How to enjoy local specialties and Tsugaru-jamisen, a traditional instrument originating from the Tsugaru region (Aomori Prefecture)

What is Tsugaru-jamisen?

Among all traditional instruments in Japan, Tsugaru-jamisen, a type of shamisen originating from the Tsugaru region in Aomori, is known for its unrivaled presence because of its unique sound and playing method. It is often played by striking the strings very hard and its rich sound are enough to instantly sway the audience. No wonder the number of fans is increasing not only in Japan but also overseas. Why not try to watch performances of this traditional instrument while visiting Japan?


There are three types of shamisen, played by striking the three strings with a bachi (plectrum). They are classified by the thickness of the neck: Hosozao (thinnest type of shamisen), Chuzao (a mid-size shamisen), and Futozao (“broad-neck” shamisen).

Tsugaru-jamisen has a broad-neck, and is therefore the largest type of shamisen among the three. The way it is played, often by striking the strings very hard with the bachi, is also different from other types of shamisen.

The predecessor of the shamisen was brought from China to Okinawa in or around the 16th century. It subsequently spread to the rest of Japan. The types of shamisen introduced at the time were Hosozao and Chuzao, used to play stage music such as for kabuki.

Movie: The Tsugaru Jamisen

“The Tsugaru Jamisen”, an annual concert held in the Tsugaru region of Aomori, features the main ensemble played by 300 Tsugaru-jamisen players, which allows the audience to enjoy watching the unique playing style involving the striking of the strings with the bachi, as well as the characteristic sound. In 2018, the concert will be held in autumn.

Tickets can be purchased by accessing the website or by telephone. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the day of the performance.

Enjoy local specialties and sake while watching live performances of Tsugaru-jamisen

Numerous shamisen sakaba (izakaya or bar) where you can simultaneously enjoy delicious local specialties and live Tsugaru-jamisen performances await you in the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture. We urge you to try watching the performances in Aomori, an experience only available in the home of Tsugaru-jamisen.

Enjoy local specialties unique to the Tsugaru region

Tsugaru Jamisen Dining “Hibiki”

Enjoy live performances of Tsugaru-jamisen played by talented musicians in this modern yet calm Japanese-style dining establishment. Sake tasting sets allow you to sample specialty sake from Aomori Prefecture and pair well with the local cuisine of the Tsugaru region.

Reservations can be made by email or telephone. English language service is available.

Address: 3rd floor of Hirosaki Park Hotel 126 Dotemachi, Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture

Time of live performances: Start at 7:00 p.m. (Twice daily during the Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festival))


Telephone: 0172-31-0089 (Hirosaki Park Hotel switchboard)

Tsugaru Joppari Isariya Sakaba

Aomori’s Nebuta Matsuri (festival) is dominated by the dynamic Nebuta decorations featuring legendary characters and historic figures. With Nebuta characters hung outside that are sure to draw the attention of passers-by, Tsugaru Joppari Isariya Sakaba is an izakaya with charm, characteristic of Aomori. Enjoy Tsugaru’s local sake, Joppari, with barbecued pork belly, served with a dipping sauce often used in Aomori homes.

Reservations can be made by email or telephone. English language service is available.

Address: 2-5-14 Honcho, Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture

Time of live performances: From 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

TEL: 017-722-3443

Let’s visit the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture, where you can enjoy delicious local specialties while listening to the sound of Tsugaru-jamisen.