The shamisen, one of the best-known of Japanese musical instruments, is used to provide accompaniment to several styles of vocal and theatrical performance. The shamisen came to Japan from China via the Ryukyu Islands, and was fashioned into its contemporary form during the 16th century. It has a long, thin neck, and a box which resonates when its three strings are plucked with a plectrum called a bachi. The shamisen became widely popular from about the 17th century. Today it can be heard accompanying Kabuki, Bunraku and Joruri performances as well as traditional dances and folk songs.

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Shamisen's skin


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