Pandit Birju Maharaj, the king of one of the eight classic dances of India, aims to promote Kathak, or an act of storytelling through dance, during his first visit to Japan in 26 years.

In an interview after performing Sunday in Tokyo, the dancer, composer and choreographer described Kathak as a form of yoga put to music, where the performer also uses gestures and facial expressions to enact stories from Indian mythology.

The 76-year-old dancer, invited by one of his students to introduce the "real" culture of India to Japanese, said Kathak is "an act of yoga, prayer and meditation . . . and is also entertaining".

"Everyone seeks happiness and peace in this world," he said. "Music has a big role in providing peace. It distracts you from the outer world for some time and then you are back to the worldly life again."

The Kathak master is scheduled to give one more dance performance next Sunday in Osaka.