Type: Chordophones > Simple > Zithers > Half > Tube.
Inventor: Tosha Rosen.
Era: Meiji Period [1868-1912].
Area: Asuka suburb of Tokyo.
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The Azuma nigenkin or informally as nigenkin it is an extremely rare two-stringed zither that is only found in the Asakusa suburb of Tokyo. The nigenkin is a rarely recent instrument whose origins are the Yakumo-goto, a two stringed zither used exclusively in Shinto shrines. In the early Meiji period [1868-1912].
Origins: Tosha Rosen, a yakumo-goto player, started using the instrument to perform secular and popular music of the time [hauta and zokkyoku]. As a result he was asked to sever his association with the Shinto Shrine and forbidden to play the yakumo-goto. He created the Azuma nigenkin with only subtle difference to its predecessor. Notable an open back and less ornamentation.
Playing Techniques: Not unlike its single stringed relative the iganken this instrument is also played with a plectrum and slide called a rokan. The rokan is slid along both of the strings, which are tuned in unison on the instrument. The strings on both side resonate when the rokan is moved producing a ghost-note like secondary tone.
Repertoire: There is a corpus of 95 compositions written by the original Tosha Rosen, it also includes popular songs from the inception of this instrument to the present. This instrument has been adapted by Randy Rein-Reusch in his own compositions.