- Henry Johnson
Type of long-neck Japanese lute. The instrument is named after Yanagawa Kengyō (d 1680), a blind male professional musician who influenced much shamisen music of his time. The instrument is thought to be very similar to the one used early in the shamisen’s existence in Japan, in the latter half of the 16th century. Its distinctive features include its particularly thin neck (hosozao, about 2.4 cm wide), a large curve just before the neck enters the soundbox (although some other types of shamisen also have this curve in contrast to the jiuta shamisen), a very slender ivory plectrum with a narrow spatula-shaped end, and a small piece of brocade on the top of the soundbox upon which players rest the right arm whilst playing (in contrast to a cover on other shamisen that fits over the entire top part of the box). The instrument is used especially in the Yanagawa-ryū ...