ESS Aims

“Creating an environment where many of the different schools and styles of shakuhachi playing can be explored and their differences celebrated”


The Japanese, vertical end-blown bamboo flute, the shakuhachi, has become an icon of traditional Japanese music. The beautiful, mystic sound of the bamboo attracts world wide interest from those cultivating Japanese aesthetics to avant-garde composers. During the Edo period (1603 – 1867), the shakuhachi was used as a tool for meditation by Zen Buddhist priests in order to reach enlightenment. Today the shakuhachi is used in a wide variety of musical forms and styles including ensemble music, pop music, jazz as well as the traditional genres.

The aim of the European Shakuhachi Society is to create an environment where many of the different schools and styles of shakuhachi playing can be explored and their differences celebrated – no matter whichever approach to the instrument one chooses to take. ESS is an educational charity and aiming to take up the role as an umbrella organisation for all shakuhachi groups in Europe and thereby creating a space where players can meet across ryūha (schools) and physical borders.

ESS hosts Summer Schools and seminars around Europe. The annual European Shakuhachi Summer School is organised by various local shakuhachi groups in Europe in collaboration with ESS. All Summer Schools and seminars are open to anyone who has an interest in the shakuhachi, including complete beginners.

We hope that by creating a space to get together for all shakuhachi players, as well as koto and shamisen players, we can enhance the interest in these beautiful instruments, share experiences, widen an understanding of different styles and develop playing techniques and grow together as a musical community.

ESS general meeting 2011

ESS general meeting at the 2011 Summer School in London. Photo © Flavien L. Testard

Without its members, the ESS would not exist.

Membership of the ESS is open both to players of the shakuhachi and to non-players who are interested in the music of the shakuhachi in all its forms.
Since the ESS is not affiliated with a particular school or aesthetic direction, its members represent a broad cross-section of styles and genres of shakuhachi.

Supporting ESS through joining is a means of helping maintain a co-ordinating resource of the shakuhachi in Europe. Please consider becoming a Member
of the European Shakuhachi Society.

The European Shakuhachi Society is a registered charity. Registered charity no. 1123060.
The Articles of Association are publicly available.