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The International Shakuhachi Society

Shishi

獅子

This is a piece of genre Koten from the Chikuho Ryû and Nezasa Ha / Kimpu Ryû Schools .

Shishi appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
Bamboo Grass - Yearning for the Bell Volume 2 Riley Kelly Lee

    Shishi / The Lion is said to have lived on a mythical mountain in China named Seiryozan (Japanese pronunciation). Pairs of lions, a male and a female, frequently guard the entrance to Buddhist temples in Japan.

Bosatsu Taniguchi Yoshinobu

    The word "shishi" means "dragon". This honkyoku is taken from the Nezasa sect of shakuhachi. Sometimes called Monju no Kyoku or Monju Bosatsu no Kyoku, this piece is played during the Shishimai or Dragon Dance which is performed to drive away evil spirits. The Monju Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) sits on the left of the Shakasama and is the Deity of Wisdom. In a sense, one must become the guardian of shaka when playing Shishi.

His Practical Philosophy - 1


Japan Revisited


Jin Nyodo No Shakuhachi 01 Jin Nyodo

    Nezasa-ha: SHISHI

    2-shaku 3-sun
    8 min. 46 sec.

    1. About the title:

    This piece is also known as Monju-kyoku which derives from the portrayal of Monju-bosatsu, the Buddha of wisdom, as riding on a lion (shishi). From olden times it has been used as a celebratory piece.

    If we were to divide classical shakuhachi honkyoku into two groups, honte and hade, we could say that the piece Shishi more likely belongs to the hade group. It is a piece for itinerate priests, and was played when they went begging for food. Although it is thought to have some connection to lion dances (shishi-mai), this piece has been quite refined in the style of Nezasa-ha honkyoku and bears absolutely no traces of such folk art.

    Among shakuhachi honkyoku there are also such pieces as Kumoijishi, Meguro-jishi, Sakae-jishi, etc. but these are quite unrelated works.

    2. Structure of the piece

    It is constructed in three sections [honte -takane -musubi]. In the takane section the traditional style would call for an exact repetition of the melody, but in this performance the repeat has been omitted.

    3. Special features of the piece:

    There are several places where the tsu-no-meri tone (a half tone above the actual flute tone) is played higher than in other Nezasa-ha pieces. Overall the piece has a bright, free--flowing feeling, and its mood is never profound or emotional. This is quite natural considering its origins as a shishi (lion) composition.

Jin Nyodo No Shakuhachi 05 Jin Nyodo

Koten Shakuhachi Gaku Zen Shu - 5 Takeuchi Chiko


Shakuhachi Zen John Singer

Spirit of Silence, The Iwamoto Yoshikazu

    It is not possible nowadays to understand the title "Shishi" (Lion) in its original meaning. This music is surely not about the ferocious and majestic animal, but about something more subtle. It might have to do, for example, with the once popular lion dance, such as the one from the Bobigo province, which was performed on the street to pray for a plentiful harvest or for exorcism in return for money. One or two boys from that distant province danced and walked on their hands to the music of their master's drum. It evokes the feeling of old Japan. Or it might have to do with a couple of lion-like stone statues which stand for guard in front of many village shrines.

Sui Zen - Blowing Meditation on the Shakuhachi - 04 Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

    Shishi No Kyoku, or Shishi is the next piece, played on a 2.1 flute. A shishi is the mythical Chinese lion-dog or dragon referred to in the Kinko School's Kumoijishi, as well as Meguro-Jishi, and Sakae-Jishi. Shishi is not musically related to these other jishi pieces, but, like them, can be used as a celebratory piece.

    If we were to divide classical shakuhachi honkyoku into two groups, honte and hate, we could say that Shishi is more likely to belong in the hate group. It is a piece for itinerant priests, and was played while they were begging for food. It is not, however, used as music for folk-art lion dances.

    This piece is also known as Monju-Kyoku, or Monju Bosatsu no Kyoku, derived from the portrayal of Monju-Bosatsu, the Buddha of Wisdom, often portrayed as riding on a shishi. The word "Monju" is also associated with "Chie," which means "thoughts," "wisdom" or "heavenly wisdom." Because of its association with wisdom, it is traditionally considered a good piece to play for children who are slow learners to improve their intelligence.

    There are several places where the tsu-meri tone is played higher than in other Neza-Sa-Ha pieces. This helps to give the piece the bright, lively, free-flowing feeling reminiscent of the lion dances of the jishi repertoire.

World of Zen Music, The - Shakuhachi Music from Tsugaru, Nezasa-ha Kinpu-ryu Nakamura Akikazu

    The title of this piece refers to the lion as it is imagined in Chinese mythology. This piece is also known as "Manjusri", the name of the Bodhisattva of Supreme Wisdom, who is the left-hand attendant of Sakyamuni Buddha. Manjusri is conventionally depicted mounted on a lion, and it is from this image that the piece takes its title. The music is thought of as representing the lion-like energy of Manjusri's
    austerities.

    Of all the pieces in the honkyoku section of the shakuhachi repertory, this is one of the most unconventional. It was originally performed by komuso itinerant monks as they collected alms. The piece shows evidence of influence from the flute music employed to accompany "lion dances" (shishi-mai).


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017