Shakuhachi



禅尺八 真理研究 ホームページ

The Zen Shakuhachi Truth Research Web Pages

Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi History & Ideology in Particular

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

 



Introduction

About this Research Project

Realizations & Conclusions

Highlighted Pictures

Highlighted Quotations

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
A Chronological Overview:

 •  India
 •  China
 •  Japan
 •  The West

To be - or not to be:
     a "Zen Buddhist Priest"?


Errors, Misconceptions & Loose Ends

The Source Collections

The Written Sources

1470?: The Kyōgen Play Rakuami

1505: Kōrin's Shakuhachi Essay

1512: The Taigenshō Music Treatise

The Komosō & Fuke-komosō Sources

1614: The Keichō kemmon-shū

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Evidence

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Thesis

1640s?: The Hotoke-gotoba Evidence

1646: Isshi Bunshu's Letter
     to the Komusō Sandō Mugetsu


1646 ... The Hottō Kokushi Legend

The Early Komusō Texts

The Kyōto/Kansai Sources

The Edo/Kantō/Tōkyō Sources

1664: Shichiku shoshinshū

1677: The Empō 5, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance


1678: The Empō 5, 12th Month
     Komusō-ha Oboe Memorandum


1687: The Jōkyō 4, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance


1694: Engetsu's Honsoku deshi ...

1703 & 1705: The Myōan-ji
     c/o Kōkoku-ji Interrelationship


1732: The Shakuhachi denrai-ki

1735: Myōan-ji's Kyorei-zan engi ...

1740?: Keichō no okitegaki -
     Existing Reprint Versions


1795: Kyotaku denki kokujikai

1816: Miyaji Ikkan's Shakuhachi hikki

1823: Hisamatsu Fūyō's Hitori mondō

1848: Bakufu Government Decree
     re-administrating the "Fuke Sect"


1871: Bakufu Government Decree
     bans & dissolves the "Fuke Sect"


1890 ... The Legacy of Higuchi Taizan

1930s: Uramoto Setchō Credo

1970s: Myōan Taizan-ha Thought & Credos

Honkyoku Music History
     Ascetic Shakuhachi Titles


Miyagawa Nyozan's Honkyoku 'Ajikan'

Myōan Taizan-ha Notation

Literature

Links

Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info


Highlighted Pictures

Cordial thanks to Kiku Day, PhD, Denmark/Japan; Kosuge Daisetsu, 小菅大徹, Komusō kenkyūkai/Hosshin-ji, Japan; Kishi Kiyokazu, 貴志清一, Japan; and Ronald Nelson, USA,
for contributing to the editing, illustration and further completion of this webpage.



CHINA

Around 750 A.D.:

Musicians pictured in a wall painting in Cave 25, 'Yulin', at Tun-huang on the Silk Road in W. China

Musicians pictured in a wall painting in Cave 25, 'Yulin',
at Tun-huang on the Silk Road, in W. China.
The player at the top appears to be blowing a very long, quite thin flute that quite much resembles the modern Chinese 6-holed 't'ung-hsiao', 洞簫, Jap.: 'dōshō'.
Source: Izumi Takeo, 2016, p. 5


Around 970 A.D.:

Female Chinese musicians performaing in the emperor's palace

Female Chinese musicians performing in the T'ang Emperor's palace, mid-8th century.
In the backgrouns to the right we see a musician blowing a medium long vertical flute - maybe a 't'ung-hsiao', 洞簫, Jap.: 'dōshō'.
Scroll painting on silk attributed to the Chinese Imperial court painter Chou Wen-chü, ca. 970.
Source: Werner Speiser, 1961, p. 176






JAPAN

Around 700 A.D.?:


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: Yatō Umiosa's Komusō website


Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - 7th century

Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - Photo: T.O. 1977


Bodhisattva playing a shakuhachi



Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - 7th century

Hōryū-ji Kondō, Nara - Photo: T.O. 1977





8th century A.D.:

Bodhisattva musician playing the shakuhachi, Todai-ji

Bodhisattva musician playing the shakuhachi, Tōdai-ji, Nara.
Detail of a large bronze lamp standing in front of the Great Buddha Hall.
One of the very few remains of the original 8th century temple.
Source: Wikipedia, Japan





1494:

Komosō in Sanjūni-ban shokukin utaawase emaki

'Komosō' "mat monk" in 'Sanjūni-ban shokukin uta-awase emaki'
Date of original: 1494. Kōsetsu-bon edition, detail.
Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo.
Source: Wikipedia, Japan





1521-1532:


Two komosō in Kyōto, c. 1530

Two 'komosō' playing vertical flutes in a Kyōto street
Detail of the folding screen 'Raku-chū raku-gai zu byōbu',
"Pictures from In and Around the Capital",
Machida-bon edition.
Dated to between 1521 and 1532.


Two komosō in Kyōto, c. 1530

Close-up detail of the folding screen 'Raku-chū raku-gai zu byōbu',
"Pictures from In and Around the Capital",
Machida-bon edition.
The National Museum of Japanese History, Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture





After 1560? - Late Muromachi Period:

Komosō playing the hitoyogiri in a street

'Komosō' playing a 'hitoyogiri' in a street (center)
Detail of section 4 of the folding screen
'Tsukinami fūzoku-zu byōbu'
"Screen with Genre Scenes of the Twelve Months"
Anonymous, late Muromachi Period (2nd half of 16th century). Tokyo National Museum


Tsukinami fūzoku-zu byōbu full view

Komosō playing the hitoyogiri in a street, close-up

Do we actually see the komosō above wearing a long sword, possibly made of wood (?),
the tip of which is protruding from his left side, appearing just beneath the bed roll that he is carrying on his back?

Link to an online, inter-active website presenting the complete screen:
Tokyo National Museum - E-Museum online





1574:

Two komosō in Kyōto

'Komosō' playing a vertical flute in a Kyōto street
Detail of the folding screen 'Raku-chū raku-gai zu byōbu',
"Pictures from In and Around the Capital",
Uesugi-bon edition. Commissioned by Oda Nobunaga.
The Yonezawa City Uesugi Museum, Yamagata Prefecture





Late Momoyama Period? (1573-1615) - Early 17th century?

Yet unidentified and undated quite early 17th century komosō picture   Matching folding screen section for komosō picture

Yet unidentified and undated early 17th century komosō picture

Yet unidentified, so far undated, quite early 17th century 'komosō' picture.
Apparently part of a rather typical Azuchi-Momoyama Period gold-leaf decorated folding screen
with everyday scenes, dating from the early 1600's?



Dated 1735, this picture is indeed a curiosity:

Painting of a Komosō, begging in a street

Very similar in theme and execution as the picture above, this is one of 12 illustrations on a folding screen being dated to 1735 and entitled 'Shokunin zukushi-e byōbu', 職人尽絵屏風,
"Pictures of People of Various Occupations in Their Workshops".
One would not term it "a copy", however, but rather an anachronism, as the shown mat-carrying 'komosō' type of mendicant flute-player had been replaced by the 'komusō' many decades before 1735.

The art historian Kazuko Kameda-Madar has described the screen in this article (link) at www.academia.edu:
"Pictures of People of Various Occupations in Their Workshops"





1624-1630 - Early Kan'ei Period:

Painting of a Parasol-maker & 2 Komosō

Painting of a Parasol-maker & Two Komosō
Hanging scroll by Iwasa Matabei, 1578-1650
An "important work of art" dating from the early Edo Period,
17th century, before 1630, according to Japanese art experts.
Owned by the Nezu Art Museum, Tōkyō.


Close view of two komosō in Picture of Parasol-maker & Komosō

Close view of two 'komosō' in Picture of Parasol-maker & Komosō





Very early Edo Period (early 17th century) komo-sō, 薦僧/菰僧, style mendicant miyo-giri shakuhachi, 三節切り尺八, flute player

Close view of two komosō in Picture of Parasol-maker & Komusō

This is a modern Japanese painting depicting a very early 17th century 'komosō' "mat monk"
- NB not a 'komusō'! - Website source: randokku





Mid-17th Century?:

Painting of Three Komosō

Painting of three 'komosō'
Attributed to Iwasa Matabei, 1578-1650.
Possibly dating from the 1630s or 1640s.
Owned by the Shingon Sect temple Tōya-san Fumon-ji Taishō-in near Matsudo City in NW. Chiba Pref. Source: Yamaguchi Masayoshi, 2005, p. 176.


Painting of Three Komosō

Painting of three 'komosō'
Acc. to Kakizaki Shōhō this picture dates from the Genroku Period, 1688-1704.
If that were so, Iwasa Matabei cannot be the artist.
Link: "Genroku Period komusō figures"





Mid-17th Century?:

Picture of a Komosō in a Kyōto street

Picture of a 'komosō' in a Kyōto street.
Detail of a yet not fully recognized and identified version
of a 'Raku-chū raku-gai zu byōbu'.
Possibly dating from the 1630s or 1640s.
Source: Izumi Takeo, 2013, pp. 82-83.


Picture of a Komosō in a Kyōto street

You find the detail in the very bottom of the screen, right above the Japanese character, 'zu', . The screen is a treasure of the Tanabe City Fine Arts Hall.
Source: Izumi Takeo, 2015, p. 81.





Mid-17th Century?:

Yet not fully identified and dated early 17th century komosō picture

Yet not fully identified and dated early 17th century 'komosō' picture.
Possibly dating from the 1630s or 1640s?
Exhibited at Matsudo City Museum, Matsudo-shi, NW Chiba Pref.


Yet not fully identified and dated early 17th century komosō picture

Detail


Yet not fully identified and dated early 17th century komosō picture

The above picture photographed at the Matsudo City Museum in Chiba
by Ronald Nelson, summer 2014.


Postcard purchased by Bandō Jirō's companion

Acc. to Bandō Jirō's weblog, however: From a (yet obscure!) 17th century art work entitled
Jidai fūzokuga-fuku", 時代風俗画幅, "Scroll with Pictures of Customs of the Day".

Postcard purchased by a companion of Bandō Jirō's at Matsudo City Museum in Autumn 2012

Link: Bandō Jirō's weblog





c. 1640-1645/1646: The term komusō, 虚無僧, is invented

Isshi Bunshu - 1608-1645/46

Isshi Bunshu, 一絲和尚, a most renowned Rinzai Zen abbot whose master was the great Rinzai Zen master Takuan Sōhō (1573-1645), lived from 1608 to 1645 (or 1646).
Portrait preserved at the temple Hōjō-ji in Kameoka City, Kyōto Prefecture.

A letter from Abbot Isshi to a certain hermit named Sandō Mugetsu Anjū, 山堂無月庵主, presumably written shortly before Isshi's death in 1645/1646, presents the oldest known, surviving mention of the term 'komusō', 虚無僧, "Monk of Non-Substantiality & Nooneness".

There definitely were no 'komusō' in existence before a. 1640!


Here is a carefully retouched scanning of a xerox copy of the original hand-scroll, supplied to me in April, 1985, by the Kōkoku Temple in Yura, Wakayama.

View a full reproduction of Abbot Isshi's Letter to the komusō Sandō Mugetsu as PDF file: 1 MB


Go to this webpage to study a full translation of Abbot Isshi's letter til Sandō Mugetsu: Isshi Bunshu's Letter to the komusō Mugetsu




Before or after 1690? - perhaps even some time before 1683?:

Komusō in Tohi zumaki

A komusō playing a root-end shakuhachi in a Kyōto street
Detail from the 'Tohi zumaki', 都鄙図巻, "Town & Country Picture Scroll".
A very long and impressive picture scroll painted on silk. By Sumiyoshi Gukei, 1631-1705
Originally a treasure of the Konbu-in in Nara, now exhibited at (link) Tōkyō National Museum

Sumiyoshi Gukei was born and lived in Kyōto until 1683 when he moved to Edo, present day Tōkyō, where he died in 1705.

In: Izumi Takeo, 2013, p. 93.





1690:

Two komusō in Jinrin kinmō zu-i, 1690

Two komusō playing root-end shakuhachi
In: 'Jinrin kinmō zu-i', 1690 - Maki/Vol. 2
By Makieshi Genzaburō & Atsuo Masamune
The Library of Kyōto University
Link to Kyōto University's online presentation of this volume


Two komusō in Jinrin kinmō zu-i, 1690



Two komusō in Jinrin kinmō zu-i, c. 1690






1695 - an entry about 'komo-sō', mat monks, in a Genroku Period encyclopedia:

Komusō in Kashiragaki zōho kinmō zu-i, 1695

A mendicant shakuhachi player wearing a pointed 'ami-gasa' straw hat
In: 'Kashiragaki zōho kimmō zu-i'
("Enlarged Elementary Encyclopedia with Illustrations"), 1695

A first edition, 'Kimmō zu-i', was published in 1666.
A third edition, 'Kashiragaki kinmō zu-i taisei', appeared in 1789.

Here, to the right of the flute player, the two kanji for 'komo-sō', 'mat monk',
are given. In the text block above, 'komo-sō' is explained
with the archaic terms of 'bo(n)ron', 'bo(n)ronji', 'kanji', and 'boro'.

The text concludes that a 'komo-sō' is using the shakuhachi for 'shugyō",
修行, "ascetic practice"
- which is, certainly, not only limited to Zen Buddhist traditions, however.

Shimane University Library Digital Archive #1316
Direct link: Volume 4-7, go to frame 8





1768:

2 'komusō' in the E-hon Azuma no hana

Book print of two 'komusō', 1768.
In: 'E-hon Azuma no hana', "Picture Book of Flowers of the East"
Illustration by Shigemasa Kitao, 1739-1820
Ritsumeikan University, Kyōto.

Two 'komusō' in the E-hon Azuma no hana

Source: http://www.rounanusi.jp/syakuhatisyouki/87mudai/86mudaitop.html


This is, so far, the oldest known 'komusō' picture the accompanying text of which
features the name of Fuke Zenji, 普化禅師, at the top, right.

The text at the top reads as follows:

Right side text:

尺八支那(しゃくはちハもろこし)の普化禅師にはじまり 本朝にては筑紫(つくし)の宮これを学び給ぶひけるにより 世々たへず行(おこなハ)るゝ。

"Shakuhachi began with Zen monk Fuke [P'u-k'o] in T'ang China [Morokoshi]. In our country [this dynasty] it was studied and taught in the Palace of the Nara Province [the Tsukushi Palace]."

Left side text:

名ある人ハ安田城長(やすだじやうなが) 大森宗勲(おおもりそうくん)等(とう)なり 今これを製 (ひらく)に 琴虎(きんこ)もって精(せい)とす。

"Famous people [who played it] were Yasuda Shironaga [Jônaga?], Ômori Sôkun and others. Nowadays it is being finely made strong with the use of 'kinko' [? lit. 'zither+tiger']."

Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2017




1789:

Komusō in Kashiragaki zōho kinmō zu-i taisei, 1789

A shakuhachi player wearing a bee-hive-shaped 'tengai'
Do note that the Japanese characters to the left of the fluteplayer
reads 'komo-sō', not 'komo-sō'.

In: 'Kashiragaki zōho kinmo zu-i taisei'
('Enlarged Elementary Encyclopedia with Illustrations,
Complete edition'), Kansei 1, 1789, volume 4: "People".
Author: Nakamura Tekisai (1629-1702). Illustrator: Shimokawabe Shūsui.
The first edition, 'Kinmō zu-i', was published in 1666.
The second edition, 'Kashiragaki kinmō zu-i, appeared in 1695.





1791:

A 'komusō' receiving alms

Woodcut print of a 'komusō' receiving alms
In: 'Yamato meisho zue', 大和名所図絵, "Pictures from Famous Places in Japan"
Illustration by Takehara Shinkei, 1791
The National Museum of Denmark, Department of Ethnography, Copenhagen
Photo reproduction by John Lee.




Waseda link: http://archive.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kosho/ru04/ru04_05326/ru04_05326_0002/ru04_05326_0002.html

The text at the top reads as follows:








1806:

A 'komusō' by Katsushika Hokusai

Wood cut print of a 'komusō'
No. 53, 'Kusatsu', in: 'Tōkaidō gojūsan tsugi',
"53 Stations of the Tōkaidō", 1806 edition.
Ukiyo-e print by Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849.





Possibly the late Edo Period during the 1800s:

Horizontal scroll depicting the Edo Period Myōan Temple in the Echigo Province, right section. No date given

Right section of the scroll. Click in the picture to enlarge and open in a new window.


Horizontal scroll the Edo Period Myōan Temple in the Echigo Province, left section. No date given

Horizontal scroll depicting the Edo Period Myōan Temple in the Echigo Province. No date given.
Printed on the inside of the hardcover of Tomimori, 1979.
Left section of the scroll. Click in the picture to enlarge and open in a new window.





Possibly the late Edo Period during the 1800s:

Gate of the Edo temple Ichigetu-ji during the 1800s

Gate of the Edo temple Ichigetu-ji in Machido, NW Chiba, during the 1800s.
In the illustrated news publication 'Fūzoku gahō', 風俗画報, No. 279, 1889.





1860s? - The Final Days of the Edo Period komusō


Ichigetsu-ji komusō - late Tokugawa Period

Ichigetsu-ji komusō - late Tokugawa Period
Photograph in the collection of the Matsudo City Culture Hall, Tōkyō
Name of photographer unknown. In: Kikan hōgaku 5, 1975





1860s?

The former Myō-ji in Shirakawa, E. Kyōto

Gate of the former Edo Period Myōan-ji in Eastern Kyōto
Source: Tomimori, 1979

With the abolition of the so called Fuke Sect of the komusō in late November, 1871 (Meiji 4),
all of its temples were closed and komusō mendicancy was prohibited.

Myōan-ji's precious statue of its legendary founder Kyochiku Ryōen Zenji was, together with various especially important Myōan-ji documents, entrusted to the Zennei'in, a small subtemple of the grand Tōfuku Zen temple in SE Kyōto.





1890:


Higuchi Taizan

Higuchi Taizan - 1856-1914
Founded the Myōan Kyōkai and the Myōan Taizan-ha stradition of ascetic shakuhachi practice in 1890.
Time and photographer unknown.





1903:

Oil painting by Sakaki Teitoku

Oil painting by Sakaki Teitoku, 1858-1939: "Concert by Japanese and Western Instruments"
Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, Japan




After 1890: 1910-1920? - Early modern Myōan kyōkai komusō

Myōan kyōkai komusō after 1890

Myōan kyōkai komusō, possibly 1910-1920
Name of photographer unknown.
Source: pinterest.com







Ozawa Seizan Myōan 1.8 shakuhachi

1.8 foot Myōan Taizan-ha shakuhachi made by Ozawa Seizan
not later than early Spring, 1978. Photo by Christoffer Askman


Ozawa Seizan Myōan 1.8 shakuhachi

Ozawa Seizan sensei, Spring 1978.
Photo: T.O.






Mu-ku-teki Suizen      Myōan Taizan signature & seal

'MU-KU-TEKI SUI-ZEN'
"No Hole Flute - Blow Ascetic Non-dual Practice"

Calligraphy signed 'Myōan Taizan', the 2nd modern
Myōan Temple chief monk Taizan Hyōjō, d. 1980.
Signature and stamps deciphered by Kosuge Daisetsu (Komusō kenkyūkai/Hosshin-ji),
and Sato Nakazato, Japan. A present to Torsten Olafsson
given by his teacher Ozawa Seizan in Summer, 1978






The Tantric symbol 'A' & 'Suizen godo'

Opening pages of a honkyoku book (ori-hon)
written by Matsumoto Kyozan, dated 1985.

To the right: 'Suizen godō':
'Suizen Way of Buddhist Enlightenment'.

To the left the Sanskrit seed syllable 'A' (Jap.: 'A')
of the Buddha Mahāvairocana, or
Dainichi Nyorai, who resides in the center of the
Taizō-kai (Womb Realm) mandala (Skt.: Garbhadātu)
of Japanese Tantric Buddhism (Shingon).
© T.O.


Taizō-kai mandala, Tō-ji, Kyōto

Taizō-kai (Womb Realm) mandala - Tō-ji, Kyōto, 9th century
Source: Wikipedia, Japan


Vairocana Buddha

Vairocana Buddha (Jap.: Dainichi Nyorai) - Tōdai-ji, Nara, 8th c.
In Sino-Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is seen as the embodiment
of the Buddhist concept of 'shunyata' or "emptiness".
Vairocana is a central figure in Japanese Shingon Buddhism.
Source: Wikipedia.


Daibutsu-den Tōdai-ji, Nara

The Great Buddha Hall (Jap.: Daibutsu-den) - Tōdai-ji, Nara
in which the Great Vairocana Buddha is seated.
Source: Wikipedia, Japan






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