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The "Zen Shakuhachi" Reality Research Web Pages

An Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi Historical Chronology,
Terminology, Ideology, Iconology & Practices in Particular

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



About this Research Project

Newly Added Extra Web Page Menus

The Chinese Ch'an Monk P'u-k'o, the Komosō Beggars
     & the Imperialistic Catholic Christian Intruders
     - the Rōnin Samurai, the Fuke-Komosō, the Komusō
     & the Kyōto Myōan Temple - an Unbiased Narrative

The Amazing Fuke Zenji / Fuke Shakuhachi /
     Fuke-shū Legend Fabrication Hoax

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

Preliminary Realizations & Conclusions

Highlighted Illustrations

1549 ... The Catholic Christian Century in Japan
     & the Temple Patron Household System

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

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

Various Errors, Misconceptions & Loose Ends

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

The Source Collections

The Japanese Written Sources - An Overview

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
     A Chronological Panorama

 •  INDIA - 1 webpage

 •  CHINA - 2 webpages

 •  JAPAN - 8 webpages

 •  The WEST - 1 webpage

Research Cases of Particular Significance,
     Real Importance & Special Concern

ERA of the KOMOSŌ - The "Mat Monks"

     c. 1450 to c. 1550

1470s?: The Dance-kyōgen Play Rakuami

1474: Tōyō Eichō and Ikkyū Sōjun at the
     Inauguration of the Rebuilt Daitoku Temple

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

1512: The Taigenshō Court Music Treatise


     c. 1550 to c. 1640

The Komosō & Fuke-sō / Fuke-komosō Sources

1550-1560: The Setsuyō-shū Dictionaries

1614: The Keichō kenmon-shū Short Story Book:
     The Fuke-komosō in Hachiō-ji, West of Edo City

1621-1625: The Neo-Confucian Scholar Hayashi Razan
     on the Shakuhachi, Komosō and Related Matters

1623: Anrakuan Sakuden's Encounter
     with a Wandering Fuke-sō

1628: The Kaidō honsoku Fuke-komosō Credo

1637-1640: The Shimabara Uprising on Kyūshū,
     the National "Sects Inspection Bureau"
     and the Final Extinction of All Catholic Believers

c. 1640?: The Kaidō honsoku "Version 2" Copy

     "Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness"

     c. 1640 to 1871

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

c. 1640?: The Strange Butsu-gen Komusō Document

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

1646 ... The Hottō Kokushi / Kakushin Legend:
     "The Four Buddhist Laymen" & the "Disciple" Kichiku

1650s?: The Kaidō honsoku "Version 3" Copy

The Kyōto/Kansai Sources

1664: The Shichiku shoshinshū Music Treatise

c, 1665-1675?: The Kyotaku denki Fairy 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 - Evidence of Myōan-ji

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 Letter about Sankyorei-fu,
     the "Three Non-Dual Spirit Music Pieces"

1751: The Keichō 19/1614 Komusō Certificate
     The Many Different All Fabricated Versions

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

1795: The Kyotaku denki kokujikai Source Book

1816: Miyaji Ikkan's Shakuhachi hikki Book

1823: Hisamatsu Fūyō's Hitori mondō a.o.

Post-Edo & Post-WW2 Period History Sources & Matters
     The Re-Writing & Re-Falsification
     of Shakuhachi Narratives

1 - MEIJI PERIOD till the mid-19th CENTURY


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

From 1879 ... 1896-1914 & 1967-1971:
     The Koji ruien Source Collection


     1945 ...

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

1960: Uramoto Setchō's Essay about
     Gyō no ongaku: "Music of Asceticism"

3 - POST-WW2 till TODAY: The WEST

     1945 ...

1945 ... : Some Early Post-WW2 Shakuhachi Narratives
     Written and Published in Western Languages

Translations of Shakuhachi Source Texts
     published in the West / Outside of Japan
     including the Internet / WWW
      - The Translators

Literature / References


Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info


Unveiling & Verifying the Actual Origins & Secrets
of Ascetic Shakuhachi Traditions, Ideologies & Practices

An Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi Historical Chronology,
Terminology, Ideology, Iconology & Practices in Particular

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



Komusou, 1864. In Spieß, p. 201
"Japanischer Bettler als Klarinettbläser"
"A Japanese Beggar as Clarinet Player"
Komusō in Gustav A. Spieß, 1864, page 201

This is but the second oldest known Western picture of a performing shakuhachi-playing beggar lay monk. It was printed from an engraving based on an original photograph taken in 1861 somewhere in Nagasaki in SW Japan by either August Sachtler or John Wilson during the visit there of the official Prussian Expedition to Japan, 1860-61.

Who were the komusō, 虚無僧, the "Pseudo-monks of Non-Duality *) & 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 'Komosō Shakuhachi', 'Fuke-komosō Shakuhachi',
'Komusō Shakuhachi', 'Fuke Shakuhachi', 'Zen Shakuhachi'
- and 'Suizen' - history and ideology, in particular?

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

Please enjoy The Very Best Wishes

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


- those are the serious issues and proper questions to be truly honestly addressed and most soberly replied to ...


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

Last updated webpages as of New Year, 2019:

Wikipedia: Inaccuracies & Misunderstandings
     about Komusō, Fuke-shū, Suizen et cetera

1945 ... : Some Early Shakuhachi Narratives
     Written and Published in Western Languages

Preliminary Realizations and Conclusions

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

Overall conclusion that has manifested itself
as a result of the present research project

The asserted history and alleged characteristics of Ascetic Shakuhachi Practices in Japan have been most purposefully "constructed" since the very early beginnings.

This more or less constantly ongoing activity of deliberate source falsification, forging and fanciful myth fabrication is taking place still, this very day - generated by "professionals" and "amateurs" alike, inside as well as outside of Japan - be they both shakuhachi musicians and players, musicologists and "history" writers, book editors and publishers - beside a wide variety of enough so sincerely devoted shakuhachi "admirers" in general.

Very little indeed of what you can find and read in most of the books and articles, in phonogram cover notes and on the internet - be that on websites or weblogs presented in a variety of languages - can actually be soberly corroborated when first one is investigating the totality of known, preserved text and picture source materials etc. - the multitude, comprehensiveness and complexity of which is not only aweinspiring but truly terrifying.
The very most central and important fact having so far been revealed is that there were absolutely no socalled komusō, 虚無僧, "Pseudo-monks of Non-Duality & None-ness", in existence and action in Japan before after the quite precise year of 1640, what so ever!

Selected Findings

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 might have existed and functioned in some form of capacity as a "unified, top-down organized religious congregation" on a nation-wide basis at all - it was definitely neer "a genuine 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.

 •  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 kind invitation,
Danish/Icelandic Torsten Olafsson designed and presented 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 succesful 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

Mu-ku-teki Suizen      Myōan Taizan signature & seal

"No-Hole-Flute Breathing Contemplation"

Calligraphy signed 'Myōan Taizan'

To the front page To the top

Mukuteki suizen

"Mukuteki suizen"


Signed by
Myōan Taizan
(No date)