Hanzaburo Kodo Araki|
The path of a musician is often unpredictable. One wouldn't imagine that six generations of mastery of the Japanese shakuhachi would lead to a career in Irish music, however that is exactly how it played out for accomplished flute player and traditional singer Hanzaburo Araki. The son of Irish and Japanese parents guaranteed a household with a broad spectrum of musical influences.
Hanzaburo's father is shakuhachi grandmaster Tatsuya Kodo Araki, the fifth generation to inherit the name Kodo, one of the most important names in the world of traditional Japanese music. "Hanz" is short for "Hanzaburo," the name of his great-great grandfather who developed the notation used in shakuhachi music even to this day.
In April of 1988, Hanz began his apprenticeship with his father, to make his professional debut in August of that same year. Colleagues of his father likened Hanz's playing to Kodo IV, despite the two never having met. Hanz continued studying under his father, and taught at his father's alma mater (the prestigious Keio University in Tokyo), as well as making concert appearances throughout Japan. In 2009, in a private ceremony in Tokyo, the title of Kodo VI was conferred on Hanz as is customary in the tradition.
Upon returning to his hometown of Seattle in 1992, Araki and a group of close friends with a shared love of Irish and Scottish music started a band called The Whyos. The discipline, techniques, and mechanics he learned on the shakuhachi translated very well to the penny whistle and the Irish flute. Seattle being home to respected stalwarts like uilleann piper Tom Creegan and fiddler Dale Russ gave Hanz no shortage of guidance in his exploration of traditional Irish music. Celtic music became a single-minded focus, turning songs and tunes of Scotland, Ireland, and England into a second language. His uncanny grasp of both Celtic and Japanese music quickly led to opportunities for touring across the United States and Canada, the UK, Spain, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, and an annual tour of Japan.
In a career spanning thirty years, Araki, now a resident of Portland, Maine, amassed an impressive body of award-winning Celtic music albums, including his most recent critically lauded Foreign Shore, released in Autumn of 2014. A project to collect, remix, and remaster recordings of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather is also currently in production in Japan.
Festival appearances include the Newport Folk Festival, The Vancouver Folk Festival, The Winnipeg Folk Festival, Bumbershoot, Celtic Connections, and over 20 years of performances at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Hanz has also been invited to perform at the Gates Estate, the Irish Consulate, and for the Japanese Consul General. He was also a featured soloist with the Seattle Symphony for the Celebrate Asia concert in 2013.