Traditional musical instruments: Koto

The last of our 3-part series on traditional Japanese instruments

The koto is the final topic of my three part series on traditional Japanese instruments. The first article was about taiko, followed by shamisen.

Similar to a long zither, the koto is a rectangular, stringed instrument made of wood. It has thirteen strings propped up by "bridges" running across the length on top. Sounds are produced by plucking the strings, and notes are played by pressing the strings with the left hand and plucking with the right.

The koto is a relatively large instrument and is typically placed on a stand when played. However, some koto performances have the instruments on the ground and the performers sitting in the seiza position. Unlike taiko and shamisen, which are common festival music instruments, the koto tends to be played in a concert performance setting.

Home Delivery by japan-guide.com is a series of articles on Japanese culture, life and travel for all of us who are currently staying home to flatten the curve. Many travel plans, including our own, have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. While we aren't able to share new content from the road, we hope this collection from our travel archive helps you explore a bit of Japan from your own home.