., 2005. The single tone: A personal journey into Shakuhachi music. Tōkyō: Printed Matter Press.
Wade, B. C., 2005. Music in Japan: Experiencing music, expressing culture. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aoyagi, H., 2005. Islands of eight million smiles: Idol performance and symbolic production in contemporary Japan. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Asia Center.
Minor, W., 2004. Jazz journeys to Japan: The heart within. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Keister, J., 2004. Shaped by Japanese music: Kikuoka Hiroaki and Nagauta Shamisen in Tokyo. New York: Routledge.
Potter, J., 2002. The power of Okinawa: Roots music from the Ryukyus. Kobe-shi, Japan: S.U. Press.
De Ferranti, H., & Narazaki, Y., 2002. A way a lone: Writing on Tôru Takemitsu. Tokyo: Academia Music.
Galliano, L., 2002. Yōgaku: Japanese music in the twentieth century. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.
Stofer, F., Aupetit, C., & Bonvalet, T., 2001. Japanese independent music. Talence: Sonore.
Atkins, E. T., 2001. Blue Nippon: Authenticating jazz in Japan. Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press.
Siddons, J., 2001. Toru Takemitsu: A bio-bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Malm, W. P., 2000. Traditional Japanese music and musical instruments (New ed.). Tokyo ; New York: Kodansha International.
Groemer, G., & Takahashi, C., 1999. The spirit of Tsugaru: Blind musicians, Tsugaru-jamisen, and the folk music of northern Japan. Warren, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press.
Daijō, K., & Suda, N., 1998. The birth of Tsugaru shamisen music: The origin and development of a Japanese folk performing art. Aomori: Aomori University Press.
Lee, R. K., 1998. Yearning for the bell: A study of transmission in the shakuhachi honkyoku tradition.
Kikkawa, E., Yamaguchi, O., & Holvik, L. C., 1997. A history of Japanese koto music and ziuta. Tokyo: Mita Press.
Kubota, H., & Inoue, H., 1996. Tune of the Yakumo-goto: Myth and the Japanese spirit (4th ed., rev. and enl.). Nishinomiya, Japan: Yakumo-goto Reminiscence Society.
Hattori, K., 1996. 36,000 days of Japanese music: The culture of Japan through a look at its music. Southfield, MI: Pacific Vision.
Takemitsu, T., Kakudo, Y., & Glasow, G., 1995. Confronting silence: Selected writings. Lanham, Md. ; Oxford: Scarecrow Press.
Berger, D. P., 1995. Shoka and doyo: Songs of an educational policy and a children’s song movement of Japan, 1910-1926. Ann Arbor: UMI.
Kubota, H., & Inoue, H., 1995. Tune of the Yakumo-goto: Myth and the Japanese spirit (3rd. rev. enl. ed.). Nishinomiya: Yakumo-goto Reminiscence Society.
Eppstein, U., 1994. The beginnings of Western music in Meiji era Japan. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen.
Kondō, J., & Benítez, J., 1994. Flute and shakuhachi. [Switzerland]: Harwood.
Fish, D. L., 1994. Edo sato kagura: Ritual, drama, farce and music in a pre-modern Shinto theatrical. Ann Arbor: UMI.
Oku, S., 1994. Music education in Japan. Nara, Japan: Neiraku Arts Studies Centre.
Kim, Y., 1994. Songs to make the dust dance: The ryōjin hishō of twelfth-century Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ōtake, N., 1993. Creative sources for the music of Tōru Takemitsu. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Takizawa, T., 1992. Perspectives of music education in Japan and ASEAN countries: Towards a new scope of music education as cultural education. Tokyo: Research Committee for Asian Music Education.
Averbuch, I., 1992. Yamabushi kagura: A study of a traditional ritual dance in contemporary Japan. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.
Ackermann, P., 1990. Kumiuta: traditional songs for certificates: A study of their texts and implications. Bern ; New York: P. Lang.
Kitahara, I., Matsumoto, M., & Matsuda, A., 1990. The shakuhachi. Tokyo: Tokyo Ongskusha [i.e. Ongakusha].
Malm, W. P., 1990. Japanese music and musical instruments (1st pbk. ed.). Rutland, Vt.: C.E. Tuttle.
Takahashi, T., 1990. Tozan-ryū: An innovation of the shakuhachi tradition from Fuke-shū to secularism.
Ishida, K., 1990. Present condition of Japanese contemporary music. [Tokyo]: Japan Foundation.
Kubota, H., & Inoue, H., 1990. Tune of the Yakumo-goto: Myth and the Japanese spirit. Osaka: The Yakumo-goto Reminiscence Society.
Herd, J. A., 1990. Change and continuity in contemporary Japanese music: A search for a national identity. Ann Arbor: U.M.I..
Asai, S. M., 1990. Music and drama in nōmai of northern Japan. Ann Arbor: U.M.I..
Rann, R. K., 1990. Sometayū ichidaiki: The autobiography of a theatre musician in nineteenth-century Japan. Ann Arbor: U.M.I..
Tsukitani, T., & Yamaguchi, O., 1990. Towards a handbook of syakuhati study : classical syakuhati honkyoku : the past and present. Osaka: Shakuhachi Kenkyūkai.
Shumway, L. V., 1988. Kibigaku: An analysis of a modern Japanese ritual music. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
Read, C. B., 1987. A study of Yamada-ryū sōkyoku and its repertoire. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
Fujie, L. K., 1987. Matsuri-bayashi of Tokyo: The role of supporting organizations in traditional music. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
Hughes, D. W., 1987. The heart’s home town: Traditional folk song in modern Japan. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
Reid, J. L., 1986. The Komagaku repertory of Japanese gagaku (court music): A study of contemporary performance practice. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
International Council for Traditional Music. International Colloquium., Tokumaru, Y., & Yamaguchi, O., 1986. The Oral and the literate in music. Tokyo: Academia Music.
Malm, W. P., 1986. Six hidden views of Japanese music. Berkeley ; London: University of California Press.
Tsuge, G., 1983. Anthology of sōkyoku and jiuta song texts. Tokyo: Academia Music.
Markham, E. J., 1983. Saibara: Japanese court songs of the Heian period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kishibe, S., 1982. The traditional music of Japan (2nd ed.). Tokyo: Japan Foundation.
Tamba, A., 1981. The musical structure of Nô. Tokyo: Tokai University Press.
Isaku, P. R., 1981. Mountain storm, pine breeze: Folk song in Japan. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Cage, J., Fukushima, K., & Ota, H., 1981. Sound on paper: Music notation in Japan. New York: Japan Society : Japan House Gallery.
Cho, G. J., 1979. Some non-Chinese elements in the ancient Japanese music: An analytical-comparative study. Ann Arbor, Mich. ; London: University Microfilms International.
Obata, Y., 1979. The band in Japan from 1945 to 1970: A study of its history and the factors influencing its growth during this period. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International.
Crihfield, L., 1979. Ko-uta: “little songs” of the geisha world. Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle.
Honda, M., 1976. Suzuki changed my life. Evanston, Ill.: Summy-Birchard.
Wade, B. C., 1976. Tegotomono: Music for the Japanese koto. Westport, Conn. ; London: Greenwood Press.
Gutzwiller, A. B., 1975. Shakuhachi: Aspects of history, practice and teaching. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.
Adriaansz, W., 1973. The kumiuta and danmono traditions of Japanese koto music. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Harich-Schneider, E., 1973. A history of Japanese music. London: Oxford University Press.
Kishibe, S., 1966. The traditional music of Japan. Tokyo: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai.
Harich-Schneider, E., 1965. Rōei: The medieval court songs of Japan. Tokyo: Sophia University Press.
Tanabe, H., 1960. Japanese music (3rd ed.). Tokyo: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai.
Garfias, R., 1959. Gagaku: The music and dances of the Japanese imperial household. New York: Theatre Arts Books.
Malm, W. P., 1959. Japanese music and musical instruments ([1st ed.].). Tokyo ; Rutland, Vt.,: C.E. Tuttle.
Harich-Schneider, E., 1954. The rhythmical patterns in gagaku and bugaku. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Tsugawa, S., 1949. Japanese folk songs. Tokyo: Ongakuno-tomo-sha.
Tanabe, H., & Sakabe, S., 1936. Japanese music. Tokyo, Japan: Kokusai bunka shinkokai.
Sunaga, K., Matsuhara, I., & Iglehart, E. T., 1936. Japanese music. [Tokyo]: Board of tourist industry, Japanese government railways.