1. a samisen; a three-stringed Japanese banjo ((複 ~s, ~es))
    A samisen is a banjo-like musical instrument which is played by plucking its three strings with a plectrum called a bachi. A samisen consists of a long slim neck of hardwood, a rounded rectangular body, and a taut drum-like head covered with an animal skin, or, more recently, a synthetic material. This instrument plays an essential part in Japanese traditional performing arts such as Kabuki, Noh, ningyo joruri (the puppet theater), and min'yo, or local folksongs. This instrument is said to have evolved from the sanxian, a Chinese three-stringed lute, which was introduced to Japan by way of the Ryukyu Kingdom (now Okinawa Prefecture).