International Shakuhachi Society Logo

The International Shakuhachi Society

Shin Kyorei

真虚霊

This is a piece of genre Koten from the Kinko Ryû - 琴古流 School.

History (John Singer):

This piece is one of the "Bekkaku" (traditional three) pieces. It was transmitted to Ikkei to Kinko Kurosawa in Nagasaki.

"Kyorei" (or Kyotaku) was written using a different Chinese character meaning "Bell" in other Shakuhachi schools. In the Kinko school "Kyorei" means "spirit" or "Bell of Enlightenment".

Fuke Zen Shi, the founder of the Fuke Sect, used to ring a bell and scream chants throughout the town where he lived. In an episode of the document called the "Rinzai Roku", in the story "Kyotaku", the term "taku" has the same meaning as "Rei" which means "bell". This is why the title "Kyorei" was used.

There are other pieces called "Kyorei" in the other Shakuhachi schools, however, their content is different.

Sometimes the piece "Banshiki" is used as a prelude to "Shin Kyorei".

Shin Kyorei appears on the following albums

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


Dream Picture Gunnar Jinmei Linder

Gakuon Jyu Fukuda Teruhisa

    The shakuhachi originally came from Tang Dynasty China about 1,200 years ago. It can be divided into 3 types from its historical background. The first is the "gagaku shakuhachi" that came from China and considered a Chinese musical instrument during the Nara Period. The next is the "hitoyogiri shakuhachi" that suddenly appeared in the Muromachi Period. The last is the "fuke shakuhachi" that was created during the Edo period and is still used at present. The name Fuke comes from a Zen monk who lived during the Tang Dynasty in China This monk traveled throughout the county ringing his handbell and spread The Zen religion while trying to attain perfect spiritual awakening. One of his disciples who was good at the shakuhachi succeeded in creating a sound that could appropriately express the spirit of his teacher. This is the origin of this piece.

Hogaku Meikyoku Sen; Shakuhachi Yamaguchi Goro


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

Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi Koten Honkyoku Kawase Junsuke II

Kinko Ryu Shakuhachi Meikyoku Sen Yamaguchi Goro

Michi Tokuyama Takashi

    This piece was preserved by the older (Shinpo-ryu school) the temple of Meianji in Kyoto. The original Kyorei is extremely simple in arrangement, with an ancient and holy sentiment. Shin-no-kyorei is played in a minor scale and evokes feelings of nostalgia (especially by the use of the flatted second and sixth within the scale). When this music is played slowly, it suggests a certain sacred quality. Shin-no-kyorei is one of three basic honkyoku pieces which each have a "Shin", "Gyo", and "so" version, which are very similar and are essentially different in name only.

Nihon no Dento Vol 2 (Japanese Traditions) Yamaguchi Goro

Offerings Ralph Samuelson

    According to the legendary traditions of the Fuke-shu, the origin of shakuhachi playing as spiritual practice lies in the piece Kyorei, which is considered the source of all shakuhachi honkyoku. Fuke-shu history traces the sect's origins to the tenth century Chinese monk Fuke (Pu Hua), whose ringing bell inspired a young follower to enlightenment and to then play the bamboo flute in response to the bell's sound. The resulting shakuhachi piece, called Kyotaku or Kyorei ("Empty Bell") is said to have been subsequently transmitted to Japan by the monk Kakushin in the thirteenth century. The Kinko ryu version of this piece is entitled Shin Kyorei (the "true" Kyorei) and is often written with characters meaning "empty spirit" rather than "empty bell". Kurosawa Kinko, the founder of the Kinko school, is said to have learned this version of Kyorei from the priest Ikkeishi at the Shojuken temple in Nagasaki.

Shakuhachi - Yamaguchi Goro Yamaguchi Goro

Shakuhachi no Shinzui-Shakuhachi Honkyoku - 04 Yamaguchi Goro

Sokoinrancho Watazumi Doso Roshi

Sound of Zen, The Okuda Atsuya

Souvenir of Japan - Shakuhachi Fuhin Yamaguchi Goro


Spirit of Dusk, The Iwamoto Yoshikazu

    To the komuso's mind, the two words, "spirit" and "bell", were mutually transferable, due to their phonetic identity, "rei". Thus the current piece can also be called "Empty Bell". Certainly, this bell refers to the handbell of Fuke the sound of which the komuso heard in emptiness (non-conditioned state of being). The term "shin" (in square style) at the beginning of the title suggests that there are other styles of "Kyorei" such as 'gyo" (cursive) and "so" (more cursive).

Suizen - Chikuho ryu ni miru fuke shakuhachi no keifu - 01 Sakai Chikuho II

True Spirit of Emptiness, The Andreas Fuyu Gutzwiller

    "The true spirit of emptiness". One of the three central pieces (koden sankyoku) of the Kinko school's honkyoku. According to the legend, it was composed as early as the 9th century in China by a follower of the Zen master Fuke, and is said to have been brought to Japan together with the shakuhachi by Kakushin (1207 -1298). It has one of the typical honkyoku forms, in which the first part, set in the lower and middle registers, is followed by one in the high register (takane), which then leads back into the low register at the end.

Yamaguchi Goro no Sekai Yamaguchi Goro

Zen Music - I Yamaguchi Goro

    About this tune there is a legend. It is said that in the Tang Dynasty in China, Fuke-Zen-Ji often walked along the streets ringing a bell. After his death his disciples composed this tune expressing their yearning for their master and it was later transmitted to Japan. Kyorei means the bell and Shin-no (true) represents the high grade of the tune. This is the oldest tune of those of this kind and is esteemed most highly of all.


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017