Please help me with my Koto


This instrument I have has been described as a Koto. From what I can tell it will only take 2 strings, but I cannot be for sure. Can someone point me in the right direction or help me get this set up properly?

Thanks in advance.



Attached please find some pictures with a little better lighting.


You’ve got a nigenkin!

This video might help


Ian_S THANK YOU so much! That’s exactly what I have. This looks like it will be much easier to repair and set up now. Your help is greatly appreciated. Now if you can help me a little more. You called it a nigenki, the video called it a yakumogoto, and throughout the video the author referred to it as a koto. So I assume from that information that these words are all interchangeable in some fashion or that a nigenki is a type of koto. Is that correct?

Thank you


You’re welcome! Glad that helps. It is a form of koto, but yakumogoto and nigenkin while very similar are a tiny bit different. This video applies for both, but a yakumogoto has a closed back which acts as a resonating chamber, and a nigenkin has an open back. I’m not 100% sure which you have, but that’s the way to tell. But, they’re both 2 stringed zithers with extremely similar design and playing styles. The traditional repertoire for each varies slightly, but if you’re not a purist from the 19th century, both Shinto music as is common on the yakumogoto and Azuma-ryu songs can be performed on either lol.
As far as I’m aware, the only real difference between them is as a result of the open or closed back is the tone, since both are played with the finger slide and are very very similar in construction and technique.


It is 100% exactly like the one in the video, right down to the clear glass marble and cylinders. The underside even has the same moon and sun soundholes.

It’s very exciting to have an example of what this looks like when properly assembled. I’m going to need to make the base, tuning pins, bridges, and replace the ivory dots that are missing. I’ll do it all as true to tradition as possible.

What strikes me as fascinating is that this instrument bears remarkable similarities to the Appalachian lap dulcimer. They are played similarly, sound similar, and both hold similar cultural significance. I love the interconnectedness of musical culture and the ingenuity of human beings.



Awesome! It is really fascinating, I agree :smiley: enjoy your instrument!


Okay, now I’ve reached another question in my journey. The ivory dots are missing for the note intervals on the arched side of the yakumogoto. How do I measure to put them back? The dots which show me where to place the bridges are thankfully present, but all others are missing.

Thoughts please?



edit: no clue why I thought it was chromatic :stuck_out_tongue:


You can use a tuner to mark the scale. All traditional music for the Ichigenkin and it’s two string versions, the Nigenkin and Yakumogoto, is played in the Hirajoshi scale, which in the key of G would be: G, A, Bb, D, Eb. It can transpose with key though, and if your strings are tuned to C, rather than G, the scale would be C, D, Eb, G, Ab.


Yes, I thought it was a Yakumagoto.