Sanshin makers rue dearth of successors
The Okinawa-Made Sanshin Branding Committee of the Union of Okinawa Sanshin Business Associations held its third meeting at Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum in Naha, Tuesday. Sanshin artists and researchers took part in the meeting and among other topics reported on their research and surveys regarding sanshin, and discussed about the recent status of the instrument and problems it is facing.
According to the survey, only 29 out of all 120 stores selling sanshin in Okinawa actually make the instruments they sell. In addition, the survey revealed that 25 stores out of the 29 make about 12 sanshin per month totaling 3,600 per year.
Eleven of the stores do not make sanshin but only assemble the parts and then sell them. The reason is they have no choice because customers want cheap ones. Almost half of the 29 stores have store managers who are over 60 years old, and only one of the managers is in his late 20’s.
Whereas the popularity of sanshin has been increasing outside of Okinawa including overseas, the number of members in classic Okinawa music organizations has been decreasing.
Participants in the meeting concluded that they have to find ways to attract young players and makers of sanshin, and they should cooperate with each other in order to keep the tradition up.