Kawai Kenji

Name (Japanese) 川井憲次
Name (Romaji) Kawai Kenji
Occupation Composer
Gender Male

Percussions and strings. That’s the impression I have when it comes to Kawai’s music. Kawai has composed music for almost anything, commercials, motion pictures, anime, video games, drama, etc. There are all sorts of flavours in his music but most people would agree that there are certain consistent properties in his music, and a term “Kawai-setsu” (川井節) is used to describe this.

Another trait of Kawai’s music is the occasional use of choir or opera singing in his instrumental. Language of the lyrics is not limited to Japanese, Polish and Italian are some other languages used. And as mentioned, the heavy use percussions and strings is another signature in Kawai’s music.

It is said that Kawai dislikes to work without much background information, and that he prefers to have some form of accompanying visuals or art work of the show for the music he is composing.



Kawai started studying music at Shobi Music Academy, but he dropped out after half a year. He then formed the band Muse with his friends, playing fusion rock music, in order to participate a competition. After winning the competition, the band gained valuable experience and met some other artists in the music industry, and eventually the members decided to play on their own and the band was disbanded.

Kawai then began composing music for commercials in his home studio. In 1986, Kawai gained a little attention for the beautiful melodic music pieces he composed in the dark fantasy movie “Seirei no Sasayaki” (精霊のささやき). A year later, he met Oshii Mamoru (押井守), and became a major contributer in Oshii’s work.

Kawai now works in all sorts of areas, and his work has received several awards internationally, with the recent one being the award by Festival de Cine de Sitges (a Spanish film festival) for the best original soundtrack for the animation “The Sky Crawlers”.


This section details some of Kawai Kenji’s albums. Note that this is not a complete discography for him, it’d be long to list them all and there wouldn’t be much of a point. Each album listed contains a few handpicked sample tracks that I personally adore. Also, the albums are sorted by personal favourites.

Note: Additional “sample” link is included if the stream doesn’t work.

External Links

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