Q10: What are Jinashi Shakuhachi and how do they differ from Precision Case Bore instruments?

A: There are two radically different approaches used in making shakuhachi. The most common incorporates a highly-articulated bore that is fabricated inside the bamboo, meticulously shaped and carefully fine tuned by hand. This approach is exemplified by Tai Hei Shakuhachi's precision cast bore technology.

The other way to make shakuhachi leaves the interior of the instrument as natural as possible while still working the resonance points in order to have the instrument play as well as possible. This style of shakuhachi is called called Jinashikan. ("Ji" refers to the filler used in the precision bore flutes. "Nashi" translates as "absence of". "Kan" means "tube" or "flute".) Jinashikan are very difficult to produce and crafted in Japan by only a few makers. The natural hand-shaped bore of these instruments gives the maker much more control over tonal quality and other acoustical aspects of the sound produced.

Many players like the aesthetic of the more natural jinashikan because they have a unique timbre or tone color some feel reflects the true spirit of bamboo and mood of shakuhachi honkyoku. The tone of jinashikan is somewhat darker and more mellow than the brighter precision bore flutes. If made properly, however, these flutes exhibit a very open and remarkably resonant envelope of sound.

I have recently made a significant breakthrough with jinashikan. These chokan or long shakuhachi range in size from 2.1' to 3.0' While they are made completely of bamboo and have a naturalbore, I have meticulously worked out resonances for all of the notes, so they have a full strong sound and can take all the air one can give. Jinashi shakuhachi are made from uncut pieces of madaké and tuned to the bamboo itself rather than western standards of pitch. As a result, they are strictly solo instruments most appropriate for playing honkyoku, the "original" zen music for shakuhachi.

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