Shamisen Strings

Kinomotocho is a famous Center for the production of high quality raw silk. Since the last years of the Meiji era, the area has also produced strings for Japanese musical instruments from zaguri kiito, or handspun raw silk yarn. Marusan Hashimoto, founded 100 years ago, is now the sole supplier of strings for shamisen (a traditional Japanese instrument with three strings). To make a shamisen string, 10 pieces of yarn cut to the same length are twisted together. The number of times the pieces of yarn are twisted depends on their thickness. A wooden weight (koma) is hung from one end of the yarn, which is then twisted by rubbing two wooden slats together : this is the traditional komayori method. Then the strings are boiled in rice starch, and dried. The key to producing the glossy, clear-sounding strings required for the shamisen is strong hand-spun yarn and the komayori twisting method, which prevents unravelling.
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