Although hogaku is an important part of Japan's cultural identity, concerts and other opportunities for exposure are often difficult to track down. Meanwhile, the range of hogaku genres, instruments and performance styles is vast, and concerts expensive. So to experience hogaku in its totality involves not only a significant outlay of time but money as well.

"The Festival of Japanese Sounds" is an attempt to bring people closer to hogaku and its rich variety of sounds, instruments and performers. This two-day festival, sponsored by JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) and Geidankyo (Japan Council of Performers' Organizations), offers visitors the chance to look, listen, touch, play and sing along to a diverse array of hogaku instruments and music, including shamisen, koto, shakuhachi, taiko (stick drum), fue (transverse flute) and song. Organizations representing each of the major hogaku genres bring their best performers (including Living National Treasures) together in a series of workshops, concerts, informal performances, exhibitions and hands-on demonstrations.

There are no admission charges for any parts of this festival, but the main concerts and some workshops require preregistration. By the time of writing, most of the concerts are already fully booked, but the organizer assured us that remaining seats will be available on a first come, first served basis.