Shamisen or the shamisen is a Japanese guitar or lute featuring 3 strings and the freedom of playing around on a neck that does not feature any frets.
Shamisen are almost completely made of hard wood and somewhat like a banjo the body is skinned with leather or synthetic materials on both sides.
Sounding cool in general especially the Tsugaru variant which is the fattest and loudest variant also offers adjustable string buzzing and the option to strike a string and further strike through onto the skinned surface of the body for a way cool percussive sound or in short a shamisen offers a couple of far out playing options.
On top of all that one usually plays with a spectacular (ice scraper look alike) plectrum.
Of course electric shamisen are out there too.
One of the traditional Japanese instruments also popular in current times (along with Shakuhachi flutes, Koto zithers and Taiko drums) the Shamisen story goes back over 500 years and is continued by contemporary artists covering a very wide range of playing styles and even general music genres from old beautiful tunes to fascinating metal covers.
Shamisen Player Pro also explains the parts of a Shamisen and includes a glossary of Japanese terms.