Kimpu ryu (Nezasa Ha) – the original shakuhachi honkyoku music of Tsugaru
The significance of the Kimpu ryu for the student
The Tsugaru shakuhachi music of the Kimpu ryu has a unique pulsing breath called komi-buki. Komi-buki offers a chance to synchronize with the teacher in unique way making for an unparalleled experience. The sound of komi-buki is reminiscent of other musical tradition of Aomori, including the powerful driving rhythms of the Tsugaru shamisen. The music is also technically demanding particularly with the execution of difficult meri notes such as Ro dai-meri. Once immersed in this dynamic and beautiful style, it becomes apparent why the Kimpu ryu influenced many great masters.
History of the Kimpu ryu, the original honkyoku of Tsugaru
There were no komuso monks or temples in Tsugaru so the Kimpu ryu evolved among the still active samurai class. Apparently, they did not have access to madake bamboo, presumably because it could not grow there due to the frigid winters, so they had to import their shakuhachi. Interestingly, the standard length used for the Kimpu ryu was the deeper 2.0 middle “C” or ni-shaku. This preference for deeper sounding instruments can also be observed in the Tsugaru shamisen which is larger than the shamisen found in other areas of Japan. Tsugaru Japan is known for having strong musical traditions so it is no wonder that the Kimpu ryu honkyoku survived very well as a distinct regional style.
How I received the Kimpu ryu Tsugaru shakuhachi honkyoku
My teacher for the Kimpu ryu was Justin Senryu Williams. Justin’s teachers for the Kimpu ryu were Otsubo Shido (Yamaue Getsuzan lineage), Sato Jokan (Jin Nyodo’s top student), and lastly, Fujiyoshi Etsuzan (Takahashi Kuzan lineage).
The ten Kimpu ryu honkyoku
(Listed in the order in which they are taught)
1. Shirabe (調)
2. Sagari ha (下り葉)
3. Matsu Kaze (松風)
4. Tori (通里)
5. Kadozuke (門附)
6. Hachigaeshi (鉢返)
7. Sanya (三谷)
8. Shishi (獅子)
9. Nagashi Reibo (流鈴慕)
10. Koku (虚空)