1. Mukaji (20'49")
2. Yoshiya (7'52")
3. Otai (2'11")
4. Sanya (5'56")
5. Kumoijishi (9'07")
6. Hokkoku-reibo (6'37")
7. Ajikan (5'21")


1. Mukaji

Together with Koku and Kyorei (recorded on Volumes I and II), this work is treasured as one of the "three traditional masterpieces." The story goes that a mendicant, shakuhachi- playing monk, Kichiku, while spending the night at the temple of Kokuzodo on Mt. Asakuma in Ise, had a dream in which he put to sea in a boat, where, enveloped in mist, he heard the dulcet sounds of a flute. On awakening, he created this piece from the melody he had heard in the dream. Though it consists of a simple, repeated phrase, the tune has a grace and elegance about it, and is thought to be the original melody of the shakuhachi classical repertoire, on which many other works are based.

2. Yoshiya

More than a classical piece, this song sounds like one played by a flute in a festival environment. It may indeed have been adapted from folk or festival music. The Kanji characters for Yoshiya are the same as those for the district of Yoshino, known for its connection to the ancient emperor Godaigo, lord of Kusunoki Masakatsu, who was said to be the forefather of the mendicant Komuso (Fuke Zen) priests.

3. Otai

It is said that when two Komuso met on the road, they would greet each other by playing this song. The first would play it in the low register (otsu) and the second would respond by playing the same melody in the higher register (kan). The Komuso were always on the alert for impostors and were known to inflict severe punishment on those who proved unable to play Otai.

4. Sanya

This piece is representative of the Meianji school of Kyoto. Numerous other tunes by the same name exist in the shakuhachi repertoire. The melody of this one, in particular, resembles the traditional Koto piece Sanya sugakaki and the Nezasaha Kinpu-ryu (school) of same. The name (literally, "three valleys") is said by one account to refer to the presence of three high-pitched passages in the song. Together with Takiochi and Akita sugakaki, Sanya is one of the standards of the orthodox school.

5. Kumoijishi

Kumoijishi is based on a legend of the house of Itcho in Hakata. The use of the special terms netori and hyoshi define passages of the tune and suggest the influence of Gagaku (ancient Japanese court music). The bright, metronomic quality of "lion" (inoshishi) songs like this one stands out from the free rhythm that dominates the classical shakuhachi repertoire; indeed, they appear to be based on, if not lifted directly from, melodies played on the flute for lion dances. Such melodies are said to have been played by students as afternoon diversions rather than for training. With the exception of the Nezsaha school's Shishi, all of the "lion" pieces in the repertoire - Sakejishi, Azumajishi, and the Shishi-odori and Rokudanjishi of the Shinpo school - display this quality.

6. Hokkoku-reibo

This piece originates from the famous temple of Rinzai Zen Kokutaiji in Toyama Prefecture, where Suzuki Daisetsu and Nishida Ikutaro are said to have meditated. It also goes by the name Toppiki, after a phrase that sounds like "Toppikipi" toward the middle of the tune. On the anniversary of the death of the founder of Kokutaiji, June 2 and 3, Komuso and priests in full dress join together in a procession to the founder's pavilion.

7. Ajikan

Miyagawa Nyozan combined an old Kyushu melody with the unique Yuri-no-te technique of Hasegawa Kogaku, last abbott of the house of Futai, in Sendai, to create this new adaptation. Though short, it fully reveals the charm of the shakuhachi. The name Ajikan refers to a ritual of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Tani Kyochiku, known as the last of the Komuso, is said to have enjoyed playing this piece on a long flute, 2.5 shaku (a little under 2 1/2 feet) in length.

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