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
Kaidō Honsoku - The Thesis, 1987 / 2003
This particular presentation has been transferred directly from the previous website and may be further re-edited.
I have been researching the historical background, ideology and musical
characteristics of the Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi (though somewhat "off-and-on") for more than forty years.
Enrolling at the East Asian Institute, University of Copenhagen, in 1968,
I first studied Chinese language (classical and modern), history, art, philosophy and
music theory over a period of six years, obtaining a B.A. degree in Chinese Culture in
Then followed further studies in the fields of Japanese language (classical
and modern), history, art, philosophy and music, and I acquired another B.A. in 1981 - in Japanology.
At that time, realizing that one ought to study the original sources themselves -
textual and pictorial - I began to search through the significantly many surviving source
materials available in reprint which illustrate and illuminate the history of the shakuhachi.
Then, in 1983, having for some time been researching a subject for a Master's thesis
in Japanology, in one of my Japanese source collections I discovered a reprint of a hitherto virtually unnoticed 1628 hand-scroll entitled KAIDŌ HONSOKU,
produced by the very last generation of the medieval Japanese ascetic shakuhachi itinerant monks known as komosō, or "mat monks".
While translating the text I soon came to the realization that among all of the numerous known written sources of Fuke Shakuhachi history and ideology
the KAIDŌ HONSOKU should in fact be appreciated as perhaps the most important and significant of them all.
The resulting thesis was completed and submitted to the University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Letters, in 1987, entitled:
Early Seventeenth Century Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology:
The Kaidō Honsoku.
A Komosō's Fuke Shakuhachi Credo dated 1628.
M.A. thesis in Japanology.
East Asian Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 1987.
145 pp., ill.
The complete thesis is available in PDF-format on CD-ROM, enclosed with an introductory article on the subject published by Tai Hei Shakuhachi,
Kaidō Honsoku, 1628: The Komosō's Fuke Shakuhachi Credo.
On Early 17th Century Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology.
24 pp., ill. Edited by Mei Levenson.
Published by Monty H. Levenson, Tai Hei Shakuhachi,
Willits, California, 2003.
You may read more about the edition here:
The KAIDŌ HONSOKU thesis presents a full, annotated translation of the KAIDŌ HONSOKU text itself
and references to other significant early sources of Fuke shakuhachi history, including translations from Chinese and Japanese literature, pictures,
detailed maps, discussions and new theories.
Among the findings:
The Chinese Zen monk Fuke (Chin: P'u-k'o Ch'an-shi, 9th cent.) did not play the shakuhachi, nor did he have any disciple(s) who - acc. to the traditional legend
- copied the tinkling of Fuke's hand bell on his flute. Neither could the Japanese Shingon monk Kakushin (alias Hottō Kokushi) have learned
any kind of "Fuke shakuhachi music" when he studied zen (Ch'an) Buddhism in China in the mid-13th century.
Only sometime during the course of the 16th century was Priest Fuke "adopted" by the
komosō, or "mat monks", as their spiritual ancestor, or "role model".
When these Fuke shakuhachi itinerants produced the KAIDŌ HONSOKU in 1628 they were still referring to themselves as komo-sō (and bo-ro),
whereas the term k(y)o-mu-sō, "monk of non-substantiality & noone-ness"?, was invented afterwards, probably as late as during the 1640's.
Likewise, the long and thick root-end shakuhachi as we know it today appeared even later, sometime during the last decades of the 17th century, or so.
It is noteworthy that - according to the KAIDŌ HONSOKU evidence - the Fuke Shakuhachi mendicants of 1628, the komosō,
did indeed not explain their peculiar practice in terms of Zen Budhhist philosophy only.
Ideas derived from ancient Indian Advaita (or "non-dualistic") Vedanta philosophy and Dhyana Buddhism, Chinese Yin-Yang cosmology, Five Element theory,
Taoism and Ch'an Buddhism, combined with Japanese Shingon (Tantric Buddhism), Tendai and Pure Land Buddhist thought are represented as well, directly or indirectly -
including the acknowledgement of Shintō.
Basic Zen concepts like f.i. zazen, sammai, and takuhatsu angya do not figure in the KAIDŌ HONSOKU at all.
Neither do the terms ichi-on jō-butsu (or "becoming a Buddha in a single sound"), onsei seppō (or "musical sermons")
& hō-ki (Dharma instrument) - nor the very word Zen . . . , for that matter.
While acknowledging the existence of "16 Komosō branch sects", there is no reference to the existence of any actual Fuke Shakuhachi
temple organization as such, i.e. in 1628.
"And now being deprived of employment anywhere, be it at any
of the three barriers of Akama-ga-seki in the Nagato Province,
Ōsaka-no-seki at the capital, or the the two checking stations of
Shirakawa in Ōshū, the Komo who abundantly wander the world,
to whom Heaven and Earth have the same root and All Creation is
One Body, have neither confinements nor attachments."
[KH par. 12. Trsl. by T.O.]
Late 15th century