The koto’s history is as rich ad mysterious as its sound. The instrument dates back to at least the 3rd century, where it was used in ancient Japanese rituals. The oldest known four stringed instrument in Japan is known as the “Jomon Koto,” a relic which was excavated at an archaeological site in Hachinohe, Aomori prefecture. Introduced to gagaku (Japanese court music), the koto has now evolved into more than just a stringed instrument and is known today as one of Japan’s most famous traditional art forms. 

The bilingual instructors at Katsuhika School in Tokyo are experts in teaching this elegant instrument to all ages and skill levels, and have taught workshops internationally. The latest three-month course, totaling six hour-long lessons, teaches even total beginners how to master the basic techniques of playing the koto. At the end of the course, students will be able to play various tunes, including traditional songs, and will have developed a deeper understanding of the Japanese harp and its history. 

Though there are many different sizes and styles of koto, Katsuhika School favors a small and light koto with 17 strings, which is four more than a conventional koto and thus covers a wider range of notes. At only 120cm in length and 4kg in weight, it is much smaller than a conventional koto, thus making it the perfect style for new players to practice on. Traditionally, songs for the koto are played following a Japanese style of vertical musical notation, but Katsuhika School uses song music transposed into the more familiar Western-style sheet music to make learning tunes simpler for all. 

Lessons are available at the school in Katsushika-ku’s Horikiri Chiku Center, and koto rental is included in the lesson fee. Recently, classes also became available online — for a more private koto lesson in the comfort of your own home, please inquire at for more details. Enjoy a trial Zoom class for ¥1,000 along with a koto rental fee of ¥5,000, which includes the cost of shipping to your home. 

In school lessons
3 month course (Jan – Mar), 6 lessons with a bilingual instructor
¥8,000 per month (2 lessons) including Koto rental fee

Course start date: Jan 8 (Sat) 1:30pm – 2:30pm   

2nd lesson: Jan 22 (Sat) 1:30 – 2:30pm

Feb and Mar: Lessons will be held on Sat (schedule is subject to change)

Horikiri Chiku Center: 3-8-5 Horikiri Katsushika-ku
1-min. walk from Horikiri Shobuen Station, Keisei line 

Online lessons
3 month course, 6 lessons with a bilingual instructor

Please head to the website to inquire about a trial lesson and for more details: