The Shakuhachi is Japan’s most popular flute and is played by blowing across the holes. It is made out of bamboo from the bottom of the trees and has four to five holes. This instrument is about 55 centimeters long. The shakuhachi originated in China where it has six holes, but later on in the 10th century it was made with four holes. You can play 64 different tones with this flute depending on the angle that you hold and blow it.


Taiko (Japanese drums)

Taiko means drum. A lot of taikos have two sides. Taiko is shaped like an hourglass and has two different sizes, one of them is kotsuzumi, which is played on your right shoulder and is larger and the other one is otsuzumi, which goes on your left thigh and is smaller than the kotsuzumi. When someone says taiko, the first thing that people usually think about is a large drum with two sides that can be banged by guys (picture on the left) that is an o- daiko and is the only one of many different types of taikos. A smaller drum that gives a much higher sounding pitch is the shime.


The shamisen is a lute that resembles a banjo and has three strings. They are from 1.1- 1.4 meters in length. Usually when you see someone playing a shamisen you will notice how stiff the instrument looks. This is because of the way that they have to play the instrument. It has a long neck and a small body. This instrument is covered in either cat or dog skin. Shamisens are played with picks that are called banchis. Usually when you play the shamisen you play sitting on your ankles with your knees facing forward. The strings are all different sizes but the thickest of them all is the top string.



It originally came from China. A Biwa is a lute with a short neck and is held vertically while you play it. The strings on a Biwa range from three to five. Instruments that are played with the Biwa are known as Biwagaku. This particular instrument was used for traditional story telling. As good as it sounds when played mixed with other instruments, it is also used for solos.





The Koto has thirteen strings. Educated women have played it for the past year. It is usually recognized as the Japanese Floor Harp. This Japanese Floor Harp is two inches thick and six feet long. The instrument is shaped like a “U” that is hollowed out. Music played with the Koto is called Sokyoku. Kotos are played with picks called tsume and have moveable finger bridges. The sound comes out from the two holes at the bottom pf the Koto. To get a number of different sounds you can tape, scratch and do other things to the strings.


Back To Top

Copyright © 2006 MichèleYoungDesign