Volume IV - MICHI
(Also available on cassettetape)

 1. Hachigaeshi (3'48")
2. Sagariha (3'38")
3. Futaiken-sanya (9'57")
4. Shin-no-kyorei (13'29")
5. Shinporyu-hachigaeshi (2'52")
6. Ichigetsuji-hachigaeshi (3'39")
7. Echigomeianji-hachigaeshi (4'47")
8. Oshu-reibo (6'19")
9. Tsuru-no-sugomori (11'10")


1. Hachigaeshi

Often included with Hifumi-no-shirabe,this piece is considered an introduction to koten honkyoku forbeginning shakuhachi students. Played as one piece, Hifum-no-shirabeand Hachigaeshi becomes short and interesting "etude."Many high (kan) notes are utilized, expanding the technique ofthe beginning student. Notes in the higher register also demandmore stamina, as well as lip and breath control, on the part ofthe musician. Literally, the title translates as "returnthe bowl." Zen monks (the komuso among them) retain the privilegeof receiving alms from the government and local patrons. As such,there is not a strict feeling of personal gratitude. The piecetherefore reflects a feeling of receiving, and does not necessarilyexpress thanks.

2. Sagariha

Literally meaning "falling leaves",this piece originates from the temple of Kokokuji in Wakayamaprefecture. The temple is located in the mountains of the Isepeninsula, and, at one time, was the center of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.Its founder, Hotto Kokushi, studied Zen, as well as shakuhachi(and even miso production), in China. He returned to Japan withfour Chinese shakuhachi musicians whose temple duties were toinclude maintenance of the bath. It was a student of Hotto Kokushi,one Kyochiku Zenji, who founded Meianji in Kyoto. Although, Sagarihahad been preserved in the temple of Kokokuji, the Meianji templealso maintained this piece as part of the koten honkyoku repertoire.It is believed that Sagariha may have evolved from dance music.Although the first section is quite free rhythmically, it developsinto a melody possessing a very definite rhythmic character.


This piece comes from the city of Sendaiin Miyagi prefecture. Futaiken is the name of a small temple foundedby a former ninja named Bassho. The shakuhachi - playing komusomonks are often romantically linked with ninja or spies. The largebasket worn over the head of the komuso provided a convenientguise of anonymity. Komuso have the ill-founded reputation asnotorious eavesdroppers. No doubt this is due to the suspicionthat they are actually spies masquerading as harmless monks. Basshowas in fact a spy in the service of Masamune Daimyo. Due to hisoutstanding service, Bassho was rewarded with a quiet place tolive in Sendai. Disliking the noise and commotion of urban life,Bassho founded the temple of Futaiken in the countryside nearSendai. Futaiken is home to two wonderful shakuhachi pieces: Sanyaand Reibo. Both have similar tuning, beginning with takeshirabe,chuon (middle sound) gradually develops to koon (the higher register),There is a legend associated with Sanya that is taken from theKojiki, Japan's book of origins. It seems that a god of lightretreats to a cave in anger and seals it with a stone. Once inthe cave, however, the god changes his mind about remaining inside.He rolls away the stone and emerges from the cave only to discoverthat the world is dark without his presence and that now all lightemanates from the cave. This image of the light slowly illuminatingthe world in a joyous manner is projected in the music.


This piece was preserved by the older(Shinpo-ryu school) the temple of Meianji in Kyoto. The originalKyorei is extremely simple in arrangement, with an ancient andholy sentiment. Shin-no-kyorei is played in a minor scale andevokes feelings of nostalgia (especially by the use of the flattedsecond and sixth within the scale). When this music is playedslowly, it suggests a certain sacred quality. Shin-no-kyorei isone of three basic honkyoku pieces which each have a "Shin","Gyo", and "so" version, which are very similarand are essentially different in name only.


While sharing titles with the firstpiece, these two pieces actually come from two distinct traditions.Sinporyu-hachigaeshi is of a more ancient style, which gives ita more natural or even primitive quality. It is implied that oneshould play this piece as quietly as possible, so that one wouldnot even disturb an ill person if one were to play right nextto the patient's pillow. Shinporyu-hachigaeshi also has a Buddhistsutra attached to it, which may suggest that at one time the chantingof sutras was done to shakuhachi accompaniment.


Also similar to the first selection,Ichigetsuji-hachigaeshi is often played in a minor scale, withadded embellishments to create a more unusual piece. In the secondhalf of the piece, a new melody is introduced, which does notappear in former versions of "Hachigaeshi." The templeof Ichigetsuji is located in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and servedas headquarters for the Kakushu, or komuso temples, as well asbeing responsible for many smaller sub-temples. As was alreadymentioned in the notes to Sagariha, four Chinese shakuhachi playerscame to Japan with Hotto Kokushi. Of the four, two eventuallysettled in Chiba prefecture, one of whom founded the temple ofIchigetsuji, which in turn supported a small branch temple isAsakusa in downtown Tokyo. Kurosawa Kinko, founder of the kinko-ryuschool of shakuhachi, came from the temple in Akakusa.


The temple of Echigomeianji is locatedin Niigata Prefecture. Its founder, Sugawara Yoshiteru, becamea komuso first in Kyoto and then in Tokyo. He often dedicatedhis performances to the Tokugawa Daimyo. Due to his skills asa ninja, Sugawara became something of a small daimyo himself.He was permitted to build his own temple, which became Echigomeianji.

Echigomeianji-hachigaeshi is a shortpiece, it contains a wide breadth of emotion. It is played inthe higher (kan) registers, as in other "Hachigaeshi"selections on this recording, yet the melody is quite different.By comparing these selections, similarities and the differencesin tone and structure will become more evident.

8. Oshu-reibo

Although from the temple of Meianjiin Kyoto, Oshu-reibo was not included in the eleven pieces broughtfrom hamamatsu by Higuchi-Taizan. Most likely, in a effort toestablish the Meianji school of shakuhachi, Higuchi-Taizan adaptedthis arrangement from other existing honkyoku pieces of the time.Oshu is in northern Japan. Despite the distinctive quality ofOshu shakuhachi music, Oshu-reibo is not typical of this region.The melody of the present piece is more elegant and suggests amore courtly quality. Ironically, the ending is reminiscent ofthe kinko-ryu school.


Although from the temple of Meianji,the structure of this piece suggests a later date of composition.While the opening section is indeed similar to the Meianji schoolinterpretation, the sudden appearance of higher (kan) tones connectsTsuru-no-sugomori with Koku and Sanya. However, a revealing signatureof the sugomori music is a playing technique that is characterizedby the sound "koro-koro, koro-koro," as well as thesteady rhythm and traditional scale. The "Sugomori"preserved in the kinko -ryu tradition (Sokaku-reibo) is similarto Beethoven in that the emotions portrayed are dynamic and buildgradually in a tight construction. The Meianji school, on theother hand, is more like Mozart, wherein new phrases are continuallyintroduced. Tsuru-no-sugomori consists of nine sections. Two ofthese (seven and eight), however, were long considered "secret"and were only revealed to a master's more gifted disciples. Weknow now that the seventh and eighth "secret" sectionsare merely repetitions of the ninth and sixth sections respectively.It seems that during an undetermined time, the shakuhachi musicto "Sugomori" was lost. It is believed that the piecewas preserved within the Kokyu and then later adapted back againfor shakuhachi. Also, within the Kabuki play Chusinguya, fivedifferent versions of Tsuru-no-sugomori exist. This is uniqueconsidering that shakuhachi was seldom included as a part of Kabukitheater.


Afterword to Michi

It's taken considerable time to producethis fourth volume in my koten honkyoku series, however we'rehappy to finally make this available to the public. The firstfour pieces are a live recording made October 12, 1985, in Kaganoprefecture. The recording location, more specifically, was a lodgein Togakushi village, which is a holy Shinto site and has a legendaryreputation for ninja. Pieces five through nine are also a liverecording, made October 25 of the same year in the temple of hoshinjiin Tokyo. (Incidentally, our music group, Chiku-on-ki, is activein macrobiotic cuisine. In fact, through the year, Chiku-on-kialternates its monthly koten honkyoku recital with demonstrationsof macrobiotic cooking.)

The evening of the Nagano recital, Iperformed with the shoji open so that Mt. Togakushi was visibleto all present. The audience was sitting in different places withinthe lodge, depending on individual mood. Some enjoyed the changingcolors of the sky at sunset, while others appreciated the chillof the Autumn air. The presence of nature is an important componentto shakuhachi music. At the end of the performance, a light rainbegan to fall. During the two-hour concert, many different sightsand sounds were present. Pine boughs burned throughout the evening,with the sound of burning wood and collapsing logs accentuatingthe performance.

I hope that the listener can share inthe spirit of that Autumn evening in Nagano, and that such a spirithas been genuinely reflected in this recording.

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