Among the first to successfully combine the folk music of Japan and the rock and roll of the United States and Europe, Takio Ito has continued to explore a cross-pollination of musical influences. In December 1997, Ito joined with Colombian opera singer Gloria Patricia Londono A. and Chilean actress Elsa Poblete Bustamante to perform an original folk musical, Agua Dulce Rejuvenecimiento, in Tokyo and South America. Ito's earliest recognition came when he won a folk singing contest in Hokkaido, Japan in 1963. Although initially influenced by min'yo, a traditional, centuries-old, style of singing often accompanied on the banjo-like shamisen, Ito increasingly combined traditional Japanese and western instrumetnation. In 1989, he performed, with his band, Tryin' Times, on a popular Japanese music television show, NHK Red And White Singing Tournament, in 1989. Two years later, they performed a stirring set at the WOMAD Festival. Throughout his career, Ito has spent much time collecting folk songs in Japan. Many of these were featured in a book, Kita No Umi No Michi (The Northern Sea Road).