The Nakatsuka Chikuzen Shakuhachi History Research Legacy - A Tribute
中塚竹禅 - NAKATSUKA CHIKUZEN
In Memory of, in Warm Respect for - the late, Honourable Nakatsuka Chikuzen,
October 3, 1887 - May 5, 1944.
'Kinko-ryū shakuhachi shikan,' 1979.
Left: Title page. Right: 2nd hand copy once offered by Nihon no Furuhon-ya.
'Nakatsuka Chikuzen: Kinko-ryū shakuhachi shikan'
"A Historical View of the Kinko Tradition of Shakuhachi"
Publ. by Nihon Ongaku-sha, Tokyo, 1979
Nakatsuka Chikuzen was an important representative of Japan's pre-WW2 Kinko-ryū Shakuhachi tradition and music movement.
During the late 1930s, his sincere desire to research and delve deeply into the history of the shakuhachi led him to travel, locate,
meticulously copy, analyze and present his comments on a multitude of preserved books, documents and texts related to the shakuhachi
covering a period of more than 1200 years.
Some Western researchers and writers dealing with shakuhachi history have tended, quite unrightfully, to bagatellize and minimalize
Nakatsuka Chikuzen's contributions and merits as a "shakuhachi history" scholar".
For example, renowned American musicologist and professor William P. Malm *, who as early as in 1959 stated that Nakatsuka Chikuzen's research
was "incomplete", a viewpoint that has later been echoed by US citizen Dean Delbene. **
It actually appears to be quite clear that very few present-day shakuhachi historians and writers can ever have studied
Nakatsuka's work in particularly thorough, exhaustive and critical detail, this being the case outside of Japan, especially.
The fact is that no one will ever get to the bottom of the extremely comprehensive preserved research material illuminating shakuhachi history and ideology.
Prof. Malm is in a way somewhat excused, however, as Nakatsuka Chikuzen's numerous articles in the music magazine 'Sankyoku', 1936-39,
could not have been well known, be it available at all, in the West as early as during the 1950s, I presume.
Left: Front cover of the music magazine 'Sankyoku',
No. 188, November, 1937.
In this particular issue you find the first known reprints of both the 'Kaidō honsoku' document of 1628, and
Isshi Bunshu's letter to Sandō Mugetsu dating from the early 1640s.
Right: Nakatsuka Chikuzen in 'Gendai ongaku taikan', 1927, page 185.
Source: Gunnar Linder Ph.D. dissertation, 2012, page 76.
Link to complete PDF-version of thesis:
However, after 1979, when the publishing company Nihon Ongaku-sha re-published the entire bulk of Nakatsuka's original 'Sankyoku' articles in one,
single impressive and authoritative 600+ pages book, there has been absolute no excuse for any degree of rejecting the central importance
of Nakatsuka Chikuzen's contributions in the field of shakuhachi history and ideology research.
It is in this essential book, that I was fortunate to obtain in the Spring of 1983, I discovered the two above mentioned source documents,
reprinted and commented on on pages 268 through 273.
Ascetic shakuhachi history and ideology research files and material c/o T. Olafsson
*) Scroll, search for Prof. Malm's text about the 'Komusō' here
**) Dean Del Bene's blog page about Prof. Malm's writings in 1959
Click here to study and appreciate Yatō Osamu's complete list showing chapters and parts contained in Nakatsuka Chikuzen's
essential 1979 documentary evidence source collection
All the Best, Sincerely Yours - Torsten Olafsson