Gagaku Music Society of Tenri University visited China between July 27 and August 3 for its 13th overseas concert, accepting an invitation from Dunhuangology Academy. This concert was planned in association with the symposium that commemorated the centenary of the discovery of Dunhuang Library Cave.
On July 30, a concert by the society was held at the Cave of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang—which is widely known as a world heritage for its clay statues of the Buddha, Buddhist scriptures, and wall paintings from the fourth to the fourteenth century—attracting an audience of about 200. The stage was set up in front of the nine-storied building where the Cave’s largest statue of the Buddha was located. They performed ancient court music and dances with eight kinds of musical instruments such as the flute, sho, hichiriki, and biwa. Because most of these musical instruments can be found on the wall paintings at the Cave, it could be said that gagaku music had returned to its place of origin from Japan after more than a thousand years’ absence. They also held a concert in Lanzhou and gave a performance at the Great Wall of China in the suburbs of Beijing.
These overseas concerts not only introduced Japanese gagaku music to China but played a significant role in terms of cultural exchange between China and Japan.