A string instrument almost always used in performance of Okinawan traditional music. Said to be the prototype of the shamisen.
Traditional instrument of the Ainu people of Hokkaido. Sound is made by pulling on strings attached to a thin bamboo board. The mouth is used to add resonance.
A double-reed wooden flute used to create a Chinese mood in Kabuki plays.
Drum used in folk performances on the Okinawan islands. The sound can be changed by adjusting the tension of the cord that is laced through the hide.
A four-stringed instrument introduced from China in the 18th century. Plucked with picks (to the right). Used to accompany folksongs and other traditional music, and with instruments such as the koto.
The musical instruments used in Noh performance dating from the Edo era.
Gagaku, the music and dance of the Japanese imperial court, is Japan's oldest performing art. A kangen ensemble (wind and strings) accompanies the dance. The main instruments are yokobue, sho.
A cluster of 17 narrow bamboo pipes (two are decorative only). A type of flute. Has reeds, and can make a variety of chords with up to six different notes. Used mainly in gagaku.
An end-blown bamboo flute that has no reed. Used to accompany folk songs and other traditional music, and also for performances of modern music.
The kotsuzumi is a percussion instrument shaped much like an hourglass, with a thin middle and two flaring ends. Drumheads of leather mounted on iron rings are fitted on either end with the two drumheads connected by hemp cords. It is held with the left hand, placed on the right shoulder, and struck with the fingers of the right hand. This set is decorated with a spring design of rafts with cherry blossoms in gold maki-e on a black lacquered ground. This kotsuzumi is accompanied by a storage box decorated witha design in maki-e on black lacquer of running water and maple leaves. The design allude to many poems from the Heian period regarding the Tatsuta Riber, famous for the autumn foliage along its banks." - Kawakami Shigeki
Animal hide is nailed to the drum barrel. Drums are used in folk performances throughout Japan. Sizes vary - some can be held in the hands, some are taller than the drummers.
The four strings are plucked with a large plectrum (shown to the right). Used to accompany the koto.
The narrow tip of a conch shell is cut off to make a wind instrument. Most have a mouthpiece. Used primarily in religious ceremonies.
Large drum used in gagaku.
Three side-blown flutes used in gagaku.