How to take apart a shakuhachi

The best method to take apart a Shakuhachi

Blowing Zen

Thoughts on Hocchiku and blowing zen

In some of the discussions about shakuhachi/hochiku/hoki, etc., there seems to be some confusion between music making and spiritual practice/blowing Zen (suizen). Nothing new here, as this confusion has been in Japan and elsewhere long […]

Flutes Riley Lee Articles

What sort of flute do you need in order to play Watazumi Dokyoku?

Someone recently was quoted as saying, “you can’t play Watazumi dokyoku songs properly without a very good flute,” and that “flutes that other people have aren’t up to the task.” It was pointed out that […]

Relating to the Crane Pieces

There are many Crane pieces. Some of their names are Tsuru no Sugomori, Sukaku, Koden Sugomori and Sokaku Reibo. Koden means “old transmission”; the word in itself has nothing to do with the Crane part […]

How to produce ‘kan’ (upper octave)

Upper octave needs more ‘energy’ than lower octave. That is, the air has to go through the flute faster. You can do this two ways. One is by blowing ‘harder’, that is, by pushing more […]

Interesting historical questions around the Shakuhachi

The most important change that occurred to the shakuhachi after the instrument was imported into Japan from China was not the change of bamboo, but rather the reduction of finger holes from six to five, […]

How many octaves should a good shakuhachi be able to play?

The answer depends, I suppose, on your definition of a ‘good shakuhachi’. Most decent 1.8 length flutes can produce in the third octave, the pitches e, f#, g, g#, a, b, (or is it a# […]

Riley Lee Shakuhachi teacher

How much should one spend on a shakuhachi?

In my opinion, one should buy the best instrument one can afford. How much one can afford depends not only upon one’s financial situation, but also one’s commitment to the instrument, and one’s priorities. For […]


The only theory behind the kana used in shakuhachi notation that I have heard of goes like this: The earliest notation (early 1600s) used the kana fu, ho, u, e, ya, i. These were chosen […]

Differences in Sound and Playing Between Ji-nashi and Standard Instruments

There are many differences between ji-nashi flutes and flutes made with ji. But then, there is also an infinite number of differences between all of the flutes that are made with ji. In other words, […]

Blowing edge inlays and about the flutes I use and play

I have found that inlays do very little to the texture of the sound. I’ve broken inlays and the flutes played no differently. I’ve played on flutes with the inlay totally knocked out. The sound […]

Shakuhachi in Australia

The shakuhachi is an end-blown flute traditionally made of bamboo. It was imported from China into Japan in the early eighth century, and remains one of Japan’s more popular traditional musical instruments. Despite it’s long […]