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The International Shakuhachi Society

Spirit of Silence, The

Spirit of Silence, The

Iwamoto Yoshikazu
Buda Records - 92543-2

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Shishi 獅子 10'21 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.
2   Kokû (Dokyoku) 虚空 12'40 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

The story which gives rise to the title of this piece "Koku" (Empty Sky) concerns Fuke, a Zen monk of ninth century China, who was known for his extraordinary feats and purity of character. He used to roam through the streets ringing a handbell and saying:

When the brightness comes, hit the brightness
When the darkness comes, hit the darkness
When it comes from the four quarters and the eight directions, hit like a whirlwind
When it comes from the empty sky, strike like the thrashing of a flail.

When he was about to die, he went alone beyond the city walls and laid himself inside a coffin. He asked a passing traveler to nail down the lid. The news spread at once and the people of the market rushed to the coffin. On opening it, they found that the body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ringing of his handbell, resounding faintly and then dying away.
3   Shingetsu 心月 05'48 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

"Shingetsu" (Moon of the heart), as a Buddhist term, symbolizes the true reality which underlies all phenomenal discrimination. In a more general term, "Shingetsu" symbolizes the clarity and purity of the heart.
4   Shin'ya 深夜 09'36 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

This piece is about the quiet and austere "Deep Night" when all nature is in calm meditation.
5   San'ya Sugagaki 三谷菅垣 10'12 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

There is no literal translation possible for this title. Its elegant slow rhythmic pulse is suggested by "Sugagaki", a terminology borrowed from the koto, the Japanese zither. "San'ya", literally "Three valleys", appears on its own or with other names in certain other shakuhachi pieces. This piece originated in Tokyo.
6   Matsukaze (Nezasa Ha) 松風 (根笹) 07'26 Iwamoto Yoshikazu

This piece depicts the atmosphere of the far north of Japan's mainland, from which it originated.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017