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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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1678: The Enpō 5, 12th Month, 18th Day, Komusō-ha Oboe
     Bakufu Memorandum of January 11th, 1678

This webpage has been created with help and generous contributions from Kishi Kiyokazu,
貴志清一, Japan, and Ronald Nelson, USA, for which I do warmly thank them both.

Go to page bottom for links to Mr. Kishi's comprehensive Japanese language shakuhachi homepage.

My own complete English translation of the document and commentary can be found and studied towards the bottom of this webpage.

- OBOE - "Memorandum"

Do note: This is definitely not a 'kōnin', 公認, an "official governmental authorization", as a majority of shakuhachi historians do very much like to call it!

And, this short memorandum does not in any way connect the 'Komusō' with the Rinzai Sect!

It is rather just a short notification of certain basic guidelines for a then pretty small, local and only loosely knit "organization" of temporarily, or perhaps lifelong, masterless members of the samurai class.
That's all ...

It is essential to note that the document is addressed to "All Komusō Branches" (or, "Factions"):
虚無僧諸派, - and definitely not to any "Fuke Sect" branches, factions, or parties, at all.

Also, do note that a piece of the document scroll is missing in the top right corner. That is where Japanese shakuhachi historians have later proposed/inserted (?) the term 'jū-shoku', 住職, "chief monk".
I am still earnestly searching for any possible preserved/orignal copy version of this 'oboe' in which nothing is missing, in order to clarify this central issue.
T.O. Dec. 12, 2019

Moreover: You do not see the slightest mention of any relation to the Rinzai Zen establishment
in the 'Enpō 5' 'Komusō' Document at all.

And, not least: No documentary evidence presented here at all that 'komusō' were in any way "Zen monks"!

Here you see an annotated reprint of a however very significant - and disputed - Komusō Shakuhachi related document that is exhibited in copy in the Komusō Room of the Matsudo City Museum in NW Chiba Prefecture.

This is the vicinity in which the memorable Komusō temple Ichigetsu-ji was located during the Edo Period after it had been established there at some time during the last quarter of the 17th century.

Enpō 5 Oboe document reprint displayed at Matsudo City Museum in Chiba

- 'Oboe' - Annotated reprint of the socalled "Edict of the Enpō Period"
Photo taken by Ronald Nelson in Summer 2014.

This document is generally being regarded, accepted and highly respected as presenting full and reliable evidence of the socalled "Fuke Sect" having been officially recognized and authorized by the "Temples & Shrines Magistrate Department" in Edo - and thus the Tokugawa Bakufu régime - towards the ultimate close of the 5th year of the Enpō Period (1673-1681).

Enpō 5 Oboe document reproduction displayed at Matsudo City Museum in Chiba

Click in the photo to enlarge.

The above picture appears to show one existing photographic reproduction of an actual, original Oboe, or "Memorandum", document.
According to the small sign under the picture, it is a treasure of the Myōan Temple in Kyōto.
Both photos were most kindly taken by Ronald Nelson of the International Shakuhachi Society at the Matsudo City Museum in Summer 2014.

In december 2015, my friend and longtime devoted shakuhachi researcher Kishi Kiyokazu, 貴志清一, in Japan generously offered me the possibility of presenting on my Zen-shakuhachi website here his fine renderings into both classical and modern Japanese of this very important 'komusō' document known as the "Enpō 5 Edict" - or, "Memorandum", in Japanese: Oboe, - dated towards the very end of the fifth year of the Enpō Period which lasted from 1673 through 1681.

In the following presentation I have also included Kishi Kiyokazu's own comments in English to the document, its contents and significance, in his own personal opinion and qualified interpretation.

Thank you very much for this fine favour of yours, Kishi-san :-)

The late 1800s Koji ruien editors falsified the Enpō 5 Oboe Memorandum!

Enpō 5 Oboe document, falsified reprint version in Koji ruien   Enpō 5 Oboe document, falsified reprint version in Koji ruien

When the Meiji Government's late 1800s Koji ruien encyclopedia board of editors chose and prepared selected textual material for a chapter on the topic 'Fuke-shū', 普化宗,
deliberately or not, they falsified one particular important document in a way that would inevitably change, distort and pollute the writing of shakuhachi and 'komusō' history for more than a century.

When preparing the 'Enpō 5 Oboe' for printing, the editors in charge changed the original 'Oboe' Memorandum's
虚無僧諸派, 本寺中, 末寺中,
"(Addressed) to All 'Komusō' Branches, Head Temples, Sub Temples",
into that of
普化宗門諸派, 同本寺中, 末寺中,
"(Addressed) to All 'Fuke Shūmon' Branches, Both Head Temples and Sub Temples".

If that is not "falsification of a historical document", tell me ...

In Danish, "Svindel & Humbug" ...
In German, "Betrug und Täuschung" ...
In French, "Fraude et Tromperie" ...
In Spanish, "Fraude y engaño" ...
In English, "Fraud and Deception" ...

一 本寺之 (住職者) 其末寺并本寺之弟子
      仲間 以衆評 撰器量 可相立之
      後 住契約并遺状 不可立之
      於末寺住職者 其寺之弟子共相談之上窺
      本寺 可居置事。

一 弟子契約之儀 改其人 慥取証人 可極之
      為背大法追放人等 不可抱置事。
      附 虚無僧之作法 古来定通 従本寺
      弥 念入 急度 可申付事。

一 末寺并弟子中 背法令 仕置時 小科之者
      断本寺 可任指図 大科之族者 達奉行所
      落着可申付之 理不盡之働 仕間敷候事。

右之條〃 堅可相守之 若 於違背之
輩者 可為曲事者也
                                                 太 摂津 判
                                                 板 石見 判
                                                 小 山城 判


Paragraph 1 rendered in classical Japanese (yomikudashi) by Kishi Kiyokazu:

一 本寺の住職はその末寺并(ならび)に本寺の弟子仲間衆評を以つて器量を選び、之を相い立てるべし。


Paragraph 1 rendered in modern Japanese by Kishi Kiyokazu:


Kishi’ Kiyokazu's comment to Par. 1:

There was a relation between a main temple 本寺(ほんじ)
and the branch temples 末寺(まつじ).
This provision refers to the way in which a chief priest should be selected and appointed.
It admits/confirms the autonomy of the Fuke Sect.


Paragraph 2 rendered in classical Japanese (yomikudashi) by Kishi Kiyokazu:

一 弟子契約の儀(ぎ)、その人(にん)を改め、たしかに証人を取り、これを極(き)むるべし。

Paragraph 2 rendered in modern Japanese by Kishi Kiyokazu:


Kishi’ Kiyokazu's comment to Par. 2:

This provision states the way to select or permit a disciple.
If he is a criminal, he cannot become a Fuke monk.

Paragraph 3 rendered in classical Japanese (yomikudashi) by Kishi Kiyokazu:

一 末寺ならびに弟子中、法令に背き、仕置きの時、小科の者は本寺にことわり、指図に任すべし。 大科の族(やから)は奉行所に達し落着、之を申し付くべし。

Paragraph 3 rendered in modern Japanese by Kishi Kiyokazu:


Kishi’ Kiyokazu's comment to Par. 3:

The punishment of a light crime must be enforced by the Fuke Sect and a heavy crime by the Shōgunate magistrate's office.
That is the ordinary way of the Shōgunate.

(④ )

Paragraph "“4”" rendered in classical Japanese (yomikudashi) by Kishi Kiyokazu:



大 摂津 守 御印
板 石見 守 御印
小 山城 守 御印


Paragraph "“4" rendered” in modern Japanese by Kishi Kiyokazu:


    延宝5 丁巳年 12月 18日
        [=1678年 1月 11日]

    大田(おおた) 摂津(せっつ)の守(かみ)
    板倉(いたくら) 石見(いわみ)の守
    小出(こいで) 山城(やましろ)の守


Kishi Kiyokazu'’s comment to Par. “"4"”:

Ōta, Itakura, and Koide were the supreme officials of the Temple & Shrine Department.
So this document is public and has a binding force.
This document is an utmost important one, because this is the official one.
And from now and that time on 'Komusō' were admitted as Zen priests.

Kishi Kiyokazu, December 2015


by Torsten Olafsson as of August 2, 2016


The [? chief monk of a/the head temple ?] must be elected and appointed from among the disciples of the highest standard in the sub temples and the head temple(s).

Even if there exists a master-disciple relationship [possibly, between two 'rōnin komusō'?], that must not be allowed any influence on the selection and written appointment of a chief monk.

As for the chief monk of a sub temple he must report to the head temple in case there arises a dispute or a conflict among that temple's disciples.

At the time of accepting (or, contracting with) a [new] disciple, that person's background and identity must be certified and confirmed in formal writing by a [or, by one or more] witness(es) before a final decision [can be settled].

Convicted and banished persons who have acted contrary to the fundamental laws must be arrested and taken prisoners (or, taken into custody].

Even so more, the head temple must definitely and thoroughly so instruct that the etiquette (or, manners) of the 'Komusō' since times of old be ever increasingly observed and respected.

At the time when a sub temple and/or a disciple are to be punished for having acted against the laws, minor offenders are to make a humble plea to the head temple and accept the resulting mandate.

Persons who have committed serious wrongdoing must be handed over to the government magistrates, for their official judgement in the matter.

Outrageous behaviour that is not in accordance with the underlying Principles of the Cosmos [acc. to Neo-Confucianism] is not acceptable [lit., does not serve].

The above paragraphs must be firmly observed and obeyed.

If they are violated that is very unlawful.

Enpō 5th, the 'hinoto mi' year, 12th month, 18th day *)
= January 11, 1678, year of the cyclic sign 'hinoto mi' *)

Ōta Settsu no Kami [seal] **)
     Governor Director ['Kami'] of the Settsu Province (SE part of Hyōgo Prefecture
     and the Northern part of Ōsaka Prefecture)

Itakura Iwami no Kami [seal] ***)
     Governor Director ['Kami'] of the Iwami Province (Western part of Shimane Prefecture)

Koide Yamashiro no Kami [seal] ****)
     Governor Director ['Kami'] of the Yamashiro Province (Southern part of Kyōto Prefecture)

(To) All 'Komusō' Factions
Mother Temple[s]
Sub Temple[s]

Preliminary notes:

     *) The cyclic sign 'hinoto mi', 丁巳, is not correct for this date.
The cyclic sign for Enpō 5-12-18 should be 'tsuchinoe uma', 戊午!

Direct link to the online Zöllner & Tsuchihashi Year Period and Cyclic Sign Calculator & Generator

    **) Personal name: Ōta Suketsugu, 太田 資次;
in office as Temples & Shrines Magistrate in 1676-1678.

   ***) Personal name: Itakura Shigetane, 板倉 重種;
in office as Temples & Shrines Magistrate in 1677-1680.

  ****) Personal name: Koide ???, 小出 ?
Do note that there was no person with the family name 'Koide' in office in Enpō 5!

However, in fact a certain Ogasawara Yamashiro no Kami, 小笠原 山城 守, personal name: Ogasawara Naganori, 小笠原 長矩, was indeed in office as Temples & Shrines Magistrate in 1666-1678.

Source: WikiPedia: Jisha bugyō

A deepening commentary will be added soon ...

Torsten Olafsson
Elsinore, Denmark
August 2nd, 2016

Kishi Kiyokazu

Kishi Kiyokazu

Link to 尺八吹奏研究会HP - The Shakuhachi Performance Research Society HomePage edited by Kishi Kiyokazu

A few selected 2016 updates by Kishi Kiyokazu on his Japanese language shakuhachi home page:

A visit in Matsudo City in NW Chiba Prefecture, and the city museum there

A visit at the Kōkoku-ji Zen temple in Yura, Wakayama

Main Hall of the Kōkoku Temple in Yura, Wakayama Pref., Japan. Photo by Kishi Kiyokazu, 2016

Main Hall of the Kōkoku Temple in Yura, Wakayama Pref., Japan.
Photo by Kishi Kiyokazu, July 2016

A walk around the Kumano Kōdō in S. Wakayama Prefecture

A study of the statue of Kyochiku Ryōen Zenji at the Myōan Temple in Kyōto

An Enpō Period shakuhachi-playing mendicant 'komusō'?

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.

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