The Lores Okiya and Hanayagi Gakko

Serving with grace and elegance!




Dance – Tachikata

Of the arts that Geisha perform dance is probably the best known due to the proliferation of public performances. Geisha are classed by the arts that they master in the course of their training. Geisha dedicated to dance are called tachikata (dance) geisha.

Dances are performed to traditional music performed by a fellow geisha or jikata (musician), telling stories of love, sorrow and nature. The geisha will use her kimono, body and props such as fans to intimate the flowing of a brook or the rustling of leaves in a tree.

Dances vary amongst the hanamachi. In Gion Kobu they learn a style of dance derived from Noh called Shimai. Other Kyoto hanamachi have their own styles which are said to be influenced heavily by Kabuki. Fujima in Gion Hagashi, Onoue in Ponto-cho, Wakayagi in Miyagawa-cho and Hanayagi in Kamishichiken.

Another popular dance style for geisha and maiko is Nihon Buyo a type of classical Japanese dance – graceful and flowing. The master of Nihon Buyo aims to perfect body forms collated from a range of historical dance styles include bugaku – a ceremonial dance form of the Imperial Court and nohgaku – originating from Noh theatre and its origins.





Shamisen Glossary


Articles about Japanese music often use dozens of Japanese terms. When I arrive at the fourth term, I usually forgot the first three. For the ambitious ones among you, here are a few special terms.

  • bachi - a large pick used to strike or pluck the three strings
  • joruri - narrative style used in bunraku puppet theater
  • gidayu - narrative style invented by Takemoto Gidayu (1651-1714)
  • nagauta or naga-uta - long, lyrical songs
  • minyo or min-yo - folk songs
  • hon-choshi - a form of tuning - solemn
  • niagari - a form of tuning - serene
  • san-sagari - a form of tuning - melancholic

 Japanese Shamisen

Shamisen is an old Japanese musical instrument. It looks like a banjo with a long neck. You might have heard of shamisen music in connection with geishas, the kabuki theater or the Japanese bunraku puppet theater.

The Shamisen Anatomy

The shamisen is a lute instrument with three strings. It has a very long neck and is about 30 inches (one meter) long.

Its body is made out of wood and covered with cat or dog skin ( Pet lovers excuse! I hate the idea myself. ). In the historical beginnings, snake skin was used ( not much better ). The body is stuck on a pole, the neck. Body and neck can be taken apart. Thus the shamisen is easier to transport.

Over the course of time, different forms of the musical instrument developed. The main types are the futozao, the hosozao and the tsugaru. The difference is in the thickness of the body and thus the typical sound of the instrument. As with all Japanese art forms like the tea ceremeny or martial arts, dozens of different styles emerged - taught in numerous schools.


Component and Name



Shamisen has Tenjin, Itomaki, Sao, Nakago, and Dou.

Shamisen is made from wood. This wood is very hard and good grain.
for a biginers one. Asia
for a midle crass. No more get this kind of wood. Japan
for a professional and high crass. Asia
Shamisen's sao has three parts. Because, if only one peace, to keep good condition is very difficult.


Tuning of Shamisen


Tuning is differnce with guitar and other instruments that you know.
At first bigest string tuning with your boice or singer's boice.
And you tuning another 2 strings like these tables.
Usually, that Syamisen's tunig are 3 kind of tune.
Those are "Hon-choshi", "Niagari-choshi" and "San-sagari".
And Syamisen's strings are mede from silk. Plaier can keep good tuning just only 1 minute.
These thing is one of reson why it has not fret like guitar.
Every plaier are adjust posistion when they are plaing it.

Tuning of Syamisen


Bigest stringAA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#
Midle stringDD#EFF#GG#AA#BCC#
Fine stringAA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#


biggest stringAA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#
Midle stringEFF#GG#AA#BCC#DD#
Fine stringAA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#


Biggest stringAA#BCC#DD#EFF#GG#
Midle stringDD#EFF#GG#AA#BCC#
Fine stringGG#AA#BCC#DD#EFF#

At "Hon-choshi" and "Niagari-choshi", small string is 1 octave difference with biggest string.



Process to make Shamisen

Making Shamisen's process like this.

Shamisen made from woods which are KARIN, SHITAN and KOHKI.
Every kind of these woods are Asia area's

Make 3 pieaces ARAKI by hand saw. And make joint.

Woods are very hard, and useing CHONA which is kind of chisel,
still in the process of being formed.

Put in silver or gold parts to joint for more stronger.

Useing files, making more dimensional.
Useing NAMAZORI for one of Shamisen part SARUO.

MIGAKI (to shine)
To brush and shine, useing 3 kind ofwhetstones.

Making SAWARI edge
Making edge for SAWARI.

YAKINUKI(make hole of Itomaiki)
Making hole for Fukurin, useing steel stick which is burning.
Then if use like a drill, it makes crack easy.

Make square hole and whole.

Put on skin for DOU. If not enough strech skin and put on,
shamisen's sound become no good.

Shaving ITOMKI. Most important fitting with FUKURIN.

Put on DOU-KAKE, NEO, strings.


Usually, shamisen's strings are made from silk.
Recently, useing nylon's one for onlypractice.
Put on it between Skin and strings.
Made from ivory, bamboo, woods, ceramic and plastic.
Of cource, sound is different what materials made from.
Every shamisen player use bachi when they are playing it, except Kouta which is one of style.
Player choose size, weight and material, they want.
But somtime player's have to use it that their teacher choosed.
It made from wood(oak,boxwood), plastic, tortoiseshell,
buffalo's horn and ivory.

Shamisen's skin

Disclaimer:  In " NO"  WAY does The Lore's Chiasa condone, or practice the use of animals in any way in the making of the shamisen, W/we are a sanctuary for animals.,

W/we are only a vessel of information.

We use 3 kinds of skin for Shamisen.
Most high class and good sound's one is cats skin.
But cost is real expensive. And usually most player use dog's one.
Both kinds of skin are too difficult to keep.
Strettch skin and put on the "Dou" with gulu which is almost same lice-cake.
If not enough to strettch that skin, those Shamisen's sound become real worce.
And to strettching skin is almost limit to break.
If keep it too much warm or too much humid place, as soon as skin will be broken.
Usually, Shamisen make good sounds with new skin only 2 years.

Cat's skin
Shamisen with cat's skin is real Japanese traditional style.
A cat can make only one Shamisen. Use stomach side. And that price become expensive.
Dog's skin
Can make a couple Shamisens sikins a dog. Because to use back side of dogs.
Sound of these skin's Shamisen is stronger more than cat's one. And to be bad sound is soon.
But nowaday, concerthalls, mics, became real good. At the some place and situation dog skin's sound is better.
Many Shamisen's users wanted and riquested taffer, easy keeping skins.
At last, 1980's kind of plastics skins were released. These kind of skins are not break easy. But we had never thought another broblem that is very easy got damage about hot temperature.
Of cource, sound is no good.
Most Shamisen players don't want it, and cost is more expenssive than another kind of skins.


Taiko Tsutsumi
Often used in traditional Japanese theater, the tsuzumi drum (alternativ spelled "tsuzumi") has two drumheads supported by tension cords which, when pulled, alter the pitch. Using the right hand to strike the drum, the tsutsumi player uses the left hand to hold the drum to the right shoulder.


There are many large Japanese  taiko. Most have two membranes which are nailed or laced and are struck with sticks. The most dramatic is the Odaiko (big drum). The physical energy and sheer excitement of an Odaiko performance is an integral part of many Japanese matsuri (festivals). Perhaps because they see this all the time, most Japanese people don't get particularly excited by taiko performance groups like Kodo, while foreign audiences are enthralled by them. Each year, Kodo host Earth Celebration, a festival of taiko drumming, international music and performance art in their home base on Sado Island. Many people come to Japan from around the world to enjoy the festival and it is certainly a highlight of the Japanese cultural calendar. Kodo also tour extensively abroad every year.

The names for the parts of a koto were decided long ago by likening the instrument to a dragon stretched out along the ground. Some of the parts' names are written with Chinese characters meaning "dragon's tongue," "dragon's brow," and "dragon's horn."

Ryuko (dragon's back)

This section is the main body of the koto. The musician plucks the strings with the right hand, being sure to touch them on the right of the ji, the supports under the strings.

Ryubi (dragon's tail)

After the koto is strung, and the strings are run through holes in the instrument's body and tied off, the leftover string is placed here. It's coiled into two bunches--one of six strings and one of seven--and kept in case a string breaks later.

Ji (bridges)

These supports are slid up and down the instrument to adjust the sound of each string. With their notched tops to hold the strings, they also help transmit the sound from the strings to the body of the koto, making it fuller and richer.

Tsume (claws)

The koto is not played directly with the fingers. Instead, the musician puts three tsume on the index finger, middle finger, and thumb of the right hand and plucks the strings with them.

The hourglass-shaped tsuzumi was introduced from the Asian continent around the 7th century and the name is derived from Sanskrit. Two varieties, the smaller kotsuzumi and the larger otsuzumi are used in both noh and kabuki performances. The kotsuzumi is held on the right shoulder and the player alters the tone by squeezing the laces. The otsuzumi is held on the left thigh. Like all other traditional arts in Japan, there are several schools of tsuzumi.

Horse skin is used on the drumhead of the kotsuzumi (small hand drum). The side that players hit is called omote-gawa (front skin); the other is called ura-gawa (rear skin). You may have seen a player licking his finger and touching the rear side of his instrument. He is actually dampening a piece of paper that is attached to the skin for modulation.
The sound of a kotsuzumi is beautiful in a moderately humid place. Kotsuzumi players prepare small pieces of Japanese paper, and attach one or more to the rear side to create moderate humidity. The number of pieces and the layout depend on the weather and the humidity of the venue. They also tune their instruments by adjusting the tension strings between the drumheads and the body-shells, as well as by dampening the pieces of paper. Even if they tune perfectly before appearing on stage, however, the sound may change during the performance due to drying. Therefore, the players continually tune the instruments by breathing on the skin or dampening the attached paper.
While the soft skin of a colt is used for a kotsuzumi, the tough and stiff skin of an adult horse is used for a ôtsuzumi (aka ôkawa, large hand drum). The ôtsuzumi sounds beautiful in dry air, so players warm and dry
their instruments with charcoal fire before appearing on stage. A kotsuzumi has a soft sound, while an ôtsuzumi produces a dry and high-pitched t            in th
eir sounds is created by the different characters of the skins and the different methods of manipulate
Image of Student Shakuhachi's
Bamboo Flute
The shakuhachi is certainly Japan's most well-known woodwind instrument. A vertically-held bamboo flute, it is made from the very bottom of a bamboo tree. Bamboo is hollow except for this nodes which are spaced at Intervals along the pipe. These nodes are knocked out to form the complete hollow length of the pipe. Four fingerholes are put on the front of the instrument and a thumbhole on the back. The mouthpiece is the open top of the pipe itself with the front side cut at a slight and angle to facilitate blowing the instrument.

Although the placement of holes and tuning of the instrument is a very delicate process, the instrument itself is of a basically simple construction. It is this very fact, however, which allows for very complex techniques in playing the instrument such as the use of the breath with changes in the blowing angle for great or minute changes in sound quality, or partial-holding of fingerholes to make delicate pitch changes.

The instrument takes its name from its standard length of one foot (shaku) and eight (hachi) parts of a foot (called sun), approximately 54cm. There are other lengths of the instrument as well, all with the general name of shakuhachi

In Japan the flute has had a long association with Zen Buddhism. The idea is to use the flute in meditation to achieve total spontaneity, a release from normal conscious thought. When played in a natural setting it sounds very much like it belongs there. This is not true with most instruments. Imagine playing, say, a trumpet by a quietly babbling brook!

The image below shows the Japanese system of lengths associated with the shakuhachi flute. The system of measurment was borrowed from the ancient Chinese. A shaku is only slightly longer than the English foot (12 1/8 inches or 308 millmeters). The shaku is broken down into 10 ru. The Japanese word for eight is hachi. The shakuhachi is one shaku and hachi ru long, hense the name. The symbols that are circled are what we burn into the various lengths of flutes that we make. Strictly speaking only one can truely be called shakuhachi but even the Japanese overlook this technicality.

Below is the fingering chart for the basic pentatonic scale in two octaves. Like all flutes, the lowest note is played with all the holes closed. The pitch gets higher as fingers are lifted one at a time from the bottom end and the second octave is acheived by overblowing the flute.

Below is the fingering chart for the complete pentatonic scale in a single octave. This chart introduces the concept of meri, chu-meri and kari. These are techniques involving changing the angle at which the flute is played and slightly uncovering holes to achieve different tones. As you can see this is rather complicated and a full explaination is beyond the scope of this web page. However more literature about playing shakuhachi in the traditional Japanese manner are available for sale from


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