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Storing shakuhachi in Nordic countries?

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Joined: 05 Oct 2015
Posts: 4
Localisation: London

PostPosted: 2015-10-28, 20:58    Post subject: Storing shakuhachi in Nordic countries? Reply with quote

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Hey everyone! I'm new to the world of shakuhachi, but very excited to have finally made the commitment to start my journey.

A quick question about storing and caring for the instrument, perhaps some of you might have had experience with similar climates:

I live in Helsinki, Finland. This means that winters get very cold, and when the sea eventually freezes, also very dry. Fortunately it's a lot less dry here on the coast than it is in central or north Finland, and winters are shorter. Now outside temperatures are around 0ºC, and can go down to -20ºC in the winter; in the summer they can be over 20ºC for weeks at a time, or even 30ºC on occasion.

The other thing is that most flats in Helsinki use central heating. I just measured humidity in my room last night - a formidable 30%, and it's not even winter yet. Outside humidity seems to fluctuate between 50-60%, when it's not raining, and temperatures easily reach 0ºC at night.

My question is - how would you (ideally) store a shakuhachi in such a climate?

I have it in a cloth (with nylon insert) bag, and in a hard-case from Tai-Hei. What I have been doing so far is airing the room with some fresh (a bit more moist) air from outside, and letting both the cloth and hard case near the window to absorb some more moisture while I'm practicing. When I store the shakuhachi, I just put it in the cloth bag, then in the hard case, close it well, and keep it away from radiators. Is there any sense in this, or am I just deluding myself?

I'm thinking that, realistically, humidity in practice rooms at my university of performance spaces will be closer to 30-40% than 50-60%. But how do I acclimatise a shakuhachi to 30-40% RH? Is it even desirable/good? Would it make sense to acclimatise it to 50%, and would it then be a problem if most of the places where I play it are under 40%?

I apologise if these are questions you have answered many times - I did try to search around the forums for some answers but didn't seem to find any satisfactory ones. Feel free to direct me to other relevant threads, here or elsewhere. Smile
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felix martens


Joined: 23 Jun 2013
Posts: 126

PostPosted: 2015-11-02, 10:05    Post subject: Storing shakuhachi in Nordic countries? Reply with quote

Hi Iaonikoss! The secret is not to panic too much. Your shakuhachi will acclimatise itself to your surroundings to some extent. You should simply avoid subjecting it to extreme changes unprotected. When I carry mine around it is in an air tight plastic sleeve inside my carrying case. Like some players, after practice, I breathe gently into the plastic sleeve, not blowing it up like a ballon!, and then put it away in it's case. If it's wet from playing I will occasionally run my tsuyutoshi through it.
Again, it's all pretty straightforward. Enjoy the (long) journey!
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Niklas Natt och Dag


Joined: 07 Apr 2011
Posts: 29
Localisation: Stockholm, Sweden

PostPosted: 2016-01-06, 20:43    Post subject: Storing shakuhachi in Nordic countries? Reply with quote

Hi laonikoss! I live right across the Baltic from you, in Stockholm. We share the same climate, and as it happens, I've had a flute crack right where you are, in Helsinki a few years ago during winter. Since then, I've learned to keep my treasures safe.

Up here we have a very dry climate during winter, and some precautions are in order. I keep my flute in a home-made humidor: A plastic box with a tight lid (picked up at a hardware store) with a cup of water and a hygrometer. In there it's usually over 60% humidity, which is a bit wet if you want to store the flute more than a few days. My flute will be fine out in the open for a few days, but will then go in the box for a 24-hour spa treatment. Eventually, you'll develop a sense of how moist the bamboo is, but you'll know for sure that it's getting dry if the joint stops being snug (providing your shakuhachi it a two-parter).

Another way to keep your flute hydrated is by keeping in in a plastic bag with a thing called a Dampit. They are cylindrical, wobbly things originally used to hydrate cellos. You run them under the tap, and they fit right inside the flute. If you don't find one in your local string instrument store, you can get it online.

Most guys up here make sure to also have protective bindings on the flute. I myself have old, inlaid rattan-style bindings made in Japan, which gives me some piece of mind, but you can easily make some bindings yourself with string or even fishing line to strengthen the bamboo.

Perhaps you are aware of the fact already, but there is a small community of players right there in Helsinki. My teacher Gunnar Jinmei Linder has gone there for workshops several times, and I've been there with him for some of them. And if you pass by Stockholm, we're here as well. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you want to know more, have other questions or feel like playing together for a change.
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