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The "Ascetic Shakuhachi" Historical Evidence Research Web Pages

Introduction & Guide to the Documentation & Critical Study of Ascetic, Non-Dualistic Shakuhachi Culture, East & West:
Historical Chronology, Philology, Etymology, Vocabulary, Terminology, Concepts, Ideology, Iconology & Practices

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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1735: Kyōto Myōan-ji Temple Chief Administrator
     Kandō Ichiyū's Letter about 'Sankyorei-fu',
     the "Three Non-Dual Spirit Music Pieces"

虚霊山縁起並 ぴに 三虚霊譜瓣


"Origin of the Myōan-ji and Tradition of the Three Non-Dual Spirit Pieces

Date: Kyōhō 20, 9th month - October, 1735

Authored by Myōan-ji temple chief Kandō Ichiyū, 寛堂一宥, who (allegedly) died in 1738, Genbun 3.  

Reprinted in Nakatsuka, 1979, pp. 133-135.

See a complete online version of this important document on Iida Kyorei's Koshūan shakuhachi research website:

Do note that, composed and issued by the Kyōto Myōan-ji, while this document does actually mention the name Fuke, 普化, 12 times, you see no reference to any "Fuke Sect", Fuke-shū, 普化宗, at all.

This text is also the oldest known to present the later so very central term and concept of 'hōki', 法器, "Buddhist Dharma instrument" - while, on the other hand, you do not see 'honkyoku', 本曲, "Original music"/"Basic music pieces" appearing anywhere in the text.

By the way, in the text the term 'Zen', , appears 6 times, and 'komusō', 虚無僧, only twice.

Still, in the mind of the practitioner of ascetic shakuhachi "music", probably the most important piece of information presented in this unique Myōan-ji/Myōshin-ji document is that of describing the "three non-dual spirit music scores": 'san-kyorei-fu', 三虚霊譜 and their significance, later also referred to as 'san koten shakuhachi honkyoku', 三古典尺八本曲, namely: 'Mukaiji', 'Kokū', and 'Kyorei', that are here being mentioned, explained and discussed for the first time in a Kyōto Myōan-ji document.

THE TEXT - some preliminary translations of the text:

無生真 - MU-JŌ-SHIN

Among the many old Fuke Shakuhachi textual sources preserved at the Myōan-ji in Kyōto, one especially fascinating document is entitled
Kyorei-zan engi narabi ni sankyorei-fu ben,


"Towards an Understanding of the Origin of the Empty Spirit Mountain [i.e. the Kyōto Myōan-ji] and a Discourse about the Three Empty Spirit Music Pieces [i.e. Mukaiji, Kyorei & Kokū]".

Dated 1735 (Kyōhō 20, 9th month) this hand-scroll bears the signature of Kandō Ichiyū, 寛堂一宥, 18th chief monk in the traditional Myōan-ji lineage, who died in 1738, Genbun 3, 2nd month, 23rd day (Nakatsuka Chikuzen, 1979, pp. 133 & 150).

- - -

Par. 2:
幽柄鷲峰 谷、尋常弄尺八為遊戯三味、

"The founder of the Kōkoku (Temple), Hottō Kokushi, travelled to Sung (China), and on the day of his return (to Japan), four Buddhist laymen of Chinese descent, Kokusaku, Sōjo, Risei and Hōfu, accompanied him to our country.

They were all highly cultured Chinese and with Fuke as their role model [lit. ancestor] and the shakuhachi as implement of the Buddhist Law [hōki], confining [or, secluding] themselves in the valley beneath the Eagle Peak [the mountain where Kōkoku-ji is located], they used to take pleasure in playing the shakuhachi as a way of practicing meditation [sammai].
Today, the site of their old common dwelling place [kyūseki] is called 'The Valley of Fuke'."

Par. 4:

"Kyochiku had [or, favoured] a speculative Buddhist verse
which says,

'When one has cut off Dualism,
the essence of the shakuhassun
transcends Past and Present.
That one sound blowing forth
of the True Reality of the Non-born
exceeds the deepest of friendships,
beyond limit.'"

Par. 5:

"Once Kyochiku stayed in Uji in Jōshū [mod. Kyōto Prefecture] he called himself 'Rōan the Hermit'.
By the end of his life he erected a five-levelled monument
[a 'gorintō' grave pagoda?] in the vicinity of Uji.
People call it 'The Grave of Fuke'."

Par. 6:

"As for Kyochiku's successor Myōfu, when he lived in the East of the capital [Kyōto Higashiyama], he established [lit.: build] the Empty Spirit Mountain Myōan Temple, and so the School [Jap.: ichi-ryū] of Fuke has been preserved till today."

- - -

     The full text is reprinted in Nakatsuka, 1979, pp. 133-135.
     Digitized by Iida Kyōrei c/o Koshūan website
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2010, 2013.


om gorintō  om gorintō  om gorintō

Gorintō - The Shingon Buddhist five element pagoda
- is a very common type of grave monument in Japan.
The five "rings" represent the Five Buddhist Elements of the Universe:
Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space.
The gorintō is believed to possess strong magical powers.

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