Places, Images, Times & Transformations

The Sound of (Japanese) Music Part III: Strings Revolution: History and Music of Shamisen and Geisha

Part Three of The (Sound) of Japanese Music Series.

This session features a discussion and performance on the shamisen and geisha by Dr. Yuko Eguchi Wright. In the mid-1500s, the soundscapes of Japan dramatically changed because of the introduction of a three-stringed instrument—the shamisen. This presentation covers the historical background of shamisen and its music, particularly focusing on the songs practiced among geisha. It includes a demonstration and virtual hands-on session of shamisen songs.


Yuko Eguchi Wright is a native of Tokyo, Japan and received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology in 2016 from the University of Pittsburgh where she currently teaches. For her dissertation research, she studied Japanese geisha’s music and dance, called kouta and koutaburi, and received the master title of kouta, Kasuga Toyo Yoshiyu, in 2012. Yuko has performed and lectured on Japanese traditional arts at multiple conferences including the Society for Ethnomusicology and Association for Asian Studies and at various colleges and universities.  Please visit her website: