Gion Kouta / The Ballad of Gion


any chance someone would have tabs for this around at home?

with still no good itomakis and no bachi at all I nevertheless am playing around a bit in way low overall tuning and a soft fingerpicking touch . . . a couple of days ago the urge to start playing came up . . . :slight_smile:

so rather than tsugaru this would be more the style that I can play on the shamisen I have considering its current restaurational state I would love to learn this whole song and also having tabs would make learning and memorizing easier for me . . .



I don’t know if this will be useful, but I had printed this out a while ago. Don’t even know if it’s the same Gion Kouta, but give it a try.

Here is the weblink if the photo is too small to read


P.S. Later on in the thread, they say the tuning is Niagari. I just played it, and that sounds right.


Far out! Thanks Lorraine! Looking forward to trying it out after work this evening!


My pleasure! I don’t think the tabs are exactly the same, but it’s close enough to figure out the rest.


oooo someone needs to film this playing!!!




I also have some tabs for this and a video of me playing it if your interested. I d have to scan the paper though. Let me know!


yo that would be cool thanks a lot in advance and I will message you my email address in case that way should be preferable for sharing “the big picture”. . . absolutely no hurry of course whenever you may get to doing a scan that would be awesome . . .

also since the itomakis are back to their screwed up “normal” as in so slippy it does not make sense trying to play . . . I had the shamisen standing around in a corner for weeks until I picked it up again I guess it must have been some dust particles or something that made the itomakis less slippy I had a few enjoyable evenings of playing but now they are slippy again . . . anyway so there is no way around trying to make better ones and I am going to do that this or the next weekend for sure . . . also I plan on removing the quite useless cardboard skin and play naked for a while and with a long koma too . . . :slight_smile:


Is there any way someone that’s more familiar with this song could transcribe this onto this system so it makes sense? I’ve been trying to play it off that notation and it sounds completely different


I made a hasty version for tabs with Shamicomposer. Mainly it’s easier to play than from the tabs Lorraine linked - it’s as directly based on those as I could make. I can only recognize some small parts of the song when I play it myself, would require somebody more skilled to look over the tabs and to play it.

I marked some hajiki, but some of those are not possible I think… don’t get scared if you can’t play them :wink:


Okay guys, if I have notation that is biwa (likely Chikuzen four or five string), I will post to the threads. For instance, Gion Sho notation:

Gion Shoja is the first few lines of the Tales of the Heike and perhaps familar to you because many sing this in full costume in Geisha/Samurai formality…or beloved of karaoke fans?

Placeholder for adding my Gion Shoja notation notes soon.

Now biwa tabs will follow soon… My not-so-secret ‘evil’ plan is to encourage all to attempt Japanese style strings and encourage biwa playing so it becomes much more popular.

If I may digress a bit…
I am a very slow learner in terms of feeling Japanese music, so it took me a few years to get the feel of three different biwas as I learned up to playing Gion Shoja (Gion Spirit Hut or Gion Temple) …I have only played the chikuzenbiwa and the four string or the five string student ones feel right to me. (They can be big and heavy for some 8))

If Kyle-san ever gets to making biwas, (another evil hope–I have great hopes for other people!), maybe I’ll get back to playing biwas. I have high hopes for shamisen/sanshin these next few years and if I do find Sanshin notation for Gion Shoja, I will post here!


Gion Shoja, Chikuzen Biwa notation.

Note Biwa notation represents strings as actually on face of biwa. So lowest string has most strikes/plucking with plectrum with point down. Most people play biwa upright so you are looking at the side of your eye as you pluck down. The song and a video of Yoko Hiroaka playing is below, so hope this is helpful:

It’s poetry/recitation and the perhaps more appropriate to poetic tradition, this somewhat mournful… and likely if you play it in appropriate season at a tea ceremony or formal occasion, perhaps you might ask a Japanese guest? Someone who is poetically sensitive might like to hear this near the end of summer? (Kind of like you’d love to hear Jingle Bells in December and you laugh or smile when you hear people say Christmas in July?)

I know we start our practises with playing Sakura, which is a very Springlike and appropriate at Spring–but if you do a traditional demonstration, you might want to be seasonally appropriate. 8) I went to a Christmas performance once in California and the very happy woman who wanted to bring a beautiful Japanese flavor to her performance chose the easy and Springlike Sakura. It felt curiously different among other songs of sleighbells and Santa Claus and Christmas velvets…my suggestion may seem too old-fashioned to you so please ignore if you want to play sakura at in the winter!