One breath, one sound
As a teacher and a crafts-person of shakuhachi, it’s my life’s work to help people on this také no michi or “bamboo path”. I provide people from all over the world with lessons and instruments, in particular my Bell shakuhachi. I also help people who wish to use the shakuhachi for meditation or mindfulness. My practice focuses on older honkyoku styles from the Komuso monks and the natural jinashi shakuhachi that they played on. I also specialize in larger bass jinashi shakuhachi which many are drawn to for their deeper sound. I invite those on the path to try a free lesson with me. Contact me and I’ll be happy to schedule one for you. A bit more about me can also be found on my bio page.
There are two types of shakuhachi, jinashi and jiari. Jinashi shakuhachi are mostly natural on the inside while jiari shakuhachi are mostly plaster or glue on the inside. This plaster or glue is used to literally sculpt the desired sound. As a result, many jiari tend to sound more like Western concert flutes. Ultimately, plastered jiari shakuhachi are easier to make because a predetermined bore shape is cast or formed inside of the bamboo and the length can be adjusted via joints. Conversely, Jinashi are much harder to craft at a high level because of the difficulty in acquiring madaké bamboo with ideal dimensions and due to the higher level of skill that’s required to work more with the bamboo. But when done expertly, jinashi shakuhachi can offer an entirely unequaled experience.
Honkyoku and the older, regional styles
Honkyoku are the pieces mostly composed by the Komuso monks during the Edo period (1603 – 1868) as well as numerous post-Edo period adaptations. In the Western world, we’ve mostly been presented with the post-Edo period adaptations from such masters as Watazumi, Jin Nyodo, and Higuchi Taizan. Their styles blend aspects of numerous regional Edo period styles making for a fusion.
Learning the older styles shows us the source from which such masters drew their inspiration. Essentially, It’s like learning regional recipes vs. a master chef’s unique fusions. Lastly, I also teach select pieces from these post-Edo period fusion styles such as Tamuke, Ajikan, Honshirabe, Jin Nyodo’s Kyorei, and others.
My YouTube video on how to play
In the above video I attempt to teach some of the very basics of how to play. Of course, more in-depth instruction is possible in live lessons. For example, I find that most people lack support in their lips/facial muscles which is why I advocate teaching the “smiling” embouchure first. However, sometimes students might use too much tension, though this is rare. But if this is the case I will coach them on how to find the right amount of support. I typically offer this further guidance in private lessons but I hope to have more videos about this topic and others soon.
Do you need a shakuhachi? The Bell shakuhachi
Older, regional styles of Honkyoku
I play and teach older, regional styles of honkyoku pieces from the Komuso monks.