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shamisen music

Geisha with shamisen
Geisha with Shamisen
by Kunisada (1786-1864)
shamisen, the three stringed lute,
to be played with a bachi (plectrum)

The shamisen is a three string instrument that came to Japan from China during the Edo Period (1615-1868).
It was the time of a growing merchant class as well as a samurai class that did not have much to do since war was over, except to entertain themselves.
The shamisen quickly became popular as the best instrument for entertainment taking the place of pupularity the biwa had occupied for a long time.
Osaka has always been a merchant city. In the Edo era, it was especially a rice market. Merchants came from all over Japan to sell rice in Osaka. They would host parties for people including samurai and big customers. Since samurai all studied noh drama, the jiuta-mai dancers chose famous parts of the noh plays and included them in jiuta-mai dances.
Jiuta-mai were always changed to please special guests.



presenting 'jiuta', the 'shamisen' music of the Kyoto and Osaka region during a workshop demonstration in connection with the 16th Kuttiyattam Festival from the 1st to 12th January 2003 of the Ammanur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam at Natana Kairali, Research and Performing Center For Traditional Arts, Irinjalakuda, Kerala, India

Masae YOSHIZAWA is a renowned shamisen player.
She graduated from Tokyo Universitiy of Fine Art and Music, is a teacher of The School for Visually Impaired, University of Tsukuba, a menber of The Ensemble "Miyagi" for Koto, Sangen and a member of "Hibiki" for Japanese fiddle.

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