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The International Shakuhachi Society

Spirit of Wind, The

Spirit of Wind, The

Iwamoto Yoshikazu
Buda Records - 92640-2

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1 San'an 産安 08'21 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

The title "San An" does not render itself into an adequate translation in the proper sense. It only seems to be a corrupted form of the popular title "San'ya" (Three Valleys), the music of which spread and evolved into a number of regional variants in the past. There was once a komuso (litterally "priest of nothingness", a mendicant shakuhachi player), Jimbo Masanosuke (1841-1914), who was so renowned for his playing of "San'ya" that his version was crowned with his name and called “Jimbo San'ya". The present "San An" is of the same origin as “Jimbo San'ya" but its interpretation was developed further by Watazumi Doso and Katsuya Yokoyama in more recent times.
2 Tsuru no Sugomori (Dokyoku) 鶴の巣籠 12'08 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

Joys and sorrows of life are evoked in this piece through the depiction of the various movements of the crane, the sacred bird; its nesting, calling, crying for joy, walking (with some faulty steps by chicks), flying, and so forth. A sorrow must come when the chicks have matured enough, after long and deep parental care, to fly into the sky leaving the nest behind.

Among some ten pieces of shakuhachi music known today with this or with a similar title, the present "Tsuru no Sugomori" (A Crane on the Nest) must be one of the most daring in its use of unconventional tremolos and other techniques. The piece originated in northern Japan.
3 Sagari Ha (Nezasa Ha) 下り葉 (根笹) 03'29 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

"Sagariha" (Hanging Leaves) is said to capture the atmosphere of far northern Japan where there is heavy snow fall in winter.
4 Shimotsuke Kyorei 下野虚霊 12'36 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

"Kyorei" (Empty Spirit) appears as part of a title in many pieces of traditional shakuhachi music. It reminds us of the Buddhist concept of "Emptiness" (Sanskrit, Shunyata). The Madhyamika-karika says "What is dependent co-arising we call emptiness" and the popular Heart Sutra explains that "Form is emptiness and that very emptiness is form." This piece originated in the old Shimotsuke province (current Tochigi prefecture), north of Tokyo.
5 Saji 薩慈 05'42 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

"Saji" (Compassion of Bodhisattva) belonged to the komuso tradition of Itchoken temple in Kyushu (southern Japan). The title brings to mind compassionate acts of Kannon Bosatsu (Sanskrit, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, Goddess of Mercy) who, on hearing the call of the suffering in the world, immediately extends her helping hand in versatile ways. The title might also cause one to think of Jizo Bosatsu (Sanskrit, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva) whose statue stands by the roadside in Japan as a guardian deity of children.
6 Hi Fu Mi Hachigaeshi no Shirabe (Kinko Ryu) 一二三鉢返の調 09'54 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

The present piece consists of two original melodies: "Hifumi" (One-two-three), a basic tune, played in a lower register, and "Hachigaeshi" (Return of the Bowl), played in the upper register. "Hachigaeshi" was played by the komuso as an act of thanks when receiving a donation. The fact that both melodies have the same ending enabled "Hachigaeshi" to be inserted into the middle of "Hifumi" by superimposing the common ending. In this way the two pieces were made into one to form a long and well structured composition. This practice has been traditional for over a century. The piece originated in old Tokyo area.
7 Nagashi Reibo 流鈴慕 09'53 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

"Reibo" (Longing for the Bell), like "Kyorei”, also appears as part of a title in many pieces of classical shakuhachi music. It reminds us, in this case, of the bell rung by Fuke, who was regarded as the founder of the komuso tradition. Fuke, a Zen monk in ninth century China, was known for his extraordinary deeds and purity of heart which spiritually inspired the komuso of Japan. Puke's handbell also captured the imagination of the komuso because they perceived its sound at the moment of enlightenment. The present "Reibo" originated in northern Japan. "Nagashi" (Playing on the Street) refers to the mendicancy of the komuso players.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018