Takahashi Kûzan

Takahashi Kûzan, symbolic figure and true legend, was called during his lifetime “God of Shakuhachi” and left his print on the history of Japanese music.

Born in Hokkaidô in 1900, he was initiated since his youth to Jû-jutsu (bare fisted fight), Ken (fencing), Naginata and Yari (lances), Shuriken (projectiles), Yumi (archery) to become among other things Grand Master of Budô of the prestigious school of Yagyû Shin-Kage-ryû (柳生新陰流).

He traveled through Japan (武者修行 pilgrim of warrior monks) in order to meet the last Grand Masters of the Fuke-shû. It is during this spiritual quest that he met Miyakawa Nyozan, Okazaki Meidô, Katsuura Shôzan, Kobayashi Shizan as well as others who transmited him the secrets of Fuke Shakuhachi.

Grand Master of Shakuhachi, Budô, Zen and calligraphy, he symbolizes by excellence the essence and spirit of Japanese arts.

It is mentioned in the document “The temple Myoan of the Mountain Kyorei” written by Tsukamoto Kido that “Kûzan was transmitted with the essence of Shakuhachi from Kobayashi Shizan, Okazaki Meidô, Katsuura Shôzan, and mastered the art of the different schools Kinpû-ryû, Kaidô-ryû, and Shinobi-ryû. It is said that he received the transmission of more than 150 pieces of the traditional repertory. His playing was different from Nyozan and he is the greatest and the most recognized player of the modern age.”

Famous and single character, his name is mentioned in the romance of Nakasato Kaizan “Daibosatu-tôge” whose one volume has been adapted thereafter to the cinema. It is in this film that one can appreciate Kokû, masterpiece brilliantly interpreted by the maestro.

In 1961 he introduced in Europe (he spoke 6 different languages) Shakuhachi, during a travel as the representative of the academy of music of Japan. One remembers in particular certain spectators crying of emotion by listening to these recitals. Also through these various appearances, as many amateurs of music, as of famous musicologist were attracted and deeply marked by this contemplative music coming from the Far East.

In 1972, he was invited to represent the Eastern music for the festival of the culture and arts organized during the Olympic Games of Munich. He interpreted at the television the two traditional pieces Kokû and Kyorei, and one of his composition Yazagin.

Besides his activities as the successor of the Great Fuke School, he is known for his science of the music and his master of different instruments of music such as Hitoyogiri, Satsuma Biwa and Hichiriki.  

One owes him the arrangement of the Kokû piece (虚空) and 11 other pieces, that gave place to an imposing orchestral representation.

In addition to his efforts to preserve and transmit the secrets of the orthodox teaching, he made the Shakuhachi possible to evolve to new horizons.

His book “ History of Fuke-shû Shakuhachi”, fruit of his research and experiments is one of the rare manuscript treating of the history, of the principles of thought and music of the great orthodox school.


The Echo of Bamboo

  1. Kyorei (Shoganji Temple)  
  2. Shinseki
  3. Tsuru-no-Sugomori
  4. Sagari-Ha
  5. Mushi-no-Ne (Hitoyogiri Flute)
  6. Shirabe  (with the assistance of M. Fujiyoshi Etsuzan, and M.Edward A. Schwarz)  
  7. Sanya (with the assistance of M. Fujiyoshi Etsuzan, and M.Edward A. Schwarz)
  8. Gematsu (with the assistance of M. Fujiyoshi Etsuzan, and M.Edward A. Schwarz)

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