Although there is a theory that claims the shamisen descended from the Chinese pipa, given that the shamisen has no frets, the more accepted theory is that the shamisen derived either from the kokyu or sanshin from the Ryukyu (Okinawa) Islands.
The shamisen is played with a fan-shaped plectrum.
Use within Tenrikyo
Oyasama is said to have personally taught the shamisen to Yoshie Iburi beginning in 1877. The performance of the shamisen in Tenrikyo services has since been reserved for women with the exception between the years 1896 and 1936 when government interference not only restricted women from participating in the Kagura Service and playing the Narimono but also forced Tenrikyo to replace the shamisen with a three-stringed version of the Satsuma biwa as the shamisen was considered an instrument unsuited for use in a religious service.