In 1985, ATSUYA OKUDA opened Zensabo - a studio for shakuhachi in Kokubunji, Tokyo - after retiring from a 20-year career playing jazz trumpet. Okuda uses jinashikan exclusively. These nobekan or one-piece instruments are made adding as little as possible to the natural bore of the bamboo just as shakuhachi were made in ancient times. Okuda plays honkyoku only, but very much in his own style, emphasizing the many tone colors jinashikan are able to express. While essentially self-taught, Okuda has intensively studied the playing of Watazumi and other great masters. His approach to shakuhachi is, at the same time, influenced by a deep knowledge of Western musical genres, such as jazz and classical, as well as traditional Japanese music. Until the Spring of 2002, Okuda refused to record his playing in the belief that only by listening to its live sound can one truly understand jinashi shakuhachi.

CD $17.50

Shakuhachi honkyoku performed on jinashikan of various lengths.

1. Shoganken Reibo (2.5') - Listen
2. Sokkan (3.1') - Listen
3. Betsuden Shika no Tone (2.3')- Listen
4. Shinkyorei - Listen
5. Tori Kadotsuke Hachigaeshi (2.1')- Listen
6. Nerisaji (2.3') - Listen
7. Futaiken Reibo
(2.9')- Listen


"Although Okuda mainly plays the traditional repertoire, honkyoku, played by the komuso, the Zen Buddhist monks of the Fuke sect, his music is always evolving and changing, the sign of a living tradition. His belief is that each piece and each note is complete in itself, and that one must set the mind in a state in which there is no audience and no performer. Each note is approached with originality as if it played for the first time – from this stance the union of new and old emerges. From this perspective, the sounds produced by the jinashi shakuhachi helps us, according to Okuda, to transcend music itself and unite with the universe."
- Kiku Day

CD $17.50

Shakuhachi honkyoku performed on jinashikan.

1. Honte no Shirabe
2. Tsuru no Sugomori
3. Shinkyorei
4. Oshusashi
5. Tamuke
6. Koku

by Clive Bell

"In 1985 Atsuya Okuda turned his back on a twenty year career playing jazz trumpet, and dedicated himself to teaching shakuhachi in Tokyo. Okuda subscribes to a purist, Zen-oriented approach to the instrument. As shown in the sleeve photos, he cuts bamboo in the hills and crafts his own flutes, which remain as natural and unworked as possible - no lacquered bore, no inlaid mouthpiece. This type of shakuhachi is called hocchiku, and the sound is fragile and intimate, a world away from the full, projected sound of the concert hall performer. In fact Okuda was apparently reluctant to make a recording at all, but we should be glad he has, for he is probably the finest player of his type since the death in 1992 of the Zen monk Watazumi (acclaimed by Steve Lacy as his favourite improviser in Wire 225). Okuda's sound may be quiet, but his playing has terrific subtlety and a patience of almost geological dimensions - if a rock in a Zen garden could play music, this is what! it would sound like. His delicate phrasing on the ancient piece "Shin-kyorei", tinged with multiphonic chords, is a joy to hear. The concluding 17 minute version of "Koku", the ultimate hymn to Zen emptiness, is performed on a longer flute, and here Okuda reaches in deep, both in terms of pitch and spirituality."

(This review originally appeared in Wired Magazine)


Hear Atsuya Okuda in ELEGEIA - In Memory of Andrei Tarkovsky
A video by Mark Beneria filmed December 29-30, 2008 at the Russian Orthodox Cemetery near Paris in Sainte-Geneiève-des-Bois.

A Note about Pricing of CDs Imported from Japan

The price of CDs manufactured and sold in Japan are significantly higher than recordings made and distributed here in the USA. The average price for Japanese CDs is ¥3150 or, at the current exchange US Dollar to Japanese Yen rate, significantly more expensive than the cost of most American CDs. Add to this the shipping cost involved in importing these recordings. For this reason, in the past, I have hesitated to carry a large selection of Japanese CDs. However, by request and popular demand, I have changed this policy, but please don't be shocked by the sticker prices. Some Japanese artists represented on this site have are graciously offering their music at a significant discount to accommodate the world shakuhachi community. I have also endeavored to keep pricing in line as much as possible.

Okuda-sensei and Tai Hei Shakuhachi have joined together to reissue this out-of-print CD
allowing us to keep Okuda's wonderful jinashi music alive while reducing the album's previously high import cost to buyers.


Learn more about
Jinashi Shakuhachi

Monty H. Levenson, P.O. Box 294, Willits, CA 95490 USA
[email protected]

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