She plays an ancient harp invented nearly 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Variously named "angular harp," "chang," "kunghou," and "kugo," the instrument on which Tomoko Sugawara performs can be seen in centuries-old Buddhist cave paintings and in artists' depictions from countries along the trade route known as the Silk Road. In 2010, the classically trained harpist released her Motema debut, Along the Silk Road, which brings the enchanting music of this historically revered instrument to life once again for the world to hear.
The unique kugo harp on which Sugawara performs is a twenty-first century reconstruction of an angular harp which is pictured on a reliquary box painted during the sixth or seventh century BC. The angular harp disappeared from the world stage some 300 years ago, was only evidenced in paintings from antiquity until Sugawara and her partner, music archaeologist Bo Lawrengren, brought plans for a reconstruction to luthiers Bill and Catherine Campbell, who worked closely with the pair to faithfully recreate a modern rendition that would honor the essence of an instrument that was revered for centuries.