For modern shamisen styles, the main point of impact for fashionable expression is the shining itomaki boldly displayed on the top of our shamisen. Whether a player is practicing at home or playing on stage, the itomaki are always the centerpiece of the shamisen’s visual expression. There is a wide array of amazing itomaki available – Spiral, Inlay, Acrylic, even a Sakura (cherry blossom) style!


These ornate itomaki are an incredible display of the maker’s skill. However, although the shape and quality are gorgeous (whether the ornate spiral shape or inlay), I’ve noticed that the wood itself is rather plain. Personally, I love the captivating ribbons and swirls of highly figured woods. Even from an early age, I was mesmerized by chatoyancy (the shimmering optical effect that emerges with figured wood).

While making figured itomaki for my own homemade shamisen, I was struck how nothing like this was available in Japan. Highly figured wood is filled with so many rich and unique patterns, they need no embellishments. Well, if nobody else is going to do so, Bachido might as well make it happen!

Together with my student Chris Took (the star of the free Body Mechanics lesson in the Bachido Schoolhouse), we’ve been crafting these spectacular itomaki with some of the highest Mastergrade level woods in the world. Ranging from highly figured Cocobolo to Amboyna burl, and many more luscious woods to come!