Tsugaru shamisen is popular among foreigners! Explanation of facilities and points to note


Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

Did you know that the Tsugaru shamisen is now popular overseas through the Internet?

The uplifting performance attracts many foreigners.

This article explains in detail why the Tsugaru shamisen is so popular with foreigners and what to expect when experiencing it.


At the end, we introduce the history of Tsugaru shamisen, which even Japanese people often don’t know about, as well as places where you can experience Tsugaru shamisen, so please be sure to read to the end.

Please refer to the following information for a Tsugaru Shamisen experience with a foreigner.

Why Tsugaru shamisen is popular among foreigners

Why is Tsugaru shamisen so popular among foreigners?

From the Japanese point of view, the performers are cool and their skillful manipulation of the shamisen is very attractive.

Here we explain why the Tsugaru shamisen is so popular among foreigners. There are three reasons for its popularity.
Strong tone
・Uplifting performance
Transmission of Japanese instrumentalists

powerful tone

The reason for the popularity of the Tsugaru shamisen is its powerful and delicate tone.

The shamisen is a musical instrument with three strings played with a bachi, of which the Tsugaru shamisen is played with a futozao, the thickest and heaviest.

The sound of the instrument changes depending on how the skin is stretched on the thick neck. If the skin is stretched hard, the sound is hard and bright, and if it is stretched weakly, the sound is bouncy and rounded, giving the instrument a variety of different tones and expressions.

This powerful yet delicate tone attracts many foreigners.

Uplifting performance

Tsugaru shamisen performances are sometimes described as “rock” by foreigners.

The rock feeling created by the shamisen would be a perfect description of its powerful tone. The appearance of the shamisen is just like rock music, even when it is played intensely or by two players.

And just listening to the performance inspires and uplifts. The soul-stirring performance of Tsugaru shamisen uplifts the souls of not only Japanese but also foreigners.

Transmission of Japanese instrumentalists

The Tsugaru shamisen’s popularity overseas can be attributed in part to the performers and the entertainment it provides.

Among the most famous are the Yoshida Brothers and Ninagawa Beni of the Japanese instrument band. They are also popular shamisen players around the world, as they regularly stream their performances on Youtube and other sites.

The Yoshida Brothers, in particular, had a successful tour of New York in 2010 and are still actively touring overseas.

Also, the fact that the main character plays the Tsugaru shamisen in the Japanese anime “Mashiro no Otoko” is another factor that made the Tsugaru shamisen popular.

Performers, animation, and other forms of entertainment reach the world and support the popularity of Tsugaru shamisen.

Places where foreigners can experience Tsugaru Shamisen

Where can foreigners actually experience the Tsugaru shamisen?

Two locations are described here.
Shamisen Class
Tsugaru Shamisen Events

Shamisen Class

Foreigners can experience the Tsugaru shamisen at a shamisen school.

Shamisen classes may allow you to play the shamisen as a hands-on experience if you apply in advance.

At a shamisen school, instruments are provided and a professional teacher will carefully teach you how to play the shamisen, so there is no need to prepare in advance.

If you want to experience the shamisen, you should first contact a shamisen school.

Tsugaru Shamisen Events

If you are interested in hearing the Tsugaru shamisen, I recommend attending a Tsugaru shamisen event.

The Tsugaru shamisen is performed live at events and concerts throughout Japan.

Even if you are not a famous player, you can hear a powerful performance, and you may be surprised to find that there are events being held at nearby halls.

If you want to hear Tsugaru shamisen, go to the event.

Things to keep in mind when experiencing Tsugaru Shamisen

There are a few things to keep in mind when experiencing the Tsugaru shamisen.

From here, we will explain what to expect when foreigners experience the Tsugaru shamisen.

There are only a limited number of places where you can experience it.

First, it is important to note that the number of places where you can experience the Tsugaru shamisen is very limited.

Musical instruments that make noise, such as the Tsugaru shamisen, are most often played in soundproofed rooms or studios. Since these locations are limited, it is best to rent a space for the experience.

Some shamisen schools rent studios, so inquire about them. If it is in a studio, you can enjoy playing without stress because you can play without hesitation.

Delicate in the way it is handled

The shamisen is a delicate instrument. Since the skin is basically made of natural materials, it is not suitable for use in hot and humid places, and the neck, or sao, which is the neck part of a guitar, is thin and must be handled with care to prevent it from breaking.

The strings are plucked with a plectrum (bachi), but plucking with force is also not recommended. It requires a high level of skill to pluck the strings as if plucking with a plucking stick.

At the shamisen school, they will explain to you how to handle it carefully, so you should first try to play it as the teacher says, paying attention to the handling.

Does it support foreign languages?

Some shamisen classes do not accommodate foreigners.

Once you have decided on the classes you would like to experience, ask if they are open to foreigners and if they can accommodate your language needs. If they do not, you may want to arrange for a coordinator or interpreter.

The experience is possible even if you do not speak the language, but if the language is not understood, you may end up with an incomplete experience. It is advisable to inquire in advance if language support is available, for example, at a shamisen school.

If your language is not available, Motenas Japan can arrange for an interpreter or coordinator to assist you.

History of Tsugaru Shamisen

The Tsugaru shamisen has a long history, originating in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) when it was introduced from China.

It was introduced from China to Ryukyu (present-day Okinawa), and later the present form of the shamisen was established in Kansai and Kanto.

Later, around the Edo period, the shamisen arrived in Tsugaru (present-day Aomori) by ship from Niigata and developed uniquely as the Tsugaru shamisen. It is said that at festivals, a large number of performers played the shamisen with one hand, as if competing with each other in their performance.

During the folk song boom around 1965, what had been called “Tsugaru mono” became “Tsugaru shamisen” and took root today.

Originally introduced from China, the shamisen has since merged with Japanese culture to become the Tsugaru shamisen as we know it today.

Facilities where you can experience Tsugaru Shamisen

For foreigners who would like to experience the Tsugaru shamisen, here are some facilities where you can do so.

Dream Academy

At Yume Academy, you can experience a variety of traditional cultures.
In addition to Tsugaru shamisen, this service is popular among foreign visitors to Japan because it allows them to experience Japanese drums, flutes, and other instruments in a short period of time.
As for Tsugaru shamisen, it is possible for one or more people to experience the instrument, and we are happy to arrange locations and interpreters.
It can be used not only for foreigners but also for in-house training for Japanese people, so why not consider it for team building?
This service is recommended for those who want a quick and easy experience, as it does not require any arrangements.
Name: Yume Academy
Official website: https://tokoton634.net/

Tsugaru-han Neputa-mura Tsugaru Shamisen Performance Experience

You can also experience playing Tsugaru shamisen in Aomori, the home of Tsugaru shamisen.

Tsugaru-han Neputa-mura offers a Tsugaru Shamisen (three-stringed musical instrument) performance experience outside of the Sakura Festival. 60 to 75 minutes is a short time to experience the instrument, so it is a great place for foreign visitors to Japan during a break in their sightseeing.

Advance inquiry is required, so if you are traveling to Hirosaki, this is a recommended experience facility.

Name: Tsugaru-han Neputa-mura Tsugaru Shamisen Performance Experience
Official website: http://neputamura.com/
Address: 61 Kamego-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8332


In this article, we have explained why the Tsugaru shamisen is popular among foreigners, its history, and the facilities where you can experience it.

When entertaining foreigners with different cultures and values, you may wonder what kind of experience to choose to make them happy.

Tsugaru shamisen is one of the traditional cultures that can be experienced by several people.

Performing with your business partner will delight and even strengthen your bond.

Motenas Japan can tailor-make a traditional cultural experience to meet your needs.

Please feel free to contact us at Motenas Japan to discuss your plans and proposals to make your experience in Japan more enjoyable.

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