Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Founder of the Modern Shakuhachi: Master Kyochiku

Panoramic view of Kyochiku's grave. In the background, Obaku mountain can be seen, site of the Chinese-style temple Mampukuji, which is alluded to in the poem that states "If you come out of the three gates, you can hear the songs of the Japanese tea-pickers."

The entrance of the grave of Kyochiku. On this can be read the charachters for Roan, who brought the hitiyogiri shakuhachi to Japan; however there is no concrete evidence regarding this, nor even if he was Japanese or Chinese.

Kyochiku's monument constructed in 1915.

Kyochiku's memorial constructed in 1857.

Kyochiku's grave which was erected in 1844. The height of the woman pictured is 160 cm, 5 feet two inches.

The grave and the monument of Kyochiku can be found in Uji city, south of Kyoto. The grave, which is surrounded by a mud wall, is in the section of Uji known as Gokanosho, opposite the site of the Kyoto University Nuclear Energy Laboratory, the Forestry Research Center, and the Disaster Prevention Research Center. Nearby is the temple Obakusan Mampukuji, established by the priest Ingen in 1665. Spanning the Uji River which flows nearby is the Ingen Bridge. It is said that this area was the birthplace of tea in Japan. Ingen's disciple was Master Fuke. Fuke's disciple was Master Kyochiku.

Both the grave and the monument are inscribed with sentences and names written in splendid characters by a well-known Confucian scholar who lived in Osaka during the Edo period.

An article by Tsunoda Rogetsu entitled "On visiting the grave of Master Kyochiku," was published in Bukkyo shimbun on January 20, 1911. This article introduces the Chinese inscription written on the tombstone. A translation was introduced by Tsukamoto Kodo in the Geino shimposhi on April 5, 1969. Adjacent to the tomb of Master Kyochiku is a Fuke-style grave. The stone is weathered, so the figures are only partially discernable, but those sections which are readable were introduced in the Geino shimposhi on December 5, 1970. Part of this inscription was introduced previously in the Kokumin shimbunshi on August 23, 1913. Also, Kyochiku's biography was introduced in the Chugai nipposhi on September 27, 1913. These references were provided by the Head Priest Hirazumi Eko of Meianji.

Here, there are stone lanterns, pillars, and rock gardens which are thought to have some connection with the Fuke shakuhachi, as well as a new memorial inscription. Those who want to visit the grave, study, or conduct research should discuss it with the Head Priest.

Tomimori Kyozan's father-in-law, Tsunoda Rogetsu (1872-1958), was the direct disciple of Katsuura Shozan (1856-1942). Upon the abolition of the Fuke sect, Katsuura, who spent his life as a komuso monk, endeavored to preserve the shakuhachi. It is said that his style of playing the shakuhachi emphasized long phrases and extravagant variations in tempo and strength. Similarly, his disciple Tsunoda continued that style of playing. Tsukamoto is described as being a "living dictionary," but his achievements for some reason are not easily documented.

The Meian-style shakuhachi is said to preserve the shakuhachi music which was popularized by Master Kyochiku.

--from The Shakuhachi by the Kitaharas