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Moving to Japan is the only way......etc.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2011-09-21, 03:19    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

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I'm drawing my conclusions anecdotally from discussing it with many Japanese people who have worked at our teahouse. They don't know honkyoku from a hole in the ground. They do know about komuso but think of them as some kind of cartoon character.

Here's what they do know:

Sakura, Kojo no Tsuki, Aka Tombo, Auld Lang Syne and Danny Boy (which they think are Japanese), Soran Bushi.

They don't know Rokudan or Kurokami.

The only sankyoku they know is the introduction (only) from Haru no Umi.

Never heard honkyoku before they heard me.
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No-sword
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PostPosted: 2011-09-21, 07:32    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

I don't know what to tell you, man. That's not what I get from the people I know in Japan. The subset of Japanese people who go to Tasmania to work in a teahouse might not be a representative sample of the Japanese population, you know? Of course, the exact same thing applies to my circle of acquaintances. This is anecdote vs anecdote; I'm not saying that you're objectively wrong, just that it's possible to see things differently from you.
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2011-09-21, 10:13    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

It is always difficult to make a whole theory based on own experiences... Own experiences are just not representative enough... but one can get an idea of course.

My experience with Japanese people and their relationship to traditional music is like Tairaku's and.... like No-sword's. It just depends on which groups one happens to be in contact with.
We are in ESS in the middle of a discussion about WSF12 - about the fact that the aim of presenting a new and unknown instrument (shakuhachi) to the local audience - like in Sydney or Boulder is not really necessary in Japan. Shakuhachi is not unknown and shakuhachi music may in the majority of mainstream Japanese people lie very far away from their everyday lives... but they have had it in their ears - somehow - and that gives other agendas to think about.

Tairaku, I like your story with your student who goes "home" to Japan (and the country of shakuhachi) and learns from Taro who has learned from Riley. Great! But THIS is one story of globalisation and cultural exchange where the clear cut lines that existed before (if you play shakuhachi you are Japanese and have learned in Japan and you have been immersed in Japanese music all your life) no longer is as clear cut as before. Everybody knows this, but it is nice to be reminded about it time to time.

Sure Japan is the centre of shakuhachi still today... but the decentralisation process has begun. Think of how long it took Western classical music to get to where it is today (I often argue you can't no longer call it European music... it is international music with roots in Europe and so forth). The shakuhachi adventure has just begun and is surely walking the same kind of internalisation/globalisation route.
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Fiona Dawes
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PostPosted: 2011-10-10, 01:14    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Kiku Day wrote:
We are in ESS in the middle of a discussion about WSF12 - about the fact that the aim of presenting a new and unknown instrument (shakuhachi) to the local audience - like in Sydney or Boulder is not really necessary in Japan. Shakuhachi is not unknown and shakuhachi music may in the majority of mainstream Japanese people lie very far away from their everyday lives... but they have had it in their ears - somehow - and that gives other agendas to think about.


Yes, interesting to think about. At the Weekend Workshop in Sydney, there was a lot of energy for preparations for WSF12 and a focus on reading music in Western notation. Diversity in notation.
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Christopher Nickels
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PostPosted: 2011-10-14, 20:01    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Brian Tairaku Ritchie wrote:
I'm drawing my conclusions anecdotally from discussing it with many Japanese people who have worked at our teahouse. They don't know honkyoku from a hole in the ground. They do know about komuso but think of them as some kind of cartoon character.

Here's what they do know:

Sakura, Kojo no Tsuki, Aka Tombo, Auld Lang Syne and Danny Boy (which they think are Japanese), Soran Bushi.

They don't know Rokudan or Kurokami.

The only sankyoku they know is the introduction (only) from Haru no Umi.

Never heard honkyoku before they heard me.


Same thing here in Seattle, Brian. I work at a community college and we are very fortunate to have a japanese garden and tea house right on campus. The administrator/teacher of the facility asked me to play for her regular special events since I often come to the garden to practice. I even asked you a couple of years ago what would be good songs to play. Thanks again BTW! They are a huge hit, and even the older members of the local chado urasenke society didn't recognize the honkyoku pieces I was warming up with, but loved the more popular pieces.
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Koji Matsunobu
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PostPosted: 2011-10-17, 15:31    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Brian Tairaku Ritchie wrote:
It's interesting that in order to play shakuhachi those two Japanese guys came to Australia. Sometimes exile brings out your own roots, I know I feel that way about American music here in Australia.


I know of another Japanese person who began shakuhachi study abroad and had intensive training after going back to Japan with Japanese teachers. He is now a good player.

Another anecdotes of roots discovery in exile.

My former colleague in Japan, a flutist and music educator, began his shakuhachi training in Germany. He spent some 10 years in Germany to study western classical music. He explained that many German flutists asked him about Japanese flutes. They actually knew a lot about the shakuhachi. Some had taken shakuhachi lessons already. He felt ashamed for not having learned Japanese music as a Japanese musician. Eventually, he began his shakuhachi study....

These are still rare cases though.
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Ba
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PostPosted: 2011-10-28, 07:47    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Marek wrote:
Jean-Francois, please, if you look closely, you will find that I said I don't know a very good player of traditional music without the Japan experience. No more, no less. Gunnar has spend a very long time in Japan and I do love his playing and attitude, regardless of his hair colour.

From my own experience, when I visited Japan in 2009, the possibility to visit many great concerts of traditional and contemporary music has helped to develop my taste. Here, in Prague, there are few concerts of contemporary music and even fewer composers with taste for silence... Furthermore, having sound of my teacher and of other wonderful players in my ears has helped me to work timbre; this is a very physical and immediate experience which I cannot get from any recording. I feel it in my guts, that in order to play well, I need to spend some time there.

OT: I see every music (or film) as an ideology. Each with its own rules, principles and aesthetics. Claiming that music is universal denies its diversity. In my point of view, "universal" is a power term of a hegemonic ideology.
(The very idea behind Prague Shakuhachi Festival is to put the crack into the idea of what is music.)



Dear Marek.

Pls sorry me for my bad english.
I'm from Russia, and here, we have not enogh possibility to go in Japan.

So, here I think you may to see how people may playing japanese flutes without travelling to Japan.)))
Of course they teachers have long time in Japan. And of course that people will going to Japan, when willing and able.

I see, more reason for you to keep your aspiration and go there.
Don't ask people.
Just going!)))
Or you don't want it? Smile
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Daniel Ryudo
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PostPosted: 2012-10-02, 11:06    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Many Japanese teachers have taught abroad since the 1960s or so, and now some give Master classes or teach via Skype. Kiku mentioned U.S. and Australia producing very good players with a minimum of connection to Japan -- those players are probably mostly students of teachers such as Riley Lee, Michael Gould, Ronnie Seldin etc., people who have either lived for a number of years in Japan, or who have done extensive study with Japanese sensei, but one supposes the next generation will be people who learn from their students, so the connection to Japan will theoretically become increasingly more tenuous. Japan is still the shakuhachi center of the world, no contest, though the shakuhachi playing population here is in desperate need of an infusion of younger players...
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Daniel Ryudo
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PostPosted: 2012-10-03, 16:26    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Just read all the back posts I missed! Good discussion. I think I agree with Kiku's "It just depends on which groups one happens to be in contact with." Most of the shakuhachi people here in town know about honkyoku, or know the term, as do some of the koto and shamisen players, but most other people I've played for, for example, at my former weekly wine bar gig with the house band have no clue, though there have been occasional exceptions. For the last ten years they have been teaching the occasional traditional Japanese music class in public schools. Most kids in my city seem to be learning taiko or koto in those one or two classes of traditional Japanese music that they get for one year in junior high but there are a few who get to listen to a little bit of shakuhachi or maybe even get to try to make a sound on one. There's no funding for teaching traditional Japanese music in public schools here so shakuhachi teachers occasionally volunteer to teach or play at schools (my sensei and I have played the occasional Shika No Tone) One of my sons says that he got to hear a recording of Haru No Umi when he was in junior high; that was about it for shakuhachi. Rokudan is commonly played in background music at izakaya in town, especially at New Year's, but only the koto part.
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Jeff Cairns
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PostPosted: 2012-10-04, 01:51    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

I echo Dan's experience. Kumamoto has probably 200 or so active shakuhachi players in a population of 700,000. There are probably twice as many koto players and maybe twice that of taiko players. The number of shamisen players is probably nearer to that of koto players than shakuhachi players since many koto players also play shamisen or visa versa. Taiko players rarely perform with shakuhachi, koto or shamisen and have little knowledge of the musical details of the other three. Events where shakuhachi appears in public tend to be the 'hapyokai' type of event. There is little money to put on these events and as a consequence advertising is limited to word of mouth mostly. Each participant must pay a certain amount of money in order to fund the event. In return, the participant may be given a number of tickets to try to make their money back by selling to family and friends. As a result, the ranks of the audience (which is usually small by most standards) are filled with people not particularly interested in the music, but there to support their relative or friend. When that relative or friend finishes their piece, the associated audience member usually leaves and a new, similar-minded person takes takes a seat in support of their friend or relative. Most players are not musicians and are satisfied to don a montsuki a couple of times of year and hide amidst the other players on the stage, often leaving somewhat dissatisfied with their performance. Consequently, the performance communication between player and audience is typically passionless and/or strained. Not exactly a thriving musical environment. Therefore, Dan's plea for an infusion of younger players is real, but the massive inertia of the system fueled by historic standards seem to be working against that. Such is the general public situation though there are pockets of activity that seem to require extra-human effort to grow.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2012-10-05, 07:51    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

You guys are painting a grim picture.
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Jeff Cairns
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PostPosted: 2012-10-05, 11:04    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

I don't really think that either Dan's or my experiences are unusual or jaded. This is more the rule than the exception here in Japan. As I said, there seem to be pockets of activity where players seem to be progressively minded, but for the most part, this is not the case. One of the problems is that many don't come to the shakuhachi until later in life when time is freed up due to retirement or at least a lessening of time commitment. With the difficulties inherent in learning the instrument, players often don't get beyond the often overwhelming task of learning the rudiments. Consiquently, that's what often gets heard on local stages.
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Daniel Ryudo
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PostPosted: 2012-10-05, 13:30    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

Interesting. Yes, in Kochi city, in a population of about 300,000, I figure we have about 100 active shakuhachi players. We have the same type of hapyokai system, but my sensei's group gives a free concert and the players in our group all pay a monthly fee which covers the yearly sawachi style dinner for all the guests. There are many more koto players in town, probably about three times as many or more, as there are several high profile koto teachers here that have a lot of students including many young kids, but there aren't many young shakuhachi players. Our sankyoku kyokai, though losing members, has done well with their annual concert, as they usually bring two or three high level players of koto, shakuhachi, shamisen, and even a few times kokyu or biwa, once a year to join the local groups in Kochi for a show in a 500 seat hall. We've had shakuhachi players such as Akikazu Nakamura, Fujiwara Dozan, Chris Blasdel, Aoki Shoji, Jumei Tokuhiro, Tanabe Shozan, and Teruhisa Fukuda over the last 15 years or so. We do have a great koto player of modern pieces, Erina Nakamura, who is based in Tokyo but comes down here to teach once a month; she's the person who has been responsible for getting us all the great shakuhachi players. Another koto player who is quite popular and not and not a member of the local sankyoku kyokai has a studio out in the country and has hundreds of mostly young girls koto over the years. Her group got Riley Lee to come over here in 1997 or so... We currently have a high level Myoan player in town for next couple of years who is teaching lessons for the equivalent of $15 an hour, though he usually teaches for at least two hours; very good training. There is a shakuhachi/koto club at the national university in town; I'm figuring they have about ten players, maybe three shakuhachi players, all Tozan. On our island about 85% of the players are Tozan. Kinko players...maybe we've got twenty total.
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Jeff Cairns
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PostPosted: 2012-10-05, 14:28    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

My rant was more about the day-to-day. Of course we get some well known players from time to time and a university hogaku club. One interesting thing is that there is a music university here in Kumamoto, but they don't teach hogaku. When I asked why, the president answered that 4 years was not enough to educate professional players in his mind. A pretty narrow scope.
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Lindsay
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PostPosted: 2012-10-05, 14:47    Post subject: Moving to Japan is the only way......etc. Reply with quote

I've always considered happyoukai as something like student concerts, and not the standard by which hogaku performance in Japan should be judged. Or at the very least, not in Tokyo....
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