は な わ ち え – Chie Hanawa (は -HA な -NA わ -WA ち -CHI え -E)

Hanawa Chie (Japanese practice is to list surname first) is a young Japanese mistress of the Tsugaru Shamisen, an ancient stringed instrument akin to the banjo and likely derived from the Chinese sanxian. vlcsnap-2015-02-27-22h35m28s75 Thee are four or five variants of the Shamisen in Japan, allied to the particular music genre being played, and the region of the style’s origin. The instrument is classified into three broad physical sizes by both the instrument size and music style.

Chie is playing the Tsugaru Shamisen, a larger and bolder Shamisen characteristic of the Tsugaru region of Japan, and the variant favoured by modern Japanese youngsters to bridge the gap between Japan’s rich cultural heritage and the modern world.

Here, she is opening a session with her group Hanamas. Hanamas fuses traditional Japanese instruments like the Shamisen, Koto, and Shakuhachi, with drums and the violin. The group’s focus is not a rock equivalent, but a modern synthesis of traditional Tsugaru music with classical and contemporary overtones and presentation. Tsugaru is a much more ebullient form than the more delicate styles associated with Nagauta Shamisen in the Geisha and Kabuki genres, for example.

The opening number is Tsugaru Jongara Bushi, a seminal Tsugaru tour de force that serves both to highlight the power of Tsugaru Shamisen, as well as provide a benchmark of the Tsugaru Shamisen player’s capabilities. It’s an extremely common piece and a “must play well” icon in the player’s repertoire.

Chie and Hanamas are known for their exquisite Kimonos used to bridge the Japanese temporal space and they are a trademark of the group’s and Chie’s cultural authenticity.

Following this video are a couple of others featuring Chie Hanawa in more traditional ensemble playing, and in a modern, more commercial setting.

Chie Hanawa & Kou Kakinokihara on the Shamisen and Koto, respectively,

in Japanese Police uniform(!),

and in a Sony Experia commercial,

And at Isesaki, in a solo performance.