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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



About this Research Project

Realizations & Conclusions

Highlighted Pictures

Highlighted Quotations

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
     A Chronological Panorama:

 •  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 kenmon-shū

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Evidence

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Thesis

1640s?: The Butsu-gen 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 Enpō 5, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance

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

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

1694: Engetsu's Honsoku deshi ...

c. 1700?: The Kyotaku Denki myth

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

1722: The Kyōhō 7, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Memorandum

1730: The Kyōhō 15, 7th Month
     Ichigetsu-ji & Reihō-ji Memorandum

1732: The Shakuhachi denrai-ki
     and early 'honkyoku' history

1735: Myōan-ji's Kyorei-zan engi ...

1751: Keichō no okitegaki -
     Existing Reprint Versions

1752: Myōan Temple Restorer Engetsu Ryōgen's
     23 Fixed Rules for the House

1770: The Kurozawa Kinko Honkyoku Collection

1795: Kyotaku denki kokujikai

1816: Miyaji Ikkan's Shakuhachi hikki

1823: Hisamatsu Fūyō's Hitori mondō



Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info

1664: Shichiku shoshinshū by Nakamura Sōsan


こむ - KOMUSŌ no TE

Shichiku Shoshinshū: Komusō chapter. Copyright © by Waseda University, Tokyo

The Komusō chapter in Shichiku Shoshinshū,
1773 edition (An'ei 2), Part 1, page 6
Waseda University Library, Tokyo

梵字、漢字、色おし、 しら梵字などいひしもの


"The komusō shakuhachi is named 'shakuhachi' because its length has been cut to the measure of 1 foot and 8 inches.
Its origin is certainly unknown.
Although it is being said that Hottō of Yura [Shinchi Kakushin] was the founder [of the komusō], that I do not ascertain.
One hears that, since ancient times, this thing [the shakuhachi] was used by the 'boroboro' practitioners, and also that the socalled 'bonji', 'kanji', iro-oshi', and 'shira-bonji' were people who performed this shakuhachi ceremoniously.

There are nowadays some outcasts [Jap.: fu-nin, "non-persons"] who are called 'komusō'; they are blowing a piece of music named 'Goro' - besides there are other tunes such as 'Renbo Nagashi', 'Miyako Renbo', 'Samunaru Ikawa', and 'Yoshida'.
One does not hear any of these pieces being played in the 'ritsu' [Dorian] or the 'ryō' [Mixolydian] musical modes.
As this, however, is not the tradition of my own, I do not know about this matter in depth."

     Written and published by Nakamura Sōsan, 1664.
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2010.
     Sources: Ueno, 1983, pp. 204 & 280, and
     Shichiku Shoshinshū, 1773 edition,
     Part 1, p. 6, owned by Waseda University, Tokyo.

     This is, to the best of my knowledge, the oldest extant text
     in which names of komusō music pieces are recorded.

     An old copy of the Shichiku Shoshinshū is preserved
     at Waseda University, Tokyo.
     Follow this link to study a full photographic documentation
     (PDF, 15,8 MB) of the book: Shichiku Shoshinshū.
     Go to PDF page 5, right side, to study the komusō chapter.
     Link to Shichiku Shoshinshū, bibliographical details.
     Copyright restricted © by Waseda University, Tokyo.

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