light vessel automatic

skip to navigation


November 24, 2004

my new sanshin

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.

My precious

There’s a picture of my old, borrowed, sanshin here, if you would like to compare and contrast

posted in Okinawa5 comments


  1. Pingback by lva » electric sanshin — April 6, 2007 at 11:49 am

    […] week I finally got around to installing the electric pickup that I bought when I bought my sanshin a couple of years ago. Which means I can now plug my sanshin into a guitar amplifier and play Okinawan folk songs at […]

  2. Posted by Ichigo — April 15, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Hello! おはよございます! My real name is Lucas, i’m from Argentina, and lookink for sanshin, i found your blog 😀
    I’m tring to bay a sanshin baut in my country nobody sales one. So i got so save money to buy it in Okinawa @.@
    You got a great blog.

  3. Posted by lva — April 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Lucas. Thanks – very glad you like it!

    If you’re buying a sanshin in Okinawa, I’d definitely recommend trying Matayoshi Ryūkyū Gakki. Mr. Matayoshi is a great sanshin maker, and a very nice man too. If you’re interested, his shop’s website is here. Good luck!

  4. Posted by Norida — June 10, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Aloha= Haisai Jeremy,Nifeedeebiru, I would not have understood a word when I accldentaliy navigated to the site if you had not set that up. Although I have two sanshin right now I like to look around. By the way, are the sanshins on that site made in Okinawa or are they made in Vietnam? Oh well, not too important and I digress. I was actually trying to find the Okinawan word for the purple sweet potatoes when I found your site. Could you help me out on this one if possible? Yes I know, it has nothing to do with sanshin, but it is difficult to find good answers in English and I can’t read Japanese or Okinawan. Well, there you go, I just started rambling again, sorry. If you can help me please drop me a note at the email address I provided. Mahalo,Rodney Oshiro

  5. Posted by lva — June 10, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Hi Norida. Actually I’m not called Jeremy, and I have no connection with that sanshin site, but those purple sweet potatoes are called “beni-imo”… hope that helps! Good luck with the sanshin playing too.