Schools & Styles



The Chikuho-ryû school was founded by Sakai Chikuho I in the year 1917.


Pieces taught by Watazumi Doso Roshi. Watazumi founded the Ichoken Fukko-ha also known as Myoan Masho-ha in the 1950’s.

HIJIRI-KAI (Sainte-école)

The Hijiri-ryū school (school of Sages) was founded by Terushia Fukuda in 2002.

Fukuda Teruhisa was born in 1949 in Nagano, Japan and studied shakuhachi under the guidance of Baizan Nakamura and Kohachiro Miyata. He plays both traditional Japanese music and shows a great interest in modern music. His school contributes to developing contemporary music using shakuhachi, while exploring all the possibilities of the flute. It is based on an open-minded attitude, deeply rooted in the old traditional koten and kinko honkyoku and regularly enriched by modern compositions. Beyond the solo pieces, the repertoire includes numerous duets and group music, to enhance the harmonisation of the breaths. The musical expression through a strong control of the breath (hazushibuki) is an important characteristic of his style.
Breathing, as a symbol of life, reminds us that everything is always in movement. Blowing the shakuhachi through hazushibuki therefore is being deeply and spiritually alive in the present moment.

Fukuda Teruhisa is very active in France since many years in the association “la Voie du Bambou” created by Daniel SeiSoku Lifermann (Paris), and awarded a few European teachers with a shihan licence to spread his style in Europa.

The Hijiri-ryū style can be learned in France with Daniel SeiSoku Lifermann in Paris (, and with Khagan Kugo SeiSon in Montreuil (; in Italy with Fiore SeiChiku De Mattia ( and in The Netherlands with Hélène SeiYu Codjo (


The school of Tajima Tadashi.


Jin Nyodō style/interpretation of the Koten Honkyoku.



Kinko-ryū is the oldest extant formalised lineage of shakuhachi. The name is taken from its creator, Kurosawa Kinko I (1710–1771), an Edo-period komusō who wandered around the country collecting honkyoku from various komusō temples. The oldest ’named’ lineage is the Ikkan-ryū, named after Miyaji Ikkan who was a student of Kurosawa Kinko I. This lineage was more or less merged into the Kinko-ryū during the 19th and 20th centuries, but as late as the 1920’s there were still practitioners who saw themselves as Ikkan-ryū players; in the Miura Kindō notations, written in 1928–29, comments are made to certain parts in some pieces that a phrase is only played in the Kinko-ryū but not in the Ikkan-ryū, or vice versa.

Kinko-ryū was established within the context of the urban culture of Edo. It is characterised by elaborate ornamentations, performed at a very slow tempo, and with a comparatively dry mode of expression. There are, of course, a wide range of interpretations of Kinko-ryū honkyoku, from the highly detached and refined interpretations of Yamaguchi Gorō to the more powerful playing by Aoki Reibo.

Of the thirty-six honkyoku, only a handful are 10 minutes or less in duration. Most pieces are between 20 and 30 minutes in length, with the longest stretching out for a full hour. This aspect gives the Kinko-ryū honkyoku a highly meditative character.

Having a meditative character does not rule out the musical aspects; Kinko-ryū requires fine pitch and breath control, and a deep understanding for the concept of ma in Japanese music from the Edo period. Within the Kinko-ryū both honkyoku and sankyoku (ensemble pieces for vocals, shakuhachi, koto and shamisen) are performed, and in the learning process there is an emphasis on studying both genres. Kinko-ryū performers, of course, also play modern and contemporary music.

The main lineages within the Kinko-ryū are (in alphabetic order):

Chikumei-sha Yamaguchi Shirō, Yamaguchi Gorō.
Presently lead by Tanaka Kōmei, chairperson of the board of counsellors.

Chikuyū-sha Kawase Junsuke I – Kawase Junsuke III.
Kawase Yōsuke, son of Junsuke III, is in line to become the fourth Kawase.

Kodō-kai Araki Kodō II – Araki Kodō VI.
Kodō II aka Chikuō. Kodō V became Chikuō II when he retired in 2009.

Reibo-kai Aoki Reibo I, Aoki Reibo II.
Aoki Shōji, son of Reibo II, is in line to become the third Reibo.

Honkyoku Repertoire (in the order of the Miura Kindō notation)

Hi-fu-mi Hachi-gaeshi no Shirabe (一二三鉢返之調)
Taki-otoshi no Kyoku (瀧落の曲)
Akita Sugagaki (秋田菅垣)
Koro Sugagaki (転菅垣)
Kyūshū Reibo (九州鈴慕)
Shizu no Kyoku (志図の曲)
Kyō Reibo (京鈴慕)
Mukaiji Reibo (霧海箎鈴慕)
Kokū Reibo (虚空鈴慕)
Ikkan-ryū Kokū-kaete (一閑流虚空替手)
Banshiki-chō (盤渉調)
Shin no Kyorei (真虚霊)
Kinsan Kyorei (琴三虚霊)
Yoshiya Reibo (吉野鈴慕)
Yūgure no Kyoku (夕暮の曲)
Sakae-jishi (栄獅子)
Uchikae Kyorei (打替虚霊)
Igusa Reibo (葦草鈴慕)
Izu Reibo (伊豆鈴慕)

Reibo-nagashi (鈴慕流)
Sōkaku Reibo (巣鶴鈴慕)
Sanya Sugagaki (三谷菅垣)
Shimotsuke Kyorei (下野虚霊)
Meguro-jishi (目黒獅子)
Ginryū Kokū (吟龍虚空)
Sayama Sugagaki (狭山菅垣)
Sagari-ha no Kyoku (下り葉の曲)
Nami-ma Reibo (波間鈴慕
Shika no Tōne (鹿の遠音)
Hōshōsu (鳳将雛)
Akebono Shirabe (曙調)
Akebono Sugagaki (曙菅垣)
Ashi no Shirabe (芦の調)
Kotoji no Kyoku (厂音柱の曲)
Kinuta Sugomori (砧巣籠)
Tsuki no Kyoku (月の曲)
Kotobuki Shirabe (寿調) *

‘Outer’ honkyoku
Azuma no Kyoku (吾妻の曲)
Kumoi-jishi (雲井獅子)
Sugagaki (菅垣)

*) The piece “Kotobuki Shirabe” is actually a middle section of a longer version of “Hi-fu-mi Hachi-gaeshi no Shirabe” in the Miura notation, but it is often treated, taught and performed, as a separate piece.
The shorter, and more frequently performed version of “Hi-fu-mi Hachi-gaeshi no Shirabe” is about 10 -11 minutes, whereas the longer version is some 20+ minutes in its entirety.


School of Yokoyama Katsuya – who founded the Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan (KSK)

The Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan – An informal, introductory essay and personal appraisal by Dr Jim Franklin, shihan, can be found here. (PDF)


School of Nishimura Kokū.


Shakuhachi dōjō. School of Kurahashi Yōdō.


School founded by Miyata Kohachiro in the 70s.


Myōan is an umbrella term for the shakuhachi groups that continued somewhat in the footsteps of the komusō monks of the Fuke sect and include:

Echigo Myoan

information will be added in due course

Itchoken Ryū

information will be added in due course

Kyushu Kei

information will be added in due course


information will be added in due course

Nezasa Ha (Kimpu Ryū)

information will be added in due course

Ōshū kei

information will be added in due course

Seien Ryū (Fudaiji temple)

information will be added in due course

Shimpo Ryū

information will be added in due course


information will be added in due course


information will be added in due course


Founded 1896 by Nakao Tozan in Osaka. Tozan-ryū honkyoku are pieces composed mainly by Nakao Tozan. The Tozan-ryū do not play koten honkyoku.


The Ueda Ryū was founded in Kansai by Tozan player Ueda Hōdō and his brother Chikudo.


School Okuda Atsuya.




Contemporary music for the shakuhachi

Today, the shakuhachi is used in a wide variety of musical environments, both in Japan and elsewhere. These environments include traditional genres such as honkyoku (core repertoire), which is discussed elsewhere on this website, and non-traditional genres, such as jazz, classical and pop. Non-traditional genres will often reflect a cross-cultural element as seen, for example, in the seminal composition November Steps (1967) for shakuhachi, biwa, and western classical orchestra, by Takemitsu Torū (1930-1996), or in the pop song Sledgehammer (1986) by the British singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, in which a shakuhachi is used in the introduction.

The expansion of the shakuhachi into these repertoires, both at home and on the international front is the result of changes from the late nineteenth century onwards. From 1868, significant society-wide social changes, including the revocation of religious guilds, meant that komusō needed to adapt and find new sources of income to survive. During this period of societal adaptation and intensive westernisation, new, secular shakuhachi schools were established, such as the Tozan-ryū in 1896. During the early decades of the twentieth century Nakao Tozan (1876-1956) developed a new secular repertoire for the shakuhachi, which incorporated new techniques and was written in a new style of notation, all printed in a teach-yourself book. Publishing self-study texts was an innovation in traditional musics such as the shakuhachi, but very much reflected the zeitgeist of the time with the inception of numerous publishing houses promoting self-study manuals in all manner of subjects.

Education at home and in school was a cornerstone of the new Japan. Contiguous with self-study was the development of a national education curriculum, in which western music was privileged as an important conduit by which western ideas and approaches could be accessed. Izawa Shūji was a key architect of the musical component of this curriculum and advocated a cross-cultural blend of the ‘best’ of Japanese music and western classical music, whatever that ‘best’ might be. Despite the ideal of such combinations, cross-cultural experiments during the early part of the twentieth century were limited and tended to focus upon popular melodies, shōga (school songs) and forms from genres such as gagaku rather than individual instrumental traditions like the shakuhachi. Whilst shinkyoku (new music for traditional instruments) began to emerge during the 1920s, supported by musicians like Tozan and Miyagi Michio (1894-1956), political events of the 1920s and 1930s and limited access to international resources hindered the evolution of much cross-cultural and non-traditional collaboration with shakuhachi players until the prolific post-war experimental era of the 1960s.

During the 1960s Japan experienced rapid economic growth and unprecedented openness to the international arena, which for musicians, meant access to international music resources, events and people. In addition Japanese composers showed a renewed interest in traditional musics, despite reservations over the militant associations between some genres and WW2. This interest in hōgaku (traditional music) was given further impetus by the ‘Cage Shock’. Early in the 1960s the ideas of the American composer John Cage (1912-1992) were imported into Japan, and many Japanese composers were shocked to discover that Cage was exploring ideas already prevalent in Japanese music traditions. Cage encouraged Japanese composers to look to the concepts underlying their own traditions, which many did, particularly Takemitsu. It is from this era that traditional instruments, such as the shakuhachi, began to be more widely used in non-traditional genres such as classical, film, and jazz as composers and performers explored new avenues and their music was increasingly disseminated on international scene as well as the domestic front.

The most significant non-traditional work by which the shakuhachi became known on the international scene is Takemitsu’s November Steps, which was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for their 125th anniversary in 1967. Since then, the work has frequently been performed in many countries. Whilst November Steps remains the best-known Japanese classical cross-cultural work involving the shakuhachi, Takemitsu was not the only Japanese composer engaging in cross-cultural experiments.

Other such composers include Miki Minoru (1930-2011) whose countless compositions cover cross-cultural endeavours such as his 1964 Concerto for Japanese instruments and strings using three shakuhachi, other Japanese instruments and a string ensemble, alongside gendai hōgaku compositions such as Poem in the Evening (1973) for a sankyoku ensemble of shakuhachi, shamisen and koto. Hirose Ryōhei (1930-2008) explored cross-cultural possibilities through compositions such as Heki (1964) for shakuhachi and string quartet, while Ishii Maki wrote Polaritäten Version II (1976) for shakuhachi, flute and orchestra. Outside the classical arena the shakuhachi was also appearing in genres such as jazz, particularly through the efforts of the shakuhachi player Yamamoto Hōzan (b.1937), and in film music for The Assassin (1964) and the TV series Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1966) both orchestrated by Takemitsu.

Furthermore, alongside traditional shakuhachi music, these non-traditional collaborations were reaching an international audience through overseas promotion, education and performance, and thus coming to the ears of non-Japanese musicians and composers who became interested in exploring the instrument. The shakuhachi player Iwamoto Yoshikazu (b.1945), for example, developed an international career during the 1970s and established himself as a player open to experimentation and engagement with non-traditional genres, such as avant-garde western classical music, which led to work with the British composer Frank Denyer (b.1943). Meanwhile, the American composer Marty Regan (b.1972), who was himself a shakuhachi player, studied composition in Japan under Miki Minoru. Elsewhere, the shakuhachi player and jazz advocate Yamamoto Hōzan extended his cross-cultural reach to include cross-cultural collaboration with the late classical sitarist of North India, Ravi Shankar.

Whilst the primary dissemination of the shakuhachi onto the international scene radiated out from Japan, this was not the sole route by which the shakuhachi the shakuhachi was known abroad; occasional musicians and composers would encounter the shakuhachi elsewhere. One such example is the western classical avant-garde composer Henry Cowell (1897-1965), who had been exposed to the musics of East Asia at an early age in the émigré communities of San Francisco. He later took lessons on the shakuhachi from a Japanese émigré to the U.S. and composed for the instrument. Cowell was also instrumental in establishing early ethnomusicology university programmes, and throughout his life was heavily involved in promoting musics from other cultures, however it was only towards the end of his life that music programmes featuring Japanese musics and other music cultures became more widely available in educational institutions. It was in programmes such as these that the shakuhachi player Iwamoto Yoshikazu was invited to participate, and thus met the British composer Frank Denyer.

From the early encounters between the shakuhachi and non-traditional environments in the pre-war era, the shakuhachi has now reached an international, and ever-widening audience interested in traditional and non-traditional forms of expression in composition and improvisation with a diverse array of western and non-western instruments. The names mentioned above are a small sample in an expanding field of musicians and composers fascinated and engaged by the distinctive sound of the shakuhachi.

Text by Flora Henderson


Burt, Peter. 2001. The Music of Toru Takemitsu: CUP.
Galliano, Luciana. 2002. Yōgaku: Japanese Music in the Twentieth Century: Scarecrow Press Inc.
Original edition, Yogaku: Percorsi della musica giapponese nel Novecento; Cafoscarina, 1998, in Italian.
Miki, Minoru; translated by Marty Regan & edited by Philip Flavin. 2008.
Composing for Japanese Instruments. New York: University of Rochester Press.
Takemitsu, Tōru. 1995. Confronting Silence: Selected Writings of Toru Takemitsu.
Edited and Translated by Yoshiko Kakudo & Glenn Glascow. Berkeley, CA.: Fallen Leaf Press.
Marty Regan:
Frank Denyer:


Urban chamber ensemble music from the Edo period (1603-1868) consisting of voice, koto, shamisen and shakuhachi. The shakuhachi replaced the kokyū after 1968. (text will be expanded on soon)


Music composed for traditional Japanese instruments after 1868. From around 1920s a new wave of Japanese composers wrote or traditional instruments. (text will be expanded on soon)


Min’yō is a genre of traditional Japanese music. (text will be expanded on soon)