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The music of Toru Takemitsu is often stated to be essentially Japanese. However, previous studies on Takemitsu tend to highlight the composer’s reception of Japanese aesthetics and philosophy rather than his preoccupation with Japan’s various musical traditions. This study traces the influence of these traditions in a particular segment of Takemitsu’s oeuvre, namely, the piano works. Analyses of selected pieces from this repertoire will show how tradition and innovation (the provenance of which is not always apparent) have merged into Takemitsu’s highly distinctive musical language.