|Kanji in this term|
|さん > しゃ、さ
The instrument was introduced to mainland Japan from Okinawa, where it is known as the 三線 (sanshin), or as the 蛇皮線 (jabisen): 蛇皮 (snakeskin) + 線 (string). The mainland Japanese term comes from this latter Okinawan term, with jabisen becoming shamisen (or alternately samisen). The 味 kanji is used as an ateji.