Tōdai-ji, Nara. 8th century
Early 8th century
Statue by Jōchō, 1053
Nara Period court musicians:
In: 'Shinzei kogaku zu'
by Fujiwara no Michinori,
JAPAN 1 • 600-1233
A list of references is included at page bottom.
A complete bibliography can be found on this separate webpage: "Literature".
JAPAN A.D. 600-1233 - THE AGE of the 'GAGAKU' SHAKUHACHI
佛教 - BUKKYŌ
Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - late 7th century - photo: T.O. 1977
Small sculpture of a bodhisattva playing a shakuhachi look-alike.
Discovered in 2009 during a restoration of the canopy overhanging the Shaka Triad being housed in the Hōryū-ji Kondō.
Source: Yatō Osamu's komusō shakuhachi website
Transverse flute (left) and 'gagaku shakuhachi' (right) in the collection of art objects
in The Gallery of Hōryū-ji Treasures, Tokyo National Museum.
7th or 8th century AD.
Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - late 7th century - photo: T.O. 1977
行者 - GYŌJA
山伏 - YAMABUSHI
Statue of En no Gyōja (alt. En no Ozunu), born in 634
Alleged founder of the 'Shugendō', an ascetic religious tradition combining elements of Chinese Taoism, Japanese Shintō,
esoteric Buddhism: Shingon 'Mikkyō' and Tendai,
as well as traditional Japanese shamanism.
A treasure of the Shugendō temple Ōminesan-ji, Yoshino District,
Wakayama Pref., founded by En no Gyōja. Maker and date unknown.
Yamabushi - modern statue at the entrance of the Hotel Yaotome
in Tsukuoka City, Yamagata Pref. Artist anonymous
雅楽尺八 - GAGAKU SHAKUHACHI
Shōsōin Imperial Treasury, Tōdai-ji, Nara - early 8th century
Gagaku Shakuhachi, Shōsōin Imperial Treasury, Tōdai-ji, Nara
Early 8th century
唱名 - SHŌMYŌ
Mid 9th CENTURY:
An anecdote about ENNIN, posthum. Jikaku Taishi, 793/794-866
Important note: This anecdote is apocryphal. The "incident" certainly never took place, so to speak!
"At times when Ennin could not hear clearly, he used a shakuhachi in order to chant the Amida Sūtra.
If he did not manage to chant the passage '... an ideal environment so that whatever one lays eyes upon will bring about awakening',*
he would usually place himself by the 'Dragon and Serpent' pine wood doors of the temple hall, and when he had stopped blowing,
there was a voice in the middle of the empty sky proclaiming, 'Raise the ya note', and so forth. Consequently, the ya note had to be raised."
Reported in the 'Kojidan', 1212, by Minamoto no Akikane,
1160-1215. Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson. Source: Koji ruien.
This anecdote is quite probably apocryphal.
Do note that Ennin was a Tendai monk, not a Zen monk.
Rather than actually "performing" the Amida Sutra on a shakuhachi,
Ennin would have employed the instrument mainly for intonation.
This anecdote is also reported in the Taigenshō of 1512.
* The unabridged sentence in the Amida Sūtra, par. 3, reads as follows:
"Shariputra, this land of Ultimate Bliss is an ideal environment so that
whatever one lays eyes upon will bring about awakening."
Translation: Jodo Shu Research Institute, 2003.
Link: Jodo Shu Research Institute
Early 11th CENTURY:
" - - - Here in the excitement of the coming fête were assembled several young nobles, in addition to Genji himself.
Some practised dancing, others music, the sound of which echoed everywhere around. A large hichiriki and a shakuhachi were blown with the utmost vigor.
Even large drums were rolled upon a balcony and beaten with a will. - - - "
Murasaki Shikibu in 'Genji Monogatari', c. 1000-1020. Chapt. VI:
"Saffron Flower". Trsl. by Suematsu Kenchō, 1977.
禪の笛 - ZEN no FUE
Late 12th CENTURY - The ZEN MONK KAKUA 覺阿 PLAYING a FLUTE:
"In an old Zen story it has been said that a certain monk named Kakua was asked to appear before the Emperor and explain the essence of Zen.
Kakua arrived at the court and stood quietly before the Emperor and all his esteemed advisors and courtesans who had all gathered to hear this renowned teacher.
After standing for a long period in silence, during which time the court grew agitated, Kakua removed a bamboo flute from the folds of his robe, blew one short single tone,
bowed politely and left. He returned to the mountains where he was seldom heard from again."
Quotation from Stan Richardson's web page
Important note: This anecdote is apocryphal!
- - -
" - - - In the Kaō Period [1169-1171] the Emperor [Takakura, r. 1168-1180] heard of [Kaku-]a's Zen practice. [He] summoned [the monk to the court]
and inquired about the essentials of the sect.
[Kaku-]a - [who by his] side [was carrying] a flute - blew it in response to the Imperial command.
The times not yet being ripe, the Emperor and his retainers did not fathom [the essence of Kakua's teaching].
Regretful indeed! [Kakua] left and was not heard from [again], was he?"
This story about the Rinzai Zen monk Kakua, b. 1142, has been
preserved in the 'Genkō shakusho', the oldest extant account of
Buddhism in Japan written by the Rinzai monk Kokan Shiren,
1278-1346, completed in the second year of the Genkō Period: 1322.
Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2010.
Although the story is apocryphal - the incident probably never
took place - at least some facts about Kakua's life are known:
Born in 1142, Kakua first studied Tendai Buddhism on Mt. Hiei.
Having heard of the influence of Ch'an in China, however, in 1171
he went to the mainland to become a disciple of Hsia-t'ang Hui-yüan,
1103-1176, at the temple Ling-yin-ssu in Hang-chou, S. China.
Hui-yüan's master was the famous Yüan-wu K'o-ch'in, 1063-1135.
Receiving his master's Dharma seal, 'inka', in 1175, Kakua returned
to Japan and spent the remainder of this life as a recluse on Mt. Hiei.
Do note that Kakua is recorded to have played a 'fue'
most probably a transverse flute - not a shakuhachi.
Besides, there is a discrepancy between the dates:
The Kaō Period ended in 1171 and was succeeded by
the Shōan, 1171-1175, and Angen, 1175-1177, periods.
Kakua returned from China only in 1175, so ...
References: Kraft, 1997, p. 49; Dumoulin, 2005, p. 7;
Baroni, 2002, p. 173; Zengaku Jiten, p. 170.
The complete entry about Kakua in the 'Genkō shakusho' can be
found here (PDF): Kakua entry in the 'Genkō shakusho', 1322
Link to the next page:
Japan 2 • 1233-1477
Link to the previous page:
China 2 • A.D. 500 ...
List of references:
Sonja Arntzen, translator: Ikkyū and the Crazy cloud anthology,
a Zen poet of Medieval Japan. Foreword by Shūichi Katō.
University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, 1986.
Baroni, Helen Josephine: The illustrated encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism.
The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., New York, 2002.
Christopher Blasdel & Kamisangō Yūkō:
The Shakuhachi. A Manual for Learning.
Printed Matter Press, Tokyo, 2008.
Available at www.shakuhachi.com.
Steven D. Carter: 'Chats with the Master:
Selections from "Kenzai Zōdan".'
In: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001),
Max Deeg: 'Komusō and "Shakuhachi Zen". From Historical Legitimation
to the Spiritualisation of a Buddhist denomination in the Edo Period.'
In: 'Japanese Religions', Vol. 32 (1 & 2): pp. 7-38, 2007.
Heinrich Dumoulin: Zen Buddhism. A History. Volume 2: Japan.
Trsl. by James W. Heisig & Paul F. Knitter.
World Wisdom, Inc., Bloomington, Indiana, 2005.
Gunsho Ruijū, Vol. 28. First published in 1733 by Hanawa Hokiichi.
Zoku Gunsho Ruijū Kankōkai, Tokyo, 1933.
Eta Harich-Schneider: A History of Japanese Music.
Oxford University Press, London, 1973.
Carolyn Martha Haynes: Parody in the maikyōgen
and the monogurui kyōgen. Ph.D. thesis.
Cornell University, 1988. Pages 102-131 & 268-271.
Available online at https://secure.umi.com
Cat. no. AAT 8804579.
Frank Hoff: Song, Dance and Storytelling: Aspects of the
Performing Arts in Japan.
Cornell East Asia Series Number 15, 1978.
Victor Sōgen Hori: Zen Sand. The Book of Capping Phrases for Kōan Practice.
University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 2003.
H. Mack Horton: The Journal of Sōchō.
Translated and annotated by H. Mack Horton.
Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2002.
Ide Yukio: 'Chūse shakuhachi tsuikō'.
In: 'Research reports of the Kōchi University. Humanities'.
Vol. 41, 1-10, Kōchi, 1992-12-27.
The article may be downloaded from this location:
Ikkyū Sōjun: Kyōunshū.
Facsimile of a late 15th century manuscript.
Ed. & publ. by Okumura Jūbei, Kyoto, 1966.
Ikkyū Sōjun: Kyōunshū, Kyōunshishū, Jikaishū.
Rev. & annotated by Nakamura Tamaki.
Gendai shichōsha, Tokyo, 1976.
Inagaki Misoshiro, chief editor: Myōan Sanjūnana-sei Tanikita
Muchiku-shū. Tokyo, 1981.
Inoura Yoshinobu & Kawatake Toshio: The Traditional Theatre of Japan.
Kamei Takahashi & Takaha Gorō, compilers and editors:
Gohon taishō kaihen setsuyōshū
("Setsuyōshū in five versions rearranged and compared").
Tokyo, 1974. 2 volumes.
Donald Keene: Essays in Idleness. The Tsurezuregusa of Kenkō.
Columbia University Press, 1998.
Kikan hōgaku 5, special issue: 'Shakuhachi no miwaku'.
Ongaku no Tomo-sha, Tokyo, 1975.
Kiyū Shōran. Comp. by Kitamura Nobuyo (1784-1856), first publ. in 1830.
Reprint by Seikōkan Shuppanbu, Tokyo, 1933.
Koji Ruien. Ruien Kankōkai, Tokyo, 1896-1914. Reduced size reprint ed.
by Jungū Shichō, Tokyo, 1927-1930. Latest edition: Yoshikawa
Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1967-1971. Vol. 9: Section on Religion.
Vols. 32 & 35: Sections on Music.
Koma no Chikazane: Kyōkunshō.
Original work completed in 1233. Publ. in 2 vols. by
Nihon Koten Zenshū Kankōkai, Tokyo, 1928.
Kraft, Kenneth: Eloquent Zen: Daito and Early Japanese Zen.
University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1992, 1997.
Kurihara Kōta: Shakuhachi Shikō. Chikuyūsha, Tokyo, 1918, 1975.
Riley Kelly Lee: Yearning for the Bell: A Study of
Transmission in the Shakuhachi Honkyoku Tradition.
Ph.D. thesis, University of Sidney, 1992.
Available online at: www.rileylee.net/thesis.html.
Daigan Matsunaga & Alicia Matsunaga: Foundation of Japanese
Buddhism. Vol. I: The Aristocratic Age. Vol. II: The Mass Move-
ment. Buddhist Books International, Los Angeles, Tokyo,
Nakatsuka Chikuzen: Kinko-ryū Shakuhachi Shikan.
Nihon Ongaku-sha, Tokyo, 1979.
Nishiyama Matsunosuke: Iemoto monogatari.
Chūō Kōronsha,Tokyo, 1971, 1976.
Nishiyama Matsunosuke: Iemoto no kenkyū.
Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1982.
Nishiyama Matsunosuke: 'Komusō no ura-omote'.
In: Kikan hōgaku 5, Ongaku no Tomo-sha, Tokyo, 1975, pp. 26-30.
NKBZ 25: Nihon Koten Bungaku Zenshū, Vol 25. Revised and annotated
by Usuda Jingorō & Shimma Shin'ichi. Tokyo, 1976.
Nihon Kokugo Dai-jiten. Nihon Dai-jiten Kankōkai, Tokyo, 1973-1975.
William N. Porter: The Miscellany of a Japanese Priest.
Being a Translation of Tsure-zure Gusa.
Charles E. Tuttle Company, Rutland, Tokyo, 1914, 1976.
Torsten Olafsson: Kaidō Honsoku, 1628: The Komosō's Fuke
Shakuhachi Credo. On Early 17th Century Ascetic Shakuhachi
Ideology. Publ. by Tai Hei Shakuhachi, California, 2003.
Includes a CD-ROM with the author's complete M.A. thesis on
the same subject, University of Copenhagen, 1987.
Purchasable at www.shakuhachi.com.
Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen: Emptiness and Temporality.
Buddhism and Medieval Japanese Poetics.
Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2008.
Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen: Murmured Conversations.
A Treatise on Poetry and Buddhism by the Poet-Monk Shinkei.
Stanford University Press, California, 2008.
William Scott Wilson: The Unfettered Mind. Writings of the Zen master
to the Sword Master. Tokyo, New York, San Fransisco, 1986.
Shūhū Yokō, edited by Mori Hikotarō. Publ. by the Kōkoku-ji,
Yura, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, 1938, 1981.
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London, 1882. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Rutland, London 1977.
Daisetzu Teitarō Suzuki: Zen and Japanese Culture.
Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1970, 1973.
James H. Sanford: Zen-man Ikkyū.
Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, 1981.
Takahashi Kūzan: Fukeshū-shi. Sono shakuhachi sōhō no gakuri.
Fukeshū-shi kankōkai, Tokyo, 1979.
Takahashi Tone: Tozan-ryū: An Innovation of the
Shakuhachi Tradition from Fuke-shū to Secularism.
Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis.
Florida State University, USA, 1990. Purchasable at:
Tōgi Masatarō & William Malm: Gagaku. Nihon no dentō, Vol. 7.
Tankōsha, Kyōto, 1968.
Tōgi Masatarō & William Malm: Gagaku. Performing Arts of Japan
Vol. 5. Transl. from Japanese by Don Kenny.
Walker/Weatherhill, New York & Tokyo, 1971.
Toyohara Sumiaki: Taigenshō (original dated 1512)
1933 edition, 4 vols., edited by Masamune Atsuo
Nihon Koten Zenshu Kankokai, Tokyo, 1933
The entire 1933 edition may be downloaded
from this location:
- Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, University of Toronto
Tsuge Gen'ichi: 'The History of the Kyotaku.'
In: Asian Music, Vol. VIII, 2. New York, 1977.
Available online at:
Ueno Katami: Shakuhachi no rekishi.
Shimada Ongaku Shuppan, Tokyo, 3rd impr., 1984.
Ueno Katami: Shakuhachi no rekishi. Revised and expanded edition.
Shuppan Geijutsu-sha, Tokyo, 2002.
Zengaku Jiten, ed. by Jimbo Nyoten & Andō Bun'ei,
Shōbō Genzō Chūkai Zensho Kankōkai,