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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

Previous Realizations & Conclusions

- as of Autumn, 2019 ...

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,

 •  The Tokugawa government did never officially recognize any specific new "religious sect" named anything like a 'Fuke-shū', 普化宗, 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.

 •  The so called 'komusō', 虚無僧, "Lay Monks of the Non-Dual & None-ness", were merely and really nothing but so called 'han-sō, han-zoku',
半僧半俗, 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.

 •  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".

 •  The earliest reliable written mention of the term 'hon-kyoku', 本曲, "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.

 •  The earliest reliably dated reference to the possible existence and location of a 'Myōan Temple' in Kyōto, however written as 妙暗寺, is dated between 1682 and 1686.

 •  The so far oldest reliably dated reference to the 'San-koten hon-kyoku', 三古典本曲, "The three classical original music pieces" titles 'Kyorei', 虚鈴, Kokū', 虚空, and 'Mukaiji', 霧海箎, is dated 1732, namely the 'Shakuhachi denrai-ki', 尺八伝来記.

However, the same three 'honkyoku' titles are certainly presented and explained in the fascinating, yet confusing fable 'Kyotaku denki', 虚鐸伝記, "The Recorded History of the Imitated Bell", a much discussed document that may very well have been thought out and finalized on paper by the Kyūto Myūan-ji ascetic shakuhachi ideologists as early as during the period of 1665 to 1675.

 •  The term 'Sui-zen', 吹禅, 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. legally ordained Buddhist monk, the 'jū-shoku', 住職, named Yasuda Tenzan, 安田天山, 1909-1994, who took office as monk in charge at the temple in 1950.

 •  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', 虚無僧.

 •  Do not believe in any way possible that the otherwise renowned 13th century Shingon and Zen Buddhist monk Shinchi Kakushin, 心地覺心, 1207-1298, aka Muhon Kakushin, 無本覺心, posthum.: Hottō Enmyō Kokushi, 法燈國師, 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.

 •  The four Buddhist laymen, 'shi-ko-ji', 四居士: 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,

Kokusa koji, 國佐居士:
Branch name: 'Kassō-ha', 活聡派. Formerly, in 1628 *: 'Kakari-ha', カカリハ.
Komusō "mother temple": Rei-hō-ji, 鈴法寺, "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.

Hōfu koji, 寶伏居士:
Branch name: 'Kinsen-ha', 斳先派, later: 金先派. Formerly, in 1628 *: 'Kinzen-ha', キンゼンハ.
Komusō "mother temple": Ichi-getsu-ji, 一月寺, "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.

Risei koji, 理正居士:
Branch name: 'Kogiku-ha', 小菊派. Formerly, in 1628 *: 'Kokiku-ha', コキクハ.
Komusō "mother temple": Shin-getsu-ji, 心月寺, "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.

Sōjo koji, 僧恕居士:
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.

 •  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', 寄竹.
Kichiku was soon to be renamed 'Kyo-chiku'+'Ryō-en', 虚竹了円, 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, 淵月了源, 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:

(*) Principal, most complete and authoritative source of information: Nakatsuka Chikuzen: 'Kinko-ryū shakuhachi shikan', 607 pages, Tōkyō, 1979.

(**) Source: 'Kaidō honsoku', 海道本則, 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!

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