Japanese ‘Biwa’ (琵琶)

The Biwa (琵琶) is one of the most popular instruments in Japan. It came to Japan 1,300 years ago originated from Persia,often used in narrative storytelling and for Benten, goddess of music, eloquence, poetry, and education in Japanese Shinto. There are 2 main ways to play the Biwa. First “琵, striking”, then “琵, scraping”.

The origin of biwa is Chinese pipa (琵琶) . It arrived in Japan in two forms and the number of biwa types has more than quadrupled since then. Particularly the biwa hoshi supported by guilds, helped proliferate biwa musical development for hundreds of years. Biwa hōshi performances overlapped with heikyoko and continued until today. This overlap resulted in a rapid evolution of the biwa and made it one of the most popular instruments in Japan.

 

 

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Biwa: Akiko Sakurai

Violin: Makoto Awazu

Cello: Masashi Sekiguchi

 

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