「禅尺八」歴史的証拠 研究   ホームページ

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 Muchiku,
     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

1950s ... : The Origin of 'Suizen' at Kyōto Myōan-ji:
     Kobayashi Shizan, Tomimori Kyozan,
     Tanikita Muchiku, Yasuda Tenzan,
     Hirazumi Taizan, Koizumi Ryōan,
     Fukumoto Kyoan, Yoshimura Sōshin a.o.

"吹禅" - SUIZEN

"Blowing a Flute Meditation" - "Flute-blown Meditation" ... ?
"Blowing a Flute Non-dualistic Contemplation Practice"
- "Ascetic Bamboo Flute Practice" - "Shakuhachi Asceticism"

This is a research project in continuous progress
- webpage last updated on May 9, 2021.


Links to closely related webpages:

1852: Kyōto Myōan-ji's 32nd 'Kansu' Rodō Genkyō's
     Commandments Regarding Komusō Begging Practice
     and 'Sui-teki shugyō' - and the Possible Origin
     of the Now so Very Misused Term 'Suizen'?

1974 ...: Misleading 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi Meditation"
     Information & Assertions, East & West
     - Presented in Western Languages

1861 ... : Shakuhachi, Fuke & Komusō Narratives
     Authored and Published in Western Languages



1823: The Edo, Kinko-line shakuhachi player Hisamatsu Fūyō explains his shakuhachi practice
as 'Kisoku shugyō', 気息修行, "Breathing Asceticism", or "Ascetic Breath Practice".

In fact, it still remains unclear whether Hisamatsu Fūyō was ever a 'Komusō', himself.

And, besides, Hisamatsu made it clear that he was indeed not "a Zen monk".

     Source: Hitori mondō, 1823, c/o Kishi Kiyokazu.


1852: The 32nd Kyōto Myōan-ji 'Kansu', 看首, "supervisor", "director", Rodō Genkyō,
coins and presents the new term 'Sui-teki shugyō',
吹笛修行, "Blowing a Flute Ascetic Practice".

That was, in fact, especially with regard to begging activities in which
only a maximum of two participants were allowed to travel and beg fo alms together, stated Rodō Genkyō in his decree.

Visit this webpage for more information - will open in a new browser window:

1852: Kyōto Myōan-ji's 32nd 'Kansu' Rodō Genkyō's
     Commandments Regarding Komusō Begging Practice
     and 'Sui-teki shugyō' - and the Possible Origin
     of the Now so Much Favored Term 'Suizen'?

     Source: Nakatsuka Chikuzen, 1979, p. 176.


1857, first month: The 'Komusō' temple Fudai-ji issues a partly pre-printed 'Suiteki shugyō-tome',
吹笛修行留, "Stop for Flute-playing Ascetic Practice" "Fuke Shūmon Supervision Certificat".

Fudai-ji Stop for Flute-playing Ascetic Practice

This document is awaiting further investigation and possible interpretation

     Source: Kunimi Masashi's shakuhachi website -

1914, November 22: the 35th Myōan 'Kansu', Higuchi Taizan, founder of the 'Myōan Taizan-ha' ascetic shakuhachi tradition, dies.
Kobayashi Kyozan is appointed 36th 'Kansu'.


1928, first printed and published in 1936: Uramoto Setchō authors three essays on the topic of 'Fuke Shakuhachi', but he does not mention the term 'Suizen' anywhere, there.

     Source: The National Diet Library, Tokyo.
     - go to book pages 195 through 242/pdf page frames 107 through 131


1928, March 15: 'Kyozan-bō', 虚山坊, most probably "Young Kyozan", alias Tomimori Kyozan, authors an article on pages 23-25 in the Myōan Kyōkai bulletin Dai Myōan, 大明暗, titled 'Sui-shō-zen man-go',
吹簫禅 漫語, "This and That about (the Term) 'Blowing a Flute Meditation'".

     Source: Kunimi Masashi's website.


'Shakuhachi honryū Myōan suishō-hō kikai'

"The Fundamental Principles of Playing the Shakuhachi of the True Myōan Tradition"

1930: Kobayashi Shizan & Tomimori Kyozan co-write a 232+4 pages book in three parts on 'Myōan Shakuhachi', in which the very first 13-page chapter is an introduction to the origin of that very new "idea" and term,
'Sui-shō-zen', 吹簫禅,

"Blowing a Flute Zen Meditation" - "Blowing a Shakuhachi Ascetic Practice".

Title of chapter 1:

'Sui-shō-zen', 明暗吹簫禪の來由, 'Myōan suishō-zen no raitai', "The Origin and Cause of the Myōan Blowing a Flute Zen Meditation".

Chapter 4, 29 pages, deals with "The Revival of the Myōan Way of Playing", 明暗吹簫道の復古,
'Myōan suishō-dō no fukko'.

Kobayashi and Tomimori 1930 'Myouan suishou-hou' book cover front

Kobayashi and Tomimori's 1930 'Myōan suishō-hō' book cover, front

     Source: Kisokuseikan & The National Diet Library, Tokyo.

1938, November 27: The 36th Myōan 'Kansu', Kobayashi Kyozan, dies.
The position as 'Kansu' is left vacant for around 10 years, most probably because of the impacts of World War 2.


1949: Tanikita Muchiku is appointed 37th 'Kansu'.

1950-1953: Yasuda Tenzan serves as the first chief monk of the new Kyōto Myōan-ji.
Yasuda-san produces at least a few quite impressive 'Suizen' calligraphies - see below.

1950s: By the early 1950s, it appears that at least these eight prominent Myōan-ji personalities would have been engaged - directly or indirectly - in the creation, promotion and consolidation of the new Taizan-ha Ascetic Shakuhachi term 'Suizen':

Kobayashi Shizan, Tomimori Kyozan, Tanikita Muchiku, Yasuda Tenzan,
Hirazumi Taizan, Koizumi Ryōan, Fukumoto Kyoan & Yoshimura Sōshin.

Besides, these personalities could also have contributed, one way or another:

Minamoto Unkai, Miyagawa Nyozan, Uramoto Setchō, Ikeda Jūzan, Okamoto Chikugai, and Matsumoto Kyozan.

1953: Tanikita Muchiku leaves the office of 'Kansu' and is succeeded by Koizumi Ryōan as 38th 'Kansu'.


1953: Hirazumi Taizan is appointed 2nd head monk of Myōan-ji; - years later, he produces one very impressive 'Mu-ku-teki Suizen' calligraphy - see image at page down.


1955, July 30: The former Myōan-ji 'Kansu' Tanikita Muchiku publishes an article in the Myōan-ji bulletin 'Suizen', Issue No. 2.

     Kunimi Masashi's shakuhachi website.

1957, March 24: Tanikita Muchiku dies.


Most probably during the early 1950s, Tanikita Muchiku, birth name: Kensaburō, supervised the recording and production of 'Taizan-ryū Shakuhachi' pieces for the new 33 r.p.m. vinyl record sound format, the "LP": the "long-playing record".

12 record discs in all, Tanikita Sensei recorded the majority of the pieces, himself, but a number of other players are represented, as well.

Obviously, the term 'Suizen' was not chosen to be part of this collection's official title:

対山流尺八 Ⅰ~ⅩⅡ
吹奏 谷北兼三郎

"Taizan-ryū Shakuhachi I~XII
Performance: Tanikita Kensaburō" (and others)

The LP set was produced privately, for non-commercial purposes - see link to below.

1950s Taizan-ryuu Shakuhachi LP label no. OG-575   1950s Taizan-ryuu Shakuhachi LP label no. OG-618

'Taizan-ryū Shakuhachi' LP labels I & XII

Tanikita Muchiku 12 LP record set, 1-4 - description

Tanikita Muchiku 12 LP record set, 5-6 - description

Tanikita Muchiku 12 LP record set, 7-9 - description

Tanikita Muchiku 12 LP record set, 10-12 - description

Tanikita Muchiku 12 LP record set, tracklist LPs 1-12 - description

     Source: TOWADŌ -

Another preserved Tanikita Muchiku honkyoku collection not titled 'Suizen' was given the name

'Tanikita Muchiku no Shakuhachi - Tanikita hito-goe hen',

谷北無竹の尺八 - 谷北一声編,

"Tanikita Muchiku's Shakuhachi - The Tanikita Single Voice Collection" - see link to below.

1950s Tanikita Muchiku no Shakuhachi LP label no. TRS-5105   1950s Tanikita Muchiku no Shakuhachi LP label no. TRS-5110

'Tanikita Muchiku no Shakuhachi' LP labels I & VI

TRS 5105-5110 tracklist, 6 LP record set - description

Tanikita Kensaburō TRS 5105-5110 tracklist - description

     Source: TOWADŌ -

With the appearance in Japan of the music cassette tape in the early 1960s, selected Tanikita Muchiku recordings were also prepared for that new format and released in a triple-MC set titled 'Shakuhachi honkyoku no genryū o motomete, Tanikita Muchiku-shū I-III',


'Shakuhachi honkyoku no genryū o motomete
Myōan sanjūnana-sei Tanikita Muchiku-shū'

"In Search of the Fountainhead of Shakuhachi Honkyoku
The 37th ['Kansu'] Tanikita Muchiku Anthology I-III"

The first published set of music cassettes was designed like this - seen at

Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC fronts   Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC fronts

Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC track lists

     Here is a link to a complete track list at

A following version of the set had these three front cover portraits:

Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC HT-01   Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC HT-02   Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC HT-03

Two of the three inlay cards were designed like this:

Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC HT-01   Tanikita Muchiku shuu MC HT-02

Obviously, none of these Taizan-ryū/Tanikita Muchiku releases were marketed under the title, or headline, 'Suizen' - and none of them carry any precise release date, unfortunately so ...

However, acc. to Christian T. Mau, the recordings for the music cassette set were made by Tanikita's student
Inagaki Ihaku during the period 1953-1956.
Phonogram/MC numbers: HT01, HT02, & HT03.

     Source: Christian T. Mau thesis, 2014, pages 183 and 230.

The Sugiyama Jogakuen University Digital Library presents

Historical Recordings Featuring Legendary Seien-ryū
and Taizan-ryū/Taizan-ha Shakuhachi Players:

     Link to numerous historical shakuhachi recordings,
     including those on the above Tanikita Muchiku LP collections:


A dated photo of Iwata Seien with shakuhachi friends and noble wives - and a fine recording of 'Ajikan' of his:

'Ajikan' played by Iwata Seien, date unknown

Link to YouTube: 'Ajikan' played by Iwata Seien - no date.

Persons in the picture - Above from the left:
Ishida Fuchiku, 石田普竹, and Iwata Seien, 岩田律園.

Below from the left:
Uramoto Setchō and Mrs. Uramoto, 浦本浙潮,
and Mrs. Okazaki and Mr. Okazaki Shūen, 岡崎洲園, himself.

1960: Parallelly, Uramoto Setchō introduces the explanatory term 'Gyō no ongaku', 行の音楽, "Ascetic Music" - however without referring to 'Suizen' in that article of his.

1966 - June?: A now very famous 'Suizen' stone monument is erected to the left inside of the gate of Kyōto Myōan-ji.

     Source: 'Kansu' Kojima Hōan.

Suizen monument at Myōan-ji, Kyōto. Photo by Torsten Olafsson

Photo by Torsten Olafsson, early Spring, 1977.

1968, October 27: Tomimori Kyozan is interviewed by Rekisen Yokō [?], 礫川餘光,


1969: A new temple main hall is designed and constructed at Kyōto Myōan-ji:

Kyōto Myōan-ji, 1977

Kyōto Myōan-ji, Main Hall completed in 1969
Photo by Torsten Olafsson, early Spring, 1977

1972: Koizumi Ryōan retires and is followed by Fukumoto Kyoan as 39th 'Kansu'.


1972: Okamoto Chikugai authors a short essay on 'Suizen' breathing - eventually published in 2012
by the Myōan Sōryū-kai.

     You can purchase that printed 2012 edition here:

1974: The record company Nippon Columbia releases a triple-LP record set titled 'Suizen', featuring Sakai Chikuhō II - who really was not a 'Taizan-ha' player, at all.

Nippon Columbia, Sakai Chikuhou II Suizen 3 LP record set

1974: Kamisangō Yūkō writes about 'Komusō' and 'Suizen' in the booklet for Nippon Columbia's triple-LP set 'Suizen':

Kamisangou Yuukou about Suizen, 1974, page 17

いわば昇格したのであるから ...

"As an outcome of the establishment of the Fuke Sect
the 'komosō' groups that included beggar monks and lunatics,
be they homeless persons,
(turned into) a religious group of 'rōnin' "wave men",
the membership privilege of whom was limited to persons with samurai rank
who performed 'suizen'
and samurai martial arts,
(thus) climbing in status, so to speak ..."

     Source: Kamisangō Yūkō, 'Suizen' LP booklet, 1974, p. 17.
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2020.

     Comment: No, 'Suizen' is not mentioned even once in any of the numerous Edo Period texts about shakuhachi-playing 'Rōnin' and 'Komusō'!

1975: 'Suizen' is not mentioned in any of the articles in the Kikan Hōgaku 5 special shakuhachi edition of 1975!

     Name of authors: Kikkawa Eishi & Nishiyama Matsunosuke.

1976: After the sudden death of Fukumoto Kyoan, Yoshimura Sōshin is appointed 40th 'Kansu'.



1970s? - no later than Spring, 1978:

Myōan-ji's 2nd chief monk, Hirazumi Taizan, creates a unique 'Mu-ku-teki Suizen', 無穴笛 吹禅, "No-holes-flute sui-zen' calligraphy hanging scroll - read more at page bottom.

Mu-ku-teki Suizen

1977, August 9:




"The Shakuhachi of Self-cultivation and Self-discipline"

The Myōan Taizan-ha Way of Authentic Shakuhachi 'Suizen' Asceticism
represented by Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, 40th 'Kansu' of Kyōto Myōan-ji:

明暗寺四十世 芳村普庵宗心

Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin

Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin - 1904-1998

Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's letter to Torsten Olafsson, 1977, page 2

Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's letter to Torsten Olafsson, August 9, 1977, page 2

- - - なかなか言葉では表現出来ませんが、
心を素直に持って, 我の心による
技功に成らない様、修養の尺八です。 - - -

" - - - I can not easily express this in words, but to practice the shakuhachi of 'Zen Shakuhachi' is indeed a way of mental training and self-cultivation that is practiced with an open and humble mind and does not develop into technical skill with a selfish attitude. - - - "

Read the full translation on this webpage - opens in a new browser window:

The Legacy of the Late Myōan Taizan-ha Teachers
     Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin & Ozawa Seizan

1978, Spring: Ozawa Seizan, a close student of Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's, describes the meaning and "purpose" of 'Suizen' in a letter of recommendation to his shakuhachi student, Torsten Olafsson, Denmark:

Ozawa Seizan, letter of recommendation, 1978   Ozawa Seizan, letter of recommendation, 1978

Detail of a letter of recommendation for Torsten Olafsson
written by Ozawa Seizan in Spring, 1978
Photo to the right by T.O.


"Myōan Shakuhachi is related to the Fuke Sect of Shakuhachi and it has as its purpose to employ the ancient Japanese shakuhachi flute as a Dharma instrument [hō-ki] in order that one understands the Ultimately Adual Nature of the 'Bright' and the 'Dark' [Myō-An] and experiences the Essence of Non-Substantiality [kyo] through Self-Cultivation.

This practice is called 'Suizen'."

     By Ozawa Seizan, 1939-2012, Myōan-ji, 1978, in a letter
     of recommendation to the author. Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson.


1978? - probably so: The 40th Myōan-ji 'Kansu', Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, and Myōan-ji, release a 4-LP record set titled 'Suizen ichi-nyo', 吹禅一如, "The Oneness of 'Blowing a Flute' and 'Meditating'" - or rather, "Blowing a Flute and Meditating are Not Two".

Or, I'd rather prefer a translation like this, for instance: "The Non-Duality of Meditating while Blowing a Flute".

Yasuda Tenzan is the actual "artist" who wrote that very 'Suizen ichi-nyo' calligraphy for the LP front covers:

Yoshimura Soushin Suizen ichinyo 4 LP record set   Yoshimura Soushin Suizen ichinyo 4 LP record set, label

Phonogram numbers: HSK-003~006 -, 2nd hand product description, screen dump:

Yoshimura Soushin Suizen ichinyo 4 LP record set - description   Yoshimura Soushin

Nihon no Furuhon-ya, 2nd hand product description, screen dump:

Yoshimura Soushin Suizen ichinyo 4 LP record set - Nihon no Furuhon-ya description


1983: Okamoto Chikugai publishes an article in Ichi-on jōbutsu
     on the Way of 'Ōshū Suizen'.

1983: Torsten Olafsson & Olafssongs, Denmark, produce the LP/MC
"Standing Waves. Zen Shakuhachi Meditations", featuring six Myōan Taizan-ha 'Suizen' honkyoku.

Standing Waves CD, 2001   Standing Waves LP, 1983

Left: Fønix Music CD reissue, 2001 - Right; Olafssongs LP/MC, 1983.


1985: Matsumoto Kyozan includes a 'Suizen godō', 吹禅 悟道, calligraphy on the front page of a 'honkyoku gakufu' collection of his.

The Tantric symbol 'A' & 'Suizen godō'

Read more at page bottom.

1985?: Nippon Columbia releases a

'Komusō Chiku-in Suizen' 'Fuke-shū Tani-ha Kyotaku' vinyl LP

虚無僧 竹韻 吹禅 普化宗 谷派 虚鐸

Go to 1998, June 20, to read more about a reissue on CD in that year.

1991: Yoshimura Sōshin retires and is succeeded by Kojima Hōan as 41st 'Kansu'.


1994: Tukitani Tuneko, Seyama Tōru & Simura Satosi write about 'Suizen' in an article presented in English, trsl. by Riley Kelly Lee:

"It was not so easy to become a member of the Fuke sect or a komusō.

This was due to the arrangement of the system of rules as determined by the Tokugawa shogunate.

Accordingly, it can be said that the shakuhachi has been handed down to us within a limited, chartered organisation.

That organization maintained an ideology centered around Zen Buddhism.
Moreover, Zen in the Fuke sect was nothing but the playing of the shakuhachi.

This ideology and lifestyle was called suizen ('blowing Zen').

Thus, in terms of suizen, the shakuhachi was not a musical instrument, and naturally pieces performed on it were not considered as being music.

To them, the shakuhachi was a hōki ('religious instrument'), that is to say, a sacred tool for the purpose of spiritual training.

If one were to use the above-mentioned emic viewpoint, within the organisation of the komusō the shakuhachi was not included in 'music', or rather was not allowed to be included."

     Source: Tukitani Tuneko, Seyama Tōru, Simura Satosi and Riley Kelly Lee, translator (1994):
     'The Shakuhachi: The instrument and its music, change and diversification."
     In: Contemporary Music Review, 8:2, p. 111

     Download link:

     Comment: No, 'Suizen' was definitely neither an "ideology" nor a "lifestyle" of the members of the so called "Fuke Sect" during the Edo Period.
     The term does not appear anywhere in any Japanese literary source before 1950, at the very earliest.


1995: A Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's 'Suizen ichi-nyo' triple-CD set is issued by Myōan-ji, probably the same recordings as those previously published on 4 vinyl LP records in 1978.

Yoshimura Soushin Suizen ichinyo CD disc set, front cover   Yoshimura Soushin

Phonogram numbers: KM-1995 01-03.

Yoshimura Soushin Suizen ichinyo CDs track list

Yoshimura Soushin 'Suizen ichinyo' CDs track list

Despite the fact that Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's Taizan-ha 'Suizen' shakuhachi recordings of the late 1970s are verily titled 'Suizen ichi-nyo' on the front cover and elsewhere, 吹禅一如,
"Blowing the Shakuhachi & Meditation Are Not Two" [literally: "Are One"],
at the ISS/International Shakuhachi Society website, Yoshimura Sōshin's recordings are registered under the misleading headline
'Meianji Shoden Shakuhachi Honkyoku Shū' 1-3,

     Links to track lists with short sound samples:

1997, November 30 (re-issued in 2016, see below):

Seian Genshin, editor, and the 'Myōan Shakuhachi Bō-chiku-kai', 明暗尺八忘竹会, the "Myōan Shakuhachi Memorial Society", publish the first edition of a monumental memorial tribute book about the legendary 40th Myōan-ji 'Kansu', Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, 1904-1998.

     Go to the year 2016 below to read more, see the front cover, and how to order from Japan.
     Link regarding Seian Genshin 'Kansu', WSF 2018:

1998, June 20: Nippon Columbia reissues a

'Komusō Chiku-in Suizen' 'Fuke-shū Tani-ha Kyotaku' LP on CD
     Columbia ‎– COCF-15174. First released on LP in 1985?

Nippon Columbia Tani-ha Kyotaku Suizen vinyl LP record

虚無僧 竹韻 吹禅 普化宗 谷派 虚鐸

     First found at this website:
     See also:

2000: Tsukitani Tsuneko writes but just a little about 'Suizen' in her monumental book 'Shakuhachi koten honkyoku no kenkyū'.

Tsukitani Tsuneko, 2000, p. 172, note 138

The late professor Tsukitani Tsuneko's comments about 'sui-teki shugyō'
and the possible origin of the term 'suizen'. Tsukitani 2000, p. 172, note 138.

In her monumental study of 'koten honkyoku', published in 2000, Prof. Tsukitani hardly at all touched upon the topic of 'Suizen'.
In note 138 on page 172, the first sentence states that,
"Playing the shakuhachi as an ascetic meditative discipline [Zen no shugyū] is called 'Suizen'."

The last sentence then reads,

しかし、「座禅」にかわる尺八修行の意味でいつから 「吹禅」というようになったか、 その典拠を未だ見つけることができない。

namely, "However, I can not yet find any written reference to when 'Suizen' became a term for 'Zazen' seated meditation that changed into 'ascetic shakuhachi discipline'."

     Source: Tsukitaki Tsuneko, 2000, page 172, note 138.

2001: Okada Fujio publishes a book titled 'Komusō no nazo - Suizen no kokoro.'
"The Komusō Mystery - The Essence of Suizen".

2001, November 24: Nippon Columbia releases a CD named 'Nihon no gakki: Shakuhachi'
"Japanese Music Instruments: Shakuhachi." Track 1 on the record has the title

'Suizen Kokū Shakuhachi Fukeshuu Tani-ha Kyotaku',
吹禅 虚空 Shakuhachi – 普化宗谷派 虚鐸


2004: The first Western shakuhachi record release titled 'Suizen'?
Ronnie Seldin and Barbara Lee Kroos publish the 5-LP & book set
"Sui Zen. Blowing Zen On the Shakuhachi":

Seldin & Lee Kroos Sui Zen 5 LP + book set   Seldin & Lee Kroos Sui Zen 5 LP + book set

2005: Takahata Sōyū publishes a book about 'Suizen' titled
'Yasei no zen. Suizen'.

2005: Takahata Sōyū publishes a book about 'Suizen' titled
"Myōan Shakuhachi. Suizen: The Zen of Wildness.'

2005: Steve Weiss designs a map of "26 Suizen Temples", allegedly "approved" by Kurahashi Yoshio:

Map of 26 Suizen temples - late Tokugawa Period?

Map of 26 "'Suizen' temples" - during the late Tokugawa Period ... really?
Compiled by Steve Weiss, 2005, approved by Kurahashi Yoshio.

There were, of course, no such "'Suizen' temples" mentioned anywhere, nor ever,
in Edo Period documents! Source of map:

2008: Tsukitani Tsuneko states regarding 'Suizen' in her article in "The Ashgate Companion to Japanese Music":

"The Fuke sect was named after its putative Tang Chinese founder, Pu-hua (Jap. Fuke).
It has no doctrines or scriptures, parishioners or lay believers;

its equivalent to Zen meditation or sutra recitation is the playing of shakuhachi
- what practitioners call suizen (blowing Zen).

No such use is recorded in China."

     Source: Tsukitani Tsuneko in "The Ashgate Companion to Japanese Music," 2008, p. 150.

2009, August 8: US citizen and longtime Myōan Taizan-ha shakuhachi player Dean Seicho Delbene posts this illustration on his "Myoan Shakuhachi Blogspot" Website:

Tomimori Kyozan's Statement regarding the origin of the terms suizen/suishouzen,nodate

     Tomimori Kyozan's statement regarding the origin of the terms suizen/sui-shō-zen, no date.
Possibly a short transcript of the interview that took place on October 27, 1968,
see entry page up.

Do note, though, that neither 'Sui-shō-zen' nor 'Sui-zen' can be found any Chinese text, whatsoever.


2009, October: Kyōto Myōan-ji 'Kansu' Kojima Hōan informs Christian T. Mau that it was Yasuda Tenzan who "coined", invented, the new term 'Suizen' while he served as the first chief monk of that newly revived temple in the period 1950-1953.

     Source: Christian T. Mau Ph.D. thesis, 2014, p. 116.

2010: Tago Kōin publishes an article titled 'Suizen no yurai ni tsuite', "About the origin of Suizen," in the magazine Tozan-ryū Gakuhō


2015, February 25: Nippon Columbia releases a double CD named 'Nihon no gakki - Koto / Shakuhachi
"Japanese Music Instruments: Koto / Shakuhachi." Track 1 on CD 2 has the title
'Suizen Kokū Shakuhachi Fukeshuu Tani-ha Kyotaku',
吹禅 虚空 Shakuhachi – 普化宗谷派 虚鐸



Seian Genshin, editor, and the 'Myōan Shakuhachi Bō-chiku-kai', 明暗尺八忘竹会, the "Myōan Shakuhachi Memorial Society", publish a set of 4 DVDs featuring - thus paying proper respect to - the legendary 40th Myōan-ji 'Kansu', Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, 1904-1998:


Yoshimura Soushin memorial DVD collection cover

'Suizen - fuke fuku na - narase narasu na - '
"Suizen - Blow, Don't blow - Ring, Don't ring - "

     You may order internationally from HoW/Hogaku on the World CD Shop:

     Link regarding Seian Genshin 'Kansu', WSF 2018:

2016, October 21 (first issued in 1997, see above):

Seian Genshin, editor, and the 'Myōan Shakuhachi Bō-chiku-kai', 明暗尺八忘竹会, the "Myōan Shakuhachi Memorial Society", publish a second edition of a monumental memorial tribute book, now including 3 music CDs, about the legendary 40th Myōan-ji 'Kansu', Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, 1904-1998:


Yoshimura Soushin memorial publication

Yoshimura Soushin memorial publication: Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin portraits

"Legend of the World of Myōan Shakuhachi, the 40th 'Kansu', Mr. Fuan Yoshimura Sōshin
Based on hitherto unpublished fine recordings
Myōan-ji Tradition - Complete Sōshin Tradition Complete Collection
Complete Classical Shakuhachi Honkyoku Anthology"

     You may order internationally from HoW/Hogaku on the World CD Shop:

     Link regarding Seian Genshin 'Kansu', WSF 2018:

2017: Kojima Hōan retires and Seian Genshin becomes the 42nd 'Kansu'.


日々の吹禅 - HIBI no SUIZEN

2019: Seian Genshin & Kyōto Myōan Kyōkai produce the CD
'Hibi no Suizen', "Daily Suizen"/"Everyday Shakuhachi Asceticism":

Seian Genshin Myouan Kyoukai 'Hibi no Suizen' CD

Seian Genshin Kansu portrait   Seian Genshin Myouan Kyoukai 'Hibi no Suizen' CD track list

Seian Genshin, 42nd 'Kansu' - 'Hibi no Suizen' CD track list

     You can purchase that really important CD here
     at HoW/Hogaku of the World CD Shop:

     Besides, former ESS Chair Person Kiku Day can also deliver to you - just inquire with her at kikuday[at]


In the digital, online available European Shakuhachi Society Newsletter 2019, Vol. 2, on pages 30-32, you can find and read a lengthy, very respectful, review written by former ESS Chair Person, Kiku Day - here quoted in however only short,

"The CD Hibi no Suizen is wonderful."

     Link to ESS Newsletter 2019 Vol. 2:

2019, May 9: A Fine 'Suizen ichi-nyo' calligraphy scroll is displayed
in Kurahashi Yōdō's 'tokonoma' alcove- screen dump from video

"ShakuCamp 2019 - video #4 - Kurahashi Yōdō
Kurahashi-sensei talks about the Shakuhachi Summer Camp of the Rockies"

Kurahashi Yōdō's 'tokonoma'

     Link to Youtube, Elliot Kallens's Channel:

2021: Still, as of April 25: The Myōan Dōshu-kai representatives themselves declare on the Myōan temple's website - among other contradictory statements -

that it was the renowned Shingon Buddhist, later to become a Zen monk, Shinchi Kakushin/Hottō Kokushi, 1207-1298, who
"instituted 'Sui-shō-zen' and 'Sui-zen', ['kakuritsu saremashita', 確立されました], as the alternative, though also somehow equivalent, practice of Buddha realization through 'Za-zen', 座禅"

- in the middle of the 13th century, that should have taken place ... well, I mean: really?

Quotation from the webpage in question, in Japanese:






'Hottō Kokushi wa shakuhachi o motte
zazen ichijo no benpō, zenjō gotoku no myōhō
toshita shidō rinen de
「suishōzen」 sunawachi 「suizen」 o kakuritsu saremashita.'


2021, May 1:

One yet undocumented/undated 'Suizen' record release by Bobby Seigetsu Avstreih:

"Sui-zen Shakuhachi - Vol. 1-2"


"Devoted to the Meian sui-zen repertoire in the Jin Nyodo tradition.
Primary teachers Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin and Kurahashi Yoshio.
Received name Seigetsu at Ki Sui An Dojo 1987."



Yes, that very "novel" term, 'Suizen', was quite certainly invented and introduced into modern ascetic shakuhachi ideology by Yasuda Tenzan, 安田 天山, 1909-1994, while he was serving as the first head monk of the new, present-day Kyōto Myōan Temple during the years 1950 to 1952.

On Saturday August 8, 2009, US citizen and longtime Myōan Taizan-ha shakuhachi player Dean Seicho Delbene posted this illustration on his "Myoan Shakuhachi Blogspot" Website:

Tomimori Kyozan's Statement regarding the origin of the terms suizen/suishouzen,nodate

Tomimori Kyozan's Statement regarding the origin of the terms suizen/suishouzen, no date

Do note, by the way, that it can not be true at all, what Kyozan is quoted for stating, namely that,

" - - - 吹簫禅 (SuiShouZen) is right, that word was in old China."

Looking up under 'sui' in the main index of the Dai Kanwa Jiten encyclopedia of classical Chinese and Japanese literature and history you will find neither 'Sui-shō-zen' nor 'Suizen' there.

The very same goes for the great multi-volume collection of Buddhist scrptures, the Tripitaka,
c/o the online searchable SAT Daizōkyō Text Database:
Neither there do you find even one single appearance of the terms 'Sui-shō-zen', 吹簫禅, and 'Suizen', 吹禅 - simple as that.

Who was Yasuda Tenzan?

Here you can study a short biography and a long interview by Lucien Stryk & Ikemoto Takashi, published in a book in 1963 when Yasuda Tenzan was acting as chief abbot of the Zen temple Tōfuku-ji in SE Kyōto:

Interview with Master 安田天山 Yasuda Tenzan by Lucien Stryk & Ikemoto Takashi

Yasuda Tenzan, the Zen Calligrapher

Some time ago, a unique Yasuda Tenzan calligraphy was sold on auction in Japan:

Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy on auction

Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy on auction c/o
The description reads, "Yasuda Tenzan; 'Suizen' calligraphy; founding chief monk
of the revived Myōan-ji; hanging scroll."

Link to the web page

Details of Yasuda Tenzan's 'Suizen' calligraphy:

Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy, detail   Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy, detail

Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy, details"

Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy, detail

Yasuda Tenzan 'Suizen' calligraphy, signature

Another very significant, shakuhachi-related Yasuda Tenzan calligraphy, 'Ichi-on jōbutsu':

Yasuda Tenzan 'Ichi-on jôbutsu' calligraphy, details

Source: Jidai shakuhachi Auction

明暗寺四十世 芳村普庵宗心


Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin

Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin - 1904-1998

In the tokonoma decorative alcova behind Yoshimura Sōshin sensei you see yet another calligraphy by Yasuda Tenzan that reads as follows:

霊韻直古今, 'Rei-in choku kokon', or rather:
霊しい韻が古今を直す, 'Tamashii in ga kokon o naosu':

"Spiritful Sound Transforms Past & Present",
i.e.: "Spiritful Sound Transcends the Duality of Past & Present".



The Tantric symbol 'A' & 'Suizen godō'

Opening pages of a honkyoku folding 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, residing in the center of the
Taizō-kai (Womb Realm) mandala (Skt.: Garbhadātu)
of Japanese Tantric Buddhism (Shingon)
Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson

Xerox copy given as a present by the late Dan E. Mayers, Esq., in 1989.


Sakai Chikuhou II 'Souvenir of Japan' LP, 1986

According to the ISS website, in 1986, Sakai Chikuhō II and DENON released an LP album titled "Souvenir of Japan - Shakuhachi Komusoh and Suizen" - label no. Denon - C33-7777.

     Here is a link to the music track list on the website:

1999, Heisei 11:

Suizen ichinyo calligraphy by Asanuma Ichidou

The highly regarded calligrapher Asanuma Ichidō, 浅沼一道
also created an expressive 'Suizen ichinyo' calligraphy.


2012: A Taiwanese shakuhachi study group visits Kyōto Myōan-ji and takes many photographs.

Suizen ichinyo calligraphy over the main altar at Kyōto Myōan-ji

A 'Suizen ichinyo' calligraphy is placed over the main altar at Myōan-ji.
Name of the artist is so far illegible.

Link to the Shakuhachi Taiwan study group:

Mu-ku-teki Suizen      Myōan Taizan signature & seal

"No Hole Flute - Blowing a Flute Non-dualistic Contemplation Practice"

Calligraphy signed 'Myōan Taizan', the 2nd present times
Myōan Temple chief monk Hirazumi Taizan, 平住台山, (a.k.a. Myōan Taizan),
inaugurated in 1953, died in 1984 (Shōwa 59).

Signature and stamps deciphered by Kosuge Daisetsu, 小菅大徹,
(Komusō kenkyūkai/Hosshin-ji), and Sato Nakazato, Japan.
A present to Torsten Olafsson
given as a present by his teacher Ozawa Seizan in Summer, 1978

2014: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Christian T. Mau:

"As a term, suizen is only used in reference to the shakuhachi and was originally created with the intention of finding a comparable term to zazen, or 'seated' Zen, probably the most common form of meditation practiced by most Zen sects.
'Zen' itself simply means 'meditation' or 'contemplation' (cf. Ogasawara 1978:95–96).

Thus, suizen, very fundamentally means blowing (the shakuhachi) meditation.

As an activity and concept, it is not only inextricably linked to the shakuhachi in general, but especially to Myōan Temple, as the large stone marker on the grounds bears testimony to.

As surprising as it may sound to those already familiar with the expression, however, the word's coinage is less than a century old, thus often rendering its usage somewhat anachronistic when applying it in connection with pre-20th century practice.

Thus it is frequently used indiscriminately — apparently without knowledge of its origins — leading De Ferranti, as one example, to report that "[b]y the seventeenth century the Fuke sect of Zen had institutionalized the practice of suizen" (De Ferranti 2000:71; see also Kamisangō 1988:97,125; Lee 1998:149–150).

The problem here is that, while the manner of using the shakuhachi may well have been institutionalised and identified with the Komusō of the Fuke sect, there certainly does not seem to have been a dedicated term applied to the instrument's usage in this context.

Nor does there seem to have been anything surviving to document past practice or the sect's ideology, unless we are to accept, for example, Kamisangō's 'day in the life' quote described in Chapter 2, section 2.5)."

     Source: Christian T. Mau Ph.D. thesis, 2014, pp. 115-116.


The Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideologies of Rōan & Rakuami, 15th Century



Is this really a "genuine work of art"?

Portrait of Rōan - hanging scroll attributed to Shōkei, late 15th century   Rōan - detail of hanging scroll attributed to Shōkei, late 15th century

Picture of Rōan Playing a Flute
Painting attributed to the Zen monk and painter Shōkei,
aka Kei Shoki, "Clerksman Kei", who was active
during the last two decades of the 1400s and died in 1518.
In the collection of the late Kowata Suigetsu 木幡吹月, 1901-1983

Rōan - detail of hanging scroll attributed to Shōkei, late 15th century

Another Picture of Rōan Playing a Flute discovered on the internet, uncommented.
If you study and compare this picture closely with the two smaller ones above it you will soon realize that they are actually quite different!
How can this be? Which of them is the original - which is a copy?
Are they both falsifications?

If this were indeed a genuine painting, more than 500 years old, it would have been created sometime between 1467, when the renowned painter monk Kenkō Shōkei, 賢江祥啓, was appointed clerksman/calligrapher at the Kenchō Zen Temple in Kamakura, and 1477, when the shakuhachi hermit Rōan supposedly added his short anecdote, his Chinese style 4-line 7-syllable poem, and the place and date, at the top of this quite mysterious hanging scroll.

It has so far been impossible to locate a proper high resolution picture of the painting which includes the written text. Acc. to an internet web page (see link below) the hanging scroll is reproduced in the Nihon-ga taisei, 日本画大成, "A Compilation of Japanese Painting", 1931, Vol. 3, Plate 66.

Fortunately, the shakuhachi scholar Ueno Katami appears to have had access to the original painting (or a good reproduction) and he has presented the complete text in his book Shakuhachi no rekishi, "History of the Shakuhachi", published in 2002 (revised and enlarged edition, first publ. in 1983), on page 153.

Whether this painting attributed to Shōkei is actually "a fabrication", or not, let us appreciate the story and its sincere message for all it is worth, anyway:

以って 紙上に写し、而して予に給す。

"While I [Rōan] was performing a pilgrimage along the Kobuku Road in Sōshū [Sagami, mod. Kanagawa Pref.] I entered the Hōju Hermitage at the Kenchō Zen Temple in [Kamakura] and rested my feet.
The clerksman there, Shōkei the Hermit, noticed my very strange appearance, then rendered [my portrait] on paper and, eventually, bestowed it on me.
For this reason, I said that I would form an attachment, committing myself to [come and] play [the shakuhachi] at that place for years to come."


"When Dualism is cut off,
the shakuhachi dissolves the distinction between Past and Present.
That one unique Sound of Everlasting Impermanence
brings even the Purest of Wisdom [Skt.: Jnana] to an end,
without limit."

時に文明丁酉   秋   宇治の旧蘆に於いて   朗庵叟書

"The 9th year of Bunmei [1477] - Autumn -
Written among the old reeds of Uji by Rōan the Elder."

     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2010 & 2013.
     Source: Ueno, 2002, pp. 152-153.

     A rather poor version of the painting can be found here: &

     The poem is quite similar to poems preserved in
     various versions of the kyōgen play 'Rakuami'.

両頭 - RYŌTŌ - "Dualism"

Late 15th century?: The Kyōgen Play 'RAKUAMI'
- possibly the oldest piece in the kyōgen repertory.


"When both ends are cut, the Middle Way is clear;
One Breath through the flute joins past and present.
In three thousand leagues there will be none
Who understands an enlightened tone."

     Poem recited by the ghost of Rakuami
     in the dance-kyōgen play 'Rakuami',
     possibly late 15th or early 16th century.
     Translated by Carolyn M. Haynes, 1988, p. 271.

For a more detailed discussion of 'Rakuami', consult this webpage:
"Rakuami and Non-duality"

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