Tomoe sawa Official Site

Tomoe Sawa Singer, songwriter, pianist. Tomoe Sawa was born in Kawasaki, Japan in 1971 to a Japanese father and a Korean mother, both pastors. She herself is religious, and admits that gospel music had a deep influence on her, both artistically and spiritually. (Her Korean grandfather, Kim So-Un, is a famous poet known for the Iwanami- Bunko series, poems that he translated from Korean to Japanese.) Raised in Japan, Korea and the United States, Tomoe speaks and sings in the national languages of all three countries; and her multi-cultural musical style resonates with the positive impact those three cultures had on her.

Tomoe started playing the piano at the age of three. By the time she was in high school, Tomoe's early classical training had won her numerous competitive awards and had gained the attention of several major music schools in the US. However, it was her encounter with jazz during high school that totally changed her life. Her ambition to create something "truly creative and unique" led her to study musicology at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music instead of continuing as a pianist. She would focus on ethnomusicology, and eventually won a Thesis of the Year Award for her work, "Music of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea~Ideology and Music."

Tomoe's singing career started in 1991 when she made her debut album [Tomoe Sings] (BMG Japan) with producer George Duke. Through experiments in live shows and recordings, she gradually established her own style by 1996, which developed into simply playing the piano and being the sole vocal. "I guess Nina Simone is my ideal," she says. Tomoe has never been a hit maker, and her music is hard to characterize. Although she prefers not to appear on TV, her concerts somehow always sell out. Her musical excellence and spiritual performance earn high praise, as do her sensitive treatment of words. To date, 16 albums have been released, including [Black Complex] (BMG Japan), [Kokoro] (Toshiba EMI), and [Iiuta-Iroiro Series] (cosmos records).

Tomoe's music has since taken her outside of Japan, where she has established an international reputation. In 1996, Tomoe became the first singer with Japanese nationality to perform in Seoul, Korea, where Japanese pop music had long been prohibited. Korea's "Kwangju Japan Week" in 1998 saw her officially become the first artist in that country since World War II to sing in Japanese. In the same year, she won the Asian Music Award at the 40th Nippon Record Awards. She has also performed in the US, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Northern Ireland.

Live Schedule

Seasonal shows at La Cana in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

16:30 open 17:00 start
¥5,000(one drink included)

For information contact


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The Story of Liu Lianren The Story of Liu Lianren
(cosmos records) released in 2007
CMCA 2020

Tomoe's latest album. A non fiction poem "The Story of Liu Lianren" written by Japanese famous poetess Noriko Ibaraki, has come alive with Tomoe's singing and piano.

When I Was Most Beautiful When I Was Most Beautiful
(cosmos records) released in 2005
CMCA 2019
Beautiful songs from a wide range of genre. Title tune is famous Japanese poem also sung by Pete Seeger in different melody. Piano and vocal only.
Iiuta Iroiro 5
Songs in English
(cosmos records) released in 2004
CMCA 2016
Standards in English like Blowin' in the Wind, What's Going On, A Case of You, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, interpreted in her own way. Piano and Vocal only.
Ichigo Ichie
(cosmos records) released in 2002
CMCA 4001-2
Best live takes with best selection of Tomoe's songs. 2 CDs in one pack. 21 tunes for almost 2 hours. Experience the essence of Tomoe's live music.

Iiuta Iroiro 4
World's Hymns and Gospels
(cosmos records) released in 2001
CMCA 2011
Christmas carols like Silent Night, Spirituals like Were You There and Tomoe's original Lord's Prayer. All songs in Japanese. Piano and vocal only.

Were You There
Iiuta Iroiro 3
Japanese Standards
(cosmos records) released in 2001
CMCA 2009
A selection of songs made between Meiji and Showa era (about1900~ 1950) especially for children. Uniquely and radically arranged by Tomoe. Piano, vocal, and keyboards.

Furusato (Home Country)
Shinuka Ikiruka
(cosmos records) released in 2000
CMCA 2001
Tomoe's original songs except a cover of Nina Simone's Nobody's Fault But Mine. Theme of the album is life and death. Piano, vocal, keyboards and saxphone.

Mayoi (To Live or To Die)
Iiuta Iroiro 2
(cosmos records) released in 2000
CMCA 2002
A selection of 'Iiuta(good songs)' like movie theme song of Otokowa Tsuraiyo, Yuugure originally by the Blue Hearts and Korean song Achim-Isul. Piano, vocal, and keyboards.
Tomoe Meets Misuzu
(cosmos records) originally released in 1999 by SEA records
CMCA 2008
Tomoe put melody to Misuzu Kaneko(1903~1930)'s poem made for children. Piano, vocal, violin, and percussion by Alex Acuna. A live take of Hachi To Kamisama(Bee and God).

Koyomito Tokei (Calendar and Clock)
(Toshiba EMI) released in 1998
TOCT 10304
Tomoe's original songs. Most of them love songs. Kokoro is originally an old Korean poem translated into Japanese by Tomoe's grandfather. Piano, vocal and accordion.
Iiuta Iroiro
(Toshiba EMI) released in 1998
TOCT 10267
A selection of 'Iiuta(good songs)' from Ai Sansan originally sung by Hibari Misora to Tsubasa composed by Toru Takemitsu. Piano, vocal, cello, violin and percussion.
First Live in Seoul
(cosmos records) originally released in 1997 by SEA records
CMCA 2004
Literally Tomoe's first live in Seoul, Korea in 1996. Mostly in Korean because performing in Japanese was not allowed at the time. Band with guitar, bass and piano.

Kokonimo (Here We Live)
Who am I?
(cosmos records) originally released in 1995 by SEA records
CMCA 2003
Live recording in Tokyo. All tunes written by Tomoe. Self-introduction song Watashiwa Daredesho(Who am I?) and Sunshine Train. Band with guitar, bass, violin and piano.

Hajimete Deatta Hikara (Since We First Met)
Black Complex
(BMG Funhouse) originally released in 1993
BVCR 4988018
Tomoe's first self produced album with mostly her original songs. Miles' All Blues arranged in minimal style for strings. Tsuchini Kaeru(Back To Earth).
Tomoe Sings
(BMG Funhouse) originally released in 1991
BVCR 4988017
Tomoe's debut album at the age of 20. Produced by George Duke. Recorded in LA. Sung half in Japanese, half in English. Blue Monk and Night Mood written by Ivan Lins.

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