Justin Senryu Williams
Originally from England, Justin has been living in Asia since he was 18, studying Buddhism in and around the Himalayas. Drawn to the sound of the shakuhachi and specifically the Buddhist repertoire of shakuhachi honkyoku, he started studying Kinko Ryu Chikumeisha with Michael Coxall while in England for a year. Eventually Justin moved to Japan for full time study of both playing and making, where he has been living since 2005.
He studied the full repertoire of Yokoyama Katsuya’s school Chikushinkai under Furuya Teruo and Yokoyama Katsuya and was awarded the rank of Shihan (‘Master of Shakuhachi’, the highest qualification in traditional shakuhachi study as a master of the art and a teacher of the lineage) and the professional name as a performer and authorized maker, Senryu (泉龍) by Yokoyama Katsuya in 2007. He went on to study sankyoku and the complete Kinko Ryu honkyoku repertoire from the head teacher of Kinko Ryu, Araki Kodo V, from whom he received his second Shihan. Araki Kodo also authorized his instruments with his own prestigious hanko (traditional Japanese stamp), ‘Kodo sen’ (‘Chosen by Kodo’).
Justin has paid particular interest to the older styles of honkyoku and has traveled across Japan researching old instruments and playing styles, searching out the most authentic and capable players of the various often rare lineages spread across the country. He has studied the complete Seien Ryu lineage (the original lineage of Fudaiji temple) from the iemoto Iwata Seien, and the rare Myoan Shimpo Ryu lineage (the original lineage of the Kyoto Myoan temple) from Takahashi Rochiku and Otsubo Shido – these are two of the most rare and yet most historically important styles. He has studied extensively with Fujiyoshi Etsuzan, the lineage holder of Takahashi Kuzan‘s school, and Jin Nyodo‘s school with Jin Nyodo’s top student Sato Jokan, and with Kurahashi Yodo II. In addition he has studied the 10 honkyoku of Kimpu Ryu (aka. Nezasa Ha), the pieces from Northern region of Oshu, the pieces from the Southern island of Kyushu pieces, Taizan Ryu pieces, and others, often learning the same piece from a number of teachers to gain deeper understanding and perspective.
In 2008 he qualified for the under 40′s world shakuhachi competition, which took him to Australia for the International Shakuhachi Festival where he came 3rd in the final. Also in 2008 on behalf of his teacher Araki Kodo V he organised and hosted the 100 year anniversary remembrance party for the passing of Kinko-ryu Grandmaster Araki Chikuo (Araki Kodo II). In 2010 he played the opening piece, “Ajikan” for the annual European Shakuhachi Festival as well as lecturing on the history of Seien Ryu, and in 2011 played the opening piece “Tamuke” for the annual Prague Shakuhachi Festival, where he also lectured on the history of Kyoto honkyoku, Myoan Shimpo Ryu. He has lectured and performed within various Buddhist monasteries, retreat centres and ashrams across India, and given honkyoku workshops and performances across Europe and Japan.
Justin continues his work as a performer, teacher and maker, as well as his own ongoing study and research. He also transmits his extensive repertoire to people around the world via internet lessons using Skype, with students in Japan, Europe, Australia and the US.