November 24, 2004
I’ve been away for a week in Naha city, and while there I finally managed to pick up the sanshin (三線) I ordered in July. (I was kept away from the city for most of the summer by typhoons). It’s beautiful, and hand-made by Mr. Matayoshi of Matayoshi Ryūkyū Instruments (又吉琉球楽器) in Naha. I found his shop by asking the person whose sanshin I like most where they got theirs.
Sanshins are traditionally bound with snakeskin, but since that’s neither vegetarian nor (perhaps more importantly) legal in the UK (and a lot of other countries), if you are intending to take your sanshin out of Japan you need to buy a fakeskin one instead.
The first time I went to Mr. Matayoshi’s shop, all his good sanshins were snakeskin ones, so he told me to call him a week or so before I next came to Naha, and he would make me two non-snakeskin sanshins to try, and that if I didn’t want either of them, that would also be ok. I took him up on his offer, and when I finally made it back to his shop, he had two waiting for me to try. Usually it takes me ages to make this sort of decision, but this sanshin was just exactly right, and I decided to buy it within minutes of picking it up.
There’s a picture of my old, borrowed, sanshin here, if you would like to compare and contrast