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Shakuhachi Camp & Festival in Kyoto Japan


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Shakuhachi Camp & Festival in Kyoto Japan

Ty Burhoe

Shakuhachi Festival in Kyoto Japan 2012


Welcome back my friends,
These last two months I spent in Asia, mainly Japan, having meetings, rehearsals and a few shows with a wide variety of musicians. My tour to Japan in September will include the annual
Yoga & Music Retreat in Wazuka / the new annual Tabla Retreat in Tokyo / the new annual Sweat Lodge & Spirit Retreat in Nagano as well as concerts with Yutaka Oyama (shamisen), Akihisa Kominato (shakuhachi) on Sept 15th & 16th and concerts with Yukihiro Atsumi (guitar) on Sept 22nd & 29th weekends. It should be a great month and a half of events! Please go to my calendar of events for details:

One of the featured events from this visit was the annual International Shakuhachi Camp and the International Shakuhachi Festival (held every 4 years in different countries each time). This year, both events were held in Kyoto Japan which was absolutely the most appropriate place to hold these events in the world. The camp had over 75 participants from all over the world and 10 of the top teachers from Japan, Australia and America. 

A performance piece during the camp


A little known part of my musical past, is that perhaps 25 years ago, I spent a great deal of my time involved in Buddhist meditation and listening to traditional shakuhachi and koto music as well as a solid 10 years of Aikido training under Hiroshi sensei and Bob Wing. During that time I even ordered a shakuhachi from a traditional maker and began learning to play for several years. And then, in 1998, some years after I had stopped learning shakuhachi and was actively playing the tabla, I found myself involved in promoting and performing in the first International Shakuhachi Festival which was help in Boulder Colorado. The men responsible for starting and continuing this amazing festival are Cory Speery, David Wheeler, Christopher Blasdel, Riley Lee, Yoshio Kurahashi, Kakizakai Kaoru and others. It just so happens that that same year I did a concert and recording with Yoshio Kurahashi on shakuhachi and jazz flute legand James Newton, Anthony Jackson (bass) with Shubhendra Rao on sitar and main artist Gao Hung on Chinese pipa. Wow, that was a real treat - one part of the concert ended up on Youtube:

This year in Japan, the festival was arranged by Yoshio Kurahashi who I had not seen since 1998 at the recording / concert engagement. It was so wonderful to see him again and hear him play, he is truly a master and rich with power and feeling. 

Yoshio Kurahashi performing at the Festival


David Wheeler is the main point man for arranging and organizing the Rocky Mountain Shakuhachi Festival in Boulder Colorado each year as well as Japan this year. He is a Japanese historical and music scholar as well as fluent in Japanese. I have had the chance now to play with him both in Boulder and in Japan which has been a treat each and every time. 

David Wheeler performing with traditional artists at the festival


During the camp I also had some opportunities to perform for the participants with some of the teachers. Knowing some of the tradition from my past helps give me an appreciation for how incredibly difficult it is to produce sounds on the instrument. But to become fluent and expressive is a state of mastery few truly realize. I don't know what it is about me, but I seem to be attracted to absolutely, the most difficult instruments on the planet. So to be playing tabla in support of nearly 100 shakuhachi players was like being a spot of dry soil in the rain. 

Riley Lee & Christopher Blasdel improvisation w/ Ty

Ichizan Hoshida lll & Akihisa Kominato improvisation w/ Ty

We even did some non-traditional songs like "I feel good" by James Brown.
Okada Michiaki & Kakizakai Kaoru feelin' good!!!


Another wonderful surprise was that my buddy Brian Ritchie was also there with his wife Varuni. For those of you who don't know Brian, he was the bass player for the Violent Femmes who in the last number of years has become quite a brilliant shakuhachi player. We had first met back in 2009 when I was touring in Tasmania and he was booking events for a famous winery called Moorilla. Which now he is full curator for their amazing world cultural museum.

Brian and percussionist / shakuhachi player
Pepe Danza invited me to come play with them at a club in Kyoto during the festival which was a blast - the small (hot) club was jam packed with shakuhachi players and some jazz lovers. 

Brian Ritchie & Ty

Brian Ritchie & Pepe Danza & shakuhachi guests...


The tradition of shakuhachi dates back many many hundreds of years and was originally developed with the Fuke Zen Buddhist monks as a tool for breathing meditations. It later found it's way into the training of the samurai and to this day, the training and music keeps very close ties to its ancient traditional ways. 

This photo shows a traditional shakuhachi player with the head basket (which amplifies the acoustics of the flute for the player) amongst the 8000 ancient tomb stones of the famous Adashino Nenbutsu-ji temple in Kyoto. 

I traveled to Adashino Nenbutsu-ji temple during my stay
which was a moving and beautiful experience. 


The shakuhachi is such a beautifully powerful instrument which has layers upon layers of nuance and endless oceans of attainment which can in some cases go hand in hand with spiritual realization. I was very happy to hear many of the masters talking about their openness to fresh directions for the music and new musical contexts for the instrument. The tradition is so deep in its form, that it does not seem to be threatened by exploration and improvisation. 


My joy in collaborating with these great artists will unfold both in concerts and in recordings. I feel, not only my own heart connection to the instrument, but also that it weaves so beautifully with the texture of the tabla. I will study the shakuhachi tradition more over the time ahead and try to find the right way to approach a collaboration so our traditions have a voice, but also our personal expression has an open meadow to find it's freedom. 

Up coming collaborations include:
Sept 1st Concert - Tokyo Japan w/ 
David Wheeler
Sept 15th Concert - Kamakura Japan w/ Akihisa Kominato & Yutaka Oyama
Sept 16th Concert - Tokyo Japan w/ Akihisa Kominato & Yutaka Oyama
Nov 18th Concert - Sydney Australia w/ Riley Lee
Please go to my calendar of events for details:

Much inspiration, health and happiness to you and yours,
More soon,