Keijo sanshin

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  • Japanese/Okinawan: 開鐘三線 (keijou sanshin / keejoo sanshin)

Keijô is a term used to refer to individual sanshin instruments which were declared as such during the time of the Ryûkyû Kingdom, a designation somewhat akin to "national treasures." All of the sanshin so designated are of the Makabi style, one of seven predominant styles of sanshin.

The term refers literally to the sound of a temple bell (O: ) which can be heard clearly even at a far distance, at dawn (O: kei, lit. "open", as in the opening of the day).

Since the kingdom is no more, of course, the number of surviving keijô sanshin is limited, and falling. Many were destroyed during World War II, while many others survived, either in Okinawa, or in the diaspora; quite a number can be found today in Hawaii.


  • Ueunten, Wesley. "The Okinawan revival in Hawai'i: Contextualizing culture and identity over diasporic time and space." PhD dissertation. UC Berkeley, 2007. p105.
  • Robin Thompson, Okinawa bijutsu zenshû 5, 348.