Kawahari (Calf Skin)

Jessica Dowd has been training herself in the art of Kawahari using instructions in Shamisen of Japan, and has been professionally skinning shamisen for many years. Jessica has good craftsmanship and takes great care in her work. Her material is calf skin which offers a warm, mellow tone.

Some dear friends of mine in Tokyo finally found a Shamisen for me that had the skin damaged, but as missionaries, funds are limited. It was built in 1944, and now I couldn’t be more proud. Thank you Jessica for doing the repair and getting me hooked up! I’m so thrilled!!! – Craig

Jessica’s Skinning Rate – $99

Price includes cost for return shipping.

To arrange a skin replacement, please contact: superfrog1979 (at) gmail (dot) com


  • Price: It’s no question that the cost of professional Japanese kawahari is pretty high. One reason is that it’s getting difficult for the skin to be made and sold, so the craftsman has to pay a high cost for the skin itself. On the other hand, calf skin is always in demand from drum and banjo players, so it is very easy to obtain at places like Mid-East.com.

  • Visuals: Unstretched calf starts off semi-transparent, but turns opaque as it is stretched.


  • Note:Generally, a stretched calf skin will turn completely opaque, but sometimes there may be a spot that remains semi-transparent. It’s a natural part of the skin, and won’t affect the sound.
  • Kyle’s recommendation: Unfortunately, a broken skin prevents many people from starting/continuing their shamisen practice because of the high cost of professional reskinning. Jessica provides a great service to the shamisen community by restoring shamisen to playable order while charging little cost for her time and materials. She is here to make sure a broken skin doesn’t stop your shamisen practice!