What an exciting time we’re living in if you’re a fan of the sanshin. In the past, those of us outside of Okinawa who play the sanshin would have to either go there or be fortunate enough to know someone who lives or travels there for us to buy the instrument or its accessories (e.g. strings, uma, karakui, etc.). Although there have been ways to order the instrument online (like eBay, Asoviva Sanshin), I’m very happy to announce that sanshin and sanshin accessories can now be ordered in Hawaii. In addition to being able to purchase a variety of new sanshin or its accessories, you can also have the skin from your sanshin’s chiiga (drum) replaced with a new one of your choice: real snakeskin, double-layer (a combination of a layer of real snakeskin over a layer of synthetic covering), or synthetic covering.
First of all, I’d like to thank Derek Shiroma-sensei, director and instructor of the Okinawa Minyo Kyokai Wakugawa Akira Dojo and the Urizun Minyo Group, for allowing me to share photos of a few of the sanshin they have in-stock as well as the many accessories they have readily available for purchase.
In the picture above, you’ll see the interesting shape of the chira (headstock) of a “peg” sanshin (top left), the special reddish hue on a makabi sanshin (top right), a mix of old and new on another peg sanshin (bottom right), and the traditional black color on a yunaa sanshin (bottom left). (Note: makabi and yunaa are styles of sanshin.) The great thing is that they can custom-build your sanshin so your dream makabi sanshin with a bright tone, set of double-line karakui, and a minsaa tiigaa, has just come true.
In need of a child-size sanshin? They have you covered. Pictured above is a child-size sanshin next to an adult-size sanshin (top) and a closer look at the chiira (bottom). And don’t let its size fool you, the child-size sanshin has a very nice, adult-size sound. (Oh, and don’t you love the cozy for the chira’s ten? Btw, the official name is Ten Cap — yep, I prefer to call it a cozy too.)
As I mentioned above, they can custom-build sanshin and that means going as deep as choosing to have a chiiga that’s made in Vietnam or one that’s made in Okinawa. How’s that for choices?
The above photo is a side-by-side comparison of a synthetic-covered chiiga versus a double-layered one. And yup, they can also do real snakeskin and if you wanted to, real snakeskin on the top, synthetic covering on the bottom; it’s your choice. Another great thing is that you can make a request for the tone of the sanshin to be, if you’re like me, on the lower side.
And if you’re in need of sanshin accessories, they have it covered.
A few styles of the karakui they have available
Itokake (top left), Tsume (top right), Utaguchi & a variety of Uma (bottom right), and Peg Karakui (bottom left)
Lots of different Tiigaa styles to choose from
Clip-on tuner with an all-important backlit display
Sanshin Soft Case with a large zippered pocket in the front for your books, backpack-style straps, and a small pouch in the inside for your accessories
So, did I whet your appetite enough that you can’t wait to order this stuff? Great! (Oh, and I forgive those of you who skipped to the end to find out who you need to contact to order your new sanshin and/or accessories rather than waiting till who knows when for your friend’s uncle’s daughter’s neighbor to come back from Okinawa.)
The Important Part
Contact Derek Shiroma-sensei at Urizun808@aol.com to find out more!
And as Steve Jobs would say: “One more thing.”
You didn’t expect me to leave there empty-handed, no? I haven’t named her yet but I’m thinking “Ito Yunaa,” a play on the name of Hawaii-born J-pop goddess Yuna Ito. Explanation: ito is Japanese for string(s), and yunaa is the style of this sanshin. Pretty smart and a bit geeky huh?
Yuna Ito (photo credit: groink on Wikipedia)