Is it possible on normal European instruments to play Japanese scales like the Hirajōshi, Insen, In, Ryo, etc, without retuning? If I do have to retune, where can I find out which exact intervals are used?

You don't have to tell me exactly how many cents 12TET is off from each of these scales. An artistic judgement about whether it's 'close enough' would also be appreciated. To compare, I'll say that the Aeolian scale, I think, is close enough. It's just a little out of tune, but isn't unplayable, and it sounds recognizably Aeolian, even though the third tone in it is more than ten cents off. So, if 12TET can do these scales as well as it can do Aeolian, I'll be satisfied.

Worryingly, I've found conflicting definitions for some of these Japanese scales on European instruments. For example, the Hirajõshi scale:

Burrows gives C-E-F♯-G-B.[3] Sachs,[4] as well as Slonimsky,[5] give C-D♭-F-G♭-B♭. Speed[2] and Kostka & Payne[6] give C-D-E♭-G-A♭. Note that all are hemitonic pentatonic scales (five note scales with one or more semitones) and are different modes of the same pattern of intervals, 2-1-4-1-4 semitones.

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    I think you should ask from someone in Japan. Like you say, Western sources seem to have conflicting information. And... "close enough" for what purpose and situation? If you just want to create make-believe fake stuff for Westerners, then I guess anything goes. Nobody will know the difference. ;) – piiperi Mar 26 at 7:53
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    The same issue occurs in Indian music. Keep in mind that the original Western scales were not equal tempered but just and in just tuning one does not have enharmonic tomes (e.g. Bb is not = to A# etc). To judge these scales by western standards is ethnocentricism. No westerner should be trying to teach Asian music via Western theory or language. This is imo the source of the contradictions. Get your hands on an original source of Japanese music and go from there. – ggcg Mar 26 at 11:29

Playing scales labelled as "Japanese" on an equal-temperament Western instrument gives me Japanese vibes, as long as the instrument is some sort of a stringed thing or flute, not a church organ or timpani or something. What sort of vibes such music gives someone actually from Japan, is a completely different question.

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