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Kumoi Jishi

雲井獅子

This is a piece of genre Koten in the style of Hate from the Kinko Ryû - 琴古流 School. Also Known As : Akebono Jishi.

History (John Singer):

Shishi (phonetically changeable to Jishi) is translated as "lion" but can also refer to a deer or dog having magical properties and used to repel evil spirits.

It is said that the "Kumoi Jishi" which is performed today is a different piece from the one listed in the Kinko family document. Today's "Kumoi Jishi", thematic, metric, and close to the "Sugagaki" style, was brought to Tokyo during the Meiji Era (1868 - 1912) from Iccho Ken Temple in Kyushu.

Iccho Ken Temple, located in Hakata, Kyushu, was a well known Komuso temple and a branch of the Kyoto Myoan-Ji Temple. "Kumoi Jishi", also called "Ni-Agari Jishi", was transmitted to Iccho Ken. It is known for its beautiful melody and was arranged by the famous Kinko Shakuhachi Grand Master Yoshida Iccho, and taken into the Kinko Ryu. This piece is particularly popular in Kyushu.

Kumoi Jishi appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
Ajikan Taniguchi Yoshinobu

    This is an Edo Period (1603-1867) piece that originated at Itchoken, a famous temple in Hakata City on the southern island of Kyushu. The song has another name, Neagari Jishi, and was popular in Kyushu because of it's beautiful melody.

    The meaning of this piece comes from the fact that songs with "shishi "("lion") in the title are generally played quickly and "kumo" of "kumoi" is the character for "cloud(s)". This honkyoku is, hence, played almost completely in the upper (kan) register and with a fast tempo. Kumoijishi is often it is used as an omedetai kyoku or a song played at joyous celebrations. It is more upbeat and auspicious than many of the sadder sounding honkyoku.

Art of the Japanese Bamboo Flute, The Watazumi Doso Roshi


Bamboo Spirit Peter Ross

Castles In the Sky Allen Nyoshin Steir

Complete Collection of Honkyoku from the Kinko School - Vol 1 - Disc 2 Aoki Reibo II


Ensemble Nipponia - Japan Traditional Vocal and Instrumental Music Miyata Kohachiro

    This shakuhachi solo is played on a 2.1-foot [ed. actually 1.8] instrument, and is characteristic of meditational music. The title is somewhat unclear; while "jishi" refers to a lion dance, so many diverse pieces include that word in their title that the connection is probably even more tenuous than that of an 18th-century Western dance suite to actual dancing. "Kumoi" means sky, although in literary usage the term implies a reference to the palace, or to court circles. In this piece it seems likely that the term refers to one of the koto tunings, a not infrequent case of influence between genres.

Floating Clouds (Larry Tyrrell) Larry Tyrrell

Japan - Splendour of the Shakuhachi Ishikawa Toshimitsu

    This is a bright work in the same category of playful pieces as Azuma no Kyoku. The version heard on this recording features two shakuhachi of the same length playing a "honte" (main part) and "kaede" (secondary part). The honte can also be played as an independent solo piece which features the high range of the instrument. Compared to Azuma no Kyoku this work is louder and more dynamic. The form of Kumoi Jishi is in three parts: low range section-middle range section-ending.

Japanese Bamboo Flute Richard Stagg


Japanese National Music Series: Shakuhachi Mei Ryû Senshû Kawase Junsuke II

Katsuya Yokoyama Plays Shakuhachi - 2 Yokoyama Katsuya

Kinko Ryu Honkyoku - 2 Aoki Reibo II

Koku Monden Tekiku

Kokuh Aoki Reibo II

Kyoto Spirit Kurahashi Yodo II

    Like Azuma, Kumoijishi is a gikyoku, said to evoke a mythical lion dancing in the clouds.

Le Koto de Yusen Kuzuhara et le Shakuhachi de Teiji Itoh Itoh Teiji

Master Sound - Watazumido Watazumi Doso Roshi


Mizuho Andrew MacGregor Watanabe Haruko
    This ancient rhythmic melody is a favourite amongst shakuhachi players and to play it with koto is a joy.

Mysterious Sound of Bamboo Flute - 1 Watazumi Doso Roshi

    Akebono Jishi is a relaxation piece. It was handed down in Kyushu, and was created in the late Tokugawa period.

    The melody of this piece is a Kumoi melody, so it is also known as Kumoi Jishi and Ni-Agari Jishi.

    A 2 shaku hocchiku was used for this piece.

Mysterious Sounds of the Japanese Bamboo Flute - Watazumido-Shuso, The Watazumi Doso Roshi

    Akebono-Jishi, performed with a 61 cm Hotchiku, is a festival tune from Kyushu composed at the end of the Tolugawa Era.

Mysterious Sounds of the Japanese Bamboo Flute, The Fukuda Teruhisa


Nesting of the Cranes Riley Kelly Lee

    Cloud Lion

    There are many 'Lion' pieces in traditional Japanese music, including such genres as gagaku (court music) and koto (13 stringed zither) music. The lion was a mythical beast in ancient Japan. Like the dragon, it was considered an auspicious creature of great beauty and strength that really did exist, even though no one had ever seen one. Kumoi Jishi is also the name of a traditional Japanese tuning or mode, though there appears to be no connection in this case.


Priests and Samurai Ryan Sullivan

    Played on Tom Deaver 1.8 #2


Shakuhachi - Clive Bell Clive Bell

    The Cloud and the Lion - The Lion is a symbol of power and success so Kumoi Jishi also means brilliant success. It is associated with the Shishimai Dance, and played on festive occasions.

Shakuhachi - Reibo Aoki Aoki Reibo II

Shakuhachi - Ryudo - 02 Takahashi Ryudo


Shakuhachi Banquet Fukuda Teruhisa

Shakuhachi Koten Honkyoku Shusei - 2 Aoki Reibo II

Shika no Tone Shakuhachi Koten Meikyoku Shusei - 1 Yokoyama Katsuya

    This piece belongs to the category of Hate - a lighter kind of Honkyoku music. It is associated with the Shishimai, a festive dance, and used to be played on festive occasions.


Spirit of Dusk, The Iwamoto Yoshikazu

    This light piece is said to have been played by the komuso often as a divertissement between serious performance practices.

Sui Zen - Blowing Meditation on the Shakuhachi - 03 Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

    This piece is also called Kumoi No Kyoku, Niagari Jishi and Akebono Jishi, and is especially popular in Kyushu. Kumoi Jishi is also the name of a koto tuning, and niagari is a shamisen tuning. Akebono refers to transposing a piece up one fifth. This may account for these other names.

    Several versions of this piece exist. It is said that this version, which is closer to Sugagaki style, was originally brought to Tokyo from the Itcho Ken Temple in Kyushu during the Meiji era. This temple descended from the Meian Temple in Kyoto. This version was arranged by the Kinko School grand master Yoshida Itcho, and then taken into the Kinko School.

    Kumoi Jishi was almost lost for a while, but Junske Kawase I, while traveling, heard an old koto player, Y oshizumi, playing the version he had memorized. Kawase's notation is considered the most original version of the piece.

    Japan has many forms shishi-mai, or lion dances, ranging from formal high art to children's performance at folk festivals. This, like all jishi-related pieces, retains the lively, spirited feeling of the traditional lion dance. It is a joyous piece, suited to celebrations and congratulatory occasions. Shakuhachi versions of Kumoi Jishi are not actually lion dance music meant to accompany actual dancing; instead, they are meant to evoke the mood of this dance.

    Kumoi refers to the sky, and may symbolize the heavens and / or the rarified heights of the imperial court. Shishi and jishi are variants of the same word. In Japanese, sounds can change for easier pronunciation when certain sounds are joined. For instance, "shishi" becomes ''jishi,'' and "kawa," river, becomes "gawa," as in Kumoi Jishi and Nakagawa.

    The jishi, or shishi, is a mythical beast from China; according to tradition, they lived on a mythical mountain called Seiryozan. Jishi are variously depicted as doglike lions, dragons or deer. These felicitous creatures are said to especially enjoy dancing playfully among clouds or peony flowers, accompanied with butterflies that sometimes tease them. Jishi have magical properties, and can repel evil spirits. MonjuBosatsu, the god of Wisdom, is often depicted riding through the heavens mounted on a jishi. Pairs of guardian jishi statues are often found at entrances to buildings, especially temples and banks, with the male and the female on either side of the entrance door. The male jishi has a globe under his paw, the female, a puppy, symbolizing their respective dominions, the earth and the family.

    Like Azuma No Kyoku, this is a gikyoku, which means a playful piece not to be played by Zen monks in the morning for meditation. Rather, performing it is reserved for the less serious afternoon times or as a performance piece while begging for alms. These pieces were called hiru-kana, "from noon."

    Today, this piece is played on joyous occasions, such as weddings.

    It is sometimes performed in a slow, stately manner, and at other times, with a very light, playful feeling. It can evoke either the majesty of the mythical lion upon which Monju-Bosatsu, the Buddha of Wisdom, rides through the heavens, or the dancing of peasant children In their costumes at a festival, or perhaps, a jishi dancing among the clouds like a kitten or puppy chasing butterflies in a garden full of blooming peonies. The whole second section may be played twice; if this is done, the second repetition is generally performed at a faster tempo.


The Road of Hasekura Tsunenaga Rodrigo Rodriguez


Traditional Music For Two Shakuhachi Juerg Fuyuzui Zurmuehle


Wind Heart James Nyoraku 如楽 Schlefer

    Kumoi-jishi belongs to a category of shakuhachi music called gikyoku, pieces lighter in feeling than the usual honkyoku. Kumoi-jishi was played at Itcho-ken, a branch of Kyoto's famous Mei-an temple located on the island of Kyushu, and the "jishi" in the title refers to the mythical Chinese dog/lion, traditionally depicted as dancing playfully among the peonies, accompanied by fluttering butterflies. In this piece, the lion is seen playing about in the clouds.

Wind in the Reeds Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

    Kumoi Jishi belongs to a lighter category of honkyoku called gikyoku. It was played at Itcho-ken. a temple on Kyushu which was a branch of the famous Kyoto temple. Meian-Ji. The "Jishi" in the title of this piece refers to the mythical Chinese dog-lion, often depicted as dancing playfully among peony flowers, accompanied by butterflies. In Kumoi Jishi, the lion is seen to be playing about in the clouds.


World of Zen Music, The - Shakuhachi Music from Kyushu Nakamura Akikazu

    This piece has the alternative titles Kumoi no Kyoku, Niagari Jishi and Akebono Jishi, and it is thought to evoke the sound of a yokobue transverse flute as used in lion dances (shishi-mai). Kumoi is the name of a tuning employed by the koto, and niagari is a tune employed by the shamisen three-stringed plucked lute. Akebono is a term used to refer to the transposition of a piece up a fifth. These various titles are particularly interesting in that they suggest the extent to which shakuhachi music was closely bound up with the music of other instruments. Of the pieces featured on this album, the three pieces Kumoi no kyoku, Toppiki and Azuma no kyoku were originally performed by komuso monks for their own enjoyment after they had complete their morning austerities, and for this reason they are known collectively by the generic name Hirukara, meaning "from noon."

Zen - Katsuya Yokoyama - 01 Yokoyama Katsuya

    This piece belongs to the category of Hate - a lighter kind of Honkyoku music. It is associated with the Shishimai, a festive dance, and used to be played on festive occasions.

Zen Music Yamaguchi Goro

    This piece was being transmitted at Itcho-ken, a well-known komuso temple in Hakata (Fukuoka), Kyushu, descended from Myoan-ji Temple in Kyoto. It is also called 'Ni-agari Jishi'. It was once highly popular in Kyushu because of its beautiful, brilliant melodies. It was arranged by YOSHIDA Itcho and was included in the Kinko-ryu repertory.


Zen Music with Ancient Shakuhachi - Disc 1 John Singer

    (Lion piece) Shishi (phonetically changeable to “Jishi”) is translated as “lion” but can also refer to a deer or dog having magical properties used to repel evil spirits. This piece, which is thematic, metric, and close to the sugagaki style, was brought to Tokyo during the Meiji Era from Iccho Ken Temple in Kyushu. It is known for its beautiful melody and was originally arranged by the master Yoshida Iccho.


Zen Shakuhachi Duets John Singer


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2014