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Tokiwazu-bushi and Itchu-bushi digest version The sound of silence<br> Shamisen Music Explainer videoTokiwazu-bushi and Itchu-bushi digest version The sound of silence<br> Shamisen Music Explainer video

The charm of both Tokiwazu-bushi and Itchu-bushi is briefly summarized.

Tokiwazu-bushi short movie TsukudaTokiwazu-bushi short movie Tsukuda

Shamisen music contains a lot of short phrases called te and aikata.Tsukuda ,one of  the representative example,played to depict the current of the Sumidagawa-river,also applied to depict a lush of the rain when it is played in a quick tempo.
This short movie was recorded in a contemporary gallery, so that you can feel the shamisen close to you.

In front of "Erewhon", a work by
Japanese painter Akira Kugimachi. Cooperation: Gallery Art Composition

Tokiwazu-bushi short movie De no aikataTokiwazu-bushi short movie De no aikata

Shamisen music contains a lot of short phrases called te and aikata.
This is one of the typical examples of aikata which expresses the ambiance of people and places.
These two playing(aikata) depict the scene of the respevtive lovers,and the music show the difference of the state between a young wealthy merchant and a samurai.



Shamisen music was born during the Enkyo era in the Edo period (mid-18th century). It became popular as music in the Edo Kabuki play. The shamisen and joruri dramatically unite complex plot of Kabuki. There are many works using lines with the chuzao (中棹, literally "middle neck") shamisen. It developed with kabuki dance from the Bunka era.
From the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period, Su-joruri, which is recited only with shamisen, became explosively popular.

Honcho Nijushiko

(Foxfires in the Inner Garden from Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety)
It tells the story of Uesugi Kenshin's daughter, Princess Yaegaki, and her fiancée, Takeda Shingen's son Katsuyori.
"Okuniwa Kitsunebi no Dan" is a scene in which Princess Yaegaki attempts to let Katsuyori know that an assassin is approaching.
When Princess Yaegaki prays to the helmet where the power of Suwa Myojin dwells at the risk of her life, a spiritual power is revealed in the helmet, and she rushes to Katsuyori while surrounded by fox fire. You can hear the shamisen expressing the movement of the helmet and the state of the fox fire. It is usually played with joruri, but since this version is handed down only by Tokiwazu Mojizo family, it was played only with shamisen.


Shamisen music was born in the middle of the Edo period. It was founded by Miyako Itchu I, a monk in Kyoto, and later became all the rage in Edo. It is characterized by the soft tone of the chuzao (中棹, literally "middle neck") shamisen and the delicate expression of Joruri.

Koharu Kami Yui no dan

(Koharu and the hairdresser)
Joruri(lyrics) is said to be written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon.
Melody is composed by Miyako Itchu I.This scene is from Chikamatsu's masterpiece "Shinju Ten no Amijima", but not found in the main story, since Chikamatsu wrote it for Miyako Itchu I. 


Miyako Itchu XII
also as Tokiwazu Mojizo II

Born Tohdo Seiichiro in Tokyo.
Tohdo Seiichiro learned Tokiwazu-bushi under the mentors, Tokiwazu Mojizo Ⅰ (his own father), Tokiwazu Mojibei Ⅳ (Eiju), and Tokiwazu Kikusaburo. He also learned Nagauta Shamisen under Tajima Keiko, and Nagauta from Minagawa Takeshi.
He studied musicology from Koizumi Fumio, he mastered Itchu-bushi under Miyako Itchu XI.

Succeeded to Tokiwazu Mojizo II

Promoted to Tokiwazu-bushi Tate Jamisen (principal player) at Kabukiza Theater

Succeeded to Miyako Itchu XII, & the Head of the Miyako School

Designated as the(general)Important Intangible Cultural Property of Itchu-bushi

Designated as the(general)Important Intangible Cultural Property of Tokiwazu-bushi

Received Japan Art Academy Award for preserving the tradition of the Classical Itchu-bushi, and its excellent performances while introducing overseas


Project to Strengthen Earning Capacity
of Cultural Arts

Organized by
Agency for Cultural Affairs,
NPO Miyako Itchu Institute of Music and Culture

Produced by
NPO Miyako Itchu Institute of Music and Culture Production Department