Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy New Year 2011: "May all beings ... be kind-of-okay"

After a year like 2010 you don't want to push your luck.

"May All Beings Be Happy" may be pushing it a bit.

2010 was one of the lousiest years in recent Shakuhachidom history if you don't look at things philosophically.

We lost friend, bamboo-pioneer and raconteur Tom Deaver at a young age.

Yokoyama Katsuya-sensei's health had been flagging for some years, but that didn't lessen the loss to Japanese music lovers and students when he passed from this Earth.

Dr. Tsuneko Tsukitani, professor at Osaka University of the Arts, Japan's leading expert on the shakuhachi, died of cancer, again too young.

Teacher/performer Phil 'Nyokai' James suffered a stroke which thank god didn't take him, but it certainly wrecked havoc in his life.

After a car jumped a curb and smashed into our dear Riley Lee, we're happy that he is is alive and healing, but he paid for it with a literal pound, or two, of flesh.

The news that Australian shakuhachi master Andrew McGregor is going into retirement is unhappy news indeed.

Many of us lesser mortals have had our fair share of challenges this year. Let's not even mention The Economy and the number of tragic disasters worldwide like the earthquake in Haiti and more tsunamis in Indonesia. But we'll stop with that and move on ...

Things to be grateful for:
, the web radio brainchild of musician/composer Michael Doherty was launched.

Kurahashi Yodo II, Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos and Michael Chikuzen Gould have been traveling about, performing, teaching and spreading shakuhachi good will. Kakizakai Kaoru-sensei, a "teachers' teacher" has been touring, teaching and performing. I was fortunate enough to take class with him this year in West Los Angeles. David Wheeler's Shakuhachi Camp of the Rockies had another great year by all accounts. Kiku Day finished her PhD. The European Shakuhachi Society has steadily grown. John Singer has been performing. Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin, the Loving Spoonful-and-a-Half of Shakuhachidom, has been active and teaching.

(Many more positive advances from myriad players and performers and teachers — more than I can list.)

There have been very good benefit efforts by Phil Nyokai James' friends in the wake of his continuing recovery.

And the rest of Shakuhachi Forum seems to be getting along surprisingly well. Brian Tairaku Ritchie is in good humor and healing well from his multiple identity gymnastics this year — but I must admit that is the pot calling the kettle black from this multifaceted (some would say "two-faced")author.

Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention that Xorst Xenmeister has been seen and heard in hither and yon parts ... and that my favorite YouTube video group STAN has been unusually productive, kind of like a thick bronchial condition.

So from me to you, be as happy as you can or want to be this New Year of 2011.

I leave you now to reflect on an old Italian saying passed onto me by Father William J. Fulco, SJ from his mother who is ... an old Italian, of course:

"When you want to talk, shut up."

With fondness and due negligence,

— Chris M.

Post Script: Apparently I spoke too soon about people on Shakuhachi BBQ Forum getting along well. The Freaks Vs. Geeks Bore Wars are on again...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The øbject of my affection: a shakuhachi lesson with Don Van Vleit


you need that stink on there. then you have to get that stink onto your music.
Captain Beefheart

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A little Riley Lee music for his friends and family while he's recuperating

Riley with Jeff Peterson, Hawaiian Slack Key guitar performing Maika`i ka Makani O Kohala in the Atherton Studio at Hawaii Public Radio.This was during the taping of Kanikapila Sunday with Derrick Malama.

Riley Lee injured in traffic accident; hospitalized in Brisbane

Beloved shakuhachi player/teacher Riley Lee was hit and injured by a car Thursday Oct. 28 while walking near a major road in Brisbane Australia. He is currently hospitalized in Royal Brisbane Hospital with multiple broken bones and contusions according to his wife, Patricia.

Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin of New York posted the news on Shakuhachi Forum (BBQ, whatever) on Friday Oct. 29:

For the record, I'll post Patricia Lee's emails:

> Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 07:23:11 +1100
   > To:
   > From:
  >Subject: Riley in Royal Brisbane Hospital

  > Just a quick note to update you:
 Yesterday (THU 28 OCT) afternoon, around 4pm Riley was walking along
 the footpath on a busy one way street in the middle of Brisbane. He
 was hit by a car which had mounted the curb.

I was informed of this by the police woman who rang me from the
 hospital on Riley's phone.

Riley had asked her to phone me and tell me what had happened. At
  that stage they thought he had a broken leg and maybe a broken nose.
 He was badly bruised, cut about and in pain but conscious waiting to
 be checked out by the doctors.

Subsequent phone calls with the hospital and the police woman gave me
 more info.

It appears it was quite a pile up with at least one car ploughing
  into the back of the car that hit Riley and causing its steering to
  lock and mount the pavement. The police woman said it was amazing
 that Riley was not killed.
 I spoke briefly with Riley later to reassure him that I had been in
 contact with everyone and that the rest of the taiko group had
 reorganised the show to go on without him.

At around midnight I got a report from the hospital that his left
 shoulder is broken but not too badly. They will probably put it in
 plaster. The worse pain is in his left knee where it seems the
 ligaments are torn on both sides of the knee cap. The orthopaedic
  surgeon felt he needed (no pun intended!) to operate. R is badly
 bruised and scrapped and in a lot of pain.

I will call the hospital soon but it seems he will have to stay there
 for a couple of days. Once I know he can be released from hospital I
 will fly up to Brisbane to bring him home.
  I will keep you posted when I know more.


Later, Patricia provided this update:

 I have just had a phone call from Graham, the TaikOz artistic
  director on this tour, who has been back and forth to the hospital checking on Riley. He says Riley's shakuhachi seem to have survived
 the impact unscathed but he didn't know if Riley had checked his
 computer...these were all in his back pack when the accident happened.

At this stage I only have the following info from Riley via text msg.
 I assume this is info he has received as a result of X-rays.
    His left arm is broken below the shoulder. Probably it will need a
 plate. His left knee is really messed up and will probably need reconstruction. There is another break near the ankle which will heal
 itself. It seems the operations will not happen until Monday. He is
 still waiting for an MRI. And finally his latest text msg says he has
 a burn on his left calf that will need a skin graft.

Shakuhachi Beat and it's extensive research, production and marketing staff send our concern and love to Riley and Patricia with best wishes for a good recuperation.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shakuhachi web radio station SHKO goes live

Colorado musician/composer and now D.J. Michael Doherty has launched a shakuhachi radio channel on called SHaKuhachi Ogawa — or by it's call letters SHKO.

from the radio station's new website: is the online shakuhachi radio station and sound archive of the shakuhachi community. It's mission is to serve the educational, archival, and listening needs of a growing population of shakuhachi enthusiasts, players, and educators.

Shakuhachi Ogawa is currently in the planning and organizational stage, building momentum and resources toward its launch. If you wish to get involved by volunteering either time materials, or money please contact Michael by email here: doherty [at] takiochi .com

* * *
On the Shakuhachi Beat Rating Scale this project gets:
5 utaguchi (highest rating)

To donate on a yearly subscription basis go to You can subscribe anywhere from a $10 per year Shoden Level all the way up the ladder to $100 per year for a Dai Shihan Level making it the quickest and cheapest route to becoming a Grand Master I'll ever have!

For the home page go to:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why is this art and that isn't?

Part II of this question:
Quick! You have only 5 minutes left to see anything in the world. If you only had these two images to look at: which of these would you like to spend the last of your moments looking at?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

International Shakuhachi Society ( gets a kick in the hakama

From madoherty on Shakuhachi Forum (The BBQ): Word on the street is that the International Shakuhachi Society (ISS) purchased a new scanner and pdf-maker with membership dues from last year and is in the process of placing all kinds of valuables online through the website that you know well:

If you want to support this work further, maybe consider joining (I am not certain if the material will only be available by members or not). The site has been a valuable resource for me over the years. I consider my membership to be a given due to the sites' value in my education and as a reference source. There is a sneak peak on the ISS's Facebook page:!/issfb?ref=ts

Ron Nelson (I assume) says: "Just spent last year's ISS membership revenue to buy a PDF scanner / document feeder to digitize the hundreds of pages of xeroxed scores, books, letters, and pamphlets I've been keeping in a giant filing cabinet. I intend to eventually share out anything I'm comfortable is not copyrighted. The ISS library should not be a hoarde but a resource"

Thanks Michael!

Couldn't happen at a better time! Thanks Ron!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

For the birds Part 2: A shakuhachi lesson with Eric Dolphy

image © 2007 chris moran

"... I used to play, and the birds always used to whistle with me. I would stop what I was working on and play with the birds... Birds have notes in between our notes - you try to imitate something they do ..."

Eric Dolphy

Thursday, September 16, 2010

For the birds: a shakuhachi lesson with Don Van Vleit


That's where all the music comes from. 

Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from.

And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going


Captain Beefheart

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maybe an audio clip of Swanee River WON'T help you sell a shakuhachi

This Ryozan 1.8 flute, which sounds quite capable with "so-so" looks has been on Mejiro's used website for a year or more; price reduced from about 130,000-Yen to below 90,000-Yen, etc. etc. They just can't seem to move it.

The sound clip is Stephen Foster's black-face minstrel song Old Folks at Home (better known as 'Swanee River').

Maybe this song, advertised as an "Ethiopian Melody" when it was published in 1851, is just not the image best associated with a mystical zen Kinko shakuhachi?

~1st verse~
Way down upon de Swanee ribber (river)
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.

All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation
And for de old folks at home.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.

(Although this song may sometimes be performed with "modern" lyrics that some claim to be more sensitive racially, the song's original lyrics, included here, had been adopted officially as the lyrics of Florida's state song. —

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Phil Nyokai James Benefit/Celebration Aug. 28

Portland, ME Benefit/Celebration concert :: Aug 28th :: 8pm

Our Portland, Maine friends are pulling together an upcoming concert.
Hope to see you there!

Save the date! August 28th 8PM

Benefit Concert/Celebration
for the Phil James Family Emergency Fund

Saturday, August 28, 8pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
580 Forest Ave, Portland

Admission by donation

Phil Nyokai James – shakuhachi and piano
Carl Dimow – flute
Nathan Kolosko – classical guitar
Danielle Langord – celtic harp
Nicole Rabata – celtic flute
Mark Tipton – jazz trumpet
Marita Kennedy-Castro – dance

For more information: Carl Dimow – 207-615-1550 -

Phil Nyokai James is a recognized master of the Japanese flute, the shakuhachi, and also a wonderful pianist and composer. While driving from the Grand Canyon in Arizona this past January, Phil had a major stroke. Paralyzed, he lost control of the car. Sitting in the passenger seat next to him was his wife, Lara, seven months pregnant. In an incredible rush of adrenaline, Lara gained control of the car and prevented the family from heading off the icy road into the mountains. Far from any town and without phone reception, Lara pulled Phil from the driver’s seat and she drove until she saw headlights - and connected Phil with medical care.

Phil was initially very far gone and in acute rehab for weeks. He had minimal speech and no ability to read or write. His recovery has been slow, but steady. He and Lara were able to return to their home in Portland at the end of February, and Lara gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Julian, in early April.

At this point in time, Phil has regained a lot of physical control but still has aphasia and is working to regain his full speech capacity. Amazingly, and thanks to daily encouragement from Lara, he began playing shakuhachi within a week of the stroke. His musician friends have been stunned with how little the stroke affected his musical skills. Nevertheless, he is still recovering and has not been ready to return to a work life of teaching and performing. The family is struggling financially.

This concert is to raise money for Phil, Lara and Julian, but it’s also a celebration. This will be Phil’s first public performance since the stroke. He’ll be joined by a number of luminaries from various ends of the Portland music scene: Nicole Rabata and Danielle Langord playing celtic music; Carl Dimow and Nathan Kolosko playing Brazilian music; the wonderful jazz trumpet playing of Mark Tipton; and the exciting dancing of Marita Kennedy-Castro. The musicians will be working in a variety of combinations and Phil will appear as a soloist and with a variety of ensembles. This promises to be a unique, special and entertaining evening.

Can't attend in Person? Purchase an empty Zen Seat™ for the concert, ONLY $10 each! Order as many as you like!

"They're Zen! They're Empty! They're Zen Seats™ !!!"

TO ORDER YOUR Zen Seats™ for the Aug. 28 Phil Nyokai James Benefit/Celebration GO TO: — Phil James Family Emergency Fund

The Doubting of the Komuso

A little known work of Caravaggio.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shakuhachi Seance

Are the shakuhachi of the past better than the shakuhachi of the present?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shiro playing "Poorman's Shiro"

I made this composite in honor of a 1.9 shakuhachi made by Ken LaCosse of Mujitsu Shakuhachi in San Francisco. James Nyman had it at the time. I dubbed it the poorman's Shiro, after the master Kinko shakuhachi maker Yamaguchi Shiro (pictured). If it ever shows up for sale again, I'll be first in line.

Green shakuhachi, red dragonfly, pink shirt

Does anyone have information on this photo? Who, what, when, where?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Buddy can you spare a shakuhachi?"

Part II in a continuing series of articles about shakuhachi and the enduring economic crisis

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about forward looking shakuhachi makers and dealers who were offering time payments on shakuhachi: Shakuhachi Prices: "Do you take unemployment checks?"

In the article I made special mention of the late Tom Deaver and his efforts to make Bei Shu shakuhachi available to customers the world over through time payments. Sadly with Tom now gone it is safe to say that no individual maker has a written policy in English on this practice if they do offer it.

In the past couple of days I noticed that Mejiro is offering time payments on shakuhachi for overseas customers. They have had an in-store policy for lay-away sales, but have never extended it to online overseas customers. Their no returns policy for their time payment plan might be reason for caution, but it does show some adaptation to the times in which we live.

As much of a pain in the ass it is to do bookkeeping on time-payments, and further complicating a maker's or dealer's life, having written and advertised payment plan policies only seems like good business sense for people who want to increase shakuhachi sales and cash flow.

It seems to be a preferable alternative to sitting on a lot of expensive inventory and hoping things wiil just "turn around."

Another thing I've noticed on Mejiro's site is that their recent additions of used shakuhachi seem to me starting at a prices about 10-percent lower than previously instruments of about the same grade. Just an observation, there, but something to ponder.

I don't think Darwin's theory ever actually said "only the strongest survive" but it most certainly explained that the most adaptable survive — and, in fact, thrive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shakuhachi Workshop with Peter Hill, July 25

Shakuhachi Workshop with Peter Hill
2:00 pm, Sunday, July 25
Media Center/Communication Bldg., UCSD

Peter Hill will be in San Diego the week of July 25 to 31 giving shakuhachi lessons and holding a workshop on the 25th.

Lessons will also be available during the week following the workshop.

Here's Peter's description of the workshop:

Most workshops and lessons on shakuhachi focus on learning traditional or modern pieces. This workshop will spend time on how to make every note one plays sound as good as possible, thus making the pieces sound as good as possible.

We will focus on three elements that are key to playing shakuhachi well:

1. How to make a good sound: embouchure and breath control.

2. How to make the traditional pieces sound authentic:what are the various aspects of the Japanese musical aesthetic; how does one produce them with the shakuhachi.

3. How to make the flute sing, that is how to play the shakuhachi musically.


This is a workshop that will be of value to all students, from beginner to advanced.

Lessons are $50. The workshop is $25.

For details and to schedule a lesson, contact:
Bruce Jones

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rest In Peace, Tom Deaver

"A major figure in the transmission of shakuhachi ... One of my favorite shakuhachi Tomism's, 'Do what you think is right.' He's done his work well. Thanks Tom." — Ken LaCosse, Mujitsu Shakuhachi, San Francisco

Dressed layer
upon layer,
I wear a new bamboo hat
and go home.

Jowa, 1785

Messages on the passing of Tom Deaver on Shakuhachi Forum

Yamaguchi Goro & Aoki Reibo II - Shika no Tone -one reel- shorter version

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Waiting for Kiku, July 9

It seems like only Yesterday ...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shakuhachi Watch, June 30: Modern Komuso 2.0 Hocciku and a great 2.8 (UPDATED)

No self-respecting komuso should be without one: A 2.0 (C) shakuhachi-in-the-raw:


If you are interested in learning Nezasa Ha (Bamboo Grass sect) music with that penetrating, pulsing komi-buki breath, a 2.0 is a must and a well-tuned, raw jinashi (hocciku) like this one shouldn't be missed. Very hard to find, particularly one made by an experienced maker at an affordable price. This is such a one. Discounted from $600 to $450.

And then this Absolute No-Brainer from Perry if you are looking for a 2.8 and don't have 3-grand to spend on one:

2.8 nobekan shakuhachi with IVORY utaguchi inlay

Unbelievably good price.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shakuhachi Watch, June 23: Buying a shakuhachi good for lessons

1.8 Chikusen Tamai Shakuhachi from Perry Yung on Vimeo.


A flute like this starting out at $800 is a very good bet. It's a circa 1970 shakuhachi, meaning modern tuning but not without character. Perry offers a 30 day trial guarantee. If your teacher thinks this flute will work for you, it's a great way to learn (on a master craftsman piece of bamboo).

Also on eBay:

1.8 "D" shakuhachi japanese bamboo flute Kazan

I actually played this flute and liked it. At the time I was looking for a very loud, strong, hard sounding flute, so I didn't purchase it. It's thick but relatively lightweight, mellow in tone, but very, very capable. Great looks and feels good. I think it's at least a Cap size 8. I found it very comfortable to play. Made by an old Tozan master maker using the KAZAN hanko. As I recall it was culled from the collection of Yoshinobu Taniguchi and was resold through Alcvin Ramos of Ryuzen Shakuhachi in British Columbia. I'm not sure if the instrument is tuned A440, but I remember it being close enough. Ask for an audition for a week or two if your teacher thinks an older Tozan is okay for your lessons.

Other related topics

A few Kitahara Seika 1.8 shakuhachi are being seen on eBay. Very reliable maker. If you are buying this for lessons, ask if the shakuhachi is tuned to A=440 (A440). It is very important that when playing for most teachers that your shakuhachi be in tune to A440 give or take a couple of "cents". Some modern shakuhachi are tuned A442 even as high as A444. Ask your teacher if that is okay. Trying to take formal lessons on older shakuhachi tuned to A434 or A436 will prove very frustrating if that particular teacher is using an A440 tuned instrument. Older shakuhachi that are tuned lower than A440 are fine as long as your not using them for lessons, playing ensemble music or with fixed pitched instruments. Some of them sound even better tuned slightly lower. BUT if you're taking lessons, A440, maybe as high as A442, is the way to go.

You might be able to work with an A438 flute, but your teacher needs to accommodate for that. Most beginning students play too flat to begin with. A438 is about 8 cents flat.(A434 is about 25-cents flat). It takes time and effort to learn how to play up to the full tuning potential of your flute. If your flute is flatter than modern pitch (A440) then your learning curve may be steeper or worse, impaired. Shakuhachi asks of it's students to play some notes a semitone flatter (F to E), sometimes a whole tone (F-E-flat or D to C). Sometimes even lower! You need _room_ to adjust to these pitch changes, so the tuning of your flute is important. A good teacher will explain this to you.

(p.s.: I have run into one or two teachers who might attempt to sell you shakuhachi tuned lower than A440 because they say that the style you're learning requires very strong breath and you will learn to blow the shakuhachi "up to pitch". --This was told to me about a flute tuned to A434 which is about 25-cents flat of A440-- If I were you, I'd strongly consider a. Not buying that shakuhachi, no matter how 'old' or 'great' it is; and b. Finding a new teacher. There's only so much bullshit a shakuhachi student has to accept as gospel, no matter what degree, rank or license that teacher has. A good teacher will not try to sell you a "specialty" instrument for formal lessons, regardless of school, ryu or sect. I'll publish any and all challenges to that statement, too.)

Also seen on eBay recently: a couple of older shakuhachi refurbished by Monty Levenson of Tai Hei Shakuhachi aka Monty is a stickler for pitch so a shakuhachi with his maker's hanko or repair-hanko are pretty sure bets for playability and usability in lessons (the repair hanko, although in kanji, looks like the initials "TCM" from a distance). Always double-check with your teacher and always get a returnable audition window of a couple of weeks; longer if your face-to-face teachers are difficult to get to.

Remember your job is to learn shakuhachi. Your job is not to purchase a shakuhachi to make a seller happy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shakuhachi Grand Master Kakizaki Kaoru in L.A. this weekend!

Kaoru Kakizakai will be in LA this coming weekend (6/19 & 6/20). The original plan was for him to be at the Windward School, but they're turning off the electricity (something about maintenance) so we're gathering at Bill Schultz's place in Marina del Rey.

Still some lesson slots available, and two good group classes are scheduled for late Sunday afternoon.

Contact Bill at for details.

Awesome opportunity, L.A. folks!

To learn more about Kakizakai-sensei:

Shakuhachi BBQ: No modicum of decorum on Forum

So maybe I was falling on my sword a bit when I was copping to being a contributing part of the recent disturbances at Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ aka "Shakuhachi Forum".

If you haven't noticed yet, the Forum is on a brief hiatus. This may have been what has prevented you from posting on your favorite topic for the past two days. Better cancel that service call to AOL. ;0)

I have been reassured from the forum admins that the hiatus will be brief.

As with the last time the Forum took a fishing holiday, the main reason lay in the utter exhaustion (and numbing boredom) of the admins dealing with "the usual posturing, grandstanding and general nastiness from and between a handful of members."

No names were mentioned. I'm almost sorry mine wasn't. My contribution to the forum is a steady spooning out of sarcasm-lite emboldened by a dangerously thin functional knowledge of shakuhachi. In-other-words, I'm generally not taken seriously. (Thus my self-image as a rabble-rousing rebel and innovative thinker has been thrown off the cliff of Higher Knowledge and dashed senselessly to the bloodied Rocks of Reality below where my ego writhes in pity and self-contempt, cast aside like a sucked orange. But I digress ...)

Brian and Ken actually "struggle" to maintain a balance between "Free Speech" and providing a modicum of decorum befitting a forum about shakuhachi (sorry for the rhyme scheme).

I wouldn't be anywhere near so generous. It's just too damn bad that we don't have software that has a good "IGNORE" function on the BBQ. I think some of the mutual poop-casting might diminish if it did.

The Forum does have a BAN function, however. It's just that the admins would have to play the damnable job of pulling the hangman's trap door: comparisons to Stalin, Mao or the H-name wouldn't be far behind. More trudging through the muck, more soul-sucking boredom. End of History.

Why bother?

In my deepest, darkest fantasy I await my appointment as Shakuhachi BBQ Judge-Jury-&-Executioner. That'll fulfill my Napoleon Complex (the true reason behind any blogger's motivation).

Then Brian and Ken can just blame me.

Until then, if you think you are part of the problem that is mucking up our Beloved Shakuhachi BBQ Forum, c'mon over to a little temporary Google Group called "International Shakuhachi Collective" that I have hastily set up and populated with a lot of smart-ass topic threads. Either respond to one of my teasers or start your own thread and give it your best. I really want to hear from you uncensored and out in the open. 'Kay? Love ya! xoxoxoxo

The International Shakuhachi Collective (The People's Republic of Big Bamboo Love & Goodwill) will close upon the Grand Re-Re-Opening of Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ aka "Shakuhachi Forum."

For history on the first BBQ hiatus of 2009 read:

Enjoy your vacation, boys! Y'all come back now, ya' hear?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shakuhachi Forum shuttered for lack of decency

But, really folks, it's been pretty indecent for a while with self-described "zen priests" writing in-depth about their personal brand of pornography(ies). Then there are those who were using the forum as their personal pimp, whether to show off their drying urushi or creating daily chatter to promote workshops. Perhaps it was the painfully long, self-obsessed soliloquies ...

Then ... THEN, we had The Perfect-Bore Jiari Scientists Versus The Wild Jinashi Hippies. Nobody won that one.

In the meantime, if you just want to rant at another flute player or say something indecent about a jiari, go to Google Groups and search for International Shakuhachi Collective. Join so you can rumble in the jungle, dudes and dudettes! Mud wrestle till your hearts' content, just please do it with your clothes on. We'll give the tired old-fogies at the BBQ their well deserved rest. Hopefully it'll just be a brief summer snooze.

If you have any REAL shakuhachi news please comment on this post and I'll develop a real, independent post out of your comment if it is fit to print.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shakuhachi Watch, June 12 (UPDATED 6-24-10)

Two notables on eBay:

2.8 Shakuhachi by Perry Yung with ivory utaguchi inlay (pictured above): RELISTED 6-24-10)

excellent+ 2.0 / B wooden japanese shakuhachi: (Not currently listed; may have sold)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shakuhachi Prices: "Do you take unemployment checks?"

Years ago on Tom Deaver's older Bei Shu Shakuhachi website, he mentioned that the standard of pricing a shakuhachi was equated with the shakuhachi buyer's monthy salary times 2. It's an old Japanese traditional thing. "Old" meaning 19th century. Late Edo, early to mid Meiji.

Naturally the buyers would have been fairly well-to-do (at worst upper-middle class*), maybe landed people with enough leisure time to learn and enjoy playing shakuhachi. Not too many farmers and laborers taking up shakuhachi in old Japan.

I noticed today, in keeping with the poor economy worldwide, that some shakuhachi makers and sellers are moving more toward accepting deposits and time payments for their wares. Many have been doing this for a number of years, but today is the first time I've seen a seller's terms made public on their website (in English). Case in point being Tom Deaver's website:

I know Monty Levenson at Tai Hei Shakuhachi has been doing an installment practice for some time. One frequently notes "HOLD" notices on flutes on his site. Now more than ever. Mejiro in Japan has more "Reserved" notes on their flutes, new and used. I'm sure many other makers and sellers make time payment accommodations for customers on a case-by-case basis. Tom Deaver is still the only one who actually spells it out on his website (in English, that is).

Might be something for more sellers to think about doing. A lot of people do not like to ask. But if they know they might have a chance at financing an instrument, they might more seriously consider the prospect. The age of putting 3 or 4 thousand dollar flutes on a credit card seems like a fond memory for those who used to be fortunate enough to have good jobs and good credit scores. The downside is increased bookkeeping, but that just may be the new cost of doing business in a very flat economy ... in a "jobless recovery" -- whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

*upper-middle class in modern terms: At least one mortgage (preferably not an ARM), 2.5 kids with at least 1.5 bound for college, 2 cars in the driveway with one being a Soccer-Mom SUV. At least one full time career job (still employed).

OR ... one monthly trust fund check, not adjusted for inflation.

*upper-middle class in Old Japan: 500 koku of rice, give or take a few koku.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shakuhachi Watch, June 9: Another treasure (updated)

A very nice Chikusing 2.1 with an urushi-coated root and Sogawa utaguchi inlay. Awesomely good price. Really nice "old" sound and with plenty of room for breath and punch. Inline tone holes. An excellent komuso flute. (If Perry didn't guarantee this flute, I would.)

RENEWED LISTING: 2.1 Chikusing nobekan

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shakuhachi Watch, June 8: Another good deal

Looks like a slightly older Monty Levenson Tai Hei with five nodes — maybe six nodes.

Hard to Beat at $399 ! SOLD. Also look at the Kaneyasu 1.8 below, if it's still there. That one SOLD too.

Shakuhachi Watch, June 7

Kaneyasu Dodo 1.8 Jinashi Shakuhachi from Perry Yung on Vimeo.

Best Buy of the Week (pictured above):


And here are two 2.0 shakuhachi from Mejiro in Japan which look great: if you wind up purchasing one of them I would love to run a video review of one or both of them on the blog here:

Previously owned Chikuyu 2.0 with a whopping Cap size 12 at 512 grams ! — This is a Brian Tairaku Ritchie size instrument.

New Neptune jinashi 2.0 Not an inexpensive shakuhachi at over half a million yen, but we'd still love to hear about it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shakuhachi Watch for June 2, 2010

Pictured above: New affordable and excellent Chinese Madake shakuhachi at, 1.8 to 2.2

and on eBay here are a couple of items and sellers you can trust:


EXCELLENT older 3.0 Jinashi shakuhachi


About "antique" shakuhachi sellers from Japan on eBay: There is a lot of misleading crap on eBay trying to pass for real shakuhachi. About the only "antique" seller on eBay from Japan I've ever had good luck with is koro-koro1. He actually will take a return if needed (he has a stated return policy) and he's been the source of some interesting and workable fixer-upper instruments for the DIY crowd. But even there, be discerning. Have a good idea about what you're buying.

Stay away from sellers like temjin55 (he frequently uses the term "old music") who knows nothing about shakuhachi, sells some really awful bug-ridden flutes and has a no-return policy (which I cracked, but that's another story). Very few of these "antique" dealers from Japan know squat about their national instruments. It's saddening and maddening.

About "bargain" new flutes from American-garage makers on eBay: Stay away from the American-garage "shakuhachi" makers from Texas and Southern California who shouldn't be advertising their wares as shakuhachi at all. They have great prices, lousy instruments that cannot play through the octaves in tune and are a terrific waste of money and time. Great prices, though! They also have "no returns" policies.

Never, ever buy a shakuhachi from a person with a "no returns" policy. Just say NOH!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WSF 2008 Vids gets raving review before DVDs are even seen!

No sooner than festival producer Riley Lee announced the release of the Sydney World Shakuhachi Festival 2008 DVDs, than a minor participant in the event publicly thrashed the producers for not including ALL listed festival performers in the final edits of the festival videos.

After all, if Google can keep their eye on everyone, why can't Riley?

To read the details see:

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 2010: Sydney World Shakuhachi Festival 2008 DVDs!

The long awaited DVDs of the Sydney World Shakuhachi Festival 2008 are finally now on sale!

This link takes you to the "WSF08 DVD order page", which has all the information you need to order these DVDs.

These timeless DVDs present the highlights of WSF08. Lindsay Dugan has done a brilliant job filming, editing and producing these DVDs. Though not quite as good as having been there :-) they certainly are a must for anyone who missed the Festival. The DVDs are also an excellent way for the lucky ones who did attend WSF08 to relive some of their innumerable great memories of the Festival.

I just ordered the complete collection. :)

May 2010: David Sawyer Hangs Out Dojo Shingle in Colorado

Our favorite place to shop for Japanese made shakuhachi in the USA, is now also the online home for the newest teacher in Mujuan shakuhachi family. From his website, David informs us:

Shakuhachi Grand Master Kurahashi Yodo II (Kurahashi Yoshio) asked David Yūdo Sawyer to form the second of only two Mujuan dojo branches outside of Japan, the other being the Texas branch under Stan Kakudo Richardson. Mujuan dojo originated with Kurahashi's father, Yodo in Kyoto.The lineage goes all the way back to the 1930's and originates with the historical shakuhachi player Jin Nyodo, who amassed a very special collection of old honkyoku solo pieces from all over Japan.

David is offering in-person lessons in Louisville, Colorado and one-to-one lessons via the Internet.

Read more at 303-666-5581

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 16, 2010: The Beat is BACK!

Shakuhachi Beat has returned. Hallelujah anyway ...