The Seien ryu honkyoku were seldom heard outside of their rural home in Hamamatsu until the Seien ryu master Higuchi Taizan (1856 – 1914) moved to Kyoto in 1885, thus bringing the Seien Ryu pieces out of relative obscurity and into a major city. Taizan’s school, which is often referred to as Myoan, evolved independent from the Seien ryu resulting in unique iterations of the 11 Seien ryu honkyoku.
The Myoan version went on to become some of the most popular honkyoku in Japan and the Myoan society remains one of the three largest shakuhachi organizations. The Myoan honkyoku inspired further unique iterations from such 20th c. masters as Watazumi, Jin Nyodo, Nishimura Kokku, and others. In short, the Seien ryu honkyoku are the source material for some of the most popular honkyoku and post-Edo period schools.
However, the Seien ryu remains rare and obscured. My teacher Justin Senryu Williams was the first foreigner to receive permission to teach the school from Iwata Seien VI. I in turn became the second foreigner to gain permission to teach from Iwata Seien VI as well as Justin.
The Seien Ryu traces its roots back to two Komuso monks named Gyokudo and Baizan who passed down the Fudai-ji honkyoku pieces to Kanetomo Seien I (1819-1895). The home of the Seien ryu is currently in Nagoya which isn’t far from were the original Fudai-ji used to stand in Hamamatsu (Fudai-ji was destroyed during the Buddhist persecution of the Meiji Restoration).
It’s a privilege and honor to help propagate this pivotal school outside of Japan.