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Esashi Oiwake

江差追分

This is a piece of genre Min'yo from the Min'yo School.

History (Clive Bell):

This is a rather free version of a very well-known folk song from north Japan. It would normally be sung in a florid style accompanied by the shakuhachi. Every year in Japan a competition is held at which hundreds of singers perform this song to a panel of judges with stop-watches, sitting beneath the stage and measuring the length of each phrase. The lyrics of the song deal with a love in which marriage is impossible: You are there, I am here, and the wind blows between us.

Esashi Oiwake appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
Ajikan Taniguchi Yoshinobu

    This is a popular folk tune from Hokkaido, the big island in northern Japan. Originally, it was entitled Yoshitsune Renbo after Minamoto Yoshitsune, a popular folk hero, who had been put to death by his brother Minamoto Yoritomo, a general in the Kamakura Government (1192). In playing this piece, one should feel the cadence from the beating of the horses hooves as they chase the murderer.

Beyond Time And Space Koga Masayuki

    Fisherman's work song from Hokkaido. This type of folk tune originally came from the Oiwake area in Nagano prefecture. It calls for double trill fingering for the shakuhachi. Sometimes accompanied by bells.


Ensemble Nipponia - Japan Traditional Vocal and Instrumental Music Miyata Kohachiro

    This is one of several solo shakuhachi works that differ widely from one performer to the next because of the absence of a tradition of written notation. It is also one of the small number of shakuhachi pieces that are not religious in orientation; here, the melodic line shows a close connection to folk material.

Floating Clouds (Larry Tyrrell) Larry Tyrrell

Folk Songs with Shakuhachi Yes


Kurokami Clive Bell

    This is a rather free version of a very well-known folk song from north Japan. It would normally be sung in a florid style accompanied by the shakuhachi. Every year in Japan a competition is held at which hundreds of singers perform this song to a panel of judges with stop-watches, sitting beneath the stage and measuring the length of each phrase. The lyrics of the song deal with a love in which marriage is impossible: You are there, I am here, and the wind blows between us.


Marco Lienhard - Shakuhachi Marco Lienhard

Min'yo - Folk Song from Japan - Takahashi Yujiro and friends Takahashi Yujiro

    When the herring suddenly vanished from the sea off Esashi, Hokkaido in 1900, townsfolk struggled to replace their major industry with tourism, using this local song for advertising as it was already famous throughout Japan. Some call it a "classical folk song", because its form has become grigidly fixed down to the last ornament. Since 1965, an annual contest has been devoted to this one song!
    The highly melismatic "main song", hon'uta (only 26 syllables in over 2 minutes) is here followed by an "aftersong" with more rapidly flowing lyrics. The main song migrated from the village of Oiwake in central Japan, but as the Esashi version gained renown, the town's name was prefixed to the original title.

    The seagull's cries awaken me. Are those the mountains of Ezochi [Hokkaido]?
    (Aftersong:) The light of the moon is dimmed by haze, and someone is crying;
    are the waves also stifling their tears, that the sea is so calm?

    Copyright 1999 - Dr David W. Hughes
    e-mail dh6@soas.ac.uk

Minyo no Shirabe Takahashi Kosui

Minyo Shakuhachi no Shirabe


Musical Instruments of Japan - 3


Nihon Minyo - Shakuhachi Tokusen Shu - 1


Sato no Ue



Selections from Koto, Shamisen and Shakuhachi Kikuchi Tansui

    Shakuhachi is a wind instrument of simple construction. It is a bamboo pipe with four stops on the face and one stop on the opposite side. Shakuhachi was already known in Japan during the eighth century. At first, it was used as one of the instruments for Ga-Gaku music. Later it was used as a religious music. In the Meiji Period, it became popular all over the country. Oiwake, a fisherman's song of the Hokkaido District is famous for its lonesome melody.

Shakuhachi - Chidori No Kyoku Yashita Isamu

Shakuhachi Folk Tunes - Vol 3


Shakuhachi Min'yo


Shakuhachi Min'yo - 1991


Shakuhachi Minyo Yes

Shakuhachi Minyo no Shirabe


Shakuhachi no sekai - 2


Shakuhachi, Shamisen no Shirabe; Nihon no Minyo - 1


Sound of Japan Mitsuhashi Kifu

Special Selection of Folk Songs for the Shakuhachi - 1


Sui Zen - Blowing Meditation on the Shakuhachi - 05 Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

    This example of folk music is from the northern part of Japan, and is about the difficulties of life of fisherman. Oiwake music is common in the Japanese folk repertoire, and has a repetitive, clapping sound. Like most of the folk repertoire, it has characteristic trills, and stays within a pentatonic (five-tone) scale.

Tokusen Shakuhachi Minyo


Traditional Music of Japan, The - 03


    This is a folk song of the Esashi district of South Hokkaido. Esashi Oiwake is also a very popular song for a Sake party. Oiwake used to be a horseman's song (Mago-uta) of Oiwake village of Nagano Prefecture and was brought to Esashi of Hokkaido where the melody was modified to a great extent and enlarged by adding two more sections, one before and one after the song proper. Thus, the present form of this song consists of three sections: Maeuta (beginning song); Hon-uta (main part or original song) and Ato-uta (final Song). The text was also changed to describe nature, customs and fishing in the district of Esashi along the Japan Sea instead of a horseman's life in the mountains. In addition the Shakuhachi is used to accompany the singing which has a free rhythm instead of a mechanical, fitted rhythm. Only the first section is chosen for this record.


Wind Heart James Nyoraku 如楽 Schlefer

    Esashi Oiwake is a folk song from a northern area of Japan. It tells of the various hardships in the life of a fisherman.

World of Shakuhachi Yes

World of Shakuhachi Yes

World of Shakuhachi, The Yashita Isamu

World of Shakuhachi, The Yashita Isamu

Yashita Isamu no Sekai



The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017