Learn Wagakki with

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Get to know Wagakki Instruments

(c) All videos by Shino Wako

ZAKURO SHOW和楽器の紹介①「箏」について
1300年ほど前から中国から伝わった、日本の伝統楽器の一つ「箏」。その弾き方と音について紹介します。2つの流派、生田流と山田流の違いは?ZAKURO SHOWの演奏者が、わかり易く説明します!

毎月1回2公演のあるZAKURO SHOWで、和楽器についてたくさん学ぼう!

ZAKURO SHOW presents professional musicians talking about their musical instruments! Learn about Koto, an instrument played in Japan for ~1300 years. What is the difference between Ikuta School and Yamada School of playing Koto? 

English subtitles available!

ZAKURO SHOW和楽器の紹介②「打楽器」について
ZAKURO SHOWの演奏者が、わかり易く説明します!

毎月1回2公演のあるZAKURO SHOWで、和楽器についてたくさん学ぼう!

ZAKURO SHOW presents professional musicians talking about their musical instruments! Learn about Japanese drums, for instance, about a unique drum "Kotsuzumi" which exists only in Japan. How exactly is it played? 

English subtitles available!

ZAKURO SHOW和楽器の紹介③「尺八」について
日本の伝統楽器の一つ「尺八」は、瞑想や和楽器演奏で昔から使われている吹奏楽器。「尺八」の特別な奏法や弾き方、音の違いは?ZAKURO SHOWの演奏者が、わかり易く説明します!

毎月1回2公演のZAKURO SHOWで、和楽器についてたくさん学ぼう!

ZAKURO SHOW presents professional musicians talking about their musical instruments! Learn about bamboo Japanese flute Shakuhachi, an instrument used for traditional music, spiritual rituals, meditation, and others. Where does the name Shakuhachi come from? What are the unique techniques of playing the instrument? 

English subtitles available!


ZAKURO SHOW musicians are from the Japanese Traditional Instruments Orchestra "AIOI"

Japanese Traditional Instrument's Orchestra "AIOI"





(c)ビデオ by 若生志乃


Orchestra AIOI is formed by professionals who graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts. They set their goal to introduce the power of Japanese traditional instruments to the world.


Orchestra AIOI performs old traditional pieces along with original orchestrations, modern tunes and unexpected arrangements of the well-known songs. They give concerts all around Japan, explore different genres and make collaborations with various musicians. Special events include workshops and lessons of Koto, Shamisen, Biwa, Shakuhachi and other Japanese traditional instruments.

(c) Video by Shino Wako

About Japanese Traditional Instruments

Japanese harp Koto

The Koto is about 1300 years old. In the Nara Period (8th century) it was introduced to Japan from China (Tang dynasty period).
The body is made of paulownia wood. It’s the same wood we use for wardrobes and drawers in our homes. Primarily strings are made of silk, but lately, one can find a lot of strings made of synthetic fiber.

This Koto has 13 strings.

Japanese harp Jushichigen (Bass)

Jushichigen is a bass koto. Very famous Koto player and composer Miyagi Michio created this instrument about 100 years ago. 

The name of the instrument translates "Seventeen strings".


About 800 years ago Shamisen came to Okinawa, which used to be called the Ryukyu Kingdome back in the day. After that it landed on the main Japanese island Honshu. The instrument evolved from a smaller form called “Sanshin”. Shamisen is made of Redwood, a very hard wood to work with.

Japanese flute Shakuhachi

Shakuhachi flute is made out of bamboo. The most common size is 54cm, but there are shorter and longer flutes too.  The instrument’s name is derived from its original length - one Shaku (11.93 inches [30.3cm]) and eight (Japanese: Hachi) Sun (1.2 inches [3cm]). 

A player can change the pitch downward and upward by adjusting the blowing angle. This characteristic is unique as compared to other instruments around the world. By opening and closing the space between mouth and Shakuhachi flute (changing the blowing angle), a player can adjust the pitch.

When you produce a vibrato with wind instruments in general, you will create a vibration by adjusting the blowing strength (the amount of air). However, in the case of Shakuhachi, vibrato is produced by changing the pitch.

Another Shakuhachi technique is called "Muraiki" (uneven breath). Japanese music is known for the use of noise, and the oldest Japanese melodies are quite "noisy". So basically, we would use uneven/random breath to produce a turbulent powerful, breathy sound effect.

Kotsuzumi drum

Kotsuzumi is a unique Japanese drum. It's made out of cherry wood and has a shape of an hourglass. By squeezing and grasping the drum's ropes musician can change the pitch.

An interesting fact: a freshly made Kotsuzumi doesn't make a correct sound. These instruments, like violins, get better with time. The drum you will see at Zakuro Show is 200 years old.

Along with the traditional music concerts, this drum is used for Japanese traditional dance performances and Kabuki plays. 

Sometimes during performances, the drummer has to use their voice - "Kakegoe". 

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