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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"?
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
ERA of the FUKE-SŌ / FUKE-KOMOSŌ
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
ERA of the KOMUSŌ
"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"
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
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 Mujiku,
Tomimori Kyozan, Ikeda Jūzan a.o.
1931-1932: Tokugawa kinreikō - A Source Collection
of Tokugawa Period Prohibition Laws
2 - POST-WW2 till TODAY: JAPAN
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 ... : 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
T.O. Profile / Bio / CV
Profile / Biography
Born in late January 1950 in Hellerup, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mixed Icelandic/Danish descent.
Documented Icelandic pedigree traceable through preserved church registers to 9th century viking inhabited Iceland:
Left: Icelandic church registry, p. 1 - 9th century:
Norwegian Kvöldulfúr, no date - Skallagrimmur á Borg, year 878.
Right: Registry, p. 9: Early 20th century, father: Olafur Asbjørn.
Torsten Olafsson grew up on the island of Amager in Southern Copenhagen.
Studied music (and dancing) from very early childhood and on:
Singing, piano, recorder, bugle, drums, electric bass, acoustic guitar, vibraphone, Indian tabla, percussion - then Japanese shakuhachi,
a little Japanese koto, acoustic bass guitar and – more recently: Arabic darbuka drum.
First "professional" appearance as a pop/rock drummer on October 3rd, 1965, on the island of Amager, Copenhagen.
1965-68: Specialized language (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, English, German, French & Latin) & classical music theory studies in high school.
1968, January 1st: Formed the symphonic rock band ACHE, who composed and recorded the world’s first genuine rock ballet, "De Homine Urbano" in 1969,
released on LP in 1970 (Philips) & re-released at least 7 times since then, internationally.
Second ACHE album, ‘Green Man’, 1971, also reissued at least 7 times, worldwide.
The latest twin album re-releases happened in Japan, in March 2020.
1968: Began university studies in Chinese Art and Culture, incl. modern and classical Chinese.
B.A. degree in 1974 - Danish equivalent academic degree: Exam. art.
1974: Began university studies in Japanese Language and Culture (Japanology).
1977-78: Studies in Japan: Kyōto University foreign special research student, and the Myōan Temple: Taizan-ha Shakuhachi practice, with Ozawa Seizan sensei, Yamashina,
Torsten Olafsson's Myōan Temple admission certificate, 1977
1981: B.A. degree in Japanese/Japanology - Danish equivalent academic degree: Exam. art.
1983: Participates as photo editor during the build-up of the "Japan I Brede" exhibition,
organized by the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen.
1983: Release of the LP & MC ‘Standing Waves – Zen Shakuhachi Meditations’ (Olafssongs OLP 001/OMC 001).
Geoff Duckworth wrote in his review in "Take no Michi", published by The International Shakuhachi Society (selections):
" - - - Listening to the music one is immediately struck by its starkness in terms of tonal variation, decoration, vibrato etc.,
that one hears in the music of players from the Kinko, or Tozan schools.
If you have developed your shakuhachi listening with the music of Yamaguchi, Reibo, Yamamoto, or Yokoyama, for instance, the music here may be a shock." - - -
" - - - You may, or may not like the music on this record. But I think this would miss the point,
that this record adds to the richness of both one's personal store, and the whole body of shakuhachi music. - - - "
Link to a scanning of the complete review, PDF
1983-1984: Gives a number of public lectures about Japanese history and music in Denmark.
1984-1985: Intensive M.A. degree studies and research at the University of Copenhagen, Eastasian Institute.
1986: Special research in the Tōkyō area.
Leisure time shakuhachi studies with the late Yokoyama Katsuya in Chiba.
1987: M.A. thesis in Japanology submitted to the University of Copenhagen:
"Early 17th Century Ascetic Shakuhachi Ideology.
The Kaidō honsoku. A Komosō’s Fuke Shakuhachi Credo, dated 1628."
(Published internationally by Monty H. Levenson/Tai Hei Shakuhachi, Willits, CA, in 2003.)
1991-1999: First Print Manager, then Serious Music Manager, with Warner/Chappell Music Denmark A/S.
1997: On invitation by then International Shakuhachi Society president, the honorable, late Dan E. Mayers, Esq., Torsten writes an introductory essay to the
‘Kaidō honsoku’ thesis.
2001: ‘Standing Waves’ is re-released on CD by Fønix Musik, Denmark (Fønix Musik CD FM 1183).
2003: The ‘Kaidō honsoku’ thesis together with the introductory essay is printed and published internationally by Monty H. Levenson/Tai Hei Shakuhachi,
Willits, California, USA.
2003: Website about Fuke/Zen Shakuhachi research is launched, first hosted c/o www.torstenolafsson.dk.
2005: Introductory essay about the ‘Kaidō honsoku’ thesis is published by the ISS, in Annals vol. 2.
The editor, the late president of the International Shakuhachi Society, Mr. Dan E. Mayers, Esq., commented in his introduction to the article:
"Torsten Olafsson taught himself, unaided, to read ancient Japanese in order to complete the following thesis: an astonishing scholarly feat.
The conclusions of the thesis are not widely accepted by Japanese scholars but are interesting and challenging,
throwing new light on an area in which Japanese scholarship has tended to become all too formal.
Those wishing further scholarly enlightenment should consult the original thesis, of which this is a very brief and incomplete summary.
Only through study of the original thesis can a full appreciation be obtained of the scholarship involved.
2008: The late Prof. Tsukitani Tsuneko concluded in her article in the book “The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music”:
"The body of shakuhachi researchers in Japan is relatively small; names that recur in the bibliography include Kamisangō, Tsukitani/Tukitani,
Seyama and Simura/Shimura.
It is regrettable that the most conspicuous work is being produced not in Japan but by scholars abroad. (See the works by Fritsch, Gutzwiller, Keister, Lee, Olafsson.)"
2009: Becomes a board member and graphics editor of Dansk-Japansk Selskab.
2009: Danish language shakuhachi website established: www.shakuhachi.dk.
2011: English language shakuhachi website is assigned its own separate URL under the name www.zen-shakuhachi.dk.
The "Zen Shakuhachi Reality Research Web Pages.
An Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi Historical Chronology,
Terminology & Etymology of Concepts, Ideology, Iconology & Practices in Particular.
Significant structural expansions and numerous updates are made till this day.
2011, January: Special PowerPoint-supported shakuhachi lecture at the art museum Ordrupgaard in Charlottenlund north of Copenhagen.
2017, June 16th: The Museum at the Royal Castle Amalienborg in central Copenhagen opened the exhibition "Japan i Kongehuset".
Torsten O. performed Myōan Taizan-ha Shakuhachi honkyoku interchanging with the speeches during the opening reception.
The prominent guests of honour in the audience were the exhibition's two protectors:
His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and His Royal Highness Prince Frederik of Denmark.
2017, late July: Torsten O. presented a comprehensive poster exhibition at the European Shakuhachi Society's Summer School in Vejle with c. 80 color posters about shakuhachi history and ascetic ideology:
2017, December: Torsten O. accompanied two Japanese silent movies at Cinemateket in Copenhagen and lectured about the shakuhachi in between the two performances.
2018, June: Torsten O. played the shakuhachi and told about the ascetic Taizan-ha tradition on the outdoor arena of Lillerød Kirke in Allerød a little north of Copenhagen.
2019, February: Torsten O. presented a new, updated version of his PowerPoint-, video-, and audio supported lecture/mini concert:
"The Flute with no Holes – Zen & the Sound of Bamboo".
Venue: Elsinore Library/Helsingør Bibliotek at Kulturværftet - the famous former Elsinore shipyard - overlooking the harbour and Kronborg Castle.
2019, March: Torsten revisited Kyōto to reunite with the Tamura Family who hosted him while he was studying there in 1977-1978.
Torsten Olafsson has contributed as a versatile studio musician to more than 40 Danish music albums;
as a professional graphic artist created more than 65 music album cover designs; transcribed, music engraved, typeset and layouted well over
1.300 mostly Danish pop, rock, jazz, folk & instrumental guitar music pieces and,
since a. 1980, in his capacity as music editor and publishing company music editor
and print manager, produced hundreds sheet music and music book titles, small and comprehensive.
Torsten is currently – beside his various shakuhachi activities - working closely with his younger brother, internationally renowned acoustic & electric guitarist
Finn Olafsson, Olafssongs Music Publishers, Denmark, as a concert & studio recording musician, music editor, graphics designer, photographer,
webmaster - as well as occasionally appearing as a lecturer on Japanese shakuhachi history, music & ideology.
In February, 2000, Torsten Olafsson more or less "settled down" in Helsingør/Elsinore, north of Copenhagen: The city of Shakespeare and Prince Hamlet's castle Kronborg:
Hamlet's Castle Kronborg in Elsinore, Denmark. Photo: Torsten Olafsson