「修行尺八」歴史的証拠の研究   ホームページ
      'Shugyō Shakuhachi' rekishi-teki shōko no kenkyū hōmupēji -

The "Ascetic Shakuhachi" Historical Evidence Research Web Pages

Introduction & Guide to the Documentation & Critical Study of Ascetic, Non-Dualistic Shakuhachi Culture, East & West:
Historical Chronology, Philology, Etymology, Vocabulary, Terminology, Concepts, Ideology, Iconology & Practices

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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The Duality of the Clear
and the Obscure
By Tanikita Muchiku, 1875-1957

Isshi Bunshu

Isshi Bunshu, 1608-1646
By Deyama Nigu, 17th century


By Isshi Bunshu, 1608-1646

Bamboo and rock by Isshi Bunshu

Bamboo and rock
By Isshi Bunshu


JAPAN 5 • 1614-1664

2600 BCE - 800 CE
China 1
6000 BCE - 500 CE
China 2
500 CE ...
Japan 1
600 - 1233
Japan 2
1233 - 1477
Japan 3
1477 - 1560
Japan 4
1560 - 1614
Japan 5
1614 - 1664
Japan 6
1664 - 1767
Japan 7
1767 - 1883
Japan 8
1883 ...
The West
1298 ...

1614-1664 - From KOMO-SŌ, FUKE-SŌ & "FUKE-KOMOSŌ" - to KOMUSŌ

Service Announcement - March 12, 2021:

The contents of a number of newly discovered early Edo Period -'komusō' documents will soon be presented on this web page.

Kind Spring Greetings, T.O.

1612: The persecution of the Christian converts in Japan recommences.

1614, January 27:
Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu issues an edict completely prohibiting Christianity in Japan.
Attached to the edict are 15 rules for the guidance of the Buddhist priesthood in securing its enforcement, for instance,
" --- everyone must become a member of one or another of the principal Buddhist sects, the head of the family being responsible for the choice thereof."

     Source: C.R. Boxer, 1993, pp. 318-319.

Acc. to, "Between 1553 and 1620, eighty-six Daimyōs were officially baptized, and many more were sympathetic to the Christians."
Read more here: Kirishitan

大坂 - ŌSAKA no EKI


The Ōsaka Castle Siege, Summer Campaign, 1614
The Ōsaka Castle Siege, Summer Campaign, 1614   The Ōsaka Castle Siege, Summer Campaign, 1614

'Ōsaka-ge no jin-zu byōbu'
The Ōsaka Castle Siege, Summer Campaign, 1614
By various unnamed artists, by order of Kuroda Josui, 17th century.

In 1615 Tokugawa Ieyasu's army finally defeated the forces of Toyotomi Hideyori. Around 70.000 of Hideyori's supporters are reported to have survived to become masterless samurai samurai, or 'rōnin'.

Acc. to George B. Sansom (1964, vol. 3, pp. 32-33), the number of rōnin in Japan at this time may have have reached a total of 500.000.


慶長見聞集 - KEICHŌ KENMON-SHŪ by Miura Jōshin



Did the below told incident ever take place, possibly? Maybe not, really ...

Do note:
The Fuke Shakuhachi player being quoted in the following text WAS NOT a KOMUSŌ!

The shakuhachi-playing laymonk in this anecdote, of samurai heritage, is described by Miura Jōshin as a ko-mu-sō, 古無僧, "old+none-ness+monk", the reason simply being that the author did not know how to write the term komo-sō correctly.

The confusion of the phonems mo and mu is certainly not uncommon at all, as those two syllables are virtually homonymous.

At this very time in history a mendicant shakuhachi "laymonk" would rightly still be known as a Fuke komo-sō, not a komu-sō.

There were definitely no komu-sō, 虚無僧, in existence in Japan before sometime after the Shimabara Rebellion on Kyūshū in Southern Japan in 1637-38, at the earliest.

- - -
- - -

" - - - Although many years ago I held a high position, now I have become one who has abandoned the world. But when I recall my former occupation, I do not grieve over poverty and lowliness but hold on to the fate of the Way of the Buddha and reserve all my considerations for the Doctrine. I have no inward possessions, no outward desires, and I calmly follow in the footprints of Priest Fuke and have entered upon the way of True Detachment and Spiritual Deliverance.
But even though I strive hard in ascetic discipline [shugyō, 修行], I find it difficult indeed to maintain a peaceful mind when I am confronted with an atrocious word. - - - "

     Miura Jōshin (1565-1644) quoting a travelling Fuke monk
     being characterized in his kanazōshi book 'Keichō Kenmon-shū',
     'Seen and Heard during the Keichō Period', 1614.
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson.
     Sources: Kurihara, 1918/1975, pp. 183-184. (& Koji ruien vol. 37)



Evidently, the Fuke Shakuhachi player being described by Miura Jōshin was equipped with a sword:


"[The komusō] drew out in the open the short sword [wakizashi] he was carrying by his side, proclaiming that it was a genuine 'Yoshimitsu'."

     Source: 'Keichō Kenmon-shū', 1614.
     Trsl. from Torsten Olafsson, 1987, p. 117.



"Ordinances for the Military Houses"

Buke shohatto, 1615


In 1615, the "Ordinances for the Military Houses", Buke shohatto, totalling 13 paragraphs, are promulgated. Selected clauses:

(1) "The study of literature and the practice of the military arts must be pursued side by side."

(3) "Those who break the laws are not to be given shelter in any fief."

(5) "No sanctuary is to be given to men who plot rebellion or incite risings. Hereafter residence in a fief shall be limited to men born in that fief."

(7) "Should it be learned that in a neighbouring fief there are men who plot changes and form parties or factions to carry them out, they must at once be denounced [to the Bakufu]."

(12) "All samurai in all fiefs are to live frugally."

     Trsl. by George B. Sansom, 1964, vol. 3, pp. 7-8.
     Also see Takahashi, 1990, pp. 48-50.

     The 'Buke shohatto' was drawn up on Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu's
     instructions by the Zen Monk Ishin Sūden, 1569-1633.
     The original manuscript is owned by the Konchi-in temple in Kyōto.




" - - - According to the 'Boro-boro Story Book', the empty sky priests were 7 feet 8 inches tall and tough and strong. Clad in paper garments decorated with designs, they carried swords which were 1 foot 8 inches long, and held octagonal, rattan-wound shafts by their sides. Walking on high clogs 1 foot 5 inches tall, their hair long and black, they came to be known as 'Boro'. It is being said that they took beautiful wives as spouses and travelled together all over the country in groups of thirty."

其後に薦僧と云もの僧とも見えず俗とも見えず山伏ともみえず, 刀をさし尺八を吹せなかにむしろをおひ道路をありき人の門戸に立て物を乞もらふ.
是ぼろ々々の流也, と云傳へたり。

"Later, as for the 'Komosō', they appear to have been neither monks, laymen, nor yamabushi. They wore swords and blew the shakuhachi. Carrying straw mats on their backs they wandered the roads and, they begged for and received alms at people's gates. This, I am told, is the tradition of the 'Boroboro'. - - - "

     Hayashi Razan, 1583-1657, in 'Tsurezuregusa nozuchi', "Excursions
     into the Tsurezuregusa". Written in 1621. Published in 1648.
     Printed in 1667. Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 1986-87.
     Source: Kurihara Kōta, 1918.

Hayashi Razan

Hayashi Razan (a.k.a. Hayashi Dōshun) - artist and date unknown



The "Great Genna Martyrdom" at Nagasaki.
55 arrested Christians die from torture, exhaustion or execution.

The Great Genna Martyrdom in Nagasaki

"The Great Genna Martyrdom in Nagasaki"
Painting by unnamed Japanese artist.

江戸 大殉教 - EDO no DAIJUNKYŌ

1623: The "Great Martyrdom of Edo".
First 50, soon afterwards further 37 Christians are executed.

The Great Martyrdom in Edo

"The Great Martyrdom in Edo"
Painting by unnamed Japanese artist.




" - - - In our country, in recent times, there were [two] persons who lived as hermits in Uji, Kyōun [pseudonym for Ikkyū Sōjun, 一休宗純, 1394-1481] and Ichirōsō, who had abandoned the world. They [both] played the shakuhachi [together]. - - - "

     Hayashi Razan, 1583-1657, in 'Shakuhachi (no) ki',
     "Shakuhachi Chronicle". Dated Genna 9, 1623.
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2013. In vol. 19 of:
     Hayashi Razan bunshū, "Collected Writings by
     Hayashi Razan", Kōbunsha, Kyōto, 1930, pp. 217.
     Link to online version:
     Hayashi Razan bunshū


普化僧 - FUKE-SŌ
薦僧 - KOMOSŌ     

醒睡笑 - SEISUISHŌ by Anrakuan Sakuden

"Laughs to Wake You Up"


"While, at one occasion, I had a conversation with an elder named Sawarō [?] at the temple Yūfuku-ji in Bishū [mod. Aichi Pref.], I heard a komosō who had arrived [and played] in the courtyard.

When Sawarō asked him to come up [and join us] on the veranda [where we were sitting], he readily stepped on the veranda. As, somehow or other, there was nothing [for him] to sit on, Sawarō addressed him a second time, [this time] as "Fuke Monk" [Jap.: Fuke-sō].

After some time, finally he [the komosō] responded.
He unrolled his sitting mat."

     Anrakuan Sakuden, 1554-1642, in 'Seisuishō', "Laughter
     Which Disperses Sleep", 1623, maki 8. Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2010.
     Source: Ueno, 1984, pp. 206-207, and
     The Komazawa University Library Text Database

洞簫 - DŌSHŌ

1624-44 - Kan'ei Period

The Shijō shirakawa yūraku-zu folding screen

The Shijō shirakawa yūraku-zu folding screen:
Female & male shakuhachi ('dōshō?') players
and one 'hitoyogiri' player performing
Kan'ei Period, 1624-44. Creator unknown
Seikaidō Bunko Art Museum, Tōkyō



Tekst to be added and commented.

     Hayashi Razan, 1583-1657, in 'Yoin shakuhachi (no) ki',
     "Further Notes to the Shakuhachi Chronicle". Dated Genna 11, 1625.
     In vol. 19 of:
     Hayashi Razan bunshū, "Collected Writings by
     Hayashi Razan", Kōbunsha, Kyōto, 1930, pp. 218.
     Link to online version:
     Hayashi Razan bunshū
     See also: Linder, 2012, p. 213.

1626-1633: The Nagasaki city magistrate Mizuno Kawachi-no-kami and his successor Terazawa Hirotake organize a "reign of terror" against Christian converts, most of them peasants, in the districts under their control.


1627-1629 - The "PURPLE ROBE AFFAIR"

In 1627, the Bakufu countermanded Imperial order granting especially honorary "purple robes" (Jap.: shi-e) to high-ranking monks of Daitoku-ji, Myōshin-ji, and other temples in Kyōto.

In 1629, in anger over the Bakufu's interference in these matters, Emperor Gomizuno-o abdicated - and the renowned and influential abbot of the Zen temple Daitoku-ji, Takuan Sōhō, who had ardently protested, was exiled for some years to Northern Japan.

Who was Takuan Sōhō?

TAKUAN SŌHŌ, 1573-1645:

The characters Dream-Word & Waka poem - calligraphy by Takuan Sōhō

The characters Dream-Word & Waka poem - calligraphy by Takuan Sōhō
Nomura Art Museum, Kyōto

" - - - When the hands are clapped, the sound issues without a moment's deliberation.
The sound does not wait and think before it issues.
There is no mediacy here, one movement follows another without being interrupted by one's conscious mind.
If you are troubled and cogitate what to do, seeing the opponent about to strike you down, you give him room, that is, a happy chance for his deadly blow.
Let the defence follow the attack without a moment's interruption, and there will be no two separate movements to be known as attack and defence. - - - "

     The Zen abbot and samurai mentor Takuan Sōhō (1573-1645)
     instructing the samurai Yagyū Tajima-no-kami in the art of fencing.
     Early to mid-17th century. Trsl. by D.T. 2, Vol. III.

Three Sages - by Josetsu

Three Sages - suiboku-ga painting by Josetsu, fl. 1405–1423

"A Picture of Three Sages
The Taoist with a cap, the Confucian with his shoes,
and Sākyamuni with his kesa,
The appearance of each one is a grain of sand in the other's eye;
In a hundred affairs of human beings, there are a hundred uselesnesses,
With a single sound the mountain bird moves obliquely
to the sun in the west."

     Gozan verse by Takuan Sōhō in the Myōan sōsō-shū,
     'Anthology of (the Duality of) Light and Darkness',
     compiled by ten of his disciples.
     Mid-17th century. Trsl. by Dennis E. Lishka, 1976.



Statue of Fudō Myōō

Statue of Fudō Myōō at Oku no In, Mt. Kōya
- the most prominent center of Shingon Buddhism in Japan

In his right hand, Fudō Myōō is holding the "Sword of Wisdom" that cuts through delusion and ignorance.



" - - - Then if one is to achieve the level of immovable wisdom, practicing from the stage of the beginning mind, one must come to the situation of dropping back down to the level of returning to abide in the stage of the beginning mind.

This can be described in terms of your martial art. The beginning mind is not knowing anything about the postures of the body in handling a sword - it is the mind not stopping upon the body. An opponent will strike and there will not be any mind to take even the slightest notice. But at the stage of learning and practicing various things - bodily posture and the ways for holding the sword and how to proceed with the mind - as various matters are taught, the mind will stop upon various positions. If one attempts to strike at a person, one will be extremely restrained over this and that. Days will pile up and months and years accumulate as one follows one's practice, and subsequently bodily postures and the ways of holding the sword will all disappear within the mind. Only the knowing nothing and having practiced nothing at the beginning, is the manner of the mind. This is the state of mind that is identical at the beginning and upon completion [mastery].

If a person proceeds to count from one through ten, one and ten can be said to be right next to one another. In the [Sino-Japanese musical] scale if one proceeds in counting from the lowest note ichikotsu up through the highest note kamimu, the lowest first [note of the twelve-tone scale] is adjacent [identical] to the highest last [note of the preceding lower twelve-note scale]. The first - ichikotsu, the second - tangin, the third - hyōjō, the fourth - shōzetsu, the fifth - shimomu, the sixth - sōjō, the seventh - fushō, the eighth - ōshiki, the ninth - rankei, the tenth - banshiki, the eleventh - shinsen, and the twelfth - kamimu. Directly the highest and directly the lowest can be said to be similar.
In the Dharma of the Buddha as well, to the extent that a person looks upon the Buddha and the Dharma as one does who knows nothing about them, there is not the slightest pretension.

Therefore the ignorance and klesa of the beginning abiding ground and the final immovable wisdom are one - one's intellectual activity is lost and this refers to serenity in the level of the No-mind and Non-thought.
If one achieves the level of ultimacy, one's hands and feet and body will be thoroughly confident, and one's mind will be something at the stage of never being depressed at all. - - - "

     By Takuan Sōhō - quoted from the 'Fudōchi shinmyōroku',
     'Record of the Mysteries of Immovable Wisdom',
     compiled sometime after Takuan's death in 1645.
     Mid-17th century. Trsl. by Dennis E. Lishka, 1976.



Also being referred to, titled and recognized as:



暮露の手帳 - BORO no TECHŌ

暮露の手記 - BORO no SHUKI

Kongō-kai mandala, Tō-ji, Kyōto

Kongō-kai (Diamond Realm) mandala - Tō-ji, Kyōto, 9th century

KAIDŌ HONSOKU - selected quotations:


"The three nodes represent the Oneness of the Three Bodies, the lower opening the Womb Realm, the upper opening the Diamond Realm, and the crescent-shaped mouthpiece above teaches the Clarity of Absolute Reality.
The shakuhachi is precious beyond limit. "


"Oh, how mysterious is the bamboo flute that the Komo carries!
The shakuhachi is the principal treasure of the Komo and it represents the Four Seasons symbolized by the four finger holes on the front."


"When you search, and find
in shakuhachi sound your refuge,
is that not indeed
the essence of bamboo?"


"Choosing as one's hermitage
the voice of the shakuhachi,
is that not the Spring breeze
blowing at Miyagi-no?"

     Quoted from the 'Kaidō Honsoku', anon., 1628.
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 1987, 2003.
     Sources: Nakatsuka, 1979 & Shūhō Yokō, 1938/1981.

     For a complete translation of 'Kaidō honsoku',
     please visit this web page: Kaidō honsoku




"How mysterious, indeed, is the sword that the Komo is carrying!
[Even at his master Banzan's death bed] Fuke made a somersault over the screen and mattress, it is being told!"

     Trsl. from Torsten Olafsson, 1987, p. 17.

1628?: Did an angry and revengeful 'Komusō' commit assault, or murder, in the Province of Tosa on the island of Shikoku?

     Source: Hosaka Hiro'oki, 1994

KAN'EI PERIOD, 1624-1644 - before 1630

傘張 ・薦僧図

1624-1630, early Kan'ei Period:


Do note, that the title given by the Nezu Museum in Tokyo to this painting is very misleading:

There definitely were no 'Komusō' in Japan at this time: The early years of the Kan'ei Period.

The two flute-playing figures in this painting certainly are 'Komosō', 薦僧 !

Also, do visit this new, dedicated webpage, uploaded on April 27, 2021:

1630 at the latest: Iwasa Matabei's Famous Painting of
     Two 'Fuke-Komosō' With Swords & An Umbrella Maker

Painting of an Umbrella Maker & 2 Fuke-Komosō

Painting of an Umbrella Maker & Two 'Fuke-Komosō'
by Iwasa Matabei, 1578-1650

An "important work of art" dating from the early Edo Period,
17th century, before 1630.

Exhibited by the Nezu Museum, Tōkyō, in late 2010.
Official however highly questionable museological title of the work:

傘張 虚無僧図
'Kasa-hari • komusō-zu'
"Picture of an Umbrella Maker & Komusō"

According to recognized Japanese sources quoted on the internet,
this picture was originally 1 out of 8 illustrations on an exquisite folding screen
by Iwasa Matabei known as the 'Ikeda byōbu', among other names:
"The Ikeda Folding Screen", 池田屏風.
(Link to the web page in question: Cultural Heritage Online)
Japanese art specialists do date that folding screen
to the Kan'ei Period, 1624-1644 - no later than 1630.

From November 23, 2010, through December 23, 2010, the Nezu Museum in Tōkyō exhibited a most extraordinary hanging scroll [kakejiku] painted by the highly renowned early Edo Period painter Iwasa Matabei who lived from 1578 to 1650.

In the painting we see two figures wearing slightly pointed umbrella-shaped basket hats, both carrying rather long swords [Jap.: katana ] by their left sides.

Moreover, the two are seen to be playing some kind of (although more or less invisible) quite short flute-like instrument:
Perhaps, a hitoyogiri? - or, much more likely: a miyogiri!

Close view of two komosō in Picture of Umbrella Maker & Komusō

Close view of two 'komosō' in "Picture of Umbrella Maker & Komusō

Close view of two komusō in Picture of Umbrella Maker & Komosō

Even closer view of two 'komosō' in Picture of an Umbrella Maker & Komusō"

Two 'Fuke Komosō' in a painting of an Umbrella Maker & Two Komosō by Iwasa Matabei, before 1630

'Kasa-hari • komosō-zu' on display at Nezu Museum

'Kasa-hari • komusō-zu' on display (right) at Nezu Museum,
Tōkyō - November 23, 2010, through December 23, 2010

On this web page the picture can be studied in more detail - click underneath the illustration to enlarge:
Bunka Isan Online (Cultural Heritage Online)

Links to more information, online:
Nezu Museum exhibition highlights
Nezu Museum exhibition press material Iwasa Matabei (in English) Iwasa Matabei (in Japanese)
Kasa-hari • komusō-zu - online internet gallery with links (in Japanese)
Japanese web pages describing and discussing the Kasa-hari komusō-zu (in Japanese)

     of the Kasa-hari • komusō-zu painting:

The painting appears to be quite contemporary with the documents Kaidō honsoku, 1628.

We know from the Keichō kenmonshū, 1614, that the Fuke monk/komosō being described there was indeed carrying a sword - more specifically: a wakizashi 脇さし, the shorter sword of the samurai.

In the Kaidō honsoku, the sword being carried by the komosō in 1628 is described as a katana - the long sword of the samurai.

After the middle years of the 17th century swords are no more to be seen in surviving pictorial representations of the "real-life" flute-playing mendicants - with but one exception, the komusō picture in Kyotaku denki kokujikai, dated 1795.

In this context one specific, quite early komosō/komusō picture should be investigated:

Yet unidentified and undated early 17th century komosō picture

Yet unidentified and undated early 17th century komosō picture
Posted on the internet by Mr. Dean Delbene, Chicago,
on September 6, 2009 (see link below)

Inquiring with Dean Delbene in January, 2011, I learned that we do - so far - know of no further, more specific documentation regarding this picture, its possible creator and approximate date of making.

In this picture we see a person who is apparently performing religious mendicancy in a street while wearing a rather large and deep, softly pointed basket hat, a rolled up bed roll mat on the back, a long sword by the left side.

The instrument being played is a quite thin and significantly long vertical flute, compared with the shorter hitoyogiri and miyogiri vertical flutes, especially - a dōshō 洞簫, perhaps?

Link to Dean Del Bene's Myōan Shakuhachi blogspot web page in question:
Myōan Shakuhachi c/o Dean Del Bene

Painting of Three Komosō

Painting of three komosō
Attributed to Iwasa Matabei, 1578-1650.
Possibly dating from the 1630s or 1640s.
Owned by the Shingon Sect temple Tōya-san Fumon-ji Taishō-in near Matsudo City in NW. Chiba Pref. Source: Yamaguchi Masayoshi, 2005, p. 176.

Painting of Three Komosō

Painting of three komosō
Acc. to Kakizaki Shōhō this picture dates from the Genroku Period, 1688-1704.
Link: "Genroku Period komusō figures"

Yet unidentified and undated early 17th century komosō picture

Yet unidentified and undated early 17th century komosō picture.
Possibly dating from the 1630s, 1640s, or 1650?
Owned by Matsudo City Museum, Matsudo-shi, NW Chiba Pref.

Yet unidentified and undated early 17th century komosō picture

Detail of the above picture.

Postcard purchased by Bandō Jirō's companion

Acc. to Bandō Jirō's weblog, however: From a (yet obscure) 17th century art work entitled Jidai fūzokuga-fuku", 時代風俗画幅, "Scroll with Pictures of Customs of the Time".

Postcard purchased by a companion of Bandō Jirō's at Matsudo City Museum in Autumn 2012

Link: Bandō Jirō's weblog


The 16 Branches of the Komosō Founder Priest Fuke's Denomination

- as listed in the Kaidō honsoku document.

Map of the 16 branches of Priest Fuke's denomination

The 16 branches of Priest Fuke's denomination
as recorded in the Kaidō honsoku document of 1628
Printed by the Kōkoku-ji, Yura, in Shūhō Yokō, 1981 (1938), p. 74

Map of the 16 branches of Priest Fuke's denomination

Map of the 16 branches of Priest Fuke's denomination
as recorded in the Kaidō honsoku document of 1628
Source: Torsten Olafsson's 'Kaidō honsoku' thesis, 1987

Is the Fuke Shakuhachi branch Nezasa-ha, 根笹派, listed in a document dated 1628?
The answer is "no"!

Read more in the Introduction.


  1: 一 ワカサリ門派
  2: 一 筑紫ニイヌヤロウ門派
  3: 一 北國ノキハ門派
  4: 一 中國ニノキハ門派
  5: 一 伊勢ニサカハヤシ門派
  6: 一 五畿内ヤワタノキハ門派
  7: 一 武蔵カカリ門派
  8: 一 美濃ニ若衆門派
  9: 一 上州ニサラハ門派
10: 一 中武蔵ニヨリタケ門派
11: 一 下總ニキンゼン門派
12: 一 下野ニコキクハ門派
13: 一 奥州ニタンシヤクヨロコヒ門派
14: 一 常陸ニウメシ門派
15: 一 奥州ニタンシヤク派ヨ
16: 一 北國ニカンタキノハ門派

Par. 19(18):
The Komosō founder Priest Fuke’s sect has 16 branches:

  1: The Wakasari Branch Sect [unidentified]
  2: The Inu-yarō Branch Sect in Tsukushi [present Kyūshū]
  3: The Hokkoku Noki-ha Branch Sect [NW Honshū]
  4: The Noki-ha Branch Sect in Chūgoku [SW Honshū]
  5: The Sakabayashi Branch Sect in Ise [present Mie Prefecture]
  6: The Gokinai Yawata Noki-ha Branch Sect [present Kyōto area]
  7: The Kakari Branch Sect in Musashi [present Tōkyō area]
  8: The Wakashū Branch Sect in Minō [present Gifu Prefecture]
  9: The Sara-ha Branch Sect in Jōshū [present Gumma Prefecture]
10: The Yoritake Branch Sect in Central Musashi [present Tōkyō area]
11: The Kinzen Branch Sect in Shimōsa [present Chiba Prefecture]
12: The Kogiku-ha Branch Sect in Shimotsuke [present Tochigi Pref.]
13: The Tanjaku Yorokobi Branch Sect in Ōshū [NE Honshū]
14: The Umeji Branch Sect in Hitachi [present Ibaraki Prefecture]
15: The Additional Tanjaku Branch in Ōshū [NE Honshū]
16: The Kandan-ki no ha Branch Sect in Hokkoku [NW Honshū]



The practice of fumi-e, 踏み絵 - the forced trampling of Christian images - is introduced and kept in constant national execution and effect turough the year 1858.

The religious authorities of the Tokugawa shōgunate requires suspected Christians to step on images of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary in order to prove that they are not members of that outlawed religion.

Fumi-e   Fumi-e

Fumi-e: Jesus Christ & the Virgin Mary

Fumi-e inquisitional ceremony in the early 19th century. Painting by Keiga Kawahara, around 1826

Painting of a 'fumi-e' inquisitional ceremony by Keiga Kawahara, 1786–1860?, a citizen of Nagasaki, created sometime during 1800-1829.

Source: National Library of the Netherlands. Link:


1635 - The Bakufu orders all 'daimyō' and military families to reinforce the Christianity prohibition laws and perform strict persecution routines.


1635 - The Jisha bugyō, Magistrate of Temples and Shrines, is officially established as a permanent position.
Four Jisha bugyō, "temple & shrines magistrates", are appointed from among the fudai daimyō, and since now they take turns in the position for one-month intervals.



1637: Christian farmers, warriors, rōnin (masterless samurai) and others revolt against the authorities on the Shimabara Peninsula in Kyūshū.
When the uprising was put down in 1638, tens of thousands had been killed. All surviving rebels, numbering in the thousands, were decapitated.
Christianity was now strictly outlawed in Japan and informers were encouraged.

Folding screen depicting the rebellion at Shimabara

'Shimabara ran-zu byōbu'
"Folding screen depicting the rebellion at Shimabara".
Source: Wikipedia.

Map of Hara Castle, Shimabara

Map of Hara Castle, Shimabara. Source: Wikipedia.

1639, July 5: The captain-major of two visiting Portuguese ships at Nagasaki is presented with a copy of a decree which orders the immediate and permanent cessation of all trade between the Portuguese and Japan.

1640?: Was a very early "Komusō temple" really built in Nagasaki on the island of Kyūshū in 1640?

1640, July: A portuguese vessel carrying a specially selected embassy reaches Nagasaki in one last attempt to persuade the shōgun to change his mind.
On August 1, the entire party is arrested and imprisoned.

1640, August 4: 61 of the prisoners are executed on "Martyr's Mount" - 13 native crew members are spared and sent back to the Portuguese colony Macao, to report what has happened.

     Source: C.R. Boxer, 1993, pp. 384-385.


In 1640, in direct consequence of the Shimabara Rebellion, the Tokugawa Bakufu orders the so called Shūmon aratame-yaku, or "officers for examining the religious sects", to be set up.

From this time on, the major sects of Buddhism were made responsible for producing registers of religious affiliation of every Japanese household with one specific Buddhist temple.

The socalled Danka seido, or "Danka System", in which Japanese households since the Heian Period, 794-1185, had voluntarily been supporting the temples financially, was now reshaped into a most effective instrument with which the government could monitor the population and - first of all - suppress and eliminate the Christian faith and its believers, on a mandatory basis.

Read more about the Danka seido - and the very important socalled tera-uke 寺請, or "temple certificates", issued annually by the temples - on these pages:

Wikipedia: The Danka system

Even though the later komusō fraternity was, seemingly, to some extent officially recognized by the Tokugawa government in January, 1678, in some capacity as a "semi-religious brotherhood", the komusō "temples" did not play any role in administering and partaking professionally in the Danka System of the Edo Period at all.

Furthermore, the komusō are not known to have performed formal funeral and ancestor commemoration services, nor do the komusō temples appear to have had any cemeteries for the common population - nor themselves! - within their precincts. *
This possibly explains, at least in part, why it did not require much more than a few brush strokes for the new Meiji Government - in October, 1871 - to completely bring an end to the komusō tradition.

     * See f.i. Yamaguchi Masayoshi, 2005, p. 187.



1640s - No later than 1646:


Isshi's Letter to Sandō Mugetsu - final section   Isshi's Letter to Sandō Mugetsu - introduction

Isshi's Letter to the komusō Sandō Mugetsu
Left: Concluding part of scroll - right: Opening part of scroll

- - -
"In China there was Fuke; [as for] my [own] country itself, how possibly could Hottō Kokushi accomplish as the originator of the congregation?
When Kokushi was in China, one after the other four K(y)omu persons joined him and, succesfully, came [back with Kokushi] to this country.
Later, the paths [lit.: 'branch veins'] of these honorary men separated into four, respectively [thus totalling 16], and - travelling in all directions - wherever they came they brought relief to the Buddhist community."
- - -
"The shakuhachi is made from a piece of bamboo with 3 nodes
with a hollow cavity cut out inside of it. Then, when the airstream can pass through, four and one holes [are drilled] on the front and on the back, respectively.
The ancients used a single pipe to produce one single sound. In case there were not 5 pipes, it was difficult to tune the five notes properly. Today's people use 5 pipes to tune the 12 steps [i.e.: the 12 semitones of the octave]. This is a special skill which originated in ancient times.

Some people call it 'Take', or 'Shakuhachi' - some call it 'Jade Flute',
while others say 'Dōshō'. Although the names differ, it is the same." 

Obviously, whoever they may be, if one does not acknowledge the 'Lofty Clearness of the Jade Sceptre' and the principles of manufacture, taking into consideration the Three Essential Issues [Jap.: mi-bushi]
of our school's philosophy, that represents the Three Poisons [or Malices] of Greed, Anger, and Ignorance.

May [the distribution of] the five holes on the front and on the back, respectively, possibly correspond to the discrimination between Thinking [lit.: "receiving ideas"] and Sensation [lit.: "distinguishing colors"] - and the five powers of the Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, and Body-Mind?

[The compound] 'Shaku' and 'Hachi' expresses every aspect of the Eight Boundaries [lit.: "Right & Wrong", namely: the "Environment Determined by Karma"]. As for the hollow cavity of the pipe, that symbolizes the Doctrine of the Universally Conciliated Absence of any Beginning.

With ever increasing force it blows forth, with one voice, immediately eliminating the Muddy Illusion of the Three Poisons and - in turn - enforcing the Commandments of the Three Buddhist Assemblies.

In effect, this is the very same as with the Shao-lin [Jap.: Shō-rin]
'Flute Without Holes' [Jap.: mu-ku-teki]. That sound [lit.: "voice"] equals that of Ling-shan [Jap.: Reizan, 1225-1325], when he played on his ch'in with no strings [Jap.: kin - classical Chinese zither] - that sound among all sounds that no-one ever encountered.
Even though Master Li-lao [Jap.: Rirō, n. d.] excelled with his jade flute, he did not know of the existence of such marvellous sound splendor."
- - -

     Isshi Bunshu, a renowned Rinzai monk, 1608-1646, instructing the
     komusō Sandō Mugetsu (n.d.) regarding Fuke Shakuhachi ideology
     in a letter dated no later than 1646. Original manuscript preserved
     at the Kōkoku-ji in Yura, Wakayama, Japan.

     Isshi Bunshu was a disciple and close friend of Takuan Sōhō
     (1573-1645) and was a member of the Zen élite of his time.
     He is known to have been a skilled writer and sumi-e painter,
     and towards the end of his rather short life he held the office
     as abbot of the Zen temple Eigen-ji in present Shiga Prefecture.

     Prelim. trsl. by T. Olafsson, 1985/2003/2010, based on a Xerox-copy
     of the original hand-scroll supplied by the Kōkokuji in 1985.
     Suppl. sources: Shūhō Yokō, 1981 & Nakatsuka Chikuzen, 1979.

     Here in Isshi's Letter we see, for the first time, the 13th century monk
     Hottō Kokushi (Muhon Kakushin) and his four alleged Chinese
     lay disciples ('shi-koji') introduced into Fuke Shakuhachi history.
     Also, the term 'mu-ku-teki', or: 'no-holes-flute',
     here appears for the first time in direct relation to the
     ideology and practices of the 'komusō'.

     For an almost complete translation of Isshi Bunshu's letter,
     please visit this web page: Isshi's letter


One finds mu-ku-teki 無孔笛 quoted in the "Blue Cliff Record" [Jap.: Hekiganroku], compiled in 1125-1135 by Engo Kokugon [Chin.: Yuan-wu K'e-ch'in, 1063–1135]:


"The Flute with no Holes destroys the writing fabric, breaks the printing block."

The expression mu-gen-kin 無絃琴 appears as early as in the "Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Wei-shan Ling-yu" [Jap.: Isan Reiyū Zenji goroku] by Isan Reiyū [Chin.: Wei-shan Ling-yu, 771-853]:


"Strike the Zither with no Strings. Chant the Music of the Non-born."

     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2011.

Isshi Bunshu - 1608-1645/46

Isshi Bunshu - 1608-1645/46
Portrait preserved at the temple Hōjō-ji in Kameoka City, Kyōto Prefecture

Mid-17th CENTURY

Hitoyogiri player in the 'Danjo yūraku-zu byōbu'

Hitoyogiri player in the 'Danjo yūraku-zu byōbu',
"Folding screen with Pictures Depicting Males and Females
Having Pleasure". Mid-17th century. Artist unknown.
The Tobacco & Salt Museum, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō


Mid-17th century 'miyogiri'

Mid-17th century 'miyogiri" - triple-node-cut shakuhachi
Source: John Singer: Shakuhachi gallery

Taizō-kai mandala, Tō-ji, Kyōto

Taizō-kai (Womb Realm) mandala - Tō-ji, Kyōto, 9th century.
Source: Wikipedia.


1642: The former warrior, loyal supporter of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and devoted Zen buddhist monk and writer Suzuki Shōsan completes his strongly anti-Christian essay Ha Kirishitan, "Crush Christianity".
Interestingly, Shōsan was an outspoken admirer of Fuke Zenji - see 1648, the Roankyō.

1640s, perhaps 1650s

佛言 - BUTSU-GEN - Hotoke-goto(ba) - BUDDHIST STATEMENT(s)

Par. I-1:
"As for the shakuhachi, in general, there are traditions in three countries:
In India it has 7 nodes, in China [it has] 5 nodes, in Japan [it has] 3 nodes."
 - - -
Par. II-3, II-4 & II-5:
"The rounded shape of the shakuhachi symbolizes the Omnipresence of the Buddhist Universe.

The upper opening represents the Diamond Realm, the lower opening represents the Womb Realm [i.e.: Kongō-kai & Taizō-kai - the two principal mandalas of Tibetan Tantrism & Japanese Shingon Buddhism]."
 - - -
Par. II-7:
"The four fingerholes on the front express the Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, as well as the Four Elements of Wood, Water, Fire and the Wind.

Furthermore, including the single hole on the back which represents the Sky [lit.: the 'Void'], altogether [the five holes] signify the Five Forms [or, 'Elements']: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void."
 - - -
Par. II-9:
"When one holds the shakuhachi and blows air into it, that is equivalent with the Golden Breeze of One's Original Being."
 - - -
Par. II-11:
"When one seizes to blow, then - at once - that is the Conclusion of Destiny."
- - - "

     Quotations from the 'Butsu-gen'. The document
     was copied by Nakatsuka Chikuzen in the late 1930s.
     Date unknown, but most certainly mid-17th century
     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson.
     Source: Nakatsuka, 1979, pp. 427-428.

Go to this page to read more and see the complete text in Japanese:

Bankei Yōtaku's initial awakening to "The Un-born".

See 1652.


" - - - Then again later on - it was the same thing - P'u-hua's [Jap.:
Fuke] meaning came right to me in the time it would take, say, to walk a few hundred yards. This was a great benefit to me.
There arose in me a strong desire to practice as much as P'u-hua, through all births and lives. I realized that P'u-hua is certainly of Buddha's space.
He was quite right to call Ho-yang, Mu-t'ang and Lin-chi a new bride, an old woman, and a little baby [respectively]. Seen through P'u-hua's eyes they all must have been blind. They're supposed to have seen the nature, but that's a mistake.
 - - - "

     Quoted from the 'Roankyō', "Donkey Saddle Bridge",
     mid-17th century, by Suzuki Shōsan, 1579-1655
     - recorded by Echū, b. 1628, who joined Shōsan in 1648.
     Trsl. by Royall Tyler, 1977, p. 88 and p. 95, respectively.

1649: Hiroshima Fief Authorities issue regulation to control 'Komosō' and other "troublemakers"

     Source: Hosaka Hiro'oki, 1994

1651: A 'rōnin' revolt led by Yūi Shōsetsu is put down by the shōgunate.


不生 - FU-SHŌ
盤珪永琢 - BANKEI YŌTAKU, 1622-1693

BANKEI YŌTAKU eventually AWAKENS to "The UN-BORN": 不生

Link to a sober WikiPedia article about Bankei

Bankei Yōtaku, 1622-1693

Bankei Yōtaku, 1622-1693


A layman asked: "I'm grateful for your teaching of the Unborn, but I find that thoughts easily come up as a result of my ingrained bad habits, and when I'm distracted by them, I can't wholeheartedly realize the Unborn. How can I put my faith totally [in the Unborn Buddha Mind]?"

The Master said: "When you try to stop your rising thoughts, you create a duality between the mind that does the stopping and the mind that's being stopped, so you'll never have peace of mind. Just have faith that thoughts don't originally exist, but only arise and cease temporarily in response to what you see and hear, without any actual substance of their own."

- - -

"The PLACE of the UNBORN

A visiting monk asked; "If one truly realizes the Unborn, after the four elements if the physical body have dispersed, will he be born again or not?"
The Master replied: "In the place of the Unborn, the whole question of being born or not being born is irrelevant."

     Quoted from Bankei's 'Hōgō:;' (Instruction)
     translated by Peter Haskel and Yoshito Haketa, 1984.

1653 to 1687: The Shōgunate takes harsh legislative measures to regulate & control society including all social groups.
Namely: Warrior/samurai, farmer, craftsman, merchant,
religious, Imperial - and, not least: "outcast", like 'komusō' ex-samurai, fluteplaying beggars.

     Source: Hosaka Hiro'oki, 1994

1657-1658: An attempted revolt involving both 'rōnin' and Christians is discovered and the rioters eliminated.

1657: The 'Tōzoku-jin sansaku jōjō', a government directive to investigate 'Komusō' and other "outlaws", is issued.



By Nakagawa Kiun, 中川喜雲, 1636-1705
Printed by Yamamori Rokube-e, 山森六兵衛, Kyōto

Shakuhachi-playing komusō in the Kyō warabe, 1658

Two wandering flute players pictured in the 'Kyō warabe' vol. 4, 1658
The oldest extant, reliably dated
picture of possible early Edo period 'komusō'
Picture in Ueno, 2002, p. 218.

Do note: It was first during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that the characteristic bee-hive shaped 'tengai' basket hat reached its final form.

Shakuhachi-playing komusō in the 'Kyō warabe', vol. 4, frame 13

The 'Kyō warabe' by Nakagawa Kiun
The Remembering the Capital Archive, Kyōto

Source URL: Frame 13 in Volume 4 of the 'Kyō warabe'.
Source: The Remembering the Capital Archive, Kyōto.

'Kyō warabe', vol. 4, frame 13, Waseda University University Library

The 'Kyō warabe' by Nakagawa Kiun
Waseda University Library, Tōkyō

Source URL:
Volume 4 of the 'Kyō warabe' - scroll down to frame/PDF file page 13.
Source: Waseda University Library, Tōkyō

'Kyō warabe', vol. 4, frame 13, Waseda University University Library

Detail of the above Remembering the Capital, Kyōto, version of 'Kyō warabe' volume 4 frame 13

Source URL: Frame 13 in Volume 4 of the 'Kyō warabe'.
Source: The Remembering the Capital Archive, Kyōto.


WANTED: Believers in the Christian Faith - Earn a Reward !!!


"Public Proclamation About the Prohibited Christian Faith"

Reward proclamation, wanted signboard

Reward proclamation, public sign board

Reward proclamation, wording

Reward proclamation, wording

伴天連之訴人 (ばてれん之訴人)   銀三百枚
いるまんの訴人 (入満の訴人)   銀弐百枚
同宿弁宗門訴人   銀五拾枚

Japanese text about the promised rewards:

1: "A person who reports a Catholic Father (shall earn) 300 pieces of silver."

2: "A person who reports a non-ordained Christian monk (shall earn) 200 pieces of silver."

3: "A person who reports some one who speaks about the creed in the same place
= a lay believer (shall earn) 500 pieces of silver."

     Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2018.
     Source: Fujii Joji, 2013, p. 69.


1661: The Ōbaku Zen sect - an "import" from continental China - is established in Japan, with the temple Manpuku-ji in Uji as its mother temple.

Official recognition is bestowed on this new side branch of the Rinzai Zen sect by prominent both Shōgunal and Imperial support and decree.

Still, the Ōbaku monks remained organized as only a sub branch of the established Kyōto Rinzai hierarchy, and it was only as late as in 1876 that the Ōbaku Sect eventually achieved full status as a genuine Zen sect in its own right - something that never happened to the so called "Fuke Sect".

Link to the next page: Japan 6 • 1664-1767
Link to the previous page: Japan 4 • 1560-1614

List of references:

Christopher Blasdel & Kamisangō Yūkō:
     The Shakuhachi. A Manual for Learning.
     Ongaku no Tomo-sha, Tokyo, 1986, 2008.
     Available at
C.R. Boxer: The Christian Century in Japan, 1549-1650.
     Carcarnet Press Limited, Manchester, 1993.
     First published in 1951 by The University of
     California Press & the Cambridge University Press.
Andreas Gutzwiller: Die Shakuhachi der Kinko-Schule.
     Bärenreiter - Kassel, Basel, London, 1983.
Ikeda Juzan shū. Taizan-fu shūi. Tokyo, 1985.
Inagaki Ihaku, Izui Seizan & Takahashi Ryochiku, editors:
      Myōan Sanjūnana-sei Tanikita Muchiku-shū.
      Taizan-fu shūi. Tanikita Renzō, Kyoto, 1981.
Kitahara Ikuya, Masumoto Misao & Matsuda Akira:
     The Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments: The Shakuhachi.
     Ongakusha, Tokyo, 1990.
Kiyū Shōran. Comp. by Kitamura Nobuyo (1784-1856), first publ. in 1830.
     Reprint by Seikōkan Shuppanbu, Tokyo, 1933.
Koji Ruien. Ruien Kankōkai, Tokyo, 1896-1914. Reduced size reprint ed.
     by Jungū Shichō, Tokyo, 1927-1930. Latest edition: Yoshikawa
     Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1967-1971. Vol. 9: Section on Religion.
     Vols. 32 & 35: Section on Music.
Kondō Ichitarō & Charles S. Terry: The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
     by Hokusai. Heibonsha, Tokyo, 1968.
Kurihara Kōta: Shakuhachi shikō. Chikuyūsha, Tokyo, 1918, 1975.
Riley Kelly Lee: Yearning for the Bell: A Study of
     Transmission in the Shakuhachi Honkyoku Tradition.
     PhD thesis, Univerity of Sidney, 1992.
     Available online at:
Gunnar Jinmei Linder:
     Deconstructing Tradition in Japanese Music. A Study of Shakuhachi,
     Historical Authenticity and Transmission of Tradition.
     Ph.d. dissertation, Department of Oriental Languages,
     Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, 2012. Dennis Eugene Lishka: Buddhist Wisdom and Its Expression as Art:
     The Dharma of the Zen Master Takuan.
     Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis.
     University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1976. Purchasable at:
     UMI Dissertation Services - Cat. no.: 7708798.
Tomohiro Matsuda, ed., et al.:
     A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts.
     Nichiren Shoshu International Center, Tokyo, 1983.
Daigan Matsunaga & Alicia Matsunaga: Foundation of Japanese
     Buddhism. Vol. I: The Aristocratic Age. Vol. II: The Mass Move-
     ment. Buddhist Books International, Los Angeles, Tokyo, 1974, 1976.
Michel Mohr: 'Imagining Indian Zen: Tōrei's Commentary on the
     Ta-mo-to-lo ch'an ching and the Rediscovery of
     Early Meditation Techniques during the Tokugawa Era.'
     In: Steven Heine & Dale S. Wright, eds.: Zen Classics.
     Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism.
     Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York, 2006.
Nakatsuka Chikuzen: Kinko-ryū Shakuhachi Shikan.
     Nihon Ongaku-sha, Tokyo, 1979.
Nishiyama Matsunosuke: Iemoto monogatari.
     Chūō Kōronsha,Tokyo, 1971, 1976.
Nishiyama Matsunosuke: Iemoto no kenkyū.
     Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1982.
Nishiyama Matsunosuke: 'Komusō no ura-omote'.
     In: Kikan hōgaku 5, Ongaku no Tomo-sha, Tokyo, 1975, pp. 26-30.
Torsten Olafsson: Kaidō Honsoku, 1628: The Komosō's Fuke
     Shakuhachi Credo. On Early 17th Century Ascetic Shakuhachi
     Ideology. Publ. by Tai Hei Shakuhachi, California, 2003.
     Includes a CD-ROM with the author's complete M.A. thesis on
     the same subject, University of Copenhagen, 1987.
     Purchasable at
James H. Sanford: 'Shakuhachi Zen. The Fukeshū and Komusō.'
     In: Monumenta Nipponica XXXII, 4. Sophia University, Tokyo, 1977.
Shibayama Zenkei: A Flower Does Not Talk.
     Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. 1970, 1975.
Shūhō Yokō, edited by Mori Hikotarō. Publ. by the Kōkoku-ji,
     Yura, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, 1938, 1981.
Daisetzu Teitarō Suzuki: Essays in Zen Buddhism I, II & III.
     Rider & Company, London, Vol. I: 1950, 1980. Vol. II: 1953, 1980.
     Vol. III: 1953, 1977.
Daisetzu Teitarō Suzuki: Zen and Japanese Culture.
     Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1970, 1973.
Takahashi Kūzan: Fukeshū-shi. Sono shakuhachi sōhō no gakuri.
     Fukeshū-shi kankōkai, Tokyo, 1979.
Takahashi Tone: Tozan-ryū: An Innovation of the
     Shakuhachi Tradition from Fuke-shū to Secularism.
     Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis.
     The Florida State University, 1990. Purchasable at:
Tomimori Kyozan: Myōan Shakuhachi Tsūkai.
     Myōan Kyozan Bōdōyūkai, Tokyo, 1979. 
Tsuge Gen'ichi: 'The History of the Kyotaku.'
     In: Asian Music, Vol. VIII, 2. New York, 1977.
     Available online at:
Royall Tyler, trsl.: Selected Writings of Suzuki Shōsan.
     Cornell University, East Asia Papers, New York, 1977
Ueno Katami: Shakuhachi no rekishi.
     Shimada Ongaku Shuppan, Tokyo, 3rd impr., 1984.
Ueno Katami: Shakuhachi no rekishi. Revised and expanded edition.
     Shuppan Geijutsu-sha, Tokyo, 2002.
Yamaguchi Masayoshi: Shakuhachi-shi gaisetsu.
     Shuppan Geijutsu-sha, Tokyo, 2005.
Zengaku Jiten, ed. by Jimbo Nyoten & Andō Bun'ei,
     Shōbō Genzō Chūkai Zensho Kankōkai,
     Tokyo, 1962. Page 1501.

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