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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

Profile / Biography

Born in late January 1950 in Hellerup, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Grew up on the island of Amager in Southern Copenhagen.

Studied music (and dancing) from very early childhood and on:
Singing, piano, recorder, bugle, drums, electric bass, acoustic guitar, vibraphone, Indian tabla, percussion - then Japanese shakuhachi, a little Japanese koto, acoustic bass guitar and – as of lately: Arabic darbuka drum.

First "professional" appearance as a pop/rock drummer on October 3rd, 1965, on the island of Amager, Copenhagen.

1965-68: Specialized language (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English, German, French & Latin) & classical music studies in high school.

1968: Formed the symphonic rock band ACHE, who composed and recorded the world’s first genuine rock ballet, "De Homine Urbano" in 1969, released on LP in 1970 (Philips) & re-released six times since then, internationally.
Second ACHE album, ‘Green Man’, 1971, also reissued six times, worldwide.

1968: Began university studies in Chinese Language and Culture.
BA degree in 1974 - Danish equivalent academic degree:

1974: Began university studies in Japanese Language and Culture.

1977-78: Studies in Japan: Kyōto University foreign special research student, and Myōan-ji, Taizan-ha shakuhachi, with Ozawa Seizan sensei, Yamashina, Kyōto.

Torsten Olafsson Myōan Temple admission certificate, 1977 Torsten Olafsson Myōan Temple admission certificate, 1977 Torsten Olafsson Myōan Temple admission certificate, 1977

Torsten Olafsson's Myōan Temple admission certificate, 1977

1981: BA degree in Japanese/Japanology - Danish equivalent academic degree:

1983: Release of the LP ‘Standing Waves – Zen Shakuhachi Meditations’ (Olafssongs OLP 001/OMC 001).
Geoff Duckworth wrote in his review in "Take no Michi", published by The International Shakuhachi Society (selections):

" - - - Listening to the music one is immediately struck by its starkness in terms of tonal variation, decoration, vibrato etc., that one hears in the music of players from the Kinko, or Tozan schools.
If you have developed your shakuhachi listening with the music of Yamaguchi, Reibo, Yamamoto, or Yokoyama, for instance, the music here may be a shock." - - -

" - - - You may, or may not like the music on this record. But I think this would miss the point, that this record adds to the richness of both one's personal store, and the whole body of shakuhachi music. - - - "
Link to a scanning of the complete review, PDF

1986: Special research in the Tōkyō area. Leisure time shakuhachi studies with Yokoyama Katsuya in Chiba.

1987: MA thesis in Japanology submitted to the University of Copenhagen: ‘Early 17th Century Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology. The Kaidō honsoku. A Komosō’s Fuke Shakuhachi Credo, dated 1628.’ Published by Monty H. Levenson/Tai Hei Shakuhachi, California.

1991-2000: Print Manager, then Serious Music Manager with Warner/Chappell Music Denmark A/S.

1997: On invitation by then International Shakuhachi Society president, the honorable, late Dan E. Mayers, Esq., Torsten writes an introductory essay to the ‘Kaidō honsoku’ thesis.

2001: ‘Standing Waves’ is re-released on CD by Fønix Musik, Denmark (Fønix Musik CD FM 1183).

2003: The ‘Kaidō honsoku’ thesis together with the introductory essay is printed and published internationally by Monty H. Levenson/Tai Hei Shakuhachi, Willits, California, USA.

2003: Website about Fuke/Zen Shakuhachi research is launched, now c/o

2005: Introductory essay about the ‘Kaidō honsoku’ thesis is published by the ISS, in Annals vol. 2.
The editor, the late president of the International Shakuhachi Society, Mr. Dan E. Mayers, Esq., wrote in his introduction to the article:

"Torsten Olafsson taught himself, unaided, to read ancient Japanese in order to complete the following thesis: an astonishing scholarly feat.
The conclusions of the thesis are not widely accepted by Japanese scholars but are interesting and challenging, throwing new light on an area in which Japanese scholarship has tended to become all too formal.
Those wishing further scholarly enlightenment should consult the original thesis, of which this is a very brief and incomplete summary. Only through study of the original thesis can a full appreciation be obtained of the scholarship involved. The Editor"

2008: The late Prof. Tsukitani Tsuneko concluded in her article in the book “The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music”:

"The body of shakuhachi researchers in Japan is relatively small; names that recur in the bibliography include Kamisangō, Tsukitani/Tukitani, Seyama and Simura/Shimura.
It is regrettable that the most conspicuous work is being produced not in Japan but by scholars abroad. (See the works by Fritsch, Gutzwiller, Keister, Lee, Olafsson.)"

Torsten Olafsson has contributed as a versatile studio musician to more than 40 Danish music albums; as a professional graphic artist created more than 60 music album cover designs; transcribed, music engraved, typeset and layouted well over 1.300 mostly Danish pop, rock, jazz, folk & instrumental guitar music pieces and, since a. 1980, in his capacity as music editor and publishing company music editor and print manager, produced several hundred sheet music and music book titles.

Torsten is currently – beside his various shakuhachi activities - working closely with his younger brother, internationally renowned acoustic & electric guitarist Finn Olafsson, OIafssongs Music Publishers, Denmark, as a concert & studio recording musician, music editor, graphics designer, photographer, webmaster - as well as performing as a lecturer on Japanese shakuhachi history, music & ideology.

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Torsten Olafsson