Pieces for Shamisen & Koto, (maybe + Shakuhachi)?


Greetings, recently I discovered that a schoolmate plays the koto. So I suggested that we could find something to play together. I also have a friend who plays the Shakuhachi, but he’s not in school so it’s harder to meet.
I understand that we could possibly arrange something from our own repertoire. But are there any pieces that is already out there for these two/three instruments?
We also don’t have any instructor on Japanese music ever since the koto teacher left. So I am pretty clueless… thanks!



Your best keywords are going to be sankyoku and jiuta.

Sankyoku refers to a grouping of three musicians, and is best described as chamber music. Traditionally, these three played kokyuu, shamisen, and koto. However, the shakuhachi is a common replacement for the rare kokyuu.

Jiuta are “local songs” that utilize koto and a subtype of shamisen (called a sangen in genre). Shamimaster Toshi (and a few others on the forum) can direct you to specific pieces. Rokudan no Shirabe is the most famous.

Min’yo, being a weird catch-all, uses whatever is available; but finding sheet music can be difficult.

Nonetheless, here is an example of Kaigarabushi being played on shamisen, taiko, and koto.


Here’s another link to the International Shakuhachi site. It has a listing of various pieces and their associated genres.



Obviously there’s a ton of stuff out there, Kuroda bushi etc.

Sakura - there may be several arrangements. Not sure if you often mix shamisen + koto on this though, they tend to have different versions? (Just tried shamisen + shakuhachi with a colleague on this once.)


Maybe it may be obvious, but there is a really wide repertoire for koto/shamisen in sokyoku/jiuta


Hi, I know this is an old post. I thought I responded, but maybe not.
It is true that there are wide range of repertoire, and there are tons of video out there.
But to actually learn the music, I was meaning to ask for a source of notation.
Are they notation out there for sale, and where can I obtain them?


It really depends on the source. I’m afraid I don’t know much about purchasing koto or shakuhachi notation, but if you’re interested in putting together modern pieces with a sankyoku vibe maybe check out the Wagakki Band official scorebook! It takes a bit of applying 5 line staff to the wagakki (so might be beneficial to have a keyboard ready to work out the notes) but it’s not too difficult to piece together a trad. instrument only version of some of the songs inside. Just a thought!