Amami music

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The traditional and folk music of the Amami Islands is closely related to that of Okinawa and the other Ryukyu Islands, but features notable differences, as the Amami tradition split off from Ryukyuan traditions following the annexation of the Amamis by Satsuma han in the 1609 invasion of Ryûkyû.

The singing style in the Amami Islands features a vocal sound recognizably distinct from that of either Okinawan or "mainland" Japanese folk songs. In addition, the three-stringed sanshin is played in Amami with a thin pick made of bamboo, rather than the thicker ivory, horn, or wood claw-like plectrum used in Okinawa.

In places like Tokunoshima and Okinoerabujima, the Amami and Okinawan traditions meet, overlap, and blend.

Notable performers of Amami folk songs include Chitose Hajime.


  • Thompson, Robin. "The Music of Ryukyu." Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2008. pp303-322.