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  • Previously

  • For those of you who don't know this gentleman behind me

  • this is the older of the two Yoshida brothers

  • To ask officially

  • Today is a bit of a special day. I'm coming out to have a new shamisen built

  • All right, so I've been here for a little while now

  • We're doing the Japanese thing of sitting back

  • Getting to know each other

  • having tea

  • And I have yet to get to take a look at single Shamisen. And this is really what it's about because in Japan

  • There's something called 'Wa', or harmony that kind of needs to be built before any kind of transaction can happen

  • so we're taking time just chatting getting to know each other, learning about each other's business and life and everything we do and

  • Really excited to see what kind of 'Sao' or 'Neck' he's gonna bring out

  • When it comes to choosing a shamisen the 'Sao' or neck is everything

  • It not only contributes to most of the costs but also has the greatest impact on the sound

  • Once the neck has been chosen. The rest of the shamisen is built around that neck

  • they've brought out eight different 'Sao'

  • or next for me, and it's...

  • The ones over here are like...people don't spend this much on cars. Let's just put it that way

  • So right now I'm torn between these two. Let me show you

  • All right, so it's just about nighttime now and for reasons that I can't even begin to explain because it would take forever

  • I've decided to go with this one.

  • It's legitimately getting dark out that the Sun has gone down behind the mountains.

  • I have decided

  • All right, so it's the beginning of December right now and I've come back out to the Shamisen maker's shop

  • Let's kind of see the progress of things. I'm gonna get a little bit of a tour of the shop

  • He's gonna walk me through a bit of how the Shamisen is made. It's gonna be a fun day

  • That's gonna be the body to my shamisen right there.

  • This is it right here

  • This is to help the inner acoustics of the shamisen

  • There are some that are smooth inside but these ones have a much better sound and are usually reserved for higher level shamisen

  • This is like a mini one right here

  • All right

  • so I just learned that after the body's made

  • the shape starts to change and it makes it so that

  • it doesn't hold the skin as well

  • And so, one of the things that need to be done about a year after the actual 'Dō' is made

  • The 'Dō' is selected to match the shamisen by the way, so it was made about a year ago

  • But now we have to kind of grind and reshape some of the wood

  • to make sure that it actually holds when the skin is put on so that's what we're doing right now.

  • The body or 'Dō' was the first piece of my shamisen that I got to see Komatsu-San work on

  • It was really incredible to see him work

  • We worked on it for the better part of an hour. It had to be just right

  • There's no going back once a mistake is made

  • Let me show you this

  • So, I think it's a pretty obvious statement that every Shamisen starts from a piece of wood

  • But this wood... There are three main types of wood that Shamisen are made from just so you know

  • There's a really soft wood called 'Karin'. It was like a mid-range wood called 'Shitan'. And then there's 'Kōki'.

  • Andki's what the really good Shamisen are made of

  • It feels like I'm knocking on a rock. This thing really is heavy

  • Well, I could talk about this one piece of wood forever

  • because I have never actually seen the wood that the Shamisen are made of

  • This is pretty cool

  • I'll show you what I have seen which is like the base that they're cutting from

  • Okay, I put on a slightly wider lens for this next part

  • And I want to show you something really cool

  • It's because the kitchen floor just opened up

  • I'm way more excited about this that I probably should be

  • up until a moment ago, this here was just the kitchen floor

  • This area here, is something people really don't get to see

  • All of these are Shamisen 'Sao' necks

  • I don't know why I grabbed my neck

  • and all of these, are the 'Tanjin' the top part

  • Komatsu-San admitted that he does have a favorite. In fact one that he would probably never sell

  • And he was kind enough to show me the difference in how the sound resonates through the more expensive wood compared to the cheaper ones

  • I do think there's something beautiful about the fact that he has one that

  • he just doesn't want to sell it unless there's somebody that really understands it

  • One of the original offers I got was to actually have my shamisen made from scratch

  • but there's a lot of risk in that

  • Having the shamisen made from scratch, you never really know what you're gonna get until it's done

  • So my tuning pegs my 'Itomaki' are very special. The original, there's only two cents in the world

  • But I have them remade for me. This is...

  • Oh you know what? I'll just show you

  • These right here

  • Now very excitingly we're gonna be prepping the body of my shamisen to be skinned

  • Shamisen are traditionally skinned with animal skin, and I've never really been a big fan of that

  • But Komatsu-San has developed a synthetic shamisen skin.

  • That sounds almost exactly the same

  • Alright guys, so today is the day! I am currently out in the mountains of the area of Sagamihara

  • To pick up my new shamisen

  • And I couldn't be more excited

  • So as we get all the parts together for my shamisen

  • There's still one last part of the process is the 'Itomaki', the tuning pegs

  • Being fit to the shamisen

  • The process for each peg took an incredibly long time

  • with a constant cycle of minor adjustments and checks

  • until

  • finally

  • It's mind-blowing to me

  • The incredibly delicate level of expertise that goes into every little piece of the Shamisen

  • To see something as simple as the 'Itomaki' have that much effort put into them. It's just...

  • I don't even at words.

  • This particular shamisen breaks into three pieces and the joints are actually connected by gold

  • because it's a soft enough metal to match up with the wood and hold it nice and tight and

  • Then it was time to finally start assembling the shamisen

  • The excitement was real

  • Once the body was fully assembled

  • It was time to pick out the parts and accessories that would give the shamisen its look and personality

  • once all put together

  • Now it's just time to start putting it together so Komatsu-San is

  • Helping with that because obviously he's going to be a lot better at it than I am

  • Alright, so that's it. I've got my new shamisen. Now, I just need a couple years to get used to playing it

Previously

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A2 shamisen wood sao neck san skinned

Japanese Craftsman Built Me A Shamisen | My Japan Journey

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    Summer posted on 2020/08/19
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