SBP Blog

Janet Pocorobba shamisen performance and book reading at The Japan Society New York

Michael Palmer - Thursday, January 31, 2019

Janet Pocorobba, author of The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me will be doing a special shamisen performance and reading from her upcoming memoir at The Japan Society in New York March 19th. 

The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me

The Allure of the Shamisen: A Japanese Musical Tradition

Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 PM

Played as accompaniment to kabuki plays and traditional puppet theater or by geisha, the three-stringed shamisen has been an integral part of traditional Japanese music for centuries. Janet Pocorobba, author of The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me, took a more unconventional path, apprenticing under her eccentric sensei while living abroad in Japan. At this talk, Pocorobba will discuss the history and features of the shamisen, illuminate her own journey learning to play this enigmatic Japanese instrument, and give a demo performance.
Followed by a book-signing reception.
Tickets: $15/$12 members, seniors & students
About The Fourth String
The word sensei in Japanese literally means “one who came before,” but that’s not what Janet Pocorobba’s teacher wanted to be called. She used her first name, Western-style. She wore a velour Beatles cap and leather jacket, and she taught foreigners, in English, the three-stringed shamisen, an instrument that fell out of tune as soon as you started to play it. Vexed by the music and Sensei’s mission to upend an elite musical system, Pocorobba, on the cusp of thirty, gives up her return ticket home to become a lifelong student of her teacher. She is eventually featured in Japan Cosmo as one of the most accomplished gaijin, “outside people,” to play the instrument.
Part memoir, part biography of her Sensei, The Fourth String looks back on the initial few years of that apprenticeship, one that Janet’s own female English students advised her was “wife training,” steeped in obedience, loyalty, and duty. Even with her maverick teacher, Janet is challenged by group hierarchies, obscure traditions, and the tricky spaces of silence in Japanese life.




Like our blog? Please share it!


Subscribe to the SBP Mailing List

New Releases

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Going to Japan? This unfussy modern guide guarantees you keep it polite and get it right!

China Smart

Essential essays on all things Chinese that inform and entertain travelers, students, and anyone working or living in China

Oh, Tama!

A deeply eccentric novel about lives and connections—and a cat of course—in 1980s Tokyo: witty, offbeat, and strangely profound.

The Fourth String

Two women. Two cultures. One music.

Tag Cloud

gratitude in japan zen travel etiquette Anime/Manga/Comics miswest book review japanese culture eastern and western philosophy japan restaurant dirt and water the japan society memior Spirituality buddhist new books no longer human fantasy literature musical book tour summer vacation diymfa Okinawan literature osamau tezuka Travel book talk travel literature china vacation writing japanese dark horse gaijin Year of the Dog amys guide to best behavior in japan japan ravel monks wife wanderlust performance giajin expat in japan japan today publicity Basho's Narrow Road Ukiyo-e tomoko aoyama alan moore hippocampus magazine best behavior in japan why we write podcast japanese books in english drinking in japan janet pocrobba non-fiction japanese cutlure four immigrants Poetry the japan times WWII stone bridge press hitler traditional japanese music classic hooked cross japan book review Interview traditional Japanese aesthetics chinese literature brad hawley anime 4k in the woods of memory controversy takuma sminkey author review japanese instruments memoir ancient symbol huffington post the fourth string a memoir of sensei and me Chinese history buddhist symbols Coming of Age Day 47 ronin the asian review of books Chiune Sugihara peace symbol book reviews Japanese holidays ancient symbols literary review Olympics gallery awa nara a memoir of sensei and me Tokyo Olympics finalist diy mfa blurb 2019 photography award wife japanese instrument university of chicago chinese comics frederik schodt literary prize japan travel guide pottery kyoto suicide translators min kahng alan brill journal' monks wife japanese classic kansuke naka the fourth string china where igo haiku gaijin pot gaijinpot my year of dirt and water japanese travel rebecca otowa etiquette jungle emperor Alexandra Johnson matcha book award japanese books film osamu dazai religion american shamisen author talk shamisen evil chinese book review Shoah catcher in the rye UCLA japan manners chapters diary tricycle magazine jun hazuki the silver spoon japanese drunk book signing nichi bei weekly, naomi hirarahara traditional japanese instrument author signing benjamin franklin awards Nikolas Bunton sensei World War II kinokuniya event shamisen performance china smart foreigner in japan Children's Literature poetry of consciousness michael emmerich journal of a zen monk's wife a mejiro novel VIZ new york events astro boy 1960's Japan china guide japan food japan memoir astrology japanese translation namethetranslator janet pocorbba koto book hoarding buddhist priest suehiro maruo pulitzer prize ripe mangoes stone bridge cafe damian flanagan association of jewish libraries Art/Design bowing in japan yukio mishima year of zen zen monk wife asia shun medoruma tk nakagaki keanu reeves will eisner Translation international book award center of east asian studies welton gaddy purification travel to japan History 47 samurai classic poetry japan book guide koun a shameful life china travel t.k. nakagaki nazi frank beyer japanese book japan guide memoir writing doris bargen podcast black jack verticle interfaith peace william f sibley Christianity in Japan travel Japan author tour the lion king jing liu illustration hiroaki sato kyoto journal kris kosaka manga biography tourist 1960s Korea eli lieberman forty seven ronin Language japan travel china book hitler symbol japanese manners japanese etiquette shaimsen forest gander japan behavior IBPA awards china history do it right and be polite journal of a zen monks wife in japan tea janet pocorobba living in japan PEN AWARD poet publishing how to travel in japan expat death Culture zen monk in japan Christianity kyodo news graphic novels AAS lions roar dazai asian review of books jared cook zazen kimba the white lion otakuusa pacific rim review of books the hidden writer a memoir ritual buddhist swastika hate manji The Colorado Review learning in japan henry kiyama japan books new york politics and prose journal bookstore japanese craft holden caufield society disney classic japanese literature paul mccarthy bushido japan custom huffpost japan visitor green tea travel manners book blurb forty seven samurai ex pat literature haibun tracy franz monk Japanese literature comic history amys guide to bes tbehavior in japan Korea fred schodt juddhism japanese to english china What You Don’t Know, What You Need to Know— A Past & Present Guide to History, Culture, Society, Language trip japanese music Basho nova scotia ningen shikkaku book publicity Chinese culture memoir, tracy franz, zen monk, buddhist announcement osamu tezuka foreword reviews lucille cara swastika forewrod reviews indies walt disney polite mark gibeau author event world literature today Chinese Astrology zen monks wife' classic literature foreword indies award japan travel etiquette ibpa publishing university leonard koren the inland sea donald richie monk wife journal of a zen monk luke patitsas World War Two rachel manley benjamin franklin award criterion donald keene Second World War Chinese New Year amy chavez japanese customs literature japan vacation Japanese art the millions buddhism state of belief traditional japanese instrumenet new release books comics simba what do in japan reviews visitor Spring Festival internment manga seppuku zen monk tea garden student teacher oh tama Children's Books holocaust 2020 Olympics larry herzberg sensei and me understandind china through comics China mieko kanai behavior japanese people japan trip hitlers cross foreword indies Korea photography book the buddhist swastika lesley university japanese bath japan etiquette Japan event budhist swastika danica davidson learning shamisen tokyo Asian Studies how to order in japan how to washington dc manners japan culture eating in japan book reading osaka