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The "Zen Shakuhachi" Historical Evidence Research Web Pages

Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study and Substantiation of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi Historical Chronology,
Terminology & Etymology of Concepts, Ideology, Iconology & Practices in Particular

By Torsten Mukuteki Olafsson • トーステン 無穴笛 オーラフソンデンマーク • Denmark



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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"?

Highlighted Illustrations

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


     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

     "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" Copy

1640?: Is a Very Early "Komusō Temple" built
     in Nagasaki on the Island of Kyūshū?

c. 1640?: The Strange Butsu-gen Komusō Document

1646: 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

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


1871? (1843-44): The Komusō zakki
     Source Collection

From 1879 ... 1896-1914:
     The Koji ruien Historical Encyclopedia

1890: Higuchi Taizan - Teaching, the "Myōan Society",
     and the Taizan-ha Tradition of Shakuhachi Asceticism

1902: Mikami Sanji's Critical Article
     'Fuke-shū ni tsuite', "About the Fuke Sect"

Early 20th Century Historians & Musicians, Japan:
     Kurihara Kōta, Uramoto Setchō,
     Nakatsuka Chikuzen, Tanikita Mujiku,
     Tomimori Kyozan, Ikeda Jūzan a.o.

1931-1932: Tokugawa kinreikō - A Source Collection
     of Tokugawa Period Prohibition Laws


     1945 ...

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 ...

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

Contact Info

1614: The Keichō kenmon-shū Short Story Book:
     The 'Fuke-Komosō' in Hachiō-ji, West of Edo City

Two very early Edo Period anecdotes recorded
about two different shakuhachi-playing "Fuke komo-sō" lay monks.

Do note that you do not find any mention of a "Fuke Sect", Fuke-shū,
普化宗, in these two texts, at all.


"Anthology of Observations/Seen & Heard During the Keichō Period" (1596-1615)

Authored by Miura Jōshin, 三浦浄心, 1565-1644

The most well known of these two anecdotes was first presented in Kurihara Kōta's 1918-publication Shakuhachi shikō, on pages 183-184 in the 1975 reissue version of the book.

Very interestingly indeed, Kurihara Kōta (or his editor) changed one especially significant Japanese character in a way so as to literally blur and thereby seriously forge shakuhachi and komo-sō/ko-mu-sō historical chronology for an entire century or so, by now ...

This is a noteworthy example of a however quite common falsification of original text sources in the field of Japanese shakuhachi history research.

The second anecdote actually opens Volume 3 (Maki 3) the Keichō kenmon-shū as Chapter 1.

Anecdote No. 1: Ōtori Ippei and a "Fuke komo-sō" in the town of Hachi-ōji.


"The Matter of Ōtori Ippei"

This anecdote is contained in chapter 2 of Volume 6 (Maki 6).

It is essential to observe that the original text features the character compound 古無(僧), and not 虚無(僧), as given everywhere in Kurihara's 1918/1975 version.

Key name and terms regarding the present text:

古無僧 - KO-MO-SŌ? / KO-MU-SŌ?

Did the below reported incident ever take place, possibly so? Maybe not, actually, however ...

The narrator of the present anecdote being rendered in the Keichō kenmonshū, named Ōtori Ippei, was a figure affiliated with the early kabuki theatre.
Born in 1588, Ōtori was executed by the bakufu in 1612, only 24 years old.
More information about this background will be added the soonest possible.


Do note:
The Fuke Shakuhachi player being quoted in the following text was not a 'KOMU-SŌ'!

The shakuhachi-playing lay monk in this anecdote, of samurai heritage, is described phonetically by Miura Jōshin as a ko-mu-sō, 古無僧, "old+noone-ness+monk", the reason simply being that the author did not know how to write the term komo-sō correctly.

The confusion of the phonems mo and mu is certainly not uncommon at all, as those two syllables are virtually homonymous.

At this very time in history a mendicant shakuhachi "lay monk" would rightly still be known as a Fuke komo-sō, not a komu-sō.

There were definitely no komu-sō, 虚無僧, in existence and action in Japan before sometime after the Shimabara Rebellion on Kyūshū in Southern Japan in 1637-38, at the earliest.

First, here follows a presentation of the central part of this very significant text, in which the Fuke komo-sō proclaims the shakuhachi "credo" of his.

- - -
- - -

" - - - Although many years ago I held a high position, now I have become one who has abandoned the world.
But when I recall my former occupation, I do not grieve over poverty and lowliness but hold on to the fate of the Way of the Buddha and reserve all my considerations for the Doctrine. I have no inward possessions, no outward desires, and I calmly follow in the footprints of Priest Fuke and have entered upon the way of True Detachment and Spiritual Deliverance.
But even though I strive hard in ascetic discipline, I find it difficult indeed to maintain a peaceful mind when I am confronted with an atrocious word. - - - "

     Miura Jōshin (1565-1644) quoting a travelling Fuke monk
     being characterized in his kanazōshi book 'Keichō Kenmon-shū',
     'Seen and Heard during the Keichō Period', 1614.
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson.

The full text of the anecdote reads and translates as follows:

The below English translation (here with but a few slightly refining adjustments) first appeared in my 1987 Copenhagen University Japanology thesis on the Kaidō honsoku document, dated 1628 - published internationally in 2003 by Tai Hei Shakuhachi, California, USA.

Do note that the story is being reported by Ōtori Ippei, here retold by Miura Jōshin.


In the town Hachiōji in the Musashi Province, while I was drinking sake in a wine shop, a kom*-sō, 古無僧, came up to the gate while blowing a shakuhachi.


Dear me, I called out to him! You are an auspicious practitioner of asceticism, I suppose.
You seem to be a devoted person, I said.


If it is your intention to be scattered in the world, sparing a home for ordinary humans, please let me entertain you with some wine.
I myself played the shakuhachi when I was young.


When I said, I would like the kom* master, 古無殿, to play a melody on his shakuhachi, he played a tune.

古無殿の尺八ほどは、われ尻にても吹べし」 と云へは、

While I was listening, slightly smiling I rolled up my kimono so as to uncover my buttocks, and when - tapping my rump - I said,
I can play better than you with my arse,
the kom*(-sō), 古無(僧), got very angry and exclaimed,


What an inconsiderate and most uncomplimentary remark!

Although many years ago I held a high position,
now I have become one who has abandoned the world.


But even so, when I recall my former occupation, I do not grieve over poverty and lowliness,
but hold on to the Fate of the Way of the Buddha and reserve all my considerations for the purpose of the Doctrine.
I have no inward possessions, no outward desires, and with a tranquil Body I follow in the footsteps of Priest Fuke
and have entered upon the Way of True Disattachment and Spiritual Deliverance.
But even though I am striving hard in ascetic discipline,
I find it difficult indeed when I am confronted with an atrocious word.

是非尻に吹せて聞べし」 といふ。

Even if that might be changed, could I possibly alter my way of thinking?
At any cost, I shall have to hear you play with your rump," he said.

古無僧云けるは、「親重代に伝る吉光の脇差一腰持たりとて」 座中へ出す。

Certainly, I said, I shall play with my arse, and then we discussed our bets
while the words that the kom*-sō, 古無僧, had spoken were written down for successive generations.
The kom*-sō, 古無僧, drew out in the open the sword he was carrying by his side, proclaiming that it was a genuine Yoshimitu.


I myself was obliged to draw my sword, too.


This so called "sword" was one I had ordered from the swordsmith Shitahara,
forged as an imitation 3 feet 8 inches long and probably no more than 25 years old.
I also shouted out the name of my sword and drew it as if ready to pay back with my life.


A townsman took charge of the stakes, and I exclaimed: Well, now, would you like to hear me play the shakuhachi with my arse?

「実々古無(僧)口にて吹たるより、一兵衛か尻にて吹たるか増りたる」 といへば、

At that moment I grasped the kom*'s, 古無, shakuhachi and when I succeeded in playing it, holding it underneath me, everybody could hear it, I said,
Believe me, it is better that I played with my arse than that the kom*(-sō), 古無(僧), played with his mouth!
And than I was the winner of the dispute.

「若々(もし)かやうの事にそ人あらば、八王寺町のものに尋給へ」 と云。

If there is anyone who does not believe any of this, just ask the people in Hachi-ōji, I said.

皆人聞て、「扨(さて)こそ一兵衛木石にてもあらず、物をいひそめけるぞや」 。 Everybody heard [or, Listen, everybody] -
Ippei was certainly not made of wood nor stone. He told the most colourful stories [Miura concludes].

Here follows the anecdote as originally printed in 1614, now preserved at the National Diet Library in Tokyo, Japan:

Keichou kenmonshuu Outori Ippei chapter

Keichou kenmonshuu Outori Ippei chapter

Keichou kenmonshuu Outori Ippei chapter

Keichou kenmonshuu Outori Ippei chapter

Here you can, yourselves, be truth witnesses to how specifically Kurihara Kōta, publishing in 1918 (his book reissued in 1975, becoming an important however problematic source of Western shakuhachi research, also), changed but one or two Japanese characters in a source reprint so as to actually thereby not only falsifying the wording of a certain document but also fundamentally forging the chronology and overall history of the komo-sō versus ko-mu-sō and of the so called Fuke Shakuhachi tradition of Japan:

Keichou kenmonshuu Kurihara quotation

Keichou kenmonshuu Kurihara quotation

古無僧 - 古無殿 - 古無

Here, for your even further information and revelation, you can study and appreciate a - academically speaking - genuinely reliable printed 1969 presentation of the original text in question:

Keichou kenmonshuu quotation published in 1969

Keichou kenmonshuu quotation published in 1969

Anecdote No. 2: A kom*-sō" practices asceticism "For the Benefit of his Mother".

古無僧母の爲めに修行の事 - KOM*SŌ HAHA no TAME ni SHUGYŌ no KOTO

"The Matter of a Kom*sō Practicing Asceticism for the Benefit of Mothers"

This anecdote is contained in chapter 1 of Volume 3 (Maki 3).

A further introduction to the subject matter of this text will be presented soon.

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

Keichou kenmonshuu anecdote 2 printed in 1906

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