Fuke Zenji – The
Zhenzhou Puhua (Japanese Fuke Zenji) was likely a mythical Chinese Chan (Zen) master and eccentric. Stories of Fuke were popularized by the Fuke shu komuso order of shakuhachi flute playing monks in the 17th or 18th century. The komuso petitioned the government to recognize them as an official Zen sect with a decree called the The Kyotaku Denki which contained many of the Fuke legends. It was, however, solely written in order to form a connection, albeit a falsified one, to a historical Chinese master so that the komuso could be officially recognized by the Shogunate as a Zen sect. The most popular story of Fuke tells of him going through his home town ringing a bell and summoning others to enlightenment. The komuso of the Fuke shu saw a parallel between this “calling to enlightenment” with Fuke’s bell and the use of the shakuhachi as an instrument for enlightenment through sound.