Buying sanshin in the U.S. has become that much easier

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.

Continue reading “Buying sanshin in the U.S. has become that much easier”

Sanshin + Ukulele = Sanlele and the Amazing Kouei Tsuha

Elisa over at oki yo! blogged about the sanlele about a week ago and I’ve been meaning to reblog about here at The funny thing is that Norman-sensei and I was talking about Kouei Tsuha (son of minyou singer Koutoku Tsuha) several weeks ago and it was a nice coincidence that he was the artist featured in the YouTube clip (above).

Getting back to the sanlele, the instrument is a three-stringed ukulele with the same tuning and positioning as a sanshin (similar to K.Yairi x BEGIN’s Ichigo Ichie guitar). Check out the sanlele website for more information as well as their YouTube channel.

(Via oki yo!)

App Review: Sanshin (三線) for iPhone and iPod touch

Following our introduction of two virtual sanshin iPhone/iPod touch apps on the 20th and our review of the iSanshin app from Pawana LLC earlier today, we continue with Sanshin (三線) from Crimson Technology.

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Crimson Technology’s Sanshin app is currently at version 1.1 and sells for U.S. $1.99. (iTunes Link) It’s nearest (or only at the moment) competitor is Pawana LLC’s iSanshin app which also happens to be at version 1.1 and is on sale for the same price of U.S. $1.99. But is it really a competition between the two apps or do both compliment each other? Read on to find out.

Continue reading “App Review: Sanshin (三線) for iPhone and iPod touch”

App Review: iSanshin (i三線) for iPhone & iPod touch

We introduced two iPhone/iPod touch apps on December 20, 2009, and both developers were kind enough to provide us with a demo of their app.

The first app we’re going to look at is called iSanshin (i三線) from Pawana LLC. iSanshin sells for U.S. $1.99 and is currently at version 1.1. (iTunes Link)

Upon launching iSanshin, you’re greeted with the splash screen (三線 = sanshin).


Continue reading “App Review: iSanshin (i三線) for iPhone & iPod touch”

[Updated] Introducing two sanshin apps for your iPhone or iPod touch

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We’re big Mac fans here and there’s always an iPhone within reach but we don’t always carry a sanshin with us. (Duh?) Well, anyhoo, if you own an iPhone or iPod touch you’re in luck with two apps to keep you entertained for those times when you’re without sanshin. Both apps are U.S. $1.99 and are virtual instruments.

The first app we’ll look at is called (simply) Sanshin (iTunes Link: and is from Crimson Technology. Unfortunately, the developers don’t have a video preview of the app and, based on App Store reviews, Sanshin has been rated 2 out of 5 stars by customers.

[Update 1: Kazushige, developer of the Sanshin app provided a link to two YouTube clips featuring his app being played by none other than the beautiful Keiko Higa of Deigo Musume.

The second app, iSanshin from Pawana LLC (iTunes Link: has a YouTube video up (embedded down below) showcasing a few of the app’s features.

I hope to do reviews of both apps in a future entry.

[Update 2: I’m working on reviews of both apps and hope to have it up soon. So stay tuned!]

Mark this date: 2/14/09 Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii


One of my favorite artists of both Okinawan and Hawaiian music is Keith Nakaganeku (with his band Calabash) and I got a tip that he’ll be performing along with his friend Masaru Shimabukuro (BEGIN‘s guitarist) at this year’s Ukulele Picnic 2009 in Hawaii on Saturday, February 14, 2009. He’ll be singing “Nada Sou Sou” and Masaru will be backing him up on the Ichi Go Ichie instrument he and BEGIN designed with luthier K.Yairi.

There’s a pretty impressive lineup of musicians from Hawaii and Japan and best of all, the event is free, and will be held at the Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.

And if you haven’t purchased Keith’s debut album, “Hawaiian Jazz Done Asian Style,” it’s available on (Image to the left contains a clickable affiliate link that helps out if you purchase the album from it. Nifee in advance! 😀 )

BEGIN’s record label, Teichiku, started up their own YouTube channel where you can find the band’s latest song, “Egao no Manma,” for viewing. I guess it’s a great way to see what Masaru looks like so you can give him a shaka and Aloha when you see him (and Keith too) at the Ukulele Picnic. 😉

(Nifee deebitan for the tip, Derek & Keith!)

iPhone app: Cosmovox

No, I’m not cross-posting things from my personal blog here, this really is related to Okinawan pop culture. 😛 That said, I think a picture tells a thousand words so check it out below.


Yup, you’ve read it right. Just under “Hirajoshi” is “Okinawa (Ryukyu Onkai [scale])” so what the heck is Cosmovox? It’s a music instrument application made for Apple’s iPhone (via Leisuresonic):

Cosmovox is a unique and innovative musical instrument for the iPhone and iPod touch. Cosmovox allows you to make music simply by moving your iPhone! Cosmovox is compelling and fun regardless of your musical skills — young children, curious professionals and trained musicians alike enjoy Cosmovox tremendously. It is a brand new instrument to explore with amazing expressive possibilities!

So yeah, I had to buy it ($1.99 at the App Store). Maybe I’ll make a video of my Cosmovox-composed song one of these days. 🙂

(Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog.)

El Okinawa Goes YouTube and We Love It!

El Okinawa, known as being a great online (although they also have a brick-and-mortar store near Kokusai-dori) resource for purchasing Okinawan instruments has just started posting instructional clips up on YouTube about a month ago. Besides the how-to on attaching a guitar strap to your sanshin, they also have a clip on the correct way to hold your bachi (plectrum) and one on stringing your sanshin.

Remaking the Sanshin

Peg-tsuki Sanshin from Sanshinya Tururunten

We’ve seen sanshin+guitar hybrids in the past (not to mention what we’re seeing done with kankara sanshin) with Rinken Teruya’s Cheren, BEGIN’s Ichigo-Ichie (Nirai, Kanai) and now here’s a “peg” sanshin from Sanshin-ya Tururunten (above images are via their blog). Anyone tried one of these yet or seen it played by the members of Okichin? It looks pretty neat but I wonder if it’s difficult to keep in tune?