The Seiha school of koto performance was founded in 1913 by Utashito Nakashima in Nagano Prefecture, north of Tokyo. Seiha, a sub-sect of the Ikuta school of koto, is presently the largest school for the study of traditional Japanese koto music in the world. Utashito Nakashima moved Seiha headquarters to Tokyo in 1929 and instituted a progressive approach to musical education. At a time when most koto training was done only through oral transmission and memorization, Nakashima transcribed the music and printed out notation for public use. He also instigated a system of testing and licensing koto teachers, and this helped popularize the koto.
After the war and the rebuilding of Japan, Seiha expanded and flourished under Utashito’s daughter, Yasuko Nakashima. In 1947 the Seiha Ensemble was created, and the same year Yasuko Nakashima stunned the music world with a solo recital premiere at the Nichigeki Theatre, performing her own composition, Cantata Akebono, with the ensemble. In 1956, Seiha established the Seiha Music Academy, an institution which has trained numerous koto professionals. Utashito passed away in 1979 and Yasuko became the second iemoto headmaster and director of the school, where she continues her work to this day.
In 2013, Seiha celebrated its 100th anniversary marked with a special concert at the main hall of Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Tokyo Metropolitan Festival Hall). The concert featured 25 pieces of both traditional and contemporary koto music and was attended by participants from ten branch schools in Japan and one branch from North and South America. Seiha is a unique music educational institution in that it trains its members both in Japan and around the world in a wide range of music and provides a creative environment for each individual to nurture their talents.
The Seiha mission is to repay our gratitude to our country with music.