Tsugaru shamisen part questions

Hey there, :wave:
I have a 2 year old tsugaru shamisen that’s due for some care and upgrades,

It came originally with a plastic koma and bachi
Did an upgrade with a saddlewood bamboo koma and a wooden bachi,
I’ve been wanting to up the koma to a wood/ tortoiseshell or whale bone combination koma but I keep getting mixed info about importing specific items regarding those materials that make up those pieces into the US :<
I use ebay to order parts like strings, bachi, Etc.
Idk if they’re made 100% with actual shell or bone or synthetics and don’t want to mess with ordering anything until I get a true straight answer.

Is it legal/OK to import shamisen parts with those materials in them to the US?

Hello, welcome

Tortoishell (bekkou) is prohibited by CITES.
Ivory (zouge) is prohibited by CITES.

Bone (shari) is not prohibited - it’s generally made from ox bone, however, not whale.

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Thank you for answering
Wanna to make sure that when I order the koma either from bachido or ebay it doesn’t rattle customs the wrong way.

They have a lot of whale bone koma listings on ebay

A quick look at ebay doesn’t show that many (or any), but it’s more than likely I’m not using the same search strings as you.

A link, if you would be so kind?

Here’s two of the koma i was looking at a few months back, I hope the links work


That is indeed whale bone!

According to some basic research, the bones of endangered whale species are banned by CITES. If it is not endangered, it’s totally fine.

Since Japan generally follows CITES protocols in terms of import/export it is unlikely to have been sourced from an endangered species of whale. Likely, it is a byproduct of the the whale fisheries that continue here.

Still, you’d run the risk of it being seized and analyzed before being passed on to you.

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That’s what the concern about before when the whale bone koma came up in the suggested by ebay
and I wouldn’t want the seller and I to face trouble even if it followed protocol.
( I’ve had items in the past that followed the criteria and still got confiscated… kinda sucked )

Are the ones listed on bachido ox bone ?
And Sorry if I’m asking so many questions :sweat_smile:

Just want to make sure that I’m following the rules importing

Hi Ashley!
Welcome to Bachido! That’s a very good question indeed. :slight_smile:
So… I’m not speaking officially, but just from observations from others… and thus I am not endorsing anything.

From what I’ve noticed, yes, there are many items technically prohibited from importing.
However, on such small scale (literally, one in a small box), the bigger factor is how concerned the customs agent is. Some folks I know have ordered bekko bachi and zouge koma from YahooAuction.JP, and nothing had been confiscated. Yes, “technically” they’re “not allowed” import them, but I have a feeling inspectors are more concerned with looking for tusks, large shells, drugs, etc.

So, I’m not endorsing anything, but I’d suppose it’s not something you need to be concerned about, as the likelihood of it getting confiscated is very low.

To be safe, the bone used for the koma on Bachido is ox. :slight_smile:


:smile: :wave:t2: happy to be apart of the Bachido community,
Glad I came to the right place

:sweat_smile: well glad to know if curiosity takes me back to ebay won’t be much to worry about,
Just wanted to make sure

And ty for answering my question, i think when I’m ready to do some shamisen part shopping I’ll be taking a look at the Bachido store page