Tonkori is a traditional musical instrument passed down to the Ainu people, and is equivalent to an ethnic musical instrument. The tonkori is classified as a stringed instrument, and many Ainu people call it “ka”. The tonkori consists of five strings, and it takes a lot of practice to master them. Unique music and playing methods are expressed by tonkori.
Origin of musical instrument
Tonkori is a musical instrument that originated in Hokkaido.
History of Tonkori
Tonkori is said to be a musical instrument that appeared in the Sakhalin region. Tonkori was called “ka” by the Ainu people during the Edo period. The tonkori is a musical instrument often played at ethnic events, and has been considered a symbol of the Ainu people. Tonkori spread to the Hokkaido region, and after World War II, it became a familiar instrument to Japanese people. As if to symbolize this, Tonkori began to appear in Japanese animation. Tomoko Tomita, a traditional Japanese musician who was the only one who received direct instruction from the Ainu tradition in the 1960s, still gives lectures and performances. Tomoko Tomita is a very rare and valuable performer because no other performer has received direct instruction from the successor other than this person. However, since the late 1900s, the number of performers of the tonkori instrument itself has gradually increased. When it comes to Ainu folk songs, it has become an instrument that is often referred to as tonkori or mukkuri.
Features of Tonkori
Tonkori is a stringed instrument with five strings. Not only does it have no frets, unlike guitars, etc., but it is also characterized by pressing the strings against the fingerboard and playing with the open strings without changing the sound. Tuning differs from region to region, and it is said that there is no such standard. Since the tonkori is played with open strings like a harp, only five notes are produced. Since the degree of freedom is quite low, the tonkori needs to be retuned depending on the piece. It can be played in the same way as a guitar, such as by stroking or playing with a pick. Tonkori uses Hokkaido spruce, onko, and other trees that grow naturally in Hokkaido. It is said that the general way to play is to sit and hold the instrument at an angle and play with the fingers of both hands.
Music of Tonkori
Tonkori is mostly used in Ainu folk songs. Sometimes you can see tonkori in Japanese anime.