“The shamisen or samisen (literally “three strings”) is a three-stringed Japanese musical instrument played with a plectrum called a bachi.” (from Wikipedia)
What really brought my attention to this instrument is California-based band “God of Shamisen”, which features a master of the Shamisen Kevin Kmetz playing alongside a standard Rock band consisting of guitars / bass / drums. Their style is rooted in Rock / Metal while adding distinctive touches from Japanese Folk music, Funk and even Death Metal (check full bio).
God Of Shamisen features musicians who have previously played with bands like Odious Mortem, Estradesphere, Secret Chiefs 3 and Decrepit Birth, so there’s definitely a rich Metal background mixed with a tendency to tread Experimental grounds in this band. Here’s the official promo music video for “The Science Fiction of Ray Bradbury Attack” by God of Shamisen:
Other Shamisen musicians playing Rock / Metal are Yoshida Brothers who’re also mixing the best from both Western and Eastern musical influences. They’re not a Rock band per s” but their use of fast “riffing”, percussion and occasional use of Rock instruments definitely makes them “Rock-approved”. Here’s a live clip of the band:
Here’s a video of Yoshida Brother’s “The National Anthem” (Radiohead cover)
Finally here’s a couple more videos: