Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品

Tokyo Shamisen

Tokyo Shamisen Photo

The tone is created by the ensemble made of a player and a craftsman.
Shamisen (three-stringed musical instrument) is a Japanese traditional musical instrument having over 400 years of history, and classified mainly into three types according to its applications and sizes. These include Hosozao (slim neck) type, typically used for Nagauta (literally a long song), possibly an original type, Chuzao (medium neck) type, typically used for Minyo (folk song) and Jiuta (country songs of Kyoto and Osaka regions) played with Koto (thirteen-stringed musical instrument), and Futozao (thick neck) type,used for Tsugaru-jamisen (Tsugaru-shamisen) and Gidayu (a dramatic or narrative vocal style) traditions: the neck is important for tone in anyways. While Shamisen neck is manufactured as division of labor in the Kansai region, only one craftsman is engaged from the neck manufacturing up to finishing for Tokyo Shamisen. This is in order to face each player and to manufacture the best-suiting Shamisen for every player. The highest-grade material for the neck is red sandalwood from India, and its hard wooden quality creates a good sound. However, considerable skills are necessary to create an ideal sound on the hard neck. A craftsman selects appropriate materials after understanding the player’s ability and manufactures a specific piece of Shamisen that needs repair but can be used for a lifetime, considering the best way for the player to obtain an ideal sound. Their tailor-made finishing is highly trusted from players, and they are now active in making beginner’s Shamisen at a reasonable price by repairing and reproducing old ones.
Tokyo Japanese Musical Instruments Association
Address: c/o Mukoyama Gakkiten 1-17, Hirai 4-chome, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo