I was young, I was fond of Latin music and jazz. Frankly speaking,
I did not like shakuhachi very much at that time. I was familiar
with the sound, since one of my relatives played the shakuhachi,
but I did not appreciate the spartan nature of its sound. Life is
so interesting; because fate gave me chance to make my living as
a shakuhachi maker. A shakuhachi generally measures 1 shaku and
8 sun in length (about 54 cm). Longer shakuhachi than this are normally
called chokan (literally, long pipes).
There are two ways to make shakuhachi. One way
is called jiari, which has paste dabbed inside the bore. (This paste
is made of powder and lacquer.) The other type is called jinashi,
which has no paste in it. Jiari is easer to tune, since we can make
fine adjustment to by adding or removing this paste. When completed,
it has stable sound. On the other hand, jinashi is much more difficult
to tune and temper precisely. Jinashi shakuhachi are tuned by shaving
off thin pieces of material from inside the bore of bamboo. It takes
much experience to understand how to make a good shakuhachi in this
way. If you remove just a little more than you should, you cannot
recover it. The bamboo is wasted.
I have been a maker now for over 40 years. I make
all kinds of shakuhachi but these days I am most fascinated by jinashi
style flutes. Years ago, I came to appreciate their deep, earthy
sound. When I listened closely, the delicate vibrations reminded
me of natural wind. When I started my career, I used to make jiari
measuring from 1 shaku and 2 sun up to 2 shaku 4 sun. This is a
main stream of shakuhachi and I still do the same work now. But
I have taken more interest in chokan and jinashi after seeing various
types of shakuhachi and making shakuhachi for many years.
Every winter, I go visit a few select areas of
Japan to harvest bamboo. This is a special time. I never know what
treasures I will find.
Chikuei (Murai Eigoro)