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In junior high school, going to shamisen lessons was something Yuka Annaka and Kumi Kindaichi hid, even from their friends. “There was this image that it was something our grandparents did,” says Kindaichi. “Other kids reacted like it was strange. I didn’t talk to anybody about it all through junior high school,” Annaka says.

Now, as the professional duo Anmitsu, they are often asked to perform at schools. And one of their greatest pleasures, they say, is changing the common image of shamisen music by making it more familiar. Most students, they say, have never heard the instrument performed live before.

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