The koto is a traditional Japanese musical instrument somewhat similar to a zither and a close cousin of the traditional Chinese guzheng.

The traditional koto consists of an oblong wooden body (traditionally made from Paulownia wood) and 13 strings stretched over 13 movable wooden bridges. These strings are plucked with picks worn on three fingers (the thumb and the index and middle fingers).

The twangy sound of a koto plucked one string at a time is one of the most iconic sounds associated with East Asia in the mind of many Westerners.

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