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A shamisen (or samisen) is a three-stringed musical instrument played with a plectrum called a bachi.

In the early part of the 20th century, blind musicians, including Shirakawa Gunpachiro (1909-1962), Takahashi Chikuzan (1910-1998), and sighted ones such as Kida Rinshoe (1911-1979), evolved a new style of playing, based on traditional folk songs (but involving much improvisation and flashy fingerwork. This style - now known as Tsugaru-jamisen, after the home region of this style in the north of Honshu - continues to be relatively popular in Japan. The virtuosic Tsugaru-jamisen style is sometimes compared to bluegrass banjo.

(Above from wikipedia)

Kevin Kmetz has created a comic book telling the story of his instrument, the Tsugaru Shamisen of Northern Japan. You can see it here!

(G.o.S. has more comic plans yet to be unveiled…)

Shamisen of Japan bookOur friend Kyle has written a book called Shamisen of Japan — a great English-language introduction to the instrument. It features a step-by-step construction manual as well as a complete beginner's guide for playing!