Japanese Folk Songs: The Best Sheet Music

Looking for some beautiful and evocative Japanese folk songs to play? Check out our roundup of the best sheet music for these traditional tunes!


Japanese folk songs, or min’yo, are an important part of the country’s musical heritage. Though popular folk songs originated in the Edo period (1603-1868), many of these songs are still performed today. While some min’yo are sung a cappella, others are accompanied by traditional instruments such as the shamisen or koto.

There is a wide variety of min’yo, ranging from lively dance tunes to more sober ballads. Many of these songs tell stories of the everyday lives of Japanese people, and often reflect the regional traditions of their area of origin.

If you’re interested in learning more about Japanese folk songs, or if you’re simply looking for some beautiful music to enjoy, we’ve put together a list of the best sheet music for Japanese folk songs. This collection includes both classic and contemporary tunes, so there’s something for everyone.

What are Japanese Folk Songs?

Japanese Folk songs are often called “minyo” in Japanese, which means “folk song”. They are typically love songs, work songs, or songs that tell a story. The music is usually very simple and is meant to be easy to sing along to. Folk songs often have a lot of history and meaning behind them.

Origin of Japanese Folk Songs

Japanese folk songs, min’yō, are singing and dancing songs that were passed down orally, often within families or regional communities, long before they were ever written down. It is believed that the first min’yō were sung by the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan, though it is also widely accepted that many of these songs originated with the Yamato people, who began migrating to Japan from Korea in the fifth century. These songs were brought with the Yamato as they moved southward and eventually settled what is now Kyoto and Nara. As interaction between the Ainu and Yamato people increased, so did the exchange of music and dance.

Themes of Japanese Folk Songs

Japanese Folk Songs often have themes of nature, love, and work. Nature-themed songs are usually about the seasons, while love-themed songs are often about unrequited love or marriage. Work-themed songs often celebrate the various jobs that people do, such as farming or fishing.

The Best Sheet Music for Japanese Folk Songs

Japanese Folk Songs are a beautiful way to share the culture of Japan with the world through music. The traditional melodies are often passed down through the generations, and the best way to learn them is by finding the right sheet music. In this article, we’ll share some of the best sheet music for Japanese folk songs so that you can learn and enjoy these beautiful songs.

“Sakura Sakura”

Sakura Sakura is a popular folk song from Japan. The lyrics and melody are simple, making it a great choice for beginning Japanese students. The song is also a good way to practice your Japanese pronunciation.

“Sakura Sakura” is about the blossoming of cherry trees, which is a popular symbol of springtime in Japan. The lyrics describe the experience of seeing cherry blossoms in full bloom and being surrounded by their beauty.

The sheet music for “Sakura Sakura” includes the Japanese lyrics as well as an English translation. The melody is written in standard notation, so it can be played on any instrument. The sheet music also includes chords for guitar or keyboard accompaniment.

“Koi no Yokan”

“Koi no Yokan” is one of the most popular Japanese folk songs. It is a beautiful and romantic song that is perfect for any occasion. The lyrics tell the story of a young couple’s love for each other. “Koi no Yokan” has been recorded by many artists, but the most famous version is by Kenichi Suzuki. This version of the song was released in 1967, and it quickly became a hit. It remains one of the most popular versions of the song today.

“Yuki no Furu Machi”

One of the most popular Japanese folk songs is “Yuki no Furu Machi” (The Snow-Filled Town), which is often sung around Christmastime. This haunting melody is about a snow-covered town, and the lyrics evoke a feeling of wistfulness and nostalgia. If you’re looking for the best sheet music for this song, you can find it in a variety of places.

There are many versions of “Yuki no Furu Machi” available, both in traditional Japanese notation and Western notation. If you’re just starting out, you may want to look for a version that includes both types of notation. That way, you can learn the melody using the Western notation, and then read the Traditional Japanese notation to get a feel for how the melody is traditionally played.

You can find sheet music for “Yuki no Furu Machi” online or in music stores. If you’re having trouble finding it, try searching for “Japanese folk songs” or “Christmas songs.” Once you have the sheet music, all you need is a piano or other instrument to play it on.


We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best sheet music for Japanese folk songs! Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned musician, we’re sure you’ll be able to find something in this guide that’s perfect for you. Be sure to check out our other guides for more great sheet music options!

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