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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

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

Errors, Misconceptions & Loose Ends

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

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

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

Highlighted Illustrations

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
     A Chronological Panorama:

 •  India

 •  China

 •  Japan

 •  The West

The Source Collections

The Written Sources

Research Cases of Special Significance:

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

1950: The Myōan Temple of the True Fuke Sect
     is Opened at Tōfuku-ji in Kyōto

Noteworthy Early Post-Edo Period
     Source Examples - Commented Links:

c. 1875?: The Komusō zakki Source Collection

1892: Suzuki Jisuke alias Higuchi Taizan's
     Shakuhachi shian Study Book

1894-1912: The Gunsho ruijū Source Collection

1896-1914: The Koji ruien Source Collection

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

1915: The Shakuhachi dokushū annai
     Self-study Book

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

1931-32: The Tokugawa kinreikō
     Prohibition Law Collection

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

1899/1910 ... Translations of Source Texts
     in Western Shakuhachi-related Publications
     including the Internet/WWW



Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info


Verifying the 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, lecturer & writer.

As of August 7, 2018 ...

Recently finalized new webpages:

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

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

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 O.

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.

 •  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.

 •  The so called Fuke-shū - if ever it existed as any "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 SE 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 Truth Research Pix & Quotes Exhibition"
for the ESS Summer School Vejle 2017 event ...

Yes, oh certainly so, "Dear child has many names" ...

'Bù-èr / Fu-ni shakuhachi', 不二尺八: "Non-Dual(istic) shakuhachi"

'Fushō fu-metsu no shakuhachi', 不生不滅尺八:
"Shakuhachi of the Non-appeared Non-disappeared"

'Mushō Mu-metsu no shakuhachi', 無生無滅尺八:
"Shakuhachi of the Non-born Non-perished"

'Fushō no shakuhachi', 不生尺八:
"Shakuhachi of the Non-appeared"

'Mushō no shakuhachi', 無生尺八:
"Shakuhachi of the Non-born"

'Ki no shakuhachi', 氣の尺八: "Vigorous Breath shakuhachi"

'Hara no shakuhachi', 腹の尺八: "Strong Abdomen shakuhachi"

'Tanden no shakuhachi', 丹田の尺八: "Diaphragm Center shakuhachi"

'Dō / Michi no shakuhachi', 道の尺八: "Shakuhachi of The Way"

'Shin-kokyū shakuhachi', 深呼吸尺八: "Deep Breath(ing) Shakuhachi"

'Bukkyō shakuhachi', 佛教尺八: "Buddhist shakuhachi"

'Me-yami hōshi shakuhachi', 目闇法師尺八: "Blind (lay) monk shakuhachi"

'Ubasoku shakuhachi', 優婆塞尺八: "Male lay Buddhist shakuhachi"

'Hijiri shakuhachi', 聖尺八: "Holy man shakuhachi"

'Zoku-hijiri shakuhachi', 俗聖尺八: "Lay Buddhist/Holy person shakuhachi"

'Darani shakuhachi', 陀羅尼尺八: "Sanskrit Magic Spell shakuhachi"

'Nenbutsu sanmai shakuhachi', 念仏三昧尺八:

"Saying Amida Buddha's Name Samadhi shakuhachi"

'Kannen nenbutsu shakuhachi', 観念念仏尺八:
"Keeping the image of Amitabha Buddha in Mind shakuhachi"

'Ryōtō o setsudan shakuhachi', 両頭切断尺八:
"Dissolving/Cutting off Duality shakuhachi"

'Mujōshin no shakuhachi', 無常心尺八: "Impermanent Mind shakuhachi"

'Sokushin jōbutsu no shakuhachi', 即身成仏尺八:
"Buddha Enlightenment in this very body/in this life"

'Kanjin-hijiri shakuhachi', 勧進聖尺八:
"Temple solicitation lay Buddhist/Holy Man shakuhachi"

'Komosō shakuhachi', 薦僧尺八: "Mat monk shakuhachi"

'Musha angya shakuhachi', 武者行脚尺八: "Warrior pilgrimage shakuhachi"

'Fuke-sō shakuhachi', 普化僧尺八: "Fuke monk shakuhachi"

'Kojiki shakuhachi', 乞食尺八: "Beggar shakuhachi"

'Rōnin shakuhachi', 浪人尺八: "Wave man/masterless samurai shakuhachi"

'Fuke-komosō shakuhachi', 普化薦僧尺八: "Fuke mat monk shakuhachi"

'Shugyō shakuhachi', 修行尺八: "Ascetic practice shakuhachi"

'Isshin Bodai-myō no shakuhachi', 一心菩提明尺八:
"Clarity of the Enlightened, Adual Buddha Mind shakuhachi"

'Mushin-Munen shakuhachi', 無心無念尺八:
"Non-dual Mind Non-dual Thought shakuhachi"

'Koji shakuhachi', 居士尺八: "Lay monk shakuhachi"

'Komusō shakuhachi', 虚無僧尺八:
"Non-duality None-ness monk shakuhachi"

'Hansō-hanzoku shakuhachi', 半僧半俗尺八:
"Half-monk half-commoner shakuhachi"

'Takuhatsu angya shakuhachi', 托鉢行脚尺八:
"Mendicant pilgrimage shakuhachi"

'Kyo-mōsō no shakuhachi', 虚毛僧尺八:
"False/Imitated Hair Shakuhachi"

'Mushin shakuhachi', 無心尺八:
"Shakuhachi of the No one-mind"

'Hon-kyoku shakuhachi', 本曲尺八: "Original/Pristine music shakuhachi"

'Mushōshin no shakuhachi', 無生真尺八: "True Reality of the Non-born shakuhachi"

'Kyo-taku shakuhachi', 虚鈴尺八: "Imitated (or, False) Bell shakuhachi"

'Kyorei shakuhachi', 虚鈴尺八: "Imitated (or, False) Bell shakuhachi"

'Ko-kū shakuhachi', 虚空尺八: "Non-duality Non-substantiality shakuhachi"

'Ichi-on jōbutsu shakuhachi', 一音成仏尺八:
"One-sound experience of Buddhanature shakuhachi"

'Onsei seppō shakuhachi', 音声説法尺八:
"Buddhist lecture in sound shakuhachi"

'Kadozuke gyōkotsu shakuhachi', 門附行乞尺八:
"Door to Door Religious Beggar shakuhachi"

'On-en mumami ni naranai shakuhachi', 音艶むまみに為らない尺八:
"Non-tone-gloss-deliciousness shakuhachi"

'Fuke shakuhachi', 普化尺八: "Fuke shakuhachi"

'Hōki no shakuhachi', 法器の尺八: "Dharma instrument shakuhachi"

'Suizen shakuhachi', 吹禅尺八: "Breathing asceticism shakuhachi"

'Gyō no (shakuhachi) ongaku', 行の音楽:
"Mental training/ascetic practice (shakuhachi) music"

'Shūyō no shakuhachi', 修養の尺八:
"Self-improvement, Self-discipline, Self-cultivation practice shakuhachi"

'Shingon Ajikan shakuhachi', 真言阿字観尺八:
"Tantric Setting one's mind on the letter 'A' shakuhachi"

'Shakuhachi Zen', 尺八禅: "Shakuhachi ascetic practice"

'Zen shakuhachi', 禅尺八: "Ascetic practice shakuhachi"

'Suizen godō shakuhachi', 吹禅悟道尺八:
"The Way of attaining enlightenment ascetic shakuhachi"

'Muku-teki suizen shakuhachi', 無孔笛吹禅尺八:
"No hole(s) flute ascetic shakuhachi"

'Honsei no shakuhachi', 本性の尺八: "True Nature shakuhachi"

'Honnin no shakuhachi', 本人尺八: "Original nature person shakuhachi"

'Sunao na kokoro no shakuhachi', 素直な心の尺八:
"Honest/Humble Mind shakuhachi"

'Kubi-furi sanjūnen shakuhachi', 首振り三十年尺八:
"30 years to "master" 'swinging the head'" shakuhachi

'Koro-koro sanjūnen shakuhachi', コロコロ三十年尺八:
"30 years to "master" 'koro-koro' trill shakuhachi"

'Horo-horo sanjūnen shakuhachi', ホロホロ三十年尺八:
"30 years to "master" 'horo-horo' trill shakuhachi"

'Gikō ni naranai shakuhachi', 技巧に為らない尺八:
"Non-sophisticated/beyond technique shakuhachi"

'Myōan shakuhachi', 明暗尺八:
"Beyond Light vs. Darkness Duality shakuhachi"

Shunyata / Wu / Kū / Mu shakuhachi ...

"Ascetic shakuhachi": "Non-dualistic shakuhachi" ...

Non-Dualism / A-Dualism ...

Advaita Vedanta Non-Dualism ...

"Advaita Shugyō Shakuhachi": "Non-Dualistic Ascetic Shakuhachi" ...

Yes, again: Oh certainly so, "Dear child has many names" ...



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, 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 Truth Research Web Pages" are all about.

Please enjoy All the Best

Torsten 無穴笛 Olafsson - Helsingör/Elsinore, North Sealand, Denmark - January, 2018

The most recent notable updates ...

A major update and upgrading process of this shakuhachi research website keeps progressing.

Many new necessary web pages have been prepared and added together with a much expanded and reedited main menu and a slightly enlarged web page layout.

Some of the new web pages are so far still more or less "empty", but the planned contents and information is ready for future display and shall be presented properly the very soonest possible.

The new material - texts, more illustrations, references, interpretations, comments and possible potential conclusions - is planned and intended to be added and uploaded more or less in accordance with and along the chronological order presented in the new main menu.

Do note that some of the texts for which new individual web pages have been created are already being preliminarily introduced in the section

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
A Chronological Overview

On the new web pages those texts in classical Japanese and kanbun, resp., will be presented in full documentation with relevant and appropriate comments.

I do apologize in case something might initially "go wrong", if only temporarily, that is ...

All the best - Torsten Olafsson - January, 2018



The so called "Fuke Sect" of the shakuhachi playing Komusō

Fuke Zenji sculpture, Matsudo City Museum

Fuke Zenji sculpture, Matsudo City Museum, Chiba, Japan.
Artist & dating unknown. Photo by Ron Nelson, 2015.

Fuke Zenji, in Chinese: P'u-k'o Ch'an-shi, was a contemporary of Rinzai Zenji,
in Chinese: Lin-chi Ch'an-shi, both of whom lived and practiced in China
during the first half of the 9th century AD.

For that reason, quite logically so, Fuke never was, in any way, a "Rinzai Zen monk".

That school/branch/lineage & transmission of Ch'an/Zen Buddhist philosophy thought only formulated and eventually established itself after the death of Master Lin-chi/Rinzai - and of Fuke, too, for that matter.

Was the so called "Fuke Sect" of the Komusō ever properly, officially - and in actual preserved writing - recognized and approved by the supreme Japanese shōgunal authorities?

The answer is, definitely so: "No"!

Do remember, by the way, "You can never prove a lie to be true ... "

Previous Update of Some Pretty Serious Significance ☺

You are now welcome to study a full English translation of the mysterious komusō document commonly referred to as the "Enpō 5 Edict", dated January 11, 1678 - certainly not 1677-12-18!

1678-1-11 Empō 5 Oboe document reproduction displayed at Matsudo City Museum in Chiba

Click in the photo to enlarge.

A reproduction of the 1678-1-11 Empō 5 Oboe memorandum on display in the Komusō Collection, Matsudo City Museum, NW Chiba, Japan.

Photo by Ron Nelson, President of The International Shakuhachi Society, Summer, 2015.

Direct link to the webpage in question: 1678, January 11: The Komusō-ha Oboe Memorandum

Fabrication, Falsification, or Forgery?

1678-1-11 Empō 5 Oboe document reproduction printed in Koji Ruien, 1880 edition     1678-1-11 Empō 5 Oboe document reproduction printed in Koji Ruien, 1938 edition

Left: The 1678-1-11 Enpō 5 Oboe document reprinted in the monumental source collection Koji Ruien, 1880 edition.
Right: The 1678-1-11 Enpō 5 Oboe document reprinted in the Koji Ruien, 1938 edition.

To the very left in the original, handwritten document above you read these characters: 虚無僧諸派, Komusō shoha, "(To) All Komusō Factions [or, Branches]".

In both of the two Koji ruien reprints we see these characters: 普化宗門諸派, Fuke shūmon shoha, "(To) All "Fuke Sect" Factions [or, Branches]".

Obviously, both of the Koji ruien reprints of the Oboe must be rejected as "falsifications" compared with the handwritten version of the memorandum shown above them.

We can only conclude and respect that there was in fact so far no "Fuke Sect" in existence at the time the document was originally issued/dated, namely: January 11, 1678.

Moreover, oboe, , is nothing but a "memorandum", a minor "regulation".

It is not a okite-gaki, 掟書, meaning "law", "regulation", "rule", "code", "law", "agreement", "arrangement".

Neither is it a hatto, 法度, meaning "law", "ban", "prohibition", "ordinance" .

And, it is certainly not a so called kō-nin, 公認, meaning "official recognition", "authorization", "license", "accreditation".

Direct link to the webpage in question: 1678, January 11: The Komusō-ha Oboe Memorandum


That Fundamentally Fantastic, Fairytale-like Flute - with the Forged Faith and that Funnily Falsified "Filosophy" ...

Significant Friendly International Collaborations

Kiku Day who is now a longtime permanent resident of beautiful rural Mid-Western Denmark has been a dear snd very 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 and impressive 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)