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Country: Japan
Agatsuma, an artist based in Japan and known throughout the world for his masterful playing of the tsugaru-shamisen, performs while sitting on a stool onstage.
Photo Credit: Agatsuma


Hiromitsu Agatsuma is known throughout the world for his masterful playing of the tsugaru-shamisen. Born in 1972 in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan, he began studying the traditional Japanese folk music instrument at the age of six. By the time he was fourteen, Agatsuma had skyrocketed to the highest level of tsugaru-shamisen players in Japan–he won first prize at the 1988 All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen Competition.


He continued to master his craft, winning top honors at competitions throughout Japan. His first album, Agatsuma, was named Traditional Japanese Folk Album of the year at the 16th Annual Japanese gold-Disc Awards (Japan’s version of the Grammy Awards).


Shamisen music evolved from merry bands of musicians that traveled the countryside with their shamisen ready to play it in any environment for any audience. The first tsugaru-shamisen players developed one of Japan’s richest musical traditions by viewing each concert as a once in a lifetime chance to meet new people and learn about new communities, sounds, and music. Now, Hiromitsu Agatsuma brings this sound and spirit to America as part of Arts Midwest World Fest with his special “Nama-1cho!” concert style–an intimate, acoustic world music experience in the spirit of the beginnings of shamisen music.