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The ichigenkin is an extremely rare 1-string zither with an uncertain origin. Possibly adapted from the Chinese qin, the ichigenkin has a history as a philosopher's instrument, and at one time was a preferred instrument of members of the Samurai class. Presently used to accompany vocal music, the ichigenkin is capable of extreme subtlety while producing a surprisingly full and complex sound. There are a number of small ichigenkin schools in Japan, with Seikyodo Ichigenkin in Tokyo being the only historically unbroken line. Issui Minegishi, the current Iemoto (hereditary grand master) of Seikyodo is active in bringing the ichigenkin into the 21st Century by commissioning some of Japan’s top composers such as Sukeyasu Shiba, and Yuji Takahashi to write for the instrument.

Country: Japan
Region: Asia
Type: zither
Iussui Minegishi on ichigenkin
Issui Minegishi
Contemporary Ichigemkin
©  R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002