Category Archives: Shakuhachi history

Komuso monks in Tokyo, April 2005

My first day in Japan, my first day in Tokyo… I didn’t know where to go so I decided to go to a park. Seeking nature in such a big city instead of running to see temples, modern buildings, palaces, shops, museums… that’s me…

At that time, I knew very little about the shakuhachi. I had one, I had taken a few lessons but I wasn’t getting much further than playing the basic notes and a few simple melodies. I had taken my shakuhachi in my suitcase -“to play in the metro” said ironically to me a musician of our orchestra- to see if I would get more inspired to play it in Japan. It’s not that I missed inspiration or desire to play it, no at the time I missed time to think and make a decision. Actually I took this time just before going to Japan, but was not conscious yet that shakuhachi was part of the choices I would have to make in my life. Continue reading Komuso monks in Tokyo, April 2005

Are there Japanese women playing shakuhachi?

I got this question from one of my (male) students during a workshop mainly attended by men. I couldn’t answer, as I actually don’t know any Japanese female shakuhachi player. All the Japanese masters I know are men. I do know some Western female professional shakuhachi players, but we’re not a lot, so the question is still open.

I recently heard of a book researching the history of shakuhachi through old pictures and paintings. This gave me the idea to do a little research myself. Here are some Ukiyo-e I found on the web, depicting women playing the shakuhachi, during the Edo period (17th-19th century). I’m now even more curious to know about these women playing shakuhachi at that time…

 

 

Update on May 9, 2019: Here is a link to a paper discussing this question.