Junko Ueda

Workshop, Lecture & Lesson

Junko Ueda is presenting workshops, lectures and private lessons for both shomyo and biwa. Click a title below to read more.

1. Shomyo workshop & lecture

  • Shomyo Workshop in Shinjuku
    Shinjuku Cultural Centre, Tokyo, Japan
  • Shomyo Workshop
    Theatre Festival, Cesena, Italy
  • Junko Ueda at Shomyo workshop
    Ateliers d'ethnomugicologie, Geneva, Swiss
  • Shomyo Workshop
    Hochschule Würzburg, Germany
  • Shomyo
    Croisée des Cultures, Geneva, Swiss
  • Shomyo Workshop
    Dôgo Cultural Centre, Matsuyama, Japan
  • Participants group photo
    Theatre Festival, Cesena, Italy
  • Shomyo Workshop
    Aula de Musicas, Madrid, Spain
Shomyo score

This workshop introduces the Japanese Buddhist chant Shomyo, which is originated from the 9th century. Under the guidance of Junko Ueda, the participants will practice how to sing some repertoires of Shomyo chant. Beside working on the musical aspects, a holistic approach is taken towards our universal human sense and spirit. We touch the subject about the essences of Japanese culture: those are Hara (the energy centre of the body) and Ma (space and timing). Also, some breathing exercises and body exercise (Qi-gong) are introduced and naturally integrated in the workshop. Anyone can join this workshop as no musical knowledge is required. Read more about Shomyo here.

The aim of the workshop:

  • To enjoy group singing and a variety of voices.
  • To experience the 1200-year-old Japanese ancient music and to explore its concept.
  • To train consciousness and control of the breathing.
  • To learn about the energy centre of the body called ‘Hara’ (Seika-Tanden) and to release the stress-level.
  • To develop vocalization and body control (certainly useful for wind instrument players and vocalists).


Because of its style of slow melismatic Shomyo chanting, the participants will be stimulated to concentrate on their breathing in a quiet manner. While enjoying singing basic Shomyo melodies and meeting this ancient tradition, we will aim to discover the wisdom and the power of the breath, and its essence for humanity.

Since 1995, Junko Ueda has been presenting Shomyo workshops. Through promoting these ancient and universal melodies, she supports a global sustainability with thinking about good air as a primary importance to enjoy the breathing.

Beside, Junko Ueda presents the lecture about the shomyo Buddhist chant. She will explain its history and concept, and demonstrates some of the pieces.

Shomyo Workshop sound samples

1. Sange
2. Vocales
3. Canon

Contents of the Workshop

  • Warming up: breath and body exercises, focusing on breathing and Hara.
  • Introduction of Shomyo: learning various Shomyo melody patterns and later singing musical variations using these melody patterns.
  • Singing traditional Shomyo pieces: Practice 'Sange' and 'Taiyo'.
  • Introduction of its history and various concepts of the Japanese culture.

Practical aspects

  • The workshop can be held once, like a single event, or as a series of more workshops.
  • Proposed duration for a one-time workshop: 3 hours
  • Amount of participants: minimum 5
  • It is recommended for the participants to wear any style of casual clothes (better avoid high heels and neck-ties).
  • A workshop can be held in any quiet place with sufficient space to put chairs for the participants in a half circle. A white-board is needed.
  • Language: English and Japanese, Spanish and Dutch.


  • “Very organic music. I feel very confortable and relaxing to sing together.” (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • "A very inspirational workshop." (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • “It is amazing that so many different voice qualities can be together and make a music. There is no competition and no stress. You can just produce your voice as you feel like.” (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • "An experience that whole my body is vibrating and healthily activated." (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • "Standing next to the music with text and musical instructions, she played long ritual only with her voice. For fifty minutes the audience was holding their breath..." (from Shomyo concert, De Volkskrant, Holland)

Shomyo Workshops in the Past

  • ‘Les Suds à Arles’ le festival de Musiques du Monde (Arles, France)
  • Leo Kestenberg Musikschule im Haus am Kleistpark (Berlin, Germany)
  • Ateliers d'Ethnomusicologie (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • SOAS, University of London (London, UK)
  • Hochschule für Musik Würzburg (Germany)
  • Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon (France)
  • De Singel, Conservatorium Antwerpen (Belgium)
  • Athens National Concervatory (Athens, Greece)
  • International Zen Buddhism Association, La Gendronnière (France)
  • University of Montreal (Canada)
  • Western Front (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Mántica Theatre Festival (Cesena, Italy)
  • Flagey, Brussels (Belgium)
  • Conservatorio Superior de Granada (Granada, Spain)
  • Aula de Musicas, music school (Madrid, Spain)
  • Conservatorio profesional de musica de Getafe (Getafe, Spain)
  • Carmen de San Onofre (Granada, Spain)
  • Private lesson at Studio E (Amsterdam, Holland)
  • World Music Festival Rotterdam (Rotterdam, Holland)
  • Vooruit, Gent (Belgium) - at IETM conference 'OneOnOne'
  • Arkas Concert Hall, Sasebo (Japan)
  • Enmeiji Temple, Aoto (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Drama Institute, at Shinjuku Olympic Centre (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Dôgo Community Centre (Ehime, Japan)
  • Daishô-an (Yamagata, Japan)
  • Trunk Theatre (Tokyo, Japan)

PDF Download

Click a button below to download the leaflet of the Shomyo Workshop PDF in the language of your preference.

   For more information feel free to send a message here.

2. Gion-Shôja Biwa Vocal Class(祇園精舎)

  • workshop
  • Workshop
  • workshop

Gion-Shôja is the famous poem which appears in the prologue of Heike-Monogatari (the Story of Heike), a most well-known thirteenth century's Japanese epic. This epic describes the rise and prosperity of the Heike-clan (from Kyoto), from the beginning of the twelfth century until their ruin in 1185, when they lost their war with the Genji-clan from Kamakura (south of Tokyo).

Heike-Monogatari is based on the Buddhist idea of cause and effect and human life's impermanence. This philosophy is expressed in the poem 'Gion-Shôja'. Through the centuries, this ancient poem has been habitually recited and nowadays still it is widely appreciated by Japanese public and part of the traditional biwa repertoire.

In the Gion-Shôja singing workshop, we will study this poem and enjoy singing together with the accompaniment of the satsuma-biwa.

The Poem of 'Gion-Shôja'

Here below is the text of Gion-Shoja, both the original Japanese text as well as an English translation:

"Gion-shôja no kane no koe,
Shogyô-mujô no hibiki ari.

Shara-sôju no hana no Iro,
Jôsha-hissui no kotowari o arawasu.

Ogoreru-mono hisashikarazu,
Tada haru no yo no,
Yume-maboroshi no gotokunari."
"At Gion-Shôja Temple,
the sound of the bell,
reflecting the resonance,
of the impermanency of all life.

The color of the sara-sôju flower,
tells us about the inescapable decline,
of the human life.

Pride is followed by a fall,
during a spring night,
just like a dream."

Contents of the Workshop

  • Warming up: breath and body exercises, aiming to the consciousness to the breath and a low gravity point so-called 'Hara' in Japanese.
  • Singing Gion-Shôja: by listening to the demonstration of the melodies and repeating them with the accompaniment of the satusma-biwa, we will study the song together.


  • Proposed duration for a one-time workshop: 2 hours.
  • Amount of participants: minimum 5, maximum 20.
  • It is not necessary for the participants to have any kind of musical knowledge. Anyone can join.
  • It is recommended for the participants to wear any style of casual clothes (better avoid high heels and neck-ties).
  • A workshop can be held in any quiet place with sufficient space to put chairs for the participants in a circle (no tables or so needed).
  • Language: English and Japanese (and basic Spanish and Dutch).

   For more information feel free to send a message here.

3. Private Lesson

Junko Ueda gives private lesson on shomyo chant as well as biwa epic story telling. This can take a place on location or by Skype. For more information and to find out about the tuition, feel free to send a message here.


  • CD Meditative Flowers:
    Junko Ueda performing repertoire from the 1200 year-old Japanese traditional Shomyo Buddhist chant.
    CD Meditative Flowers:
    Junko Ueda interpretando canciones budista tradicional japonés de Shomyo, un repertorio del siglo VIII.
    CD Meditative Flowers:

  • CD Satsuma-Biwa:
    solo CD by Junko Ueda performing traditional biwa music as well as a modern-style composition by Toru Takemitsu.
    CD Satsuma-Biwa:
    CD solo de Junko Ueda interpretando música biwa tradicional así como una composición moderno de Toru Takemitsu.
    CD 薩摩琵琶:

  • CD Japon - L'épopé des Heike:
    Junko Ueda with traditional satsuma-biwa repertoire from the Hieke Monogatari, recorded at Hiei-zan Temple, Japan.
    CD Japon - L'épopé des Heike:
    Junko Ueda interpretando canciones budista tradicional japonés de Shomyo, un repertorio del siglo VIII.
    CD Japon - L'épopé des Heike:

  • The Biwa Vocab is a vocabulary catalogue and sound library of the satsuma-biwa by Junko Ueda.