A Modern Girl in the Japanese news!

Tsugaru Shamisen

Apparently, I’ve had a lot of new visitors lately! It turns out that my recent post on Tsugaru shamisen was featured on the Japanese-language website Searchina:







Here’s my very quick and awkward attempt to translate the article for my English-speaking readers–if you look at my original post, you’ll notice some differences in content:

Japanese Shamisen: Moved by the Unique Rhythm and Sound of the Strings

An American woman living in Japan writes about Tsugaru-jamisen in her informational blog about Japanese culture, “amoderngirl.wordpress.”

The author had a chance to hear Tsugaru-jamisen when she traveled to Aomori to visit a friend. Being unfamiliar with the sound of the shamisen, she was interested in its tone. She says that “the tone of the three-stringed shamisen, which you’ve probably heard before,” is used to bring to mind the image of Japan in movies and the like. For her, the shamisen is “the sound of the exotic.”

It seems that she has the impression that the leather used in the shamisen resembles a drum. She explains that the leather is different depending on the genre of music and the ability of the performer; generally, a cat’s stomach is used, but it is expensive, so a dog’s stomach is used for practice. Moreover, the strings were traditionally made of silk, but for practice, it is supplemented with durable and low-cost nylon.

The most characteristic thing about the shamisen is the unique sound of the strings and the rhythm, which she thinks “strike the heart in a beat similar to Western music.” In Aomori, the home of Tsugaru shamisen, performances are held in various local restaurants. It seems that there was even one at the restaurant where the author ate dinner. She praised it as a “performance so terrific I was surprised.” The next day there was another performance at a different shop, and she was impressed at “how an elementary school child could play so confidently.”

“I was very lucky to experience such an interesting aspect of Japanese culture at a local shop,” she says, “If you are interested in shamisen, please listen on YouTube.” It seems that the sound of the shamisen that is so familiar to Japanese people sounds fresh to foreigners.

And there you have it, real-life cultural exchange via the blogoverse! :)

Searchina did a similar article on my post on Traditional Kaiseki Cuisine at a Japanese Ryokan back in November 2011 as well. You can read the Japanese article here:


As always, thanks for stopping by! The holidays are almost upon us–I hope all of you are warm and happy this winter!

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