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The International Shakuhachi Society

World of Zen Music, The - Shakuhachi Music from Kyushu

World of Zen Music, The - Shakuhachi Music from Kyushu

"Honkyoku from Kyushu and Itchoken."

Nakamura Akikazu
Denon - COCJ-31519

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1 Dai-Bosatsu 大菩薩 11'02 Nakamura Akikazu

This is one of three pieces based on the piece Saji, which has been transmitted by itinerant monks in Kyushu since early times. The three pieces are classified in accordance with the classification employed in Japanese calligraphy denoted "orthodox" (shin), "semi-cursive" (gyo) and "cursive" (so) styles, Bo-saji or corresponding to the shin category, Yuri-saji or Saji to the gyo category, and Neri-saji or Daibosatsu to the most unorthodox and flamboyant so category. Daibosatsu makes extensive use of ornamentation and decorative figurations and is the most dramatic, complex and extended piece in the extant repertoire of komuso shakuhachi. It has the alternative titles Neri-saji and So no saji.
2 Kumoi Jishi 雲井獅子 03'53 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."
3 Yamagoe (aka Reiho) 鈴法 03'58 Nakamura Akikazu

This piece is known also under the titles Shin no saji, Reibo and Reiho. It is one of the three pieces based on the piece Saji, and is the most orthodox and least ornamented of the three.
4 Toppiki 04'10 Nakamura Akikazu

This piece belonging to the "external transmission" (geden) category of pieces transmitted at the Itchoken komuso temple at Hakata in Kyushu. It is the same piece as Hokkoku reibo, which was transmitted originally by Katsuura Shozan (1856-1942) in Kyushu, although it has its origins in the Hokuriku area of northern Japan from a much earlier age. The music seems to have been created in imitation of the transverse flute employed in popular music and festive lion dances of the time. The meaning of the title is unclear, although to judge from the tone of the piece, it may well be an onomatopoeic term referring to the sound of the instrument. The piece has a mysterious atmosphere not to be found in any other piece.
5 Kokû (Itchoken) 虚空 07'37 Nakamura Akikazu

Also known as Koku reibo, this piece was handed down from very early on at the Itchoken temple at Hakata in Kyushu. It differs from pieces with the titles Koku and Koku reibo transmitted in other regions and schools and clearly manifests the features of the Itchoken style. The word koku in the title alludes to the eternal nature of the spirit by likening it to the vastness of nature and the universe. In legend, the Zen master Kichiku heard the piece in a dream at the Kokuzodo temple on Mount Asakuma in Ise.
6 Azuma no Kyoku (Itchoken) 吾妻の曲 03'08 Nakamura Akikazu

Also known as Azuma jishi, the title of this piece alludes to lion dances from eastern Japan and the popular performing art known as Sato-kagura. It is characterized especially by its stylish melody. It is an original piece in the Itchoken repertory, as is also the piece Kumoi no kyoku. Both pieces were incorporated into the repertories of the Myoan-taizan and Kinko schools.
7 Saji 薩慈 07'46 Nakamura Akikazu

This is the "semi-cursive" (gyo) version of the three Saji pieces, also known as Yuri-saji. Some take the view that the title of the piece is taken from the Sanskrit syllable sa, which symbolizes the manifestation of bodhisattvas, and that the music is thus intended to depict the rigorous austerities undergone by an aspirant until his emergence as a bodhisattva. On the first album in this series, The World of Zen Music: Saji, the piece was performed on a 2 shaku 3 sun length shakuhachi, but in this performance it is given an even deeper and more forceful tone through use of the very long 3 shaku 1 sun instrument.
8 Banshiki (Itchoken) 盤渉 07'23 Nakamura Akikazu

Banshiki and Daiotsu: These two pieces when performed together are known as Kuyo no kyoku (Memorial for the Dead). They are presented in this form at funerals. The performer plays the introductory Honte choshi and then Banshiki in front of the coffin and then proceeds to the anteroom. As the coffin is taken to the entrance he plays the opening section (ro) of Banshiki, and then plays the next section (kan) in front of the monks as he follows the coffin down the path leading out of the temple. This is a simple piece with no trace of ornamentation.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018