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Daily Helping for May 25th, 2021 – Masamitsu Takasaki – Tsugaru-shamisen

A photo of Tsugaru-shamisen player Masamitsu Takasaki sitting in a room of a traditional Japanese house with playing the shamisen.

And now for a completely different type of music out of Japan. This video came across my dash this morning, and once again, it was Google to the rescue to figure out what I had just watched. Which is why I can now tell you that Tsugaru-shamisen is a genre of music that originated in the Tsugaru Peninsula in 19th century Japan. The shamisen (the instrument) originally dates back to 16th century China, but it eventually made its way to Japan over the centuries. Today, a shamisen has been described as “a musical instrument that moves the soul of the Japanese people”, and this genre of music has remained popular throughout the decades.

For myself, I love everything about this video. The music, the setting, the percussive nature of the notes. How the music feels so familiar and yet so different at the same time. This particular song is part of the traditional Tsugaru-shamisen repertoire, with “Jonkara bushi” being held up as one of the genre’s classics. However, I also read that today’s up and coming Tsugaru-shamisen musicians are starting to blend this style of music with other more modern genres. Something tells me there will be more Tsugaru-shamisen Daily Harts sooner rather than later…

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!