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About this Research Project
Preliminary Realizations & Conclusions
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"?
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
about 'Komusō', 'Fuke-shū', 'Suizen' et cetera
The Source Collections
The Japanese Written Sources - An Overview
Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
A Chronological Panorama
• INDIA - 1 web page
• CHINA - 2 web pages
• JAPAN - 8 web pages
• The WEST - 1 web page
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, Kyōto
1494 & 1501: Two Enchanting Muromachi Period
Poetry Contest Picture Scrolls
1512: The Taigenshō Court Music Treatise
ERA of the FUKE-SŌ / FUKE-KOMOSŌ
c. 1550 to c. 1628?
The Komosō & Fuke-sō / Fuke-komosō Sources
1550-1560: The Early 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-komosō
1627-1629: Takuan Sōhō, the Purple Robe Affair, the
Concept of 'Mu-shin Mu-nen' and the Myōan sōsō-shū
1628: The Kaidō honsoku Fuke-komosō Credo
ERA of the KOMUSŌ
"Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness"
c. 1628? to 1871
The Early Komusō-related Texts
- from c. 1628? to c. 1750
1628?: A "Fuke Shakuhachi" related Murder Case
in the Province of Tosa on the Island of Shikoku?
1637-1640: The Shimabara Uprising on Kyūshū,
the National "Sects Inspection Bureau", and the
Efficient Extinction of Catholic Christian Believers
c. 1640?: The Kaidō honsoku "Version 2"
1640?: Is a Very Early "Komusō Temple" built
in Nagasaki on the Island of Kyūshū?
c. 1640?: The Strange Butsu-gen Komusō Document
1646 at the latest: Abbot Isshi Bunshu's Letter to a
"Proto-Komusō" named 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
1659?: A Falsely Dated Myōan-ji Document Revealed
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 Kyōto 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 Administrator
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. texts
1830: The Kiyū shōran Encyclopedia
on 'Komosō' & 'Shakuhachi'
Post-Edo & Post-WW2 Period History Sources & Matters
The Re-Writing & Re-Falsification
of "Fuke Shakuhachi" Narratives
1 - MEIJI PERIOD till the mid-20th CENTURY
1872-1878 (1843-44): The Komusō zakki
From 1879 ... 1896-1914:
The Koji ruien Historical Encyclopedia
1880-1899: Tokugawa kinreikō - A Source Collection
of Tokugawa Period Laws & Regulations
1890: Higuchi Taizan - Teaching, the "Myōan Society",
and the Taizan-ha Tradition of Shakuhachi Asceticism
Early to mid-20th Century Research Pioneers,
Author Musicians, Editors & Publishers, Japan:
Mikami Sanji, Kurihara Kōta, Uramoto Setchō,
Nakatsuka Chikuzen, Mori Hikotarō, Tanikita Muchiku,
Nishimura Kokū, Takahashi Kūzan, Tomimori Kyozan,
Ikeda Juzan a.o.
1902: Mikami Sanji's Critical Article
'Fuke-shū ni tsuite', "About the Fuke Sect"
1931-1932: Tokugawa kinreikō - A Source Collection
of Tokugawa Period Laws & Regulations
2 - POST-WW2 till TODAY: JAPAN
1950: "The Myōan Temple of the True Fuke Sect"
Inauguration at Tōfuku Temple in SE Kyōto
1950s: Yasuda Tenzan, Hirazumi Taizan & 'Suizen'
1960: Uramoto Setchō's Essay about
'Gyō no ongaku': "Music of Asceticism"
Shakuhachi Historianship in Japan Today?:
The "Traditionalists" and the "Truth Tellers"
The Legacy of the Late Myōan Taizan-ha Teachers
Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin & Ozawa Seizan
3 - POST-WW2 till TODAY: The WEST
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
WELCOME ☺ INTRODUCTION
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 & Etymology of Concepts, 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
A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT as of OCTOBER 20, 2019
During the remainder of 2019, a major expansion of this website is being prepared.
Many hitherto largely unnoticed surviving source texts and important quotations will be added to the site, particularly dating from the middle period of the 1600s,
the time when the so called 'Komusō',
the "Pseudo-monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness",
made their very first appearances in Japan.
Do note, that this website and the reaearch project being illuminated here is presenting textual and pictorial facts while, not least:
Debunking fiction, mere speculation, and utter wishful thinking.
Remember: We can only "know" and should only share information that can be convincingly evidenced and proven from logically analyzed credible surviving source materials.
So, for any claim that anyone may make and share regarding shakuhachi history in general
and shakuhachi asceticism in particular:
Show us your proof - if any such exists? ☺
ADVAITA & NIRVANA: The Ultimate Original Inspiration for Shakuhachi Asceticism
"Nirvana is a freeing from the chains of a false sense of individuality.
Nirvana is a state of nonduality (Advaita or Advaya); a state where the illusion of a false sense of "I" (Parikalpita Swabhava, Fen-bie-xing – in Chinese) does not exist.
Expressed differently, liberation from the illusion of separateness of the individual Self
from the Whole is Nirvana. Freedom is, Nirvana is, Truth is."
Dr. Amartya Kumar Bhattacharya, 2019
"Vedānta certainly does not help us to bring grist to our individual mill.
It certainly does not tell us how to increase our capacity to enjoy the pleasures derived from material objects.
But Vedānta really teaches us how to enjoy this world after realizing its true nature.
To embrace or comprehend the universe after realizing it as the non-dual Brahman, gives us peace that passeth all understanding."
Swami Nikhilananda in the preface for his translation of the
Māndūkya Upanishad, 1936.
"This realization of non-duality is the end to be attained."
From Shankara's introduction to the Māndūkya Upanishad
Kārikā by Gaudapāda, 8th century CE
Trsl. by Swami Nikhilananda, 1936.
Prof. YOSHIDA MITSUKUNI, 吉田光邦, stating in a private conversation in March, 1977:
'Zen to shakuhachi: Kankei ga zenzen nai.'
- "Zen and Shakuhachi (?): There's no connection at all!"
- Yoshida Mitsukuni, 1921-1991: Since 1977 an esteemed professor of Science & Technology at Kyōto University
who also wrote outstanding books on Japanese Arts and Aesthetics.
SHUGYŌ no SHAKUHACHI - ENSŌ no SHAKUHACHI
- Do You Know the Difference, Possibly ... ?
Who was the very first so called 'komusō',
- "Pseudo-Monk of the Non-Dual & None-ness"?
- When, Where - Why?
When was the very first so called komusō "temple" established?
- Where, by Whom - and Why? How was it financed?
Did you know that some, many, maybe even all of the so called Edo Period "komusō temples" were in fact "professional bath house temples"?
- How come that that has always been kept quite a deep secret?
Do you really - seriously - believe that all Edo Period 'komusō' were "Rinzai Zen Buddhist devotees" - and even "Rinzai Zen Buddhist priests"?
- How could that in any logical way have been the case?
Who created the very first 'Konjiku', or "Root-end", Shakuhachi?
- When, Where - Why?
Who created the very first 'Honkyoku' - the ascetic shakuhachi solos of the 'komusō'?
- When, Where - why?
Was the so called 'Fuke Shūmon', "Fuke Sect Religious Denomination", ever
in any way a true, genuine "Sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism"?
- No, to be completely honest: That is simply impossible. Forget it.
KOMO-SŌ, FUKE-SŌ, FUKE-KOMOSŌ - or KOMU-SŌ?
- That's the Question!
The history of the komusō and the so called "Fuke Shakuhachi Tradition" is first of all
a deliberately deceptive pseudo-historical narrative of continuous fabrication and very purposeful falsification of alleged "written evidence",
from the very Beginnings till the very Present.
Takuhatsu KOMUSŌ - Furo KOMUSŌ - Honkyoku KOMUSŌ - Kabuki KOMUSŌ
- Do You Know the Difference - how to Distinguish?
Era of the "Mat Monks": c. 1470? to c. 1550
'Komosō' "mat monk" in 'Sanjūni-ban shokunin uta-awase emaki'.
Date of original: 1494. Kōsetsu-bon edition, detail.
Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo.
Source: Wikipedia, Japan.
Era of the "Fuke Mat Monks" / "Fuke Monks": c. 1550 to 1628? (or c. 1640?)
Details from the 'Ryūmon bunko no Setsuyōshū'
Here, for the first time in "recorded history", we see the two characters for the 9th century Chinese Ch'an/Zen monk 'Fuke'
to be pronounced as 'Fuke'+'sō',
僧, "Fuke monk",
and presented as being synonymous with 'komo-sō',
僧, "Mat monk".
Library of Nara Women's University
Mid-1500s - precise date unclear
Second half of the 16th Century:
'Komosō' playing a short 'hitoyogiri' flute in a street
Detail of section 4 of the folding screen
'Tsukinami fūzoku-zu byōbu'
"Screen with Genre Scenes of the Twelve Months"
Anonymous, late Muromachi Period (2nd half of 16th century).
Source: Tokyo National Museum
Early Edo/Kan'ei Period before 1630:
Painting of a Parasol-maker & Two Fuke-komosō
by Iwasa Matabei, 1578-1650.
An "important work of art" dating from the early Edo Period,
17th century, before 1630.
Official however highly questionable museological title of the work:
'Kasa-hari • komusō-zu',
"Picture of an Umbrella Maker & Komusō".
Source: The Nezu Art Museum, Tōkyō.
Era of the Edo Period "Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness":
1628? (or c. 1640?) to November 30, 1871
KYŌ WARABE by NAKAGAWA KIUN
Two wandering vertical flute players in a Kyōto street
Possible very early Edo Period 'komusō' -
"Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness"?
In: the 'Kyō warabe' by Nakagawa Kiun
The Remembering the Capital Archive, Kyōto
Frame 13 in Volume 4 of the 'Kyō warabe'.
Source: The Remembering the Capital Archive, Kyōto.
1661 or 1665:
Two 'komusō' playing, thin vertical flutes.
In: 'Ukiyo monogatari', 1661 or 1665 - Maki/Vol. 4, Story 3.
By Asai Ryōi.
Source: Exact original version unknown.
Two 'komusō' playing long, thick root-end shakuhachi flutes.
In: 'Jinrin kinmō zu-i', 1690 - Maki/Vol. 2.
By Makieshi Genzaburō & Atsuo Masamune.
Source: The Kyōto University Library.
Woodcut print of a 'komusō' receiving alms.
In: 'Yamato meisho zue', "Pictures from Famous Places in Japan".
Illustration by Takehara Shinkei, 1791.
Source: The National Museum of Denmark, Department of Ethnography, Copenhagen.
Photo reproduction by John Lee.
Wood cut print of a 'komusō' by Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849.
No. 53, 'Kusatsu', in: 'Tōkaidō gojūsan tsugi',
"53 Stations of the Tōkaidō", 1806 edition.
"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.
Source: Gustav A. Spieß, 1864.
MYŌAN KYŌKAI KOMUSŌ
Era of the Myōan Society "Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & Noneness": 1890 to 1950
Probably around 1900:
Early Myōan Society komusō by an unknown photographer. Possibly around 1900.
Hand-coloured 'Myōan Kyōkai Komusō' photograph by Nobukuni Enami, early 1900s.
Sources: io9.gizmodo.com & pinterest.com.
POST WW2 KYŌTO MYŌAN-JI KOMUSŌ
Era of the "new" Kyōto Myōan Temple "Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & Noneness":
1950 to the Present
Two 'komusō' in front of the Kyōto Myōan Temple Gate.
A "modern" Myōan komusō at the Himeji Castle Festival in Hyōgo Prefecture, August 1, 2009.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Well now, then ... Who actually were those quite mysterious komusō, 虚無僧,
the "Semi 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 'Komosō Shakuhachi', 'Fuke-komosō Shakuhachi',
'Komusō Shakuhachi', 'Fuke Shakuhachi', 'Zen Shakuhachi', 'Honkyoku' "music"
- and 'Suizen' - probable origins and actual ideology, in particular?
That is what the present "Zen Shakuhachi Reality Research Web Pages" are also a lot about.
Please enjoy ☺ The Very Best Wishes
Torsten 無穴笛 Olafsson - Helsingør/Elsinore, North Sealand, Denmark
Next question, however: Who were those so called komusō who, allegedly, actually created the 150+ famous and so much celebrated honkyoku pieces of ascetic shakuhachi flute "music" that have been preserved till today? That is still a mystery, in actual fact ...
WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHO? HOW? WHY?
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 old, worn Kyōto Myōan-ji gate - disassembled sometime after 1871 - can be seen and appreciated within the precincts of the Yūzū Nenbutsu sect's mother temple Dainenbutsu-ji,
大念仏寺, in Hirano-ku, Ōsaka:
The old Myōan-ji gate reinstalled at Dainenbutsu-ji in Hirano-ku, Ōsaka.
Photos: Torsten O., March 13, 2019
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.
• 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,
is dated 1687 - produced by the Edo temple Reihō-ji,
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,
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,
was not known and used in Japan before 1950.
• The terms zen shakuhachi,
and shakuhachi zen,
were not "invented" and spread in the world before the 1970s, at the earliest.
The provinces of Japan during the early 17th century, from Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1600-1616 ...
Source: Wikipedia: Provinces of Japan
Click in the picture to enlarge in a new browser window
The ESS Summer School Vejle 2017 "Pictures & Quotations Exhibition"
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.
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
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 www.shakuhachi.com.
You may click in the photos to study a presentation of the publication:
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 www.komuso.com) 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:
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.
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
1.8 Myōan Taizan-ha shakuhachi made by Ozawa Seizan, 1939-2012
'MU-KU-TEKI SUI ZEN'
"No-Hole-Flute Breathing Contemplation"
Calligraphy signed 'Myōan Taizan'