WASEDA WEEKLY

Unique activity of our students, "What are you doing?" :
Biwa Club Bishamon


Sayuko Yamada
The chief secretary of Biwa Club Bishamon
3rd-year student in the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I

Regular practices are held in a very friendly atmosphere
Regular practices are held in a very friendly atmosphere
The author playing the Satsuma-Biwa (a four-stringed Japanese plucked string instrument)
The author playing the Satsuma-Biwa (a four-stringed Japanese plucked string instrument)

Biwa Club Bishamon? Many people might feel confused by the name. "Is biwa the biwa of biwa minstrels? Well, what kind of club activity is it?" To answer your question, let me introduce the biwa, and Bishamon. A biwa is a musical instrument shaped like a beautiful, smooth drop of water. When you play it, you hold it in your arm. If you want to feel a sense of unity with a musical instrument, biwa is the best.

In present Japan, there are many types of biwa. Bishamon is an association of biwa of Satsuma (Western part of present Kagoshima, Kyushu). Biwa of Satsuma developed at the end of the Muromachi era (1336`1573) from the family of Shimazu, the feudal lord in Satsuma. Dynamic performance using a large plectrum is the special characteristic of this music. In addition to striking the strings with a plectrum, there are other ways to play the biwa, such as to slide the plectrum on the string called "Suri" and to tap the wooden side of the instrument with the plectrum, called "Hataki," there are various way of playing and tone. It is one of enjoyments of playing the biwa.

People in Bishamon, who love the solo instrument biwa, are not restricted from anything, anytime. Wander into a Japanese room with tatami mat, strum on the biwa, and go back to their own life again without any definite purpose. They each have a way to be satisfied with the biwa. Keeping your own pace is the motto of people of Bishamon.

And one more thing we cannot miss in our club of Bishamon is Japanese-style stew, called nabe. Not only at the welcome party for freshmen, but also at our end of the year party, we gather around the nabe pot. "Nabe Party" is a pronoun for our events. Like nomads who usually are busy taking care of their sheep but as soon as a nabe party is held, everyone gathers around the pot to enjoy their time with friendsc the happiest moment ever.

Biwa Club Bishamon is an association of people who love biwa, liberty and nabe-stew. We do not invite special masters of Biwa to teach us, but OB and OG members are the teachers. From classical piece of music from Heike-story to original pieces composed by the members, the songs which we practice vary in kind. Biwa is a classical instrument. But to those of us in Biwa Club Bishamon, the biwa is "a classical instrument for the modern age." There are a number of different tones as there are numbers of the members. Getting interested? Please come to our practice room. We are all waiting for your visit.

[URL] http://sound.jp/bishamon/

With other members at a concert
With other members at a concert

Copyright (C) 2007 Student Affairs Division, WASEDA University. All rights reserved.
First drafted 2007 June 21.