Tokyo Shakuhachi Summit - 2002

Review by Ronnie Seldin

Just a few words to tell you about what went on in Tokyo last weekend.

The third annual International Shakuhachi Festival was held in Tokyo and, I feel, was a huge success—as were the first two (Bissei, Okayama-Ken 1994, Boulder 1998).

There was much representation of all schools (more Tozan and Dokyoku than in Boulder), as well as first time stuff (Minyo, Rare Recordings, an Enka party, as well as Shakuhachi used with Rock & Techno music).

For you Westerners out there, I think we did quite well, although of the 230 attendants, probably only 20 were non-Japanese.

In the "Open-Mike" (not really- they were planned), concerts, I heard really impressive work (mostly modern) by 2-players from Australia and 1 from France.

Also, the usual gang of Western professional shakuhachi players performed their own compositions well, and were well received (Riley Lee, John Neptune Kaizan , David Wheeler, and Chris Blasdel).

For my own part, I felt very honored to be included in what I thought was the best part of the 7-Hour concert on the last day - the HONKYOKU section. It began with a performance by a priest from Kochi, followed by Zennosuke, myself, Furuya Teruo , Mitsuhashi Kifu, Kawase Junsuke III, and ended with Aoki Reibo II .


For any of you unfamiliar with these Japanese masters, you should try to hear them, they are top-notch !! Araki Kodo V was there and gave a workshop which I took as well, but did not play in the concert. Yamamoto Hozan - the new Living National Treasure was his usual excellent self in his ensemble performance of his own piece.

Back to Westerners - the "4th Rookie of the Year Concert" was won by the only non-Japanese player- Peter Hill, from the USA, who also played very well at one of the Open-Mike concerts.

I also enjoyed meeting two other Western players:
1-Cathy from Colorado, with her "I want to absorb all that I can!" attitude, was delightful.
2-Kiku Day (recently from London, originally Denmark), who was interesting, charming and talented. Kiku makes all of her own jinashi flutes, and is teaching in England.

There were 2 high points of the weekend for me:
1- I was totally blown-away by the performance of OSHU-SASHI by the Living National Treasure- AOKI REIBO. For me it was the most outstanding performance of the Summit.
2- At the beginning of the concert, a greatly weakened physically Yokoyama Katsuya came out tearfully on stage. But his heart is as beautiful and as strong as ever. He conducted TAMUKE, with people playing all over the auditorium. The poignancy of the piece was even more realized when you reflected that Tamuke means "Ellegy" or "Requiem". This, deservedly, got the most applause of the concert, and there was not a dry eye in the house.

As far as the next International Shakuhachi Festival is concerned, I had a very interesting conversation with Riley Lee, and as a result I may have more to report soon, but for those of you who need a hint, think about big apples !!

Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin

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