Higuchi Taizan (Suzuki Kodo) – Founder of Myoan Taizan-ha
Suzuki Taizan Kodo, AKA Higuchi Taizan (1856 – 1914) was born in Nagoya where he studied sankyoku and his region’s honkyoku in the Seien Ryu. He studied under Kanetomo Seien I who received the honkyoku of Fudaiji (temple) from two Komuso named Gyokudo and Baizan. Taizan also studied in the Kinko Ryu under Grandmaster Araki Kodo II (Chikuo) and in the Ikkan Ryu under Takigawa Chuka (Ikkan Ryu was a branch of the Kinko Ryu).
In Meiji 1885 he moved to Kyoto to teach shakuhachi. He was adopted, so to speak, by the established Higuchi family which is why he changed his name to Higuchi Taizan (Taizan being his professional title). He eventually began teaching the Seien, Kinko, and Ikkan Ryu’s honkyoku in Kyoto. It isn’t clear what changes he himself made to the pieces he taught, however, as they exist today, there are differences in ornamentation, pitch, and the structure of the pieces, as compared to the source materials.
Higuchi Taizan instigated the revival of honkyoku in Kyoto and founded a new faction or “Ha” (派) called Myoan Taizan-ha (明暗対山派). He adpoted the name Myoan from Myoanji, the Komuso temple in Kyoto which was destroyed during the Meiji Restoration. Taizan established a new Myoanji for his Ha which stands to this day as hub of activity for shakuhachi events and pilgrimages. Today, Myoan almost always refers to Taizan’s Ha. It’s also sometimes used as an umbrella term for koten or “classical” honkyoku. For unknown reasons Taizan didn’t include any of the honkyoku from the original Myoanji (Shinpo Ryu) in his school, though he did apparently study a few pieces from Katsura Shozan.
Myoan Taizan-ha honkyoku became extremely popular, spreading across Japan and often fusing with, or eclipsing local styles. Masters such as Jin Nyodo, Watazumi, and Nishimura Koku were heavily influenced by Myoan Taizan-ha. Higuchi Taizan’s legacy is perhaps the most significant and enduring in Japan next to the Kinko Ryu when it comes to honkyoku.