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The International Shakuhachi Society



Yokoyama Katsuya
Ocora - 558518

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1 Atsumori 27'58 None

The episode entitles "Atsumorei" is taken from Volume 9 of the Heike epic poem. Kinshi Tsuruta has adapted here the text modified by Togai Tanaka at the beginning of this century. We propose the following resume:

Naozane, hero of the Genji clan, notices a general from the enemy clan about 65 yards from the river's edge; on horseback and clad in magnificent armor, he is gaining on the ships of Heike where he will be safe. Hearing Naozane's call, he turns in his tracks to answer his challenge. The engage in fierce combat. When Naozane, victorious, removes the helmet form his adversary before killing him, he sees that it is a mere boy of 16 or 17, just the age of his own sun. Unable to bring himself to execute the young man, he wants to let him go. But his companions who have gathered round cry: "If you let this man go, it will be treason; and in that case, we will kill both of you." Naozane, in tears, is obliged to execute the young general.

"What a sad lot is that of a soldier. If I had not been born into a family of warriors, I would never have known this tragic situation", laments Naozane who, following this episode, withdraws and becomes a Buddhist monk.

The ephemeral nature of terrestrial life and the impermanence of all things demonstrated by this account emanates from Buddhist thought and is characteristic of the Satsuma-Biwa genre and the Heike epic poem.
2 Kokû (Fudaiji) 虚空 09'48 Yokoyama Katsuya


This piece is considered to be one of the oldest in the Shakuhachi repertory. Its title suggests an imagery of Sunyata (Vacuity); the performer tries in his execution to attain that state of Sunyata where, stripped of his personal Self, one arrives at an identifying with the Absolute in being neither subservient to material things nor released from them. One can see from this an example of how Japanese musicians since the middle ages have sought spirituality in their art.
3 Tsuru no Sugomori (Dokyoku) 鶴の巣籠 06'29 Yokoyama Katsuya

Crane's Nest

All the technical resources of the Shakuhachi (tremolos, glissandi, flutterzung, etc.) are exploited in this piece in order to evoke the lives of these birds, symbols of longevity.
4 Daha 打波 03'56 Yokoyama Katsuya

Breaking of Waves

Just as that of Koku, this term has a spiritual resonance: the breaking of waves signifies the will to break all desires of terrestrial life in order to attain the state of Sunyata. This force of will is manifested by the rapidity of the movement and by the forceful attack together with the sound of the breathing.
5 Shika no Tône (Kinko Ryû) 鹿の遠音 07'44 Yokoyama Katsuya

Deer's Throat Heard from Afar

This is one of the rare duets conceived for two Shakuhachi in order to symbolize the call of the stag and his answering doe heard in the distant autumn mountains. K. Yokoyama has recorded each instrumental part separately to obtain two stereophonic voices.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018