「修行尺八」歴史的証拠の研究   ホームページ
      'Shugyō Shakuhachi' rekishi-teki shōko no kenkyū hōmupēji -

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


Introduction / Front Page / Home

Go to this web page to navigate
     and explore the site:

Main Menu Items List - Site Map:
     All Web Pages on this Website

New Web Pages and Web Page Updates

Literature in Eastern Languages

Literature in Western Languages


Contact Info

Shakuhachi-playing bodhisattva

Shakuhachi-playing bodhisattva
Octagonal bronze-lamp
Tōdai-ji, Nara. 8th century

Shōsōin Jade shakuhachi

Jade shakuhachi
Shōsōin, Nara
Early 8th century

Shakuhachi-playing bodhisattva

Shakuhachi-playing bodhisattva
Statue by Jōchō, 1053
Byōdō-in, Uji

Nara Period court musicians

Nara Period court musicians:
Shakuhachi, mouth-organ
& pan-pipes
In: 'Shinzei kogaku zu'
by Fujiwara no Michinori,
d. 1159


JAPAN 1 • 600-1233

2600 BCE - 800 CE
China 1
6000 BCE - 500 CE
China 2
500 CE ...
Japan 1
600 - 1233
Japan 2
1233 - 1477
Japan 3
1477 - 1560
Japan 4
1560 - 1614
Japan 5
1614 - 1664
Japan 6
1664 - 1767
Japan 7
1767 - 1883
Japan 8
1883 ...
The West
1298 ...




Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - 7th century

Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - late 7th century - photo: T.O. 1977

Bodhisattva playing a shakuhachi   Bodhisattva playing a shakuhachi

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 - now broken link: Yatō Osamu's komusō shakuhachi website

Houryu-ji shakuhachi

5+1 hole "Gagaku shakuhachi" owned by the Hōryū Temple in Nara
in The Gallery of Hōryū-ji Treasures, Tokyo National Museum. Precise date unclear.
Photo from the Tumblr gallery "Sally Away From Home".


Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - 7th century

Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - late 7th century - photo: T.O. 1977

行者 - GYŌJA

Statue of En no Gyōja, born in 634

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 - one who prostrates on the mountain

Yamabushi - modern statue at the entrance of the Hotel Yaotome
in Tsukuoka City, Yamagata Pref. Artist anonymous



Shôsôin Imperial Treasury, Nara

Shōsōin Imperial Treasury, Tōdai-ji, Nara - early 8th century

Gagaku Shakuhachi, Shôsôin Imperial Treasury, Nara
Gagaku Shakuhachi, Shôsôin Imperial Treasury, Nara

Gagaku Shakuhachi, Shōsōin Imperial Treasury, Tōdai-ji, Nara
Early 8th century


Mid 9th CENTURY / 13th CENTURY:

An anecdote about ENNIN, posthum. Jikaku Taishi, 793/794-866, playing a 'shakuhachi'

Go to the entry "1212" a little down below on this very same web page to read more.

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.



- ZEN no FUE

Important note: This anecdote is apocryphal! That event most certainly never took place.

Go to the 1322 entry on this web page to read more



"Tales of Ancient Matters"

A 13th century orally transmitted story known as 'setsuwa', 説話

An anecdote about ENNIN, posthum. Jikaku Taishi, 793/794-866,
supposedly having played a 'shakuhachi'

Important note: This anecdote is apocryphal. The "event" certainly never took place, so to speak!


「成就如是 功徳莊嚴」
ト云所ヲ, エ吹セ給ハザリケレバ、

"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:

舍利弗.極樂國土. 成就如是.功徳莊嚴。

"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

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
Steven D. Carter: 'Chats with the Master:
     Selections from "Kenzai Zōdan".'
     In: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001),
     pp. 295-347.
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
     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:
     Kōchi University
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.
     Tokyo, 1981.
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:
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, 1974, 1976.
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.
NKDJ: 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
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.
Suematsu Kenchō: The Genji Monogatari by Murasaki Shikibu.
     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,
     Tokyo, 1962.

To the front page To the top