SanshinThe Sanshin, meaning three-stringed instrument, is an Okinawan banjo-like instrument, based on the Chinese sanxian, that emerged in Japanese history in the 1700's. Similar to the Japanese Shamisen, the Sanshin has three strings that are stretched over an (artificial) snake skin body, and wooden neck. Unlike other instruments, the Sanshin does not follow the traditional western music notations. Instead, it uses a Japanese symbol-styled notation called kunkunshi. To play the Sanshin, musicians pluck on various strings while pressing down on specific notes on the neck of the instrument.

Sanshin is considered the soul of this prefecture’s music. It’s a kind of Japanese guitar with three strings that produces a warm and cheerful sound. It’s said that it was inspired by a Chinese stringed instrument that was transported to the islands when Okinawa was still the independent Ryukyu Kingdom. Later, sanshin was spread throughout mainland Japan, and it evolved into the shamisen, a very popular Japanese instrument.