The Heirloom Rose


In the summer of 2021, my partner Yanaka san was at the Tokyo Wagakki workshop and spotted an incredible sao on a table, lined up among a number of supremely high end sao. Otaki san (the president of Tokyo Wagakki) noticed his awe, as the tenjin had so much tochi figure, it almost looked ablaze in flame! He told Yanaka san, "That sao is very rare. It's almost impossible to find such high figured kouki thick enough for tenjin, so this might be the one of last of it's kind."

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Specifications

One of it’s Kind

Because kouki is regarded as a “standard” wood for shamisen, many people assume it’s been used for hundreds of years as a “traditional” shamisen material. In fact, kouki’s use in shamisen only started in the 1960s! After WW2, craftsmen were worried about shitan becoming more expensive and harder to acquire. In this time, a wood supplier (Nakajima san) had a sample of kouki from India and decided to have it made into a prototype shamisen. After showing prototype to shamisen players and makers, kouki immediately became very popular due to its incredible tiger stripe figure and luscious color. The 1960s to 1980s was a Golden Era for the makers of kouki shamisen as it was so easy to get thick pieces of kouki with high levels of shimmering tiger stripe figure.

Hundreds of these exhibition quality shamisen were made, but because they harvested so much wood, it eventually became much harder to get kouki with high levels of tochi (tiger stripe figure). Furthermore, the remaining kouki with tochi was getting thinner. It could be used for highly figured sao, but not thick enough for tenjin. Soon after, the Golden Era of kouki crashed.

Knowing the history of kouki’s rise and fall (in terms of harvesting highly figured wood), it’s safe to say that any highly figured kouki shamisen is made from wood harvested in the 90s or earlier. (Newer kouki have almost no tochi figure) Tokyo Wagakki has wood saved from that era, and it’s safe to say that the kouki wood in the Heirloom Rose is about 40 years old.

Otaki san believes this is the very last kouki shamisen of it’s kind, to have such high figure in the tenjin. Personally, I’m hesitant to claim it’s the “last”, (because it’s always possible there might be an old mill somewhere that has leftover kouki from that era, or perhaps sitting in some craftsman’s warehouse) but can confidently say it’s incredibly rare, and we may never see a brand new kouki shamisen with blazing figure across the entire sao/tenjin again.

For this reason, it’s an heirloom-worthy treasure which anyone should be humbled to be in the presence of. Because of this, my partner and I agreed to invest in it together and make it available for the fine folks in the Bachido Community. After all, a brand new shamisen of this immensely high quality is not only impossible to find outside of Japan, but is incredibly hard to find even inside Japan!

No Refunds

As you can imagine, this shamisen is the top-tier in the luxury department, and it was difficult for us to acquire for the community. Thus, as you can imagine, it’s a treasure which I’m obligated to be careful in considering it’s new owner. To be respectful of this heirloom-level instrument, the new owner must be serious in their commitment. There are absolutely no refunds and no payment plans.

Be sure you know how to assemble a shamisen (free instructional materials are available on Bachido), as there are also no refunds if a part is damaged during assembly or use. If anything is damaged in assembly or use, I can arrange to have the damaged part sent to Tokyo Wagakki for repair (the owner is responsible for repair fee and shipping fee). Basically, you must treat this shamisen as your own baby which you alone are responsible for. 🙂

How to Order

If you are committed to the Heirloom Rose, please contact me at store(at)bachido(dot)com and tell me your experience and connection to shamisen (it’s okay if you’re a beginner). Why do I want to know? Several years ago, a very wealthy customer requested the very best shamisen I had simply to indulge their expensive tastes. They had no musical experience, had done no study into shamisen (online or otherwise), and had no knowledge/respect for my efforts in making shamisen accessible to the world. The general vibe was “I’m paying a lot of money, so I earned the right to treat you poorly.” Needless to say, it was one of the worst experiences I had, and I almost shut down Bachido because of it. Based on that experience, the owner of the Heirloom Rose will be decided based on their love/relationship to shamisen as well as the trust I feel toward them, not simply based on their ability to afford it.

To clarify, I would be just as happy for a beginner to own this as a advanced player. I’m just avoiding those who simply desire the bling.

Color Darkens With Age

One very important fact to know about kouki is that no matter how bright red it is when brand new, kouki always darkens with age as it’s exposed to sunlight and oxidization. Almost all wood darkens with age, but even more significantly with kouki. Please keep this in mind as you imagine your future life with the Heirloom Rose. :-)

Order the Heirloom Rose Shamisen!

Important: Please read before purchase.

Accessories NOT included

The Heirloom Rose

$ 9,000 USD

Friendly Email Interview Required
Serious Inquiries Only
Email: store(at)bachido(dot)com

Payment: Check or Wire

No Refunds
No Payment Plan


Get your Accessories!

To bring the price as low as possible, all recommended accessories are sold separately. Find them below, and get cases or other accessories in the Bachido Store! (The Heirloom Rose is shipped from a separate dealer, and can't be combined with other items from the Bachido Store. Sorry!)

Bachido Doukake- by Kyle Abbott

The Bachido Doukake is hand-lacquered with a super hard resin and glistens with a "dipped in glass"-like appearance. It is very durable and will keep your shamisen protected while looking simply stunning! Prepare yourself for the oncoming compliments! Handmade in California by Kyle Abbott. Check it out!

Tsugaru Ito Set Pack (Fujiito) ふじ糸津軽糸セットパック (IT-TS)

This is the Fujiito brand of ito. They are the most common brand of string for shamisen. It’s considered to be average quality for ‘practice use’, but I use them for performance and nobody notices the difference!

Includes one Ichi no Ito (2X), a pack of two Ni no Ito and a pack of five San no Ito.
String Gauges: 29-1 / 15-2 / 14-3

Price:
$46 USD

Neo 音緒 (NE-T)

The Neo is the tailpiece which the strings are tied to. It is fitted on the end of the shamisen.

Price:
$65 USD
Color:
Style:

Leather Doukake レザー胴掛け (紐付) (DO-R)

Leather doukake look very classy, and available in many colors. For Tsugaru shamisen only.

Price:
$78 USD
Color:

Dou Gomu Shi-ru 胴ゴムシール (DO-GM)

The Dou Gomu Shi-ru is an adhesive rubber pad which is affixed to the lower-right corner of the dou (where the dou rests on your knee). Without it, the shamisen can easily slip off of your leg while you’re playing.

Price:
$10 USD

Fujaku 譜尺 (SF-1)

The hardest part of shamisen playing is the lack of frets, or other indicators to where the positions are. The fujaku is an adhesive plastic strip which sticks to the side of the shamisen. When placed correctly, the numbers on the seal line up exactly where you need to press the string to sound the desired position. This seal takes away lots of frustration from your shamisen experience. It can be removed when your fingers attain muscle memory so you don’t need to look at the numbers. Watch how to attach a fujaku.

Price:
$10 USD

Yubikake 指掛け (YB-M)

The yubikake is a tightly knit sleeve which is fitted over the index finger and thumb. When playing shamisen, the friction of your skin rubs against the neck, making it hard to play. The Yubikake adds a layer between your hand and the neck, reducing friction and making playing much easier.

Small: 3.2cm wide x 7.8cm long
Medium: 3.3cm wide x 8.0cm long
Large: 3.7cm wide x 9.0cm long

Price:
$17 USD
Size:
Color:
Style:

Bachi

Faux-Bekko Bachi べっ甲調撥 (BA-BC)

Hardness level: 5.
Made by Tokyo Wagakki, this bachi is great for beginners and advanced players alike. It has a similar feel & flex of a natural bekko bachi, but is stronger and will potentially last many more years of hard tsugaru playing! The tortoise will thank you too. Update: the Pantera bachi (shown above) is made from newer material and in my opinion is even closer to natural bekko than this bachi. This bachi is still awesome so we still offer it, but I do prefer the Pantera. :-)

Note: On very rare occasions, the blades of these bachi sometimes crack or separate from the handle. (It used to be a frequent problem but that issue seems to have been eliminated recently.) That being said, these bachi are covered with one-year insurance. If your bachi cracks or separates from the handle within one year’s time, send it back and it can be replaced!

Price:
$377 USD

Wooden Bachi 木撥 (BA-K)

Hardness level: 7.
The Wooden Bachi can be used for a variety songs and techniques. It’s only weakness is that it can break fairly quickly with hard tsugaru playing. Perfect for wood lovers!
Note: In the video, Nitta san plays an earlier model which we used to sell. The pictures show the current model available.

Size Options

9cm x 16.5cm (Regular) – Normal size for Tsugaru style.

7cm x 15cm (Trimmed) – Ideal if you have average size hands but tend to find tsugaru bachi unwieldy.

6cm x 13cm (Small) – Best for kids or small hands.

Price:
$45 USD
Size:

Plastic Bachi プラスチック撥 (BA-P)

Hardness level: 8.
Reccomended only for trying shamisen with little investment, or if you need an ice scraper. Unfortunately, it is difficult to use and can make the shamisen experience less enjoyable.

Price:
$43 USD
Color:

Koma

Bamboo Koma 竹駒 (KM-T)

Sound quality:
Soft and warm.

Material:
Madake (bamboo)

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Bamboo Koma #1 (Bone Tip) 先骨竹駒 (KM-TB)

Sound quality:
Clean and crisp. Bone tip brings a sharper tone, compared to the Bamboo Koma

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Bamboo Koma #2 (Bone Tip) 入骨竹駒舟形

This bamboo base of this koma is called “Boat Shape”. The base is slightly thicker while the middle is cut away. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between the Boat Shape base and the standard base. You’ll probably hear a slight difference in tone between the two, but I don’t think one is “better” than the other. Furthermore, when comparing the sound quality of two koma, it’s important to consider the tightness and age of the shamisen skin, as some koma may sound better on fresher or older skins than others.

Sound quality:
Clean and crisp. Bone tip brings a sharper tone, compared to the Bamboo Koma

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$47 USD

Bamboo Koma #1 (Half Bone) 半骨竹駒 (KM-HB)

Sound quality:
Sharper and harder compared to ‘Bamboo Koma (Bone Tip)’

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Bamboo Koma #2 (Half Bone) 半骨竹駒舟形

This bamboo base of this koma is called “Boat Shape”. The base is slightly thicker while the middle is cut away. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between the Boat Shape base and the standard base. You’ll probably hear a slight difference in tone between the two, but I don’t think one is “better” than the other. Furthermore, when comparing the sound quality of two koma, it’s important to consider the tightness and age of the shamisen skin, as some koma may sound better on fresher or older skins than others.

Sound quality:
Sharper and harder compared to ‘Bamboo Koma (Bone Tip)’

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$55 USD

Kouki Koma #1 紅木駒

Sound quality:
The bone tip makes the tone crisper overall. However, I’ve noticed that the kouki base makes the tone mellower than the “Bamboo Koma (Half Bone)” This is rather surprising as kouki is much harder than bamboo. Note that results will vary depending on the age and quality of your shamisen skin.

Material:
Base – Kouki
Tip – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Kouki Koma #2 半骨紅木駒舟形

This bamboo base of this koma is called “Boat Shape”. The base is slightly thicker while the middle is cut away. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between the Boat Shape base and the standard base. You’ll probably hear a slight difference in tone between the two, but I don’t think one is “better” than the other. Furthermore, when comparing the sound quality of two koma, it’s important to consider the tightness and age of the shamisen skin, as some koma may sound better on fresher or older skins than others.

Sound quality:
The bone top makes the tone crisper overall. However, I’ve noticed that the kouki base makes the tone mellower than the “Bamboo Koma (Half Bone)” This is rather surprising as kouki is much harder than bamboo. Note that results will vary depending on the age and quality of your shamisen skin.

Material:
Base – Kouki
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$62 USD

Kouki Koma #1 紅木駒

Sound quality:
The bone tip makes the tone crisper overall. However, I’ve noticed that the kouki base makes the tone mellower than the “Bamboo Koma (Half Bone)” This is rather surprising as kouki is much harder than bamboo. Note that results will vary depending on the age and quality of your shamisen skin.

Material:
Base – Kouki
Tip – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Kouki Koma #2 半骨紅木駒舟形

This bamboo base of this koma is called “Boat Shape”. The base is slightly thicker while the middle is cut away. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between the Boat Shape base and the standard base. You’ll probably hear a slight difference in tone between the two, but I don’t think one is “better” than the other. Furthermore, when comparing the sound quality of two koma, it’s important to consider the tightness and age of the shamisen skin, as some koma may sound better on fresher or older skins than others.

Sound quality:
The bone top makes the tone crisper overall. However, I’ve noticed that the kouki base makes the tone mellower than the “Bamboo Koma (Half Bone)” This is rather surprising as kouki is much harder than bamboo. Note that results will vary depending on the age and quality of your shamisen skin.

Material:
Base – Kouki
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$62 USD

Shinobi Koma 忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI)

Neighbors keeping your sound levels down? Desperately wanting to play shamisen now but still recovering from that hangover? The shinobi koma (Stealth Bridge) is made for you!

Replacing your normal koma with the Shinobi Koma will lower the sound level tremendously.

Sound quality:
Muted (intentionally)

Material:
Plastic

Height:
7mm

Note: Though the sound from striking the string is significantly reduced, the percussive sound from the bachi snapping against the skin isn’t affected by the koma.

Price:
$14 USD

Shinobi Koma - Deluxe 「静」忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI2)

Prepare for extra-awesome! This Shinobi Koma is loaded with extra features!

1) Unlike the Shinobi Koma (Standard), the Shinobi Koma (Deluxe) is shaped in such a way that you can freely execute maebachi and ushirobachi techniques without being constrained by the size of the koma.
2) Though the Shinobi Koma (Standard) mutes the sound from the string, the loud percussivness of the bachi striking the skin remains at full volume. The Shibobi Koma (Deluxe) reduces the percussive volume as well as the volume from the strings, providing a satisfying and balanced low-volume experience.
3) The timbre of the (muted) sound quality can be adjusted.

Sound quality:
Muted (intentionally)

Material:
Plastic and Aluminum

Height:
Adjustable

Price:
$65 USD

Ito

Tsugaru Ito Set (Black) 糸セット ブラック

This is a very special set of ito made by Marusan Hishimoto Co. (the most trusted maker of shamisen strings, and the only brand of string I sell in the Bachido Store) All strings are dyed black and look very striking against a white shamisen skin. Just be careful when playing shamisen in the dark!

From what I’ve heard, these strings don’t have the best sound quality (especially compared to the Gokujo string), but they’re still very good and the color balances the rest!

Includes one Ichi no Ito, a pack of two Ni no Ito and a pack of five San no Ito.
String Gauges: 28-1 / 15-2 / 14-3

Price:
$30 USD

Tsugaru Ito Set (Red) 糸セット レッド

This is a very special set of ito made by Marusan Hishimoto Co. (the most trusted maker of shamisen strings, and the only brand of string I sell in the Bachido Store) All strings are dyed red and look very striking against a white shamisen skin.

From what I’ve heard, these strings don’t have the best sound quality (especially compared to the Gokujo string), but they’re still very good and the color balances the rest!

Includes one Ichi no Ito, a pack of two Ni no Ito and a pack of five San no Ito.
String Gauges: 28-1 / 15-2 / 14-3

Price:
$30 USD

Tsugaru Ito Set Pack (Fujiito) ふじ糸津軽糸セットパック (IT-TS)

This is the Fujiito brand of ito. They are the most common brand of string for shamisen. It’s considered to be average quality for ‘practice use’, but I use them for performance and nobody notices the difference!

Includes one Ichi no Ito (2X), a pack of two Ni no Ito and a pack of five San no Ito.
String Gauges: 29-1 / 15-2 / 14-3

Price:
$46 USD

Tsugaru Ito Set Pack (Gokujo) 極上 三津軽糸セットパック (IT-TS-GJ)

This is the Gokujo ito. They are the considered to be the highest quality string for shamisen, and ideal for stage use.

Includes one Ichi no Ito, a pack of two Ni no Ito and a pack of five San no Ito.
String Gauges: 30-1 / 15-2 / 14-3

Why is this set cheaper than the “Tsugaru Ito Set Pack (Fujiito)”? It’s because the Fujiito set includes a double length (2X) ichi no ito. The double length ichi no ito is higher quality than the single length of the Fujiito. The Gokujo string is single length, and so the price comes out relatively cheaper. Personally, while I am perfectly happy using the average quality Fujiito, I do notice a difference in sound quality. The Gokujo ito has a more delicate and richer tone than the Fujiito ito.

Price:
$30 USD

Tsugaru Ito Set (Fujiito) ふじ糸津軽糸セット (IT-TS-S)

This is the Fujiito ito. They are the most common string used for shamisen. It’s considered to be average quality for ‘practice use’, but I use them for performance and nobody notices the difference!

Includes one Ichi no Ito, one Ni no Ito and one San no Ito.
String Gauges: 29-1 / 15-2 / 14-3

Price:
$14 USD

Ito Set (Nagauta) 長唄 糸セット (IT-NS)

Inludes one Ichi no Ito, one Ni no Ito and one San no Ito.

Price:
$24 USD

Ichi no Ito (Fujiito) ふじ糸 一の糸 (IT-1)

Fujiito – Regular Grade

The thickest string. Material – Silk.
Available in sizes for both Tsugaru and Nagauta styles.

Special Note for Tsugaru

The feel of this string is harder.
This string is recommended if a hard bass and overall forceful tone is desired.

Price:
$10 USD
Style:

Ichi no Ito 2X (Fujiito) ふじ糸丸三 一の糸 (IT-1F)

Fujiito brand – Regular Grade

This Ichi no Ito is double length, so you have enough string for two shamisen.

You might be wondering why this double-length string costs over three times as much as a single-length “Ichi no Ito (Silk)” string above. Excellent question! Compared to the single-length, the feel of this silk string is softer and higher quality. It is recommended if you want the bass tone to have more delicate resonance with richer harmonics.

For Tsugaru style.
Gauge: 30.

Price:
$33 USD

Ni no Ito (Fujiito) 丸三テトロン 二の糸 (IT-2T)

Fujiito – Regular Grade

The middle string.
Material for Tsugaru style – Tetoron
Material for Nagauta style – Silk
Sold as a pack of two strings. (Note: The outdated picture was taken when three strings used to be included)

Price:
$7 USD
Style:

San no Ito (Fujiito) 丸三ナイロン 三の糸 (IT-3N)

Fujiito – Regular Grade

The thinnest string. Material – Nylon.
Sold as a pack of five strings.

Price:
$7 USD
Style:

Ichi no Ito (Gintsuki) 銀付 一の糸 (IT-1)

Gintsuki – High Grade

The thickest string. Material – Silk.

For Tsugaru style.
Gauge: 30

Price:
$12 USD

Ni no Ito (Gintsuki) 銀付 二の糸 (IT-2)

Gintsuki – High Grade

The middle string.
Material – Silk
Gauge – 15
For Nagauta, Jiuta, and Tsugaru styles.

Sold as a pack of two strings.

Price:
$9 USD

San no Ito (Gintsuki) 銀付 三の糸 (IT-3)

Gintsuki – High Grade

The thinnest string.
Material – Silk
Gauge – 14
For Nagauta, Jiuta, and Tsugaru styles. (Note: Silk San no Ito generally aren’t preferred for aggressive tsugaru style, as the thin silk breaks faster than nylon)

Sold as a pack of five strings.

Price:
$9 USD

Ichi no Ito (Gokujo) 極上 一の糸 (IT-1)

Gokujo – Best Grade

The thickest string. Material – Silk.

For Tsugaru style.
Gauge: 30

Special Note for Tsugaru

The feel of this string is supple.
This string is recommended if a delicate tone is desired. (A delicate tone can be a great balance for aggressive tsugaru style)

Price:
$14 USD

Ni no Ito (Gokujo) 極上 二の糸 (IT-2)

Gokujo – Best Grade

The middle string.
Material – Silk
Gauge – 15
For Nagauta, Jiuta, and Tsugaru styles.

Sold as a pack of two strings.

Price:
$10 USD

San no Ito (Gokujo) 極上 三の糸 (IT-3)

Gokujo – Best Grade

The thinnest string.
Material – Silk
Gauge – 14
For Nagauta, Jiuta, and Tsugaru styles. (Note: Silk San no Ito generally aren’t preferred for aggressive tsugaru style, as the thin silk breaks faster than nylon)

Sold as a pack of five strings.

Price:
$12 USD

Import Tax

Please be aware that Bachido is NOT responsible for covering import tax, and must be covered by the customer. Because import tax varies depending on the country, please check your country's import tax and make sure you will be able to cover the cost of the tax as well as the items you are purchasing from Bachido.

Return Policy

As this is a very rare shamisen made with the highest standards, you must be 100% commited to this heirloom instrument. There are No Refunds for any reason. It will be packed very carefully and will be fully insured when shipped.

We apologize for the extreme strictness of the policy. Given it's rarity and price, we must treat it's sale with great care and understanding.

Damages

The Heirloom Rose is fully insured from initial shipment to until final delivery. If the Heirloom Rose Shamisen is damaged upon arrival, please proceed with the following instructions.

1. Contact us within 48 hours of receipt notifying us of the damage.
2. Send us at least three photos: one photo of the full product, a close-up (or several) of the damage, and a photo of the package.
3. We may ask you to fill a “damage claims form” at your local post office for reimbursement purposes.
4. In most circumstances, we will pay shipping costs for your replacement. In special cases, we may ask that you pay shipping costs.

If any damages occur to the Heirloom Rose, Bachido will arrange for repair by Tokyo Wagakki. The damaged parts will have to be shipped to Japan, and the owner is responsible for the cost of repair and return shipping fees.

Skin Replacement

The skin of the rose Shamisen is guaranteed up to 6 months (starting from initial shipment). We will only request shipping costs to be covered by the customer. If the skin ruptures before then, please proceed with the following instructions to receive skin replacement.

1. Contact us within 48 hours of receipt notifying us of the ruptured skin.
2. Send us at least two photos: one photo of the full dou (body), and a close-up (or several) of the tear in the skin.
3. When we confirm the your rose Shamisen is covered for skin replacement, we will tell you the address of where to send the rose Shamisen dou (body) for skin replacement, and will request a specified payment to cover costs of return shipping.
4. Please watch this video to learn how to remove the dou (body) from the rose Shamisen Watch how to remove the dou.
5. When the dou is separated from the shamisen, please pack it tightly in a box, filled with lots of protective packaging to prevent potential damage to the dou during shipping.
6. Send it to the address we provide. Once it arrives, it will be reskinned as soon as possible, and then sent back to your address.

To ensure longevity of the skin:

Keep your shamisen inside, in a cool, dry environment. Extreme heat (inside a hot car, for example) or cold stresses the skin.

Remove the koma from the shamisen after every practice session. The koma puts pressure on the skin. When the shamisen is not in use, removing the koma will increase the lifespan of the skin.

Play your shamisen often! The more you play, the better your shamisen will sound! Just like how doing yoga keeps your body flexible and limber, playing the shamisen often will keep the skin vibrating. Vibrating the skin keeps it supple and responsive. On the other hand, when the shamisen isn't played often, the skin will get brittle, and thus prone to breaking sooner.

Read more about Care and Handling here!