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The "Zen Shakuhachi" Reality Research Web Pages

Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi History, Ideology & Practices in Particular

Torsten Olafsson • 無穴笛オーラフソン トーステンデンマーク • Denmark



About this Research Project

Realizations & Conclusions

The Amazing Fuke Zenji / Fuke Shakuhachi /
     Fuke-shū History Fabrication Scam

To be - or not to be: a "Zen Buddhist Priest"?

Highlighted Illustrations

Wikipedia: Inaccuracies & Misunderstandings
     regarding Komusō, Fuke-shū, Suizen etc.

Miscell. Errors, Misconceptions & Loose Ends

1549 ... The Catholic Christian Century
     and the Temple Patron Household System

Fuke Zenji, Komosō, the Catholic Invasion,
     Rōnin Samurai, Komusō and Kyōto Myōan-ji
     - a Factual & Unbiased Chronology

Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology
     and the Realization of The Non-Dual
     - Highlighted Quotations

Chronology of Ascetic Shakuhachi
     Ideology-related Terms, Concepts & Names

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
     A Chronological Panorama:

 •  India

 •  China

 •  Japan

 •  The West

The Source Collections

The Written Sources

Research Cases of Special Significance and Interest:

c. 1470?: The Kyōgen Play Rakuami

1494 & 1501: Two Unique Muromachi Period
     Poetry Contest Picture Scrolls

1505: Kōrin's Shakuhachi Essay

1512: The Taigenshō Music Treatise

The Komosō & Fuke-komosō Sources

1614: The Keichō kenmon-shū Story Book

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Document

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Thesis

The Early Komusō-related Texts
     - from c. 1640 to c. 1752

1640s?: The Butsu-gen Komusō Document

1646: Abbot Isshi Bunshu's Letter
     to the Komusō Sandō Mugetsu

1646 ... The Hottō Kokushi/Kakushin Legend

The Kyōto/Kansai Sources

1664: The Shichiku shoshinshū Music Treatise

1680s?: The Kyotaku Denki Tale:
     Shinchi Kakushin, Kichiku & Kyōto Myōan-ji

The Edo/Kantō/Tōkyō Sources

1677: The Enpō 5, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Komusō Set of Rules

1678: The Enpō 5, 12th Month Komusō-ha Oboe
     Bakufu Memorandum of January 11th, 1678

1687: The Jōkyō 4, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Komusō Set of Rules

c. 1685-1690: The Yōshū fu-shi
     & Jinrin kinmō zu-i Myōan-ji Evidence

1694: Myōan-ji Founder Engetsu Ryōgen's
     23 Rules for his Komusō Disciples

1703 & 1705: The Kyōto Myōan-ji
     c/o Kōkoku-ji & Myōshin-ji Interrelationship

1722: The Kyōhō 7, 6th Month,
     Reihō-ji Komusō Memorandum

1730: The Kyōhō 15, 7th Month, Ichigetsu-ji
     & Reihō-ji Komusō Memorandum

1732: The Shakuhachi denrai-ki
     and Early Honkyoku History

1735: Kyōto Myōan-ji Temple Chief Admin
     Kandō Ichiyū's Essay about Sankyorei-fu,
     the "Three Non-Dual ("Empty")
     Spirit Music Pieces"

1751: The Keichō no okitegaki Fabrication
     The Many Existing Different Versions

1752: Myōan-ji Restorer Engetsu Ryōgen's
     23 Fixed Rules for the Komusō

1795: The Kyotaku denki kokujikai Source Book

1795 & 1816: Two Original Komusō
     "Fuke Temple" Lists

1812 - A Literary Curiosity: "Two Komusō"
     - a Shakuhachi-inspired Story Book

1816: Miyaji Ikkan's Shakuhachi hikki Book

1823: Hisamatsu Fūyō: Hitori mondō a.o.

1830: The Kiyū shōran Encyclopedia

1848: The Fuke Monk Affair Government

1871: The Abolition of the Komusō Fraternity
     and of the Practice of Religious Begging

1950: The Myōan Temple of the True Fuke Sect
     Inauguration at Tōfuku Temple in Kyōto

Noteworthy Early Post-Edo Period
     Source Examples - Commented Links

1871 (1843-44): The Komusō zakki
     Source Collection

1890-1895 & 1930-1932: The Tokugawa kinrei-kō
     Prohibition Law Source Collection

1892: Suzuki Jisuke a.k.a. Higuchi Taizan's
     Shakuhachi shian Study Book

1894-1912: The Gunsho ruijū Source Collection

1896-1914 & 1967-1971: The Koji ruien
     Source Collection

1902: Mikami Sanji's Critical Essay
     About "Fuke Sect"-related Matters

1915: The Shakuhachi dokushū annai
     Self-study Book

1918 & 1975: Kurihara Kōta's Investigations
     Into Shakuhachi History

1936-39 & 1979: The Legacy of Pioneer
     Shakuhachi Historian Nakatsuka Chikuzen

1899 till today: Translations of Source Texts
     in Western Shakuhachi-related Publications
     including the Internet/WWW



Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info


Verifying the Actual Origins & Secrets
of Ascetic Shakuhachi Traditions & Practices

Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi History,
Ideology & Practices in Particular

- by Danish/Icelandic Torsten Mukuteki Olafsson, Elsinore, North Sealand: Multimusician, composer, music editor, graphics designer, japanologist, shakuhachi historian, writer & lecturer.


- those are the questions to be both addressed and answered ...

Last updated webpages as of mid-September 2018:

The Amazing Fuke Zenji / Fuke Shakuhachi / Fuke-shū History Fabrication Scam

Chronology of Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology-related Terms, Concepts & Names

Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology and the Realization of The Non-Dual - Highlighted Quotations

1549 ... The Catholic Christian Century and the Temple Patron Household System

Realizations and Conclusions



Who were the komusō, 虚無僧, the "Monks of the Non-Dual *) & None-ness" **) and their predecessors, their "forerunners", the komo-sō, 薦僧, the so called "Mat Monks"?
     [ *) or, "of Non-Substantiality" - **) or, "Egolessness")

What do the many surviving written Japanese source documents and plentiful pictorial evidence de facto clarify to us about early "Komusō Shakuhachi"
and "Zen Shakuhachi" history and ideology - in particular?

That is what these "Zen Shakuhachi Reality Research Web Pages" are all about.

Please enjoy All the Best

Torsten 無穴笛 Olafsson - Helsingør/Elsinore, North Sealand, Denmark - September, 2018


不二 不生 無孔笛 修行 尺八 吹禅

Fu-ni Fu-shō Mu-ku-teki Shugyō Shakuhachi Suizen

Non-Dual Un-Born No Hole Flute Ascetic Practice Bamboo Flute Breathing Contemplation

As of Summer, 2018 ...

The main menu has been updated with a number of new research cases and topics.
The planned case material for those new web pages will soon be added appropriately.
Cheers Torsten Olafsson

Also, see this further updated web page: Realizations & Conclusions, 2018

The most important - some might think: Controversial, heretic, provocative, maybe even somehow insulting? findings and conclusions at the present time of writing are the following:

 •  There existed nothing like an "established Zen shakuhachi tradition" during the Japanese Middle Ages, the Muromachi Period, nor before that time, for that matter.

 •  There were no so called komusō, 虚無僧, "Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness", in action in Japan before the 1640s - that is plain and clear.

 •  Nothing, no one, nor any "group", such as specifically a so called "Fuke Sect", Fuke-shū,
普化宗, was "officially approved" in 1677-1678.

In fact, that never happened, even later. Period

 •  The earliest possibly reliable written evidence of anything like a "Fuke Sect", Fuke-shū,
普化宗, is dated 1687 - produced by the Edo temple Reihō-ji, 鈴法寺.

That particular document, in the version of it that has been preserved till today, however, may well have been somehow "falsified" in that respect / to that "effect" at a later date, by its editors.

 •  The so called Fuke-shū - if ever it ever existed in so,me form of capacity as a "unified organized religious congregation" on a nation-wide basis at all - was definitely not "a sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism".

There are no surviving documents or other evidence at all that can be seen to support such a belief or even claim.

The only "temple" that appears to have enjoyed if only some however limited degree of "connection" with the established Rinzai Sect organization was the Myōan Temple in Eastern Kyōto - see entries 1703 & 1705.

None of the early extant Myōan Temple documents mention any Fuke-shū at all in their contents. In fact, dated even as late as 1752, a very central and comprehensive Myōan Temple document refers to the "congregation" as Komusō shūmon, 虚無僧宗門, i.e. "Komusō Sect / Creed / Doctrine" - not Fuke-shū, or Fuke-shūmon.

Not even Fuke Zenji himself is mentioned in this text at this quite late date, for that matter.

 •  The oldest convincingly dated existing pictorial representation of a typical long and heavy root-end bamboo flute of the komusō is dated 1690.

 •  The earliest written mention of the term honkyoku, 本曲, is dated 1694 - in the oldest reliable Kyōto Myōan Temple document, that we know of.

 •  The earliest fully trustworthy reference to actual honkyoku music piece titles is dated as "late" as 1732.

 •  The term sui-zen, 吹禅, was not known and used in Japan before 1950.

 •  The terms zen shakuhachi, 禅尺八, and shakuhachi zen, 尺八禅, were not "invented" and spread in the world before the 1970s, at the earliest.

The ESS Summer School Vejle 2017 "Pictures & Quotations Exhibition"

A section of the ESS Vejle Summer 2017

On the European Shakuhachi Society founder and chair person Kiku Day's invitation,
Danish Torsten Olafsson designed a
"Zen Shakuhachi Reality Research Pix & Quotes Exhibition"
for the ESS Summer School Vejle 2017 event ...

Significant Friendly International Collaborations

Kiku Day who is now a longtime permanent resident of beautiful rural Mid-Western Denmark has been a dear and respected friend of mine for many years.

With her superb PhD degree in Ethnomusicology from SOAS in London, Kiku took the courageous steps and necessary initiatives to establish the European Shakuhachi Society while still acting prominently in the capacity as that very important community's most energetically event-making, inspirational chairperson.

Kiku Day     Kiku Day performing

Read much more here on Kiku's personal homepage

I was enthusiastically assisting and supporting Kiku Day in preparing for the forthcoming ESS Summer School 2017 that took place in Vejle, Jutland, Denmark.

The European Shakuhachi Society - founded by Kiku Day in January, 2008

European Shakuhachi Society

Click here to link to the European Shakuhachi Society's official homepage

July 2017: ESS Shakuhachi Summer School in Vejle, Mid-Western Denmark

In 2003, Mr. Monty H. Levenson of Tai Hei Shakuhachi in Willits, N. California, USA, generously printed and published my Kaidō honsoku,
海道本則, MA thesis (1987) - still available from

You may click in the photos to study a presentation of the publication:

Tai Hei Shakuhachi hanko    Monty H. Levenson    Kaidō honsoku edition cover

I am the very happy and grateful owner of several exquisite professional shakuhachi flutes of Monty H. Levenson's unique making

Read more about Monty H. Levenson on the web page "The West", entry "1970".

Mr. Ronald Nelson, president of the International Shakuhachi Society (ISS, at has supplied to me both numerous scannings of essential rare Japanese texts and, not least, most valuable photos of his taken in the "Komusō Room" of the Matsudo City Museum in NW Chiba and at the Tokyo National Museum.

Please do visit the outstanding art photographer's no less than breathtakingly amazing picture website and appreciate his numerous photos from the trips of his all over East and South Asia - and elsewhere:

Monty H. Levenson

Link to the "Ronald Nelson Photography" homepage

Photo: Japanese tōrii gate. Source: Ronald Nelson's personal Facebook page.

Mr. Kishi Kiyokazu, 貴志清一, Japan, has contributed prominently with so far two very important historical Fuke Shakuhachi texts/documents generously made readable here in modern Japanese, transcribed from the Kanbun and classical Japanese originals, respectively.

Kishi Kiyokazu

Kishi Kiyokazu

Do visit Mr. Kishi's comprehensive Japanese website via this link:

Link to 尺八吹奏研究会HP - The Shakuhachi Performance Research Society HomePage edited by Kishi Kiyokazu

Links to recent 2016 updates on the homepage can be found page bottom on this newly updated web page:

Link to The January 11, 1678 Komusō-ha Oboe-gaki web page

Kishi Kiyokazu's fine work on Hisamatsu Fuyō's Hitori mondō dated 1823 can be appreciated here:

Link to the 1823 Hitori mondō webpage

Ozawa Seizan Myōan 1.8 shakuhachi

1.8 Myōan Taizan-ha shakuhachi made by Ozawa Seizan, 1939-2012

To the front page To the top

Mukuteki suizen

"Mukuteki suizen"


Signed by
Myōan Taizan
(No date)