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
Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
A Chronological Panorama:
• 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
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
Realizations & Conclusions
- as of Spring, 2018 ... :
In full and respectful accordance with the information and evidence preserved in the entirety of surviving historically reliable written and pictorial Japanese sources of shakuhachi history * (see note below), we must nothing but conclude that,
1 • There were no 'ko-mu-sō',
"Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness", in Japan before 1640, at the earliest.
2 • The Tokugawa government did never officially recognize any specific new "religious sect" named anything like a 'Fuke-shū',
or, "Fuke Sect".
No such entitled if even only semi-religious group was ever at all authorized in legal governmental writing bestowing the permission to practice shakuhachi mendicancy on neither any local nor nation-wide basis duríng Edo Period Japan.
3 • The so called 'komusō',
"Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness",
were merely and really nothing but so called 'han-sō, han-zoku',
meaning "half monk, half lay".
They were not "formally ordained" neither "Zen monks", nor "Zen Priests", in any fully trained professional capacity at all.
The 'komusō' are known to have worn their hair long - in other words, they did not wear the tonsure,
i.e. they did not shave their heads bald.
Contrary to the established Buddhist sects their "temples" did not administer any cemeteries just as they never owned any authorization be it any expertise what so ever allowing and qualifying them to perform funerary ceremonies, services, rituals and the like - which was indeed the exclusive privilege of the "genuine" Buddhist clergy.
Who ever they may have been and somehow over the years came to agree in belonging to some particular, specific group of ex-samurai ascetic shakuhachi practitioners, their in any case quite loose organization could and should never be called "a subsect of Rinzaí Zen Buddhism".
There exists no proof, no evidence what so ever, for any such a claim - any such assertion.
You can never proove a "lie" to be "true" - simple as that.
4 • The only historical komusō "temple" that appear to have enjoyed some degree of a somehow "closer" affiliation with the Zen Buddhist temple establishment was the old Edo Period Myōan Temple in Kyōto.
According to to a document issued in 1705 by the Rinzai Zen temple Kōkoku-ji in present day Western Wakayama Prefecture, the Kyōto Myōan-ji was adopted by that temple to become a sub temple, or "child temple".
5 • The earliest reliable written mention of the term 'hon-kyoku',
"original music piece", is dated as late as 1694, that is in a document produced by and issued from the then Myōan Temple in SE Kyōto.
6 • The earliest reliably dated reference to the possible existence and location of a 'Myōan Temple' in Kyōto, however written as
is dated between 1682 and 1686.
7 • The so far oldest reliably dated reference to the 'San-koten hon-kyoku',
"The three classical original music pieces" titles 'Kyorei',
is dated 1732, namely the 'Shakuhachi denrai-ki',
However, the same three 'honkyoku' titles are certainly presented and explained in the fascinating, yet fascinating fable 'Kyotaku denki',
"The Recorded History of the Imitated Bell", a much discussed document that was quite possibly thought out and authored by the Kyūto Myūan-ji ascetic shakuhachi ideologists as early as around the year 1700.
8 • The term 'Sui-zen',
somewhat insufficiently "translated" as "blowing Zen", is not "old" at all.
'Suizen' and the actual idea of creating this expression certainly only originated with the new, modern times' Kyōto Myōan Temple's very first real, i.e. genuinely ordained Buddhist monk, the 'jū-shoku',
named Yasuda Tenzan,
1909-1994, who took office as monk in charge at the temple in 1950.
9 • The Christian Century in Japan:
Were it not for the aggressively imperialistic Catholic Christian missionaries and their questionable creed-changing activities initiated by Jesuit Francis Xavier and his Jesuit assistants in 1549 - lasting for more than a full century - there would indeed never – about one hundred years later - have emerged any such lay-buddhist flute-playing beggar monk fraternity movement like exactly that of the so called 'komusō',
10 • Do not believe in any way possible that the otherwise renowned 13th century Shingon and Zen Buddhist monk Shinchi Kakushin,
1207-1298, aka Muhon Kakushin,
posthum.: Hottō Enmyō Kokushi,
ever played any role whatsoever in the coming into being of an "ascetic shakuhachi practice tradition" in Japan. That is definitely a myth created and further elaborated upon only after around the mid 1640s.
11 • The four Buddhist laymen, 'shi-ko-ji',
Kokusa, Hōfu, Risei, and Sōjo, who according to the 'Kyotaku denki' myth accompanied Kakushin on his way back to Japan from China in 1254 were specifically invented in order for them to "act triumphantly as" proper original founders of at least three of the most prominent named branches of ascetic shakuhachi practitioners in Japan since the early 1700s, namely,
Branch name: 'Kassō-ha',
Formerly, in 1628 *: 'Kakari-ha',
Komusō "mother temple": Rei-hō-ji,
"The Temple of the Law of the Bell".
Edo Period location: Present day Saitama Prefecture, Kantō/Tōkyō region.
Earliest reliably dated written mention of Reihō-ji: 1677, 6th month.
According to tradition, the legendary founder of Reihō-ji was given the name 'Kassō' who is ranked as the direct disciple of Kokusa koji in that temple's own fabricated ancestor genealogy.
Branch name: 'Kinsen-ha',
Formerly, in 1628 *: 'Kinzen-ha', キンゼンハ.
Komusō "mother temple": Ichi-getsu-ji,
"The Temple of the Single Moon".
Edo Period location: Present day Chiba Prefecture, Kantō/Tōkyō region.
Earliest reliably dated written mention of Ichigetsu-ji: 1730, 7th month.
According to tradition, the legendary founder of Reihō-ji was given the name 'Kinzen' who is ranked as the direct disciple of Hōfu koji in that temple's own fabricated ancestor genealogy.
Branch name: 'Kogiku-ha',
Formerly, in 1628 *: 'Kokiku-ha', コキクハ.
Komusō "mother temple": Shin-getsu-ji,
"The Temple of the Mind Moon".
Edo Period location: Present Ibaraki Prefecture, in the northern part of the Kantō/Tōkyō region.
Earliest reliably dated written mention of Shingetsu-ji: So far unknown, most probably later than 1730.
According to tradition, the legendary founder of Shingetsu-ji was named Kogiku who is ranked as only the 7th successor in line after Risei koji in that temple's own fabricated ancestor genealogy.
As for Sōjo koji, he does not appear to have been "adopted" as ascetic shakuhachi ancestor by any of the other known factions of the komusō fraternity in the 18th or 19th centuries.
12 • Do note, however, that according to the 'Kyotaku denki' legend there was one more disciple of Kakushin's who enjoyed an even higher status and respect, namely his (legendary) native Japanese shakuhachi student 'Kichiku',
Kichiku was soon to be renamed 'Kyo-chiku'+'Ryō-en',
and to be honored and celebrated as the - however definitely legendary! - founder of the Kyōto Myōan-ji, as this is still the case even today.
The actual, historical founder of Kyōto Myōan-ji was, much more likely, a person named Engetsu Ryōgen,
who according to the official death register of the temple died in 1695 (Genroku 8, 5th month, 23rd day).
Link to Myōan-ji's internet online list of temple ancestors: http://myouan-doushukai.org/generation.html.
(*) Principal, most complete and authoritative source of information:
Nakatsuka Chikuzen: 'Kinko-ryū shakuhachi shikan', 607 pages, Tōkyō, 1979.
(**) Source: 'Kaidō honsoku',
dated March 26, 1628.
Translated by Torsten Olafsson, Copenhagen, 1987.
Overall conclusion that has manifested itself
as a result of the present research project
The history and characteristics of so called "Buddhist Shakuhachi Practices in Japan" have been seriously falsified from the very beginning.
This process of deliberate source forgery, myth creation, deliberate misinterpretation and censorship is taking place still, this very day - generated by "professionals" and "amateurs" alike,
inside as well as outside of Japan, be they both performers, historians and fans!
This new web page will be expanded continuously ...