「Betsuden Shikano Tone」


Ji-nashi and Ji-ari shakuhachi

Shakuhachi is a well-known Japanese traditional bamboo flute. However not too many people know that there are two different kinds of shakuhachi. One is the original Edo-period, and the other is modernized/westernized.

The modernized/westernized one is called “Ji-ari” shakuhachi. “Ji-ari” means that the inside bore is coated with clay paste and lacquer to make it smooth. There are no bumps inside so that you can blow the bamboo like a regular flute. It makes it easier to play, tune to the western scale and have a bigger sound. As a result, every “Ji-ari” shakuhachi tend to sound the same and standardized.

The original Edo-period style shakuhachi, on the other hand, is called “Ji-nashi”. It’s basically a raw bamboo with 5 finger holes. Every bamboo has a different shape and bumps inside the bore so that you need to adjust yourself to each of them. It makes it harder to play and stay in tune. Plus the sound is smaller because you can’t blow it too hard. However, “Ji-nashi” shakuhachi has a rich tone color and relaxing natural sound

The sound of “Ji-nashi” is so quiet that your surroundings become a part of the music. You become a part of the environment and your egoism will disappear as you continue playing.

Koten-Honkyoku (Classic Shakuhachi songs)

Shakuhachi was used by Komuro buddhist monks for their Zen practice. Playing shakuhachi is the same as meditating. Both focuses on your breathing and eventually you will be able to observe yourself objectively.

It’s simply really fun and relaxing to put your breath into a bamboo and make a sound out of it.

Musically, even though it’s a traditional music, Koten-Honkyoku sounds avant-garde and referable to jazz or contemporary music. You can feel the freedom spirit in it.

Ji-nashi shakuhachi’s “adjusting to nature” philosophy also makes you humble.
It’s really a precious culture that we should carry on to the next generations.



I have a shakuhachi school in Tokamachi Niigata.
If you are interested, please contact via e-mai.