The significance of Kichiku Ryu for the student
The Kichiku Ryu honkyoku are especially unique and rare. The honkyoku have note combinations that are not found in any other form of shakuhachi music. Unlike virtually all other schools, the Kichiku Ryu honkyoku are played with a set rhyme which makes them more comparable to Sankyoku ensemble music. They provide a solid classical musical background for my students that is, in my opinion, often more suited to solo shakuhachi playing than Sankyoku.
History of Myoan-ji (temple) in Kyoto
Kyu means “old” and in this case refers to the first Myoan-ji. During the Edo period Myoan-ji served as the main shakuhachi temple in Kyoto and for the whole Kansai region. However, Myoan-ji was destroyed during the Meiji Restoration’s persecution of all things Buddhist. The second and current Myoan-ji was established in the Meiji period by Higuchi Taizan for his school which plays different pieces of music than that of the first Myoan-ji.
Kyu Myoan-ji was largely independent from the Fuke sect’s headquarters in the capital (Ichigetsu-ji and Reiho-ji). They actually had a long standing feud with them over who was older. They used a different notation system from the rest of Japan. According to one document the first Ryu or “school” founded at Myoan-ji was called the Kichiku Ryu.
Ozaki Shinryo (Shinryo is the older pronunciation of Shinryu) (1820-1888) taught the honkyoku of Myoan-ji and his student Katsura Shozan (1856-1942) became head of the school when Shinryo’s chosen successor died at an early age. Shozan renamed the school Shinpo and added many more honkyoku pieces to the repertoire, among other apparent changes. Shozan attracted many students and was known as the “last Komuso“. (More history of Myoan-ji can be read on the Myoan blog page by Dean Seicho Del Bene.)
Translating Ozaki Shinryu’s scores
I learned from and translated Ozaki Shinryo’s scores from “Fu, Ho, U, We, Ya” (フホウ) into “Ro, Tsu, Re, Chi, Ha (ロツレ). My translations are literal, a note-for-note swap. I also retained the unique Mo (モ) timing system. Mo (モ) in this case is short for Motase or “time”.