String Instruments in Japanese

String Instruments in Japanese, violinist playing the celloFor today’s lesson we are covering more musical instruments in Japanese, which we’ve already done before but this time, we’ve taking on the last missing part, string instruments.

An family for the musical instruments that contains poplar instruments used in orchestra such as violin. We are also giving you a short list of some of the famous traditional Japanese instruments.

gen, tsuru 弦弦 – げん, つる – gen, tsuru

This kanji have the meanings bowstring and chord. 弦 (げん) simply means string in instrument context. It is also used in mathematics when calculating chord in geometry. If you look closely to the kanji, you can see that it has a bow radical 弓 to the left and the thread kanji to the right 糸, which makes it easy to remember if you have to spell out string instrument 弦楽器 for example. Even if string instruments aren’t bows with threads, isn’t it close? In appearance at least.

Example: バイオリンのが切れた。
Translated: A violin string broke.

Another reading the 弦 kanji has expect げん is つる which means bowstring.
Example: 弓に弦を張る。
Translated: String a bow.

Another alternative how to write string instruments instead of 弦楽器 is 絃楽器 which essentially has the same meaning, and the same reading.  also has the meanings of string and cord, but also has connection to samisen music according to jisho.org.

The families of musical instruments

Instrument type Kanji Kana Romaji
String instruments 弦楽器 げんがっき gengakki
Keyboard instruments 鍵盤楽器 けんばんがっき kenbangakki
Brass instruments 金管楽器 きんかんがっき kinkangakki
Woodwind instruments 木管楽器 もっかんがっき mokkangakki
Percussion Instruments 打楽器 だがっき dagakki

String Instruments in Japanese

Below we’ve introduced only instruments that are in the string family. As you can tell, there are instruments that are quite popular in orchestras such as the violin, viola, cello and more together with some of the probably less common instruments.

Meaning Japanese
banjo バンジョー
double bass コントラバス
cello チェロ
guitar ギター
acoustic guitar アコースティック・ギター
bass guitar or bass ベースギター, バース
classical guitar (also called Spanish guitar) クラシック・ギター
electric guitar エレキ・ギター
harp ハープ
ukulele ウクレレ
viola ヴィオラ, ビオラ
violin バイオリン
sitar シタール
mandolin マンドリン
rebab ラバーブ

Japanese string instruments

Name Kanji Kana
Sanshin 三線 さんしん
Kokyuu 胡弓 こきゅう
Shamisen 三味線 しゃみせん
Tonkori トンコリ
Koto こと

Source for Japanese string instruments