Tag Archives: amami

Music of Okinoerabu Island, one of the Amami Islands in Japan

Globally speaking, most people will think of “tsugaru-jamisen” when they hear the word shamisen. However, tsugaru-jamisen is one of the styles born in the Tsugaru District in Aomori prefecture. There are many shamisen styles and schools in Japan.

Okinawan sanshin is also shamisen, it’s actually the ancestor of the shamisen of Mainland Japan. Although both Okinawan sanshin and Mainland shamisen have the same structure, they are very different in materials, playing methods, sound and tunes. The original sanshin was brought from the south part of China during the Ryukyu dynasty.

Sanshin is spread not only in Okinawa but also in Amami islands. Each community on each island has a different style of playing. My husband from Okinoerabu Island plays sanshin – acually it’s called “sanshiru” there – and just opened his website “Sanshiruko“. If you’re interested in it, please check it out!

Below, click and enjoy some of the sanshiru music! 😉



To learn more, visit https://sanshiruko.wordpress.com/

New year’s soup in the Amami Islands

My husband and I were spending new year’s holidays at his parent’s home in Okinoerabu island, one of the Amami islands located between Kagoshima and Okinawa. These islands have unique cultures. When I was married, I was shocked to know how it was different from where I had grown, and he must have felt the same way too. It’s one of such differences that they don’t eat osechi in new year’s holidays. Instead, they have their own style of new year’s dishes called sangon-ryori (三献料理). According to some books and websites, it consists of three dishes. The first one is soup. Next sashimi follows (at his parent’s home, after this soup, grilled chicken and macaloni salad were served instead of sashimi). At last, different soup from the first dish (it depends on the areas and homes – at his place, miso soup with chicken and a wax gourda white gourd) is served.

This picture is the first soup my mother-in-law made. In clear soup, five or seven (considered to be lucky numbers) different ingredients are to be added.

Ingredients: broth (water, dried kelp, dried shiitake, dried bonito, salt and light colored soy sauce), round shaped mochi, boiled shrimps, cooked chicken (flavored with soy sauce and sugar), kamaboko (fish cake), boiled eggs and mitsuba.


  1. Make broth. Add dried kelp and dried shiitake in cold water and cook, take out the kelp and shiitake before the water is fully boiled. At the same time add dried bonito, turn off the heat and leave it for about 10 minutes. Strain the stock. *If you make one litter broth, use 10cm dried kelp, 5 pieces of dried shiitake, 50g dried bonito. Adjust the amount of salt and light colored soy sauce as you like.)
  2. Cook shiitake and chicken. Boil them in water flavored with soy sauce and sugar.
  3. Peel, clean shrimps and boil.
  4. Make boiled eggs and cut them in halves.
  5. Slice kamaboko.
  6. Prepare mitsuba. Cut and make a knot in the middle.
  7. Boil mochi.
  8. Put mochi in the bottom of the bowl and place the ingredients prepared in the processes (2)-(6). Then gently pour the broth.