What is a Koto?


What is a Koto?

The koto (׎ or ) is a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument, which came from China through Korea in the 7th and 8th centuries.  The koto is considered the national instrument of Japan. The koto represents the dragon which is considered a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it in East Asian culture.

The koto has 13 strings. Each string has a white bridge placed under it which tunes the string

It is made from a wood called paulownia ("kiri", in Japanese), and is about 6 feet long and about a foot wide. 

It is basically a long, wooden box with a round hole carved out of the underside at each end.  That is where much of the sound comes out.  This is called a "sound hole," and is found on many instruments, such as guitars, violins and the like.  There is also sound that comes from the top side of the koto as the strings vibrate and resonate played by the fingers with picks and without picks. It produces a very wonderful sound.

The koto is played using both hands, the right hand with three picks, called "tsume", made of plastic, and the left hand, which provides pizzicato sounds and also adds tonal shadings by bending notes, adding vibrato, and effects.