City Pop

City pop is a music genre that originated in Japan, drawing inspiration from Western pop while incorporating elements from jazz, R&B, and traditional Japanese folk music.

Notable Artists

Kyu Sakamoto

A Japanese singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s. He is best known for his global hit “Sukiyaki,” topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963 and selling over thirteen million records worldwide. The single also reached number one in several other countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand.

Seiko Matsuda

Another remarkable artist, known for being the first Japanese female artist to write and produce her own material. Matsuda’s 1984 album “City Pop” on Toshiba EMI Records was a breakthrough in Japan’s music industry, traditionally dominated by male artists.

Yukio Hashi

A Japanese singer-songwriter who enjoyed a series of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is particularly recognized for his international hit single “Kimi Janakya Dame Mitai” (You Look Like You Won’t Let Me Go), which topped the charts in Japan and reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971.

The City Pop Sound

City pop blends Western pop elements with Japanese vocals and instruments. The term was coined by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who released his first music in this genre in 1976.

City pop songs often incorporate Western instruments like the electric guitar and synthesizer, alongside traditional Japanese instruments such as taiko drums or shamisen guitars.

The incorporation of Western instruments in city pop songs can be traced back to the early 20th century when many American jazz musicians visited Japan, drawn by its rich culture and traditions.

The Influence of City Pop Music on Other Genres

City Pop has exerted a significant influence on various music genres. In Japan, it stands out as a major force in shaping J-Pop music, now one of Asia’s most popular genres. Drawing from American pop, R&B, and electronic beats, this style crafts energetic dance tracks that appeal to audiences of all ages.

K-Pop acts like Girls’ Generation have also drawn inspiration from City Pop luminaries such as Hikaru Utada and Ayumi Hamasaki. Their music often blends infectious melodies with powerful vocals, backed by electronic beats or guitar riffs, resulting in a dynamic sound perfect for getting people on their feet!

Music in the Digital Age

The past decade has witnessed a surge in the popularity of City Pop, thanks to online music platforms and social media. Streaming services have played a crucial role in helping City Pop artists connect with audiences worldwide.

The Future of Subgenre

Originating in Japan, City Pop continues to thrive domestically and has garnered a following beyond its borders, particularly among Western listeners attracted to its vibrant sound and memorable tunes.

While it may not enjoy the same global recognition as rock or hip-hop, City Pop’s influence resonates across diverse musical landscapes, with other genres borrowing elements from its distinctive style.


City Pop, a genre rooted in Japan since the 1960s, merges jazz, pop, and traditional Japanese music to create a distinct sound that has inspired countless artists. While it may not have achieved widespread acclaim outside of Asia, City Pop remains an integral part of Japan’s cultural fabric, shaping the musical landscape for generations to come.