Kohei Nishikawa is one of Japan's most accomplished and versatile flute players, playing the Western flute and traditional Japanese transverse flutes: the shinobue (a small bamboo transverse) and the nohkan (the transverse flute used in Noh Theater). He studied with Ririko Hayashi at the Toko Gakuen Conservatory of Music. While still a student, he became a member of the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, performing under Seiji Ozawa at Carnegie Hall in New York, the United Nations, and Champs Élysées Hall in Paris. Afterward, Nishikawa became principal flute of the Osaka Philharmonic. After three seasons, he left the orchestra to devote his career to the performance of traditional Japanese bamboo flutes (shinobue and nohkan). He joined the Pro Musica Nipponia in 1980, performing traditional and contemporary repertoires. He had appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Gewandhaus in Helsinki, and many Japanese orchestras. In 1999, he performed "The Tale of Genji" as a soloist by Isao Tomita with the London Philharmonic and Pasadina orchestras. He currently maintains an active role in performance of Kabuki theater and Buyo Dance in addition to his many other activities.
Kohei Nishikawa created his own ensemble: the Nishikawa Ensemble, that presents highly varied programs encompassing Asian and Western music, from traditional to contemporary. The members of the ensemble play traditional Asian instruments such as the shinobue, nohkan, biwa, pipa, koto, and taiko, as well as Western instruments such as the flute, piano, vibraphone, and frame drum. This enables them to include in their programs original works written for the ensemble, which combine all these instruments. The ensemble regularly invites guest performers, thus diversifying its repertoire. In addition to concerts in Japan, the Nishikawa Ensemble had three tours of Canada, giving concerts and workshops in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and Ottawa, and has also performed in the United States. The ensemble released two CDs which each includes both traditional and contemporary works.