4.1 The Word “Reibo” and related terms

The word “Reibo” consists of the two kanji (Chinese characters), rei () and bo (). Rei in general denotes a bell, but can also have the specific meaning of a handbell. Illustrating the confusion students of the Japanese written language constantly face, a second reading for this character is taku, which is also the reading of different character:. This second character () has only one meaning, that of a large handbell, and is, in a sense, both a homonym and a synonym to rei/taku (). It is the second character taku that is used in the title of the legendary history of the shakuhachi honkyoku tradition, the previously mentioned Kyotaku denki (), as well as the title to what is claimed to be the first honkyoku ever conceived and performed, “Kyotaku” (, “Empty Bell”).

The meanings given for the character bo are “yearn for, love dearly, adore, follow”, with bo also used in combination with other characters to form words meaning “yearning, desire, long for, longing, affection, hold dear” (Nelson 1962:787).

The character rei is said to allude to the eccentric 9th century Chinese Zen priest, Fuke Zenji (Chinese: Puhua) (see p.106), who was known for his flourishing a handbell during religious pilgrimages. “Reibo” therefore has an aura of centuries of tradition to the shakuhachi player and suggests the yearning for or a following of the spirit of Fuke, as symbolized by his bell (Takahashi 1971:68). According to Takahashi, during the Edo period each of the various komusô temples in existence at that time had its own piece that was transmitted by komusô attached to the temple, and from which the term ichiji ichiritsu (, one temple, one melody) originated (quoted by Tukitani 1990:48). This piece was called either “Reibo” () or “Reihô” ().

The term “Reihô” is used in a manner making it almost synonymous with “Reibo”. For example, Tukitani (1990b:49) classifies the piece “Tehodoki Reihô” (, “Introductory Reihô”) as a “Reibo” piece. Among the meanings of the character hô are law, or doctrine. It is the character used to denote the word ‘dharma’, which, in both Hinduism and Buddhism means “the cosmic order or law, including the natural and moral principles that apply to all beings and things; and the dutiful observance of this law in one’s life; right conduct” (Guralnik 1978:388). “Reihô” may therefore be translated as “the Dharma of the Bell”.

There are a number of other variants of the title “Reibo” in addition to “Reihô”. These are “Renbo” (), “Reibo” (), using a different character for rei () and “Rinmon” (). Among the meanings of the character ren () are ‘love’, or ‘yearn for’. The character rei () means “soul, spirit” and is used together with other ideographs to form such words as “sacred mountain” (reizan ), and “divine nature, spirituality” (reisei ) (Nelson 1962:945). The character rin () means “face; be confronted by; be on the verge of; deal with; come upon, come up to” (Nelson 1962:754), while the character mon () can mean “gate, gateway; and door” (Nelson 1962:920). This last character is important in Zen literature, alluding to such concepts as a ‘gate’ to one’s mind, or to enlightenment.

The variant titles of “Reihô” () and “Reibo” () can therefore be translated in the following ways: “Renbo” can be translated as “Intense Yearning or Longing”. “Reibo” () can mean “Spiritual Yearning”, and “Rinmon” can mean “Facing the Gateway” or “Confronting the Gate”.

Tukitani (1990b:50) implies that the term “Reihô” is generally thought to predate the term “Reibo”, stating that it is commonly believed that the former was changed to the latter, and in some cases changing to “Renbo”, “Reibo” () or “Rinmon”. This belief is indirectly supported by the fact that one of the main temples of the Fuke sect during the Edo period was Reihôji () (see p.114).

In contrast to Tukitani, Nakatsuka (1979:131) suggests that “Renbo” rather than “Reihô” predates the other variant terms because “Renbo” is found in the book Shichiku shoshin shû (Nakamura 1664) as part of the titles to the pieces “Renbo nagashi” and “Kyô renbo”. Nakatsuka’s reasoning is based on the assumption that the pieces in the book Shichiku shoshin shû predate all of the “Reibo” pieces (see chap 2.)

Implicit in all of the titles “Reibo”, “Reihô”, “Renbo” and “Rinmon” is a strong association with Buddhism. In the case of “Reibo”() and “Reihô” (), there is also the association with the Zen Buddhist priest Puhua (J. Fuke), who was noted for his constant ringing of a handbell (a rei or taku, ). This association dates at least from the late 18th century, the time of the writing of Kyotaku denki kokujikai. That the association was originally based upon fiction rather than fact did not weaken it in the minds of those members of the shakuhachi honkyoku tradition who believed in the association. Even now, when the work of Nakatsuka and others has conclusively shown that the Fuke legend is not factually grounded and very few if any take the Kyotaku denki kokujikai at face value, the centuries old association between the honkyoku and Fuke still operates within the tradition and is manifested in the names “Reibo” and “Reihô”.

In the case of “Reibo”, “Reihô” and “Renbo”, the meaning of ‘yearning’ or ‘longing’ also has considerable significance in the framework of Zen Buddhist philosophy. One of the primary teachings of Buddhism is that suffering, a universal ill, is caused by desires, or in other words, yearning. The cessation of desire or yearning is the way to end the eternal cycle of suffering. Recognition of the central role one’s desires play in suffering is a first step toward enlightenment.

There is another, more positive aspect to the concept of ‘yearning’, however, than its equation with ‘desires’ or that which causes suffering. This positive sense of ‘yearning is, in fact, addressed in almost all of the world’s religions and philosophies. In an interview on ABC Radio National, Jean Houston read the following quote from her book entitled The Search for the Beloved,:

In all the great spiritual and mystery traditions, the central theme, the guiding passion, is the deep yearning for union with the Beloved of the soul. This lies at the heart of sacred psychology, transcending the desire for romantic love, the nourishment of parental love, and all the other varieties of human loving. It is a calling to the source.

The passion of St. John of the Cross for the Divine Lover is one of the most ecstatic and exquisite statements of the mystery of divine human loving. It recalls the yearning of Isis for Osiris, the love songs of Orpheus, the spiritual and fleshly eros of the Psalm of Songs. It is central to Sufi mysticism. And the Hasid is never the more himself than when caught up in the ecstatic dance of love with God.

Nor is it limited to the major world religions. One of the most moving accounts of this longing is found in Laurens van der Post’s account of the Dance of the Great Hunger of the Bushmen of the Kalihari. He writes, “It is the dance of the hunger that neither the food of the earth nor the way of life possible upon it can satisfy. Whenever I ask them about it, they would say, ‘Not only we feel this hunger, but the stars too sitting up there with their hearts of plenty, they too feel it, and feeling it, tremble as if afraid they would wane and their light die on account of so great a hunger.

In Greek, it may be expressed as pathos. Plato defined it as ‘a yearning desire for a distant object.” And Dylan Thomas had it as, ‘the force that through the green fuse drives the flower, drives my blood.’ It is the divine force behind all of our ceaseless wandering, behind the apparent foolishness that sends us in pursuit of the improbable. Sacred psychology asks, who or what is it that is yearning for you, calling to you? Who is the beloved you are always trying to remember?

Houston 1990

This yearning, which can be immense, is a yearning “to be met at our depths”. There is still great suffering in this yearning. Buddha, whose suffering was monumental, takes his name from the word boddhi, which means ‘to awaken’. The bell of Fuke is the sound of awakening. “Reibo”, “Yearning for the Bell” is thus a yearning to awaken, to know oneself as a Buddha.

Another variation of the title of this piece also contains similar wisdom. The word “Rinmon”, when translated as “Facing the Gateway”, “On the Verge of the Gate”, etc. is also pregnant with meaning in a Zen Buddhist context. Examples of the use of the image of the gate abound in Zen literature. For example, one of the masterpieces of Zen literature is entitled Wu-men kuan (, 1228; J. Mumonkan). Translated as “Gateless Gate” or “Gateless Barrier”, Mumonkan has been called “the most basic koan collection in the literature of Zen” (Maezumi, in Yamada 1979:viii). The three characters (mu, nothing; mon, gate; kan, barrier) suggest a barrier without a gate or passage through which to pass. In the preface to one of a number of English translations of Mumonkan (Enomiya-Lassalle, in Yamada 1979:xiv), we are told that each koan of the 48 cases compiled in the book is a barrier. The koans or barriers cannot be entered into with ordinary thinking or logic because they have no gate. But for one whose “Eye is opened to [the] True Self”, entering is easy because there is no gate at all.

The latter case fits an alternative meaning to the title “Mumonkan”. Sekada (1977:27) explains that the third ideograph kan may also mean checkpoints on national or internal boundaries where travellers have their documents examined. “Mumonkan” could therefore also mean “a checkpoint that is not blocked in any way”, or “open checkpoint”. An example of using the image of “Rinmon”, or “facing the gate” can be found in one of the koans in Mumonkan. In case 47, a Zen master presents three ‘barriers’ or questions that his Zen students must face or meet. According to Yamada (1979:237) these ‘barriers’ are really the single barrier of kensho () or self-realization.

In these and other examples, the depth of meaning and the association with Zen Buddhism can be seen in the title “Reibo” and the variants “Reihô”, “Renbo” and “Rinmon”.

4.2 Classification of “Reibo” titles

Numerous shakuhachi honkyoku incorporate the words “Reibo” “Reihô”, “Renbo” and “Rinmon” in their title. Tukitani (1990b:11) gives as representative examples fifteen pieces. They are: “Kyûshû reibo” (); “Kyo reibo” (); “Murasaki reibo” (), also called “Murasakino reibo” (); “Izu reibo” (); “Igusa reibo” (); “Echigo reibo” (), also known as “Kitaguni reibo” (); “Ôshû reibo” (), also known as “Reibo” (); “Miyagi reibo” (); “Mutsu reibo” (); “Namiwa reibo” (); “Tehodoki reibo” (); “Shiseki reibo” (); “Mukaiji reibo” (); “Kokû reibo” (); and “Sôkaku reibo” ().

Takahashi (1979:269-306) lists nineteen titles of pieces incorporating the above words. They are: “Reihô” (); “Rinmon” (); “Renbo” (); “Nagashi reihô” (); “Reihô nagashi” (); “Izu reihô” (); “Namima reihô” (); “Ôshû reihô” (); “Kitaguni reihô” (); “Tehodoki reihô” (); “Godan reihô” (); “Shinseki reihô” (); “Yoshiya reihô” (); “Murasakino reihô” (); “Igusa reihô” (); “Iyo reihô” (); “Kakusui reihô” (); “Izumo reihô” (); and “Kyûshû reihô” ().

The Chikuho ryû repertoire contains eleven such pieces. They are: “Tehodoki reibo”; “Kyûshû reibo”; “Sukaku reibo” (); “Renbo nagashi” (); “Igusa reibo”; “Asuka reibo” (); “Murasakino reibo”; “Mutsu reibo”; “Shôganken reibo”; “Futaiken reibo”; and “Nagashi reibo” () (Chikuho ryû: 1971). Other titles include “Reibo”, using a different character (); “Yamato reibo” (); and “Miyagino reibo” ().

According to Tukitani (1990b:10-12), all the “Reibo” pieces can be classified into three categories. These categories are: 1)locationally designated titles; 2)titles with descriptive words preceding the word “Reibo” or “Reihô”; and 3)titles in which the word “Reibo” is used as a suffix to the name of pieces that have little relationship to other “Reibo” pieces. To Tukitani’s three classifications should be added a fourth category: 4)pieces known only by the title “Reibo” or “Reihô”.

Locationally designated titles include “Kyûshû reibo”, “Kyô reibo”, “Murasaki reibo” “Murasakino reibo”, “Izu reibo”, “Igusa reibo”, “Echigo reibo”, “Kitaguni reibo”, “Ôshû reibo”, “Miyagi reibo”, “Mutsu reibo”, “Asuka reibo” and “Izumo reibo”. In these titles, the word preceding ‘reibo’ is a place name, such as Kyûshû in the south and Ôshû in the north. Titles designated by temple names instead of geographical localities, such as “Shôganken reibo” and “Futaiken reibo”, could also be included in this classification.

Titles with descriptive words preceding the term “Reibo” or “Reihô” are “Namima reibo” or “Namima reihô”, which means “On the Wave Reibo” and “Tehodoki reibo (or reihô )”, meaning “Beginners” or “Introductory Reibo/Reihô”. Examples of the third category are “Kokû reibo”, “Mukaiji reibo” and “Sôkaku reibo”.

As examples of the fourth category, Takahashi lists four separate “Reihô” pieces that were transmitted at three different temples, Ichigetsuji (), Myôanji () of the Echigo district and Myôanji of the Kyôtô area, and one piece that was transmitted within the Nesasa school, located in the Aomori district. There are numerous titles with “Reibo” preceded by “As transmitted by [name of person or temple]”, such as “Kannariji den ‘Reibo'” (); “Garyôken den ‘Reibo'” (), “Uramoto Setchô den ‘Reibo'” (), etc.

To add to these confusing lists of titles by categories of “Reibo” or “Reihô” pieces are other pieces that can be shown to be identical to, or variants of, a “Reibo” piece. For example, all pieces in category three are also known by the same titles but with the suffix “Reibo” omitted. Some examples are “Mukaiji” that is a variant of “Mukaiji reibo”, a “Kokû” variant of “Kokû reibo” and a “Sôkaku” variant of “Sôkaku reibo”. These variants have been transmitted by lineages different from those through which pieces with the suffix “Reibo” in their title have been transmitted. Finally, as will be shown below (p.183), there is a piece entitled “Furin” () which is a variant of a number of the “Reibo” pieces mentioned above.

It must be stressed that all of the above is a classification of titles, not of pieces. Tukitani (1990b:10) points out that throughout the honkyoku repertoire, many titles are used for pieces that are virtually identical with each other even though they are called by different names, that is ‘different names – same composition’. Also there are many pieces with the same name, but with different titles, or ‘same name – different compositions’. Finally, there are pieces with identical names but with structural variation, or ‘variants’. Examples of all three types of combinations can be found in the “Reibo” titles listed above. In order to classify the pieces themselves, one must go beyond the titles and look at the music, using written scores, spoken or written sources dealing with the music, and finally, transcriptions of performances. This type of examination will be undertaken later in this thesis.

4.3 The Ôshû family of the “Reibo” piece

The preceding section has described the meaning and symbolism of the word “Reibo” and other related terms, and listed and categorized the many pieces in the honkyoku tradition for which these terms are used as titles. For this thesis, only one piece, or ‘family of pieces’ of the many different “Reibo” pieces has been chosen for close scrutiny and analysis. This is the family of “Reibo” pieces of the “Ôshû” district of northern Japan.

The description of the group of pieces will follow, in general, the path which the author travelled in his own research, beginning with a single piece which was taught to him by his shakuhachi teacher, Chikuho II, nearly twenty years ago. The following description of the process of choosing, and of subsequent study of this family of pieces as the central topic of research in this thesis may help illuminate both the reasons for such a choice and the nature of honkyoku.


Once I had decided that the general subject of my thesis was to be the koten honkyoku, the classical Zen-related repertoire of shakuhachi pieces, I narrowed down that unworkably broad subject by choosing a single piece on which to focus. After much deliberation, the piece “Shôganken reibo” (, “Reibo of the Shôgan temple”) was chosen for two reasons. First of all, it was a favourite piece of mine, which I had long ago memorized, and which I had performed on numerous occasions. I thus felt that I knew “Shôganken reibo” on both conscious and intuitive levels. Secondly, the use of the word reibo in the title, with its many meanings and legendary associations, suggested a subject worthy of in-depth investigation.

At the time, I assumed the piece to be a single composition with a single, easily traced lineage. Sakai Chikuho II first taught me “Shôganken reibo” in Osaka in 1973. As a rule, Chikuho II, the iemoto of Chikuho ryû, rarely offered to explain to me who had taught him a particular piece, and I rarely asked. In the case of “Shôganken reibo”, either Chikuho II made an exception, or the lineage of transmission was described to me later, possibly by Sakai Shôdô (, b. 1940), Chikuho II’s younger brother and iemoto of Chikuho ryû since 1985. In any case, I was told that unlike many of the koten honkyoku in the Chikuho ryû repertoire, Chikuho II had not learned the piece from his father, Sakai Chikuho I, known as Chikuô () after his retirement in 1967 as the founding head of Chikuho ryû. Instead Chikuho II had received the piece from another shakuhachi player in the Ôsaka district, Moriyasu Nyotô (, b.1899).

Nyotô was a long-time student of Jin Nyodô (, 1891-1966), a prominent shakuhachi player based in Kyôto, famous throughout Japan as a teacher and performer of koten honkyoku. Jin, being a shakuhachi performer of much greater stature than Moriyasu and still active at least three decades after Chikuho II’s birth, would at first glance be a more logical choice than Moriyasu for transmitting of any honkyoku, including “Shôganken reibo” to Chikuho II. Under the circumstances, more seems to have been taken into consideration than the proficiency and fame of the teacher. Chikuho II, as the future iemoto of Chikuho ryu, could not simply go to established shakuhachi teachers of other lineages to learn new honkyoku. Doing so would be contrary to the rank and status of iemoto, and might result in a loss of esteem for both Chikuho II personally and for the ryû (Lee 1986:90). In this case, Moriyasu was a less problematic choice of teacher than the famous Jin.

Prior to selecting “Shôganken reibo” as the topic of this thesis, it was known that this particular piece had been received from Jin through Moriyasu, and that Chikuho II was transmitting it to his students as part of the Chikuhô ryû repertoire. Chikuho II did tell me that in the Edo period there had been a komusô temple, now defunct, called “Shôganken” (, shô, pine tree; gan, boulder; ken, sub-temple), located in Hanamaki (), a town in what is now the northern Japanese prefecture of Iwate (), near the city of Sendai (), and that “Shôganken reibo” came from that temple just as other “Reibo” pieces had come from other temples and locations in Japan.

With this information and the more substantial conscious and intuitive knowledge gained by having performed “Shôganken reibo” from memory countless times over fifteen years, I again returned to Japan in 1988 to begin research into the history of its transmission.

By the time my year of research in Japan was completed, I knew that “Shôganken reibo” as transmitted by Chikuho II was only one of many variants that could be traced back to what analysis indicated to be a single piece. As a result, “Shôganken reibo” could not be used as the focal point of this thesis unless that focal point also included a number of these other variants, even though they are now known by different titles and are considered distinctly separate pieces in the Chikuho repertoire and in the minds of many of the shakuhachi players of other schools and lineages who perform them. It also became apparent that the Jin-Moriyasu-Sakai-Lee transmission was part of only one lineage necessary to investigate. Other performing lineages from a variety of locales, which at first glance appeared unrelated, also required attention.

Three types of sources were used to determine which pieces, lineages and performers to include in the study of “Shôganken reibo”: 1)shakuhachi lineage or genealogy charts that seemed to be related to the transmission of “Shôganken reibo”; 2)interviews of shakuhachi players who perform “Shôganken reibo”; 3)books, articles, descriptive notes of recordings and other publications that mention “Shôganken reibo”. Data gained from these sources indicated the pieces, the lineages and the performers to be studied.

Genealogy or lineage charts are common in the field of hôgaku (, Japanese music), the shakuhachi tradition being no exception. Representative of the popularity of such charts is the Nihon ongaku daijiten (, Dictionary of Japanese Music, hereafter NOD 1989). In the appendix of this reference work are thirty-four pages of extensive lineage charts, and their explanations, of all of the major genres of hôgaku, including two pages on the shakuhachi tradition (Tukitani in NOD 1989:46-47). These and other shakuhachi lineage charts typically show the names of the teachers and their students, students of the students, etc., of various organisations such as Chikuho ryû, or those within Kinho ryû. In many of these charts, only those persons who became iemoto or heads of their lineage or were in other ways important to the lineage are listed (e.g., Gutswiller 1983:24-25). These lineage charts, therefore, do not show the lines of transmission of specific pieces, such as “Shôganken reibo”.

Though not piece-specific, it is sometimes possible to use lineage charts to trace the transmission of a single honkyoku. This is especially the case of the Ôshû lineage, Ôshû being an old name for the district in which the transmission of the lineage was traditionally centred, because of its apparent relationship with the piece “Shôganken reibo”. Charts of this lineage have been published by Tukitani (in NOD 1989:47) and by Yamaue (1984:167). Tukitani calls this lineage the “Ôshû fuchi ha” (), while Yamaue labels it “Ôshû myôan (fuchi ha)” (). Tukitani’s chart is based largely upon Yamaue’s extensive and nearly illegible published chart, other unpublished charts by Yamaue, and charts compiled by Izui () and Takahashi () (in Yamaue 1984:170-175). The Izui and Takahashi charts are basically expanded and redrawn Yamaue charts.

Under close scrutiny, the Ôshû lineage, as portrayed in the charts mentioned above, seems to parallel the transmission of a single honkyoku. More accurately, the transmission of a single family of closely related pieces seems to be the determinant used in deciding who was to be included in the charts. The family of honkyoku being transmitted is the “Ôshû kei (, lineage) ‘Reibo'”. One of the pieces in the “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'” is “Shôganken reibo”.

Tukitani (1982:104) asserts that during this century the group of pieces encompassed by the name “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'” has been transmitted from one generation of shakuhachi players to another via three main branches or stream and that Jin Nyodô learned “Shôganken reibo” via two of those three streams. Tukitani further speculates that Jin, in order to differentiate between what he considered to be two different pieces rather than two versions of the same piece, gave the title “Shôganken reibo” to one of the versions. Research undertaken for this thesis and presented below supports Tukitani’s hypothesis.

4.3.1 “Shôganken reibo” lineage

Tukitani (1982) has proposed the theory that “Shôganken reibo” is only one of many names used to refer to what may be called the “Reibo” piece of the Ôshû lineage. She arrives at this conclusion primarily by looking at the transmission of the piece, in other words, by seeing who taught the piece to whom. My own experience both confirms and illustrates her line of reasoning.

To facilitate an understanding of the transmission of “Shôganken reibo”, it was necessary to chart a piece-specific lineage rather than a person-specific lineage. Progressively more complex charts are given as persons involved in the transmission are introduced. As mentioned above, I was taught the piece by Chikuho II, who, with his brother Sakai Shôdô, was taught by Moriyasu Nyotô, who learned the piece from Jin Nyodô. This relationship, as well as the dates of the above mentioned persons, can be seen in chart 1.

Jin Nyodô learned the piece from Orito Nyogetsu (), who, according to Yamaue (1984:167) and Tukitani (in NOD 1989:47), also taught the piece to Uchiyama Reigetsu () and Yamaue Getsuzan (). Orito’s teacher was Onodera Genkichi (), who was taught by the highly respected komusô, Hasegawa Tôgaku (). Chart 2 shows the addition of Hasegawa, Onodera, Orito and Uchiyama and Yamaue to the lineage.

Orito Nyogetsu was a member of the Kinpu ryû Nezasa ha in Aomori, whose repertoire at the time did not include the Ôshû lineage “Reibo” (Kendo 1934b:39). How Kinpu ryû and, consequently, Orito Nyogetsu came to acquire the piece is described by Nyûi Kendo () in an article written in 1934 (1934b:39). Quoting from that article:

In around Meiji 20 (1888), Onodera Genkichi would come to Hirosaki City while on pilgrimages as a komusô and would sometimes perform the piece “Reibo” in front of the house of Nyûi Getsue [the head of the Kinpu ryû at that time]. On one occasion Nyûi was home, and hearing that Onodera’s playing was quite good, invited the komusô inside his house. When Nyûi expressed the desire to have him play anew, Onodera performed the two pieces “Reibo” and “Tsuru no sugomori”. On hearing that he was such a strong player, Nyûi introduced Onodera to his students the next day. It was unanimously decided that Onodera should stay for three months and teach the members of the school the two pieces.

(Nyûi 1934b:39; translated by Lee)

Charts 1 and 2

Genealogy Chart 1
Genealogy Chart 1

Genealogy Chart 2
(click to enlarge)

Genealogy Chart 2

This brief description indicates the manner of transmission of honkyoku between lineages in the last century was quite different from methods employed for the same purpose today. Of particular interest is the willingness with which the head of a lineage (Nyûi) seemed to acknowledge and accept an outsider (Onodera). Nyûi did not merely recognize and acknowledge the technical (and, one might assume, spiritual) qualities of Onodera’s shakuhachi playing, he even allowed Onodera to teach his students for three months. There is no hint of any of the ‘loss of face’ that a shakuhachi player of Nyûi’s position might experience today if confronted with similar circumstances. It is also interesting to note that Onodera was willing and able to suspend his regular routine, whatever that might have been, and stay for three months to teach Nyûi’s students. The spontaneity and suddenness with which the whole affair occurred, and with which Onodera’s three month tenure was decided seems to belong to another, less hectic age, quite unlike today’s usual routines of solidly planned schedules and commitments.


Orito was a member of the group of Nyûi’s students that learned “Reibo” and “Tsuru no sugomori” from Onodera. Onodera centered his activities around the temple Kannariji, which is apparently the reason Orito called the “Reibo” he learned from Onodera by the name “Kannariji den ‘Reibo'”. In any case, thanks to both Nyûi’s and Onodera’s generosity, the former in allowing his students to be taught by someone outside his lineage, and the latter for agreeing to teach, Orito was later able to transmit the piece to Jin. This allowed Jin to teach the piece to Moriyasu, from whom Chikuho II was able to learn it, thereby making it possible for me to receive the piece almost a century after the event described above.

Neither Orito, nor his students Uchiyama and Yamaue, referred to the piece as “Shôganken reibo”, but rather by the titles “Kannariji den ‘Reibo'” ( ), “Miyagi reibo” () and “Onodera Genkichi den ‘reibo'” ( respectively. The word den () means “transmission”. “Kannariji den ‘Reibo'”, therefore, can be translated as “‘Reibo’ as transmitted through Kannari Temple” (Kannariji is a temple in Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan), while “Onodera Genkichi den ‘reibo'” can mean “‘Reibo’ as transmitted by Onodera Genkichi”.

Of the three generations consisting of, 1)Onodera; 2)Orito; and 3)Jin, Uchiyama and Yamaue; only Jin uses the word “Shôganken” in the title of the piece. In his own notation of this piece, Jin writes the title as “Shôganken den ‘Reibo'” ( ). Note that Jin changes the ideograph pronounced “gan” from the original , used in the name of the sub-temple Shôganken, to . Both have the same meaning, “boulder”. In place of either of these ideographs, Jin also used the ideograph “an” (, “safety”), though less frequently (Jin 1980:49).

There are no other known shakuhachi players belonging to either Jin’s generation or the generation prior to his who used the word “Shôganken” in the title of a honkyoku. Those shakuhachi players in generations after Jin’s who do use the title “Shôganken reibo” seem to have adopted Jin’s use of the ideogram in place of the original . Three generations before Jin, Oikawa Kakuyû (), did use the word “Shôganken” in the title of a “Reibo” piece he performed, but as will be shown below, Oikawa’s lineage and the piece he performed are different from those of Jin. Furthermore, Oikawa used the original character in his title. We may assume, then, that use of the words “Shôganken reibo”, written with the ideographs , as a title for the honkyoku in question originated with Jin Nyodô.

This assumption is supported by the fact that whenever the title “Shôganken reibo” is used for a piece, whoever uses it is in some way connected with Jin, even if they have not learned the piece directly from Jin or indirectly from one of his students. This is the case with Moriyasu, Chikuho II and his brother Shôdô. Another example is the piece “Shôganken reibo” found on a recently released cassette recording of Yokoyama Katsuya’s performance of various koten honkyoku (1988). Yokoyama’s primary source of honkyoku was his teacher, Watazumi dôso (), from whom he learned a piece entitled “Reibo”. Yokoyama differentiates “Reibo” from “Shôganken reibo”, however, and includes both pieces in the same collection of recordings of honkyoku (1988). In his book Shakuhachi gaku no miryoku, Yokoyama implies that he became acquainted with “Shôganken reibo” in part by listening to a recording of a performance by me (Yokoyama 1985:235). In a personal communication, Yokoyama stated that he used in part a notation of the piece written by Jin (Yokoyama 1989). Yokoyama uses the ideograph , associated with Jin’s lineage, in writing “Shôganken reibo”. Thus, there are reasons for classifying Yokoyama’s performance of “Shôganken reibo” as being related to the Jin lineage, if only indirectly.


The question of transmission is further complicated, however, by the fact that Yokoyama also learned from Watazumi a piece entitled “Furin” (), which, as played by Watazumi, preliminary analysis has shown to be quite similar to “Shôganken reibo” of Jin’s lineage (see pp.485-490). It is not known who taught Watazumi the piece; Watazumi says that no one taught it to him (Yokoyama 1989). Yokoyama also learned “Furin” from Watazumi.

Yokoyama further stated in a personal communication with me (1989) that in the mid 1980s he began using the title “Shôganken reibo” for the piece Watazumi played as “Furin” because he recognized both pieces to be the same. It is not clear why Yokoyama does not, in his discussion of “Shôganken reibo” in his book, precisely point out that his own “Shôganken reibo” is basically a variant of Watazumi’s “Furin”. A possible explanation for Yokoyama’s deciding to adopt the name “Shôganken reibo” is that it is much more famous than the title “Furin”. The similarities and differences as revealed by transcription and analysis of Watazumi’s and Yokoyama’s “Furin” on one hand, and Jin’s and his students’ “Shôganken reibo” on the other hand, will be discussed later in this thesis. Chart 3 shows the addition of Watazumi and Yokoyama to the genealogy chart.

4.3.2 “Futaiken reibo” lineage

Jin learned what will be shown by analysis (pp.485-490) to be a second version of “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'” from Konashi Kinsui (). Jin gave this second version of “Reibo” the title “Futaiken den ‘Reibo'” (, “Reibo transmitted at the Futai sub-temple”). As was the case with “Shôganken reibo”, this version of the piece was not known by this title before Jin. Kinsui may have called the piece simply “Reibo as this is the name most of his students used. As mentioned above, the version that Jin called “Shôganken reibo” was referred to by his teacher, Orito, as Kannariji den “Reibo”. Perhaps Jin thought the name “Reibo” was not specific enough, in light of his having been taught at least two versions of the piece, or it could have been simply that “Futaiken den reibo” – “Shôganken den reibo” made a better sounding pair than “Reibo” – “Kannariji den reibo”.

Chart 3

Genealogy Chart 3
(click to enlarge)

The question of who taught Kinsui is somewhat complicated. Uramoto (Inagaki, ed. 1985:130), Tukitani (in NOD 1989:42), Yamaue (1984:167) and Izui and Takahashi (in Yamaue 1984:174) agree that Kinsui’s first teacher was the komusô, Kurosawa Shôun (). One of Kinsui’s students, Uramoto Setchô () (Inagaki, ed. 1985:130) states, however, that Kinsui was taught by the last head priest of Futaiken and highly regarded komusô Hasegawa Tôgaku () (see p.178). Kurosawa Kinko, one of the most famous komusô, was also associated with the sub-temple Futaiken, further elevating Kinsui’s credibility.

Izui Shizan () and Takahashi Ryochiku () (Yamaue 1984:174) write that: 1)in a ‘direct conversation’ with Gotô Tôsui (), Tôsui stated that he had heard Tôgaku and Kinsui perform the piece ‘Reibo’ together and that though there were differences in details, the timings, passages, etc., they fit extremely well; 2)according to Orito Nyogetsu (see above), Kinsui was expelled (hamon ) by Tôgaku and didn’t learn the piece “Reibo” at all; and 3)according to shakuhachi player and authority Takahashi Kûzan (, unrelated to Ryochiku), Kinsui studied with Tôgaku for only a very short time, barely learning anything from him. In his own book on shakuhachi, Kûzan writes:

From the latter Taisho (1912-1926) and during the early Shôwa (1926-1989) periods, in Sendai there was a person named Konashi Kinsui who was blind and was a shakuhachi player. He imitated the piece “Ôshû reihô” and played a condensed version of this. There are people who say that this piece is the same as that transmitted by the sub-temple Shôganken in what is now Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture…or by some other temple. In this, however, they are completely mistaken. I have met Kinsui frequently, and during the many investigations I made to various temples in the early part of Shôwa, such as those mentioned earlier, such a piece [as Kinsui performed] absolutely did not exist.

Takahashi 1988:285

Although there are contradictions in the above statements, all of the above writers do, in fact, agree upon one thing: that Hasegawa Tôgaku is considered the well-spring of authority from which all versions of “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'” flowed (Yamaue 1984:167; Izui and Takahashi in Yamaue 1984:174; Tukitani in NOD 1989:47; Takahashi 1979:285; Uramoto 1985:130). Consequently, it is imperative that any shakuhachi player who places importance upon the authenticity of his version of “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'” be able to trace a piece-specific lineage from himself through his ancestors directly back to Hasegawa Tôgaku. Uramoto states that his teacher, Kinsui, studied with Tôgaku, thus creating a link between the ‘source’ and himself that spans only two generations.

Taken one step further, this process of authenticating one’s own piece requires not only a demonstration of proof of a direct line of transmission between, in this case, Tôgaku and oneself, but also the discrediting of any other line of transmission that might rival one’s own. As happens universally in religion and in other areas of human society, including that of shakuhachi, this latter step seems to have been taken by Kûzan and, according to Izui and Takahashi, also by Nyogetsu, both of whom are not connected with the Kinsui lineage.

In contrast, Izui and Takahashi, in their role as unbiased editors to Yamaue’s book, try to balance Kûzan’s and Nyogetsu’s negative accounts of Kinsui’s lineage with a ‘direct’ quote from Gotô Tôsui stating that he could hear virtually no difference between Tôgaku’s and Kinsui’s performance of “Reibo”. Izui and Takahashi (in Yamada 1984:174) make Gotô’s account more credible by pointing out that Gotô himself was originally a student of Tôgaku, but immediately afterwards undermine that credibility by further explaining that Gotô became Kinsui’s student, the latter evidenced by Gotô’s shakuhachi name, Tôsui1.

1. It is common practice for shakuhachi players of the same lineage to share a character in their professional name. Both Kinsui and Tôsui share the character sui (, water).

In this author’s opinion (whose objectivity is reinforced by his being in both the Kinsui and Nyogetsu lineages) any doubts as to the credibility of Kinsui’s “Reibo” are more than allayed by the piece itself, or more precisely, by performing it, a masterpiece among shakuhachi honkyoku.

In any case, Konashi Kinsui taught his version of “Reibo” to many others besides Jin, including Uramoto Setcho, whose many students may have included Watazumi, who in turn taught it to Yokoyama. The lineage chart of the “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'” becomes quite complex with the inclusion of Konashi Kinsui, Uramoto Setchô and their students (see chart 4).

4.3.3 A third lineage of transmission of the Ôshû family of the “Reibo” piece

The possible third line of transmission of the Ôshû kei “Reibo” is much simpler. As with the Kinsui lineage, this lineage traces itself back to Hasegawa Tôgaku, with the added input of another komusô, Genkô Taishû (), as follows: the previously mentioned Takahashi Kûzan was taught by Okazaki Meidô (), whose teacher was Oikawa Kakuyû (). As is claimed to be the case with Konashi Kinsui, Oikawa also had two teachers, Hasegawa Tôgaku and Genkô Taishû (see chart 5).

Chart 4

Genealogy Chart 4
(click to enlarge)


– – – – indicates indirect transmission through recordings.
Dates are given where known.
‘?’ indicates unsubstantiated, but possible transmission.
[Futaiken ], etc., indicates the sub-temple with which the komusô was affiliated.

This lineage is particularly interesting because both Oikawa and one of his teachers, Genkô, were associated with the sub-temple Shôganken. As mentioned earlier, Oikawa, like Jin, used the title “Shôganken reibo”. But unlike Jin’s use of the ideograph for “gan”, Oikawa used the ideograph for “gan”. Oikawa chose the same ideograph that was used in the name of the original komusô temple, Shôganken. Even though Kûzan emphasizes the connection between Oikawa, who was his teacher’s teacher, and Tôgaku, it is Oikawa’s other teacher, Genkô, and the association of both Oikawa and Genkô with the sub-temple Shôganken that are important, for the following reason.

The other two main lineages of the Ôshû kei “Reibo” stem from Hasegawa Tôgaku, one stream flowing through Onodera and the other through Konashi Kinsui. Tôgaku was the head priest of the sub-temple Futaiken. Therefore, both of these lineages originated at Futaiken, even though Jin seems to have arbitrarily given the title “Shôganken reibo” to a piece that had been transmitted to him through Onodera. Even if Kinsui’s somewhat controversial relationship with Tôgaku is discounted, his other teacher, Kurosawa Shôun was also associated with Futaiken.

Assuming the details of the lineage chart are correct, it is only the Genkô – Oikawa – Okazaki lineage that can rightly claim the title “Shôganken reibo”, the “‘Reibo’ as transmitted at Shôganken”. Because of the custom of ichiji ichiritsu (, one temple, one melody), it is reasonable to assume that the Shôganken version of “Reibo” differed from the Futaiken version.

Chart 5

Genealogy Chart 5

Ironically, according to Izui and Takahashi (in Yamaue 1984:173), Okazaki used the name “Futaiken reibo” to refer to this piece, even though his teacher used the name “Shôganken den reibo”. Equally inconsistent is Kûzan’s use of the title “Ôshû reihô” () when refering in his book, Fuke shû shi () (1979:285) to the piece transmitted from Shôganken.

4.4 Lineage chart of the Transmission of “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'”

Chart 6 is for “Ôshû kei Reibo”, showing the three main branches of transmission, including names that have not been mentioned previously. It is based on a similar chart compiled by the Syakuhati kenkyû kai (Shakuhachi Research Group), with reliance upon a chart by Tukitani (NOD 1989:47), while I was an active member of the group in Japan in 1989. Tukitani’s chart was largely substantiated by Yamaue (1984) and Takahashi (1979).

Tukitani’s original chart, the Shakuhachi Research Group’s chart, and this subsequent lineage chart are all based upon either direct observation, as in the case of performers directly known by the author, or upon writings and diagrams of shakuhachi players who appear in the chart, in particular those of Yamaue Getsuzan.

The lineage chart of the Shakuhachi Research Group, and the chart presented here differ from all other charts of shakuhachi lineages in their focus upon extant recordings. The charts were devised by first collecting as many recordings as possible of what seemed likely to be “Reibo” pieces of the Ôshû lineage, and then listing the performers of the recordings, their teachers and then the teacher’s teachers, etc. The lineages of the performers of the recordings were traced as far back in time as possible, using all available data, including old lineage charts. In this way, a comparative analysis based upon transcriptions of actual performance recordings, could be made between any and all branches represented in the chart. The result is a lineage chart believed to be more comprehensive in its representation of various lines through which “Reibo” has been and is being transmitted than previous Ôshû lineage charts, even though many individuals included in earlier charts, such as Yamaue’s eleven students (Yamaue 1984:167), are omitted.

Chart 6

Genealogy Chart 6
(click to enlarge)


– – – – indicates indirect transmission through recordings.
Dates are given where known.
‘?’ indicates unsubstantiated, but possible transmission.
[Futaiken ], etc., indicates the sub-temple with which the komusô was affiliated.

It should be emphasized that the chart is necessarily limited to shakuhachi players who are known to have recorded performances of ‘Reibo’, and to the teachers of these players. It is, therefore, far from exhaustive; there is no way of telling, for example, how many people may have learned “Reibo” or how many players are performing versions of it today.

As far as possible, the chart is piece-specific. That is, it shows only who taught whom “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'”. Any individual included in the chart mave have had one or more other teachers, among whom may have been his principal teacher. For example, Watazumi is said to have learned the piece from Uramoto Setchô, but Setchô was by no means his main teacher. In fact, as mentioned above, Watazumi regularly claims that he had no teachers from whom he learned any of his honkyoku. Similarly, Aoki Reibo II () is believed to have learned his “Miyagino Reibo” () from either Suzuki Tamon () or Nakamura Kikufû (), neither of whom was his primary teacher; his father, Aoki Reibo I, was. A number of others in the chart have a similar secondary relationship with the person who transmitted “Reibo” to them.

In addition, it is highly probable that most persons included in chart 6 learnt from more than one teacher. For example, Takahashi Kûzan lists as his teachers, not only Okazaki Meidô as given in chart 6, but also Miyakawa Nyozan (), Takase Sukeji (), Kobayashi Haô (), Komichi Toyotarô (), Kobayashi Shizan (), Katsuura Shôzan () and others (Kamisangô 1974:21). A lineage chart depicting each player’s primary teacher, or primary influence, would be quite different from chart 6, which shows only in part the transmission of a single family of pieces.

That charts such as the one presented here can only be simplified representations of ‘reality’ can be seen from the following example. Jin claimed that he learned the piece that he called “Shôganken reibo” from Orito Nyogetsu, yet Nyogetsu asserted that he in fact never taught the piece to Jin. Actually, Jin did study the piece under Orito, but according to Yamaue, as Jin began to gain fame throughout Japan as an authority of the honkyoku, Orito told him that if he was going to be transmitting the piece around the country, he had better take more lessons from Orito to make sure he really knew the piece. Jin never took Orito’s advice, so Orito began stating categorically that he had never taught Jin the piece (Yamaue 1987:7).

An added difficulty in creating an accurate and comprehensive lineage chart such as the one presented here, arises from social customs and restraints at work in shakuhachi society. As explained above, Chikuho II, as a future iemoto, may have felt limited in choosing whom he could learn new honkyoku from or, at least whom he could publicly acknowledge having learned from, because of the possible risk to the rank and status of the iemoto position, as well as the possible loss of esteem both personally and for the ryû. Such social constraints make it problematic for high ranking players to increase their performance and teaching repertoire.

Performance and teaching of modern compositions, in comparison to traditional honkyoku that have been transmitted through long lineages and are frequently considered to be the exclusive property of those lineages, are less constrained by social forces. This is especially true in the case of contemporary shakuhachi compositions written in staff notation. There are two main methods frequently used to overcome problems of increasing one’s repertoire of traditional pieces. One method is to create original compositions. The second method is to proceed to introduce a traditional piece to one’s repertoire, but then to ignore the question of lineage entirely.

In a personal communication, Tukitani uncertainly (OC 1989) suggested that Aoki Reibo may have learned his version of “Reibo”, which he calls “Miyagino reibo”, from Suzuki Tamon, who may have learned it from Nakamura Kikufû (see chart 6). Tukitani based her belief on what she had been told by Tamon and others, and is indirectly supported by the fact that both Nakamura and one of his teachers Kobayashi Shizan () used the name “Miyagino reibo”, the same name that Aoki uses.

Though I had the opportunity to ask Aoki about his piece “Miyagino reibo” during an interview with him on October 15, 1989, I made the conscious decision to avoid the issue, believing that to pursue the subject might be seen as tactless. As conjecture, Aoki’s present position as head of his lineage may preclude him from acknowledging Nakamura as a source.

Although development of any shakuhachi lineage chart will be plagued with problems similar to those discussed above, such charts are useful in outlining lines of transmission. The chart presented in this thesis is particularly useful in showing the transmission of “Ôshû kei ‘Reibo'”. The lineage chart is only the beginning of the task this thesis attempts to accomplish, that is, to expand the knowledge and elucidate the processes of transmission of shakuhachi honkyoku. The chart shows where to look next, what questions to ask and whose performances to compare. In order to answer the many questions generated by the chart, transcriptions of recordings are essential. Before transcribing and analyzing the various performances represented on the Ôshû kei “Reibo” lineage chart, however, the subject of transmission must first be discussed further. How members of the shakuhachi tradition define transmission and what is thought to be transmitted in the case of the shakuhachi tradition in general, and of koten honkyoku in particular, is the subject of the next chapter.