The first Japanese to visit Mexico is said to have been samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga. En route to Europe on a diplomatic mission, he arrived in Acapulco in January 1614. The country was under Spanish rule at the time and didn't achieve independence until 1821.

When the Mexican Music Festival: Orchestra Concert takes place this weekend, Mexican conductor José Areán says a lot of what audiences will hear harks back to a time before Spanish conquest.

"Mexican music in the first half of the 20th century was the product of a search for national identity," says Areán, who will collaborate with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at the concert. "After the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), the country's artists were inspired by the indigenous cultures (mainly Aztec and Maya) and they sought to honor that preconquest past. The music of that time is distinguished by irregular rhythmical patterns, melodies based on pentatonic scales and very earthy, strong flavor and local color."