Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grand Sensei

Tomimori Kyozan 1899-1975; specialized in Chinese languages at Waseda University.   He also taught Chinese at Qingdao Island in China.

 At one time Small Qingdao Island was an isolated island about 720 meters off shore but in the 1940s a seawall was built, connecting it to the mainland. The island is shaped like a qin (an ancient Chinese musical instrument), and when the waves 'slap' the shoreline, the sound is similar to that of the instrument being played, leading to its local name of 'Qin Island'. The island is famous for its unspoiled natural scenery, which includes steep rocky outcrops, and a variety of trees, such as cherries, pomegranates and hibiscus. Visitors can either walk along the coastline to enjoy the gentle ocean breeze, and to admire the incredible  scenery, or sit on the beach to watch and listen to the gentle waves roll in.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

WSF 2012 Myoanji Bamboo

Public Demonstration of Usually Private Sutra Style Bamboo Playing at Kyoto World Shakuhachi Festival June 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Those who wanted to emphasize the suizen meditation tradition found themselves drawn to Kyoto's Myôan-ji. The temple, like all komusô temples, was disbanded, and the chief priest, Jisho Sakuhi (34 th line) returned to secular life, calling himself Akekura Kakuhi and taking another profession. His departure from the temple left the suizen advocates nowhere to turn.When the Fuke sect was disbanded, Sakuhi presented some Myôan-ji artifacts to a sympathetic associate, Jikeirin Wa Shô, head priest of Zenkei-ji, a sub-temple within the compounds of Kyoto^s temple Tôfuku-ji.

The artifacts included the statue of Kyochiku(founder of the Fuke sect) and memorial stone tablets of the head and supervisor priests.Naturally, those who felt drawn to the suizen tradition followed these artifacts and gathered at Zenkei-in. 

In 1881, thanks to the combined efforts of several Buddhist sects, begging was once more allowed after a 10-year hiatus, and hopes rose in the Kyoto area to reactivate the komusô tradition. At the same time, there was a fire at Tôfuku-ji shich resulted in a widespread movement to rebuild the temple and its grounds. The komusô, thinking to take part in this movement by collecting funds through begging, applied to the government for permission.  Permission was granted in 1883, and the Myôan Society was established at Zenkei-in, with Lord Kyûjo Michitaka (who was in charge of rebuilding Tôfuku-ji) as its chairman and Katsuura Seizan as the head of the Kyoto branch. The present day Myôan-ji grew out of the Myôan Society.  Following the establishment of the Myôan Society, Kôkoku-ji established the Fuke Society in 1888.

Later, the temple Kokutai-ji established the Myô On Society, and the temple Myôkô-ji the Hottô Society.  Several other former komusô temples around the country in some form or another were also preserving and rekindling the komusô tradition of suizen. These societies together acted as a cooperative association and decided upon rules for dress, distributed licenses and identification papers (like the three seals of the Fuke sect),and established rules and time schedules for begging.

Unlike the Fuke sect, however,anyone could pay a set fee and receive a license. As a result, there grew a tendency among members to become „professional“ komusô beggars. Transmission of the music and development of an artistic style became secondary.

Higuchi Taizan (1856-1914) of the Myôan Society reformed this situation. Taizan, born in Nagoya with the name Suzuki Kôdô, first studied the Seien style and in 1890 came to Kyoto where he joined the Myôan Society, becoming an instructor. He spent his efforts collecting and organizing pieces from the Myôan tradition and many other styles. His outstanding abilities as a player and his work in expanding the artistic width of the Myôan Society revitalized the tradition, and he became the 35th successor in the lineage which had been broken when Kakuhi returned to secular life. He developed a style of shakuhachiplaying called the Taizan sect of Myôan Temple Lineage. His successorts were KobayashiShizan (36th), Tanikita Muchiku (37th), Koizumi Shizan (38th), and the recent FukumotoKyoan (39th).

In march, 1950, the Myôan Society was given permission to construct a temple, called the Fuke Sei Su Myôan-ji,  which was to be built in the compounds of Zenkei'in in Tôfuku-ji.

In1952, various shakuhachi sects collaborated in creating a group to honor Kyochiku Zenji, the Kyochiku Zenji Hôsan Kai, which met twice yearly, in the spring and fall, to offer honkyoku to the spirit of Kyochiku.

Shakuhachi players from around the country continue to come every year, regardless of their affiliation, to participate in this ceremony.

In 1966, a stone memorial commemorating the spirit of suizen was erected, and in 1969, the temple's main hall was completed, creating a new Myôan-ji, which acts as a spiritual homeland  for all shakuhachi players, regardless of sect or style affiliation.

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Although Taizan revitalized the Myôan Society, his efforts resulted in the introduction of many pieces from other styles into the Myôan style. Therefore, the pieces in today's Myôan repertory are not necessarily the same ones which had been handed down at the end of the Edo period.

After Taizan, the nature of the Myôan style changed. Katsuura Seizan, who inherited the Myôan Shinpô style from Ozaki Shinryû, was at one time the head of the Kyoto branch of the Myôan Society, but he left soon after Taizan's appearanceon the scene. 

It was inevitable that shakuhachi players wishing to follow the suizen tradition had differing opinions and formed various styles. The end of the 19th century until present times saw the arrival of a number of such players, many of whom were centered around Tokyo. A partial listing of the more prominent players is as follows:

Hasegawa Tôgaku, Konashi Reisui and his students Uramoto Setchô, all of whom wereresponsible for transmitting the pieces centered at Fudaiken Temple in Sendai.
Jimbô Masanosuke of Renkôken Temple in Fukushima.
Nyui Kenzô, Nagano Kyokû and Orito Jôgetsu of Hirosaki's Nezasa Sect, and Nagano's student Jin Nyôdô.
Miyagawa Nyôzan and Itchô Fumon (later known as Watazumi Dô, the founder of theWatazumi style) of  Itchôken Temple in Hakata, and Nyôzen's students Tani Kyôchikuand Takahashi Kûzan.
Kiyomizu Seizan from Itchôken Temple and Tsunoda Rogetsu from Kumamoto. Both studied under Taizan, and Seizan started the Kyûshû Myôan sect, and Rogetsu theMyôan Rogetsu sect.
One major problem in trying to trace the styles and lineages of the Myôan-style shakuhachi players lies in the fact that each one learned from a number of teachers and was influenced by several styles.
An obvious example of this is Takahashi Kûzan, a player active until his death in the late 1980s. Kûzan not only studied under Miyagawa Nyôzan,but also with Takase Sukeharu, Kobayashi Haô, Kojitomo Tarô, Kobayashi Shizan, Ozaki Meidô, and Katsuura Seizan. Kûzan also studied the classical pieces of the Kinpû style and other styles, mastering over 150 pieces in all.
Jin Nyôdô of the Kinpû style tried to learn all the extant pieces for the shakuhachi. He took the effort to travel around the country collecting music handed down from the various komusô temples. He learnde the Myôan Shimpô style, the Taizan style, the Seien style, as well as the Kinko style, and he also composed and studied ensemble pieces, learning the koto and shamisen. 
Kûzan and Nyôdô are representative of the Myôan players, therefore it is difficult to draw a distinct chart showing the relationship and lineages of the teachers and their students.
The problem is compounded by the fact that often times players who have learned several of the traditional pieces from various sources created a new style or sect. One could go so far to say that each individual player becomes a sect himself, and that the number of sects in Japan equals the number of players.
This condition has come about due to the openness of the shakuhachi world since the Meiji Restoration. Unlike the elitist Fuke sect,there were no secret or special societies and no ironclad rules to prevent a student from studying other styles or discovering his own musical expression. The Zen philosophy which allowed performers to interpret each honkyoku as they saw fit fostered individualityand kept students from being bound strictly to one style.
Nonetheless, the players of the various Myôan styles, except for a few exceptions, played only the classical suizen-honkyoku pieces and had little interest in the other genres of shakuhachi music – a situation which tended toward musical stagnation. To them, the honkyoku was not a type of music to be played in public concerts. Although this supposedly kept their music "pure“, it did little to provide public exposure and support.
After World War II, however, these classical honkyoku were rediscovered, and gained attention from modern composers, musicians, and musicologists, both from Japan and abroad. The influence of theses classical pieces on the modern shakuhachi world is quite extensive, with players from all styles absorbing and integrating these suizen honkyoku into their own performances. The Myôan-style players have been quietly learning and transmitting their pieces, providing a base from which the post-war shakuhachi world has received a tremendous inspiration. For this reason, these guardians of the suizen-honkyoku shakuhachi  pieces have played a valuable role.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Komuso Love Story

Utagawa Kunisada/Toyokuni III (1786-1865) Komuso Monk and Girl, c 1830’s
It is likely that this print depicts a well known love story of a Komuso and a girl who habitually left water out for him in a bowl. The reflection of his face under the wicker hat in the water caused the girl to fall in love with him and eventually the couple eloped to a happier life.

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