“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. Being a non-profit association the ESS  functions as an umbrella organisation for all shakuhachi groups in Europe and is aiming to facilitate 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 or individuals 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 was first registered in the UK in 2008 as a charity / non-profit organisation. In 2020 the ESS moved its legal structure to France and is now registered as a non-profit association based in France.

The Articles of Association (2020) are publicly available to download here:

  • Articles of Association (ENGLISH) [pdf]
  • Statuts (FRANCAIS) [pdf]
  • We have also made public two Internal Rules which refer to the ESS Board roles of Media and Communications Person and Publication Person – you can read these below: