Shakuhachi zen glossary

Japanese Kanji Definition
Atari 当たりA form of ornamentation executed by opening and closing a hole rapidly.
Bushi武士A social class in the Edo Era consisting of the samurai.
Bushidô 武士道 Lit. ‘the way of the warrior.’ The code of chivalry followed by the samurai.
Chikudô 竹道 Lit. 'the way of bamboo’. The code followed by the komusô.
Chikuho 竹法 A school of shakuhachi founded in 1917 by Sakai Chikuho (1892-1984).
Chiku-in 竹音 The vibration of the bamboo when blown.
Chikuzen ichinyo 竹禅一如 ‘The bamboo and Zen are one!’ Expression attributed to Kurosawa Kinko.
Chû-meri 中メリ A slight lowering of the chin.
Gagaku 雅楽 The ancient court music of Japan.
Gaikyoku 外曲 Lit. 'outside pieces'. Pieces that are not honkyoku.
Gidayû 義太夫 A narrative vocal genre which accompanies bunraku or puppet theatre.
Haiku 俳句 Short Japanese poems of three lines.
Han-on 半音 A fingering produced with a partially-covered hole.
Hara The centre of gravity of the body.
Hichiriki篳篥The double-reeded pipe of the gagaku ensemble.
Hitoyogiri 一節切 A precursor of the shakuhachi.
Hocchiku法竹 A piece of bamboo blown for the attainment of enlightenment.
Honkyoku 本曲 Lit. ‘original pieces.’ The mostly solo meditative pieces of the shakuhachi tradition.
Ichi-on Jôbutsu 一音成仏 Lit. ‘Become the Buddha in One Sound.’ Expression attributed to Kurosawa Kinko.
In-yô 陰陽 The Japanese for Ying and Yang, the Chinese non-dualistic concept.
Isshaku hassun 一尺八寸 The full name for the standard length of shakuhachi.
Issoku-on 一息音 Lit. ‘one-breath tone.’
Ji The filler used to shape the bore of the shakuhachi.
Ji-nashi 地無し A shakuhachi which has no filler and whose bore follows the natural shape of the bamboo.
Jitsu Lit. ‘reality.’ Represents form in Zen practice.
Jo-ha-kyû 序破急 Lit. ‘introduction-scattering-rushing.’ This is a Japanese tripartite structural concept which is applied to music.
Kan The second octave of the shakuhachi.
Karakara カラカラ A finger ornamentation involving a fast trill with the lowest finger.
Kazashi カザシ A fingering leaving a hole half open using the first joint as a fulcrum over the hole.
Ki Lit ‘energy.'
Kinko-ryû 琴古流 A school of shakuhachi formed by Kurosawa Kinko (1710-1771).
Kôan公案 A problem given to students of Zen to test their practice.
Kokû 虚空 Lit. ‘Vacuity.’ A honkyoku of the Kinko-ryû.
Komibuki 込み吹き Pulsating breath technique of the Nezaha School.
Komosô 薦僧 Lit. ‘straw-mat monks.’ Itinerant monks who practiced mendicancy during the Muromachi Period.
Komusô 虚無僧 Lit. ‘monks of nothingness.’ Itinerant monks who practiced mendicancy during the Edo Period.
Korokoro コロコロ A finger technique involving covering and uncovering the bottom two holes in alteration.
Koto The Japanese zither.
Kyôtaku Denki 虚鐸伝記 The document used by the komusô to validate the Fuke Sect.
Kusabibuki クサビ吹き Lit. ‘wedge-blowing.’ A way of breathing that starts strongly, quickly reduces intensity and dies away.
Kyotaku 虚鐸 Lit. ‘empty bell.’ The mythical bell of Fuke Zenji. This word is also used by followers of Nishimura Koku to describe shakuhachi.
Ma A Japanese temporal and spacial concept.
Madake 真竹 Lit. ‘male bamboo.’ The most popular type of bamboo used in shakuhachi making.
Mawashiyuri 回し揺り Lit. ‘circular shake.’ A form of vibrato executed by moving the head in a circular motion.
Meri-kari メリカリ(沈り浮り) The technique of lowering and raising the chin in conjunction with fingering and breath technique.
Miyako bushi 都節 A Japanese scale used in the music of shakuhachi.
Miyogiri みよぎり A precursor of the shakuhachi.
Mukaiji 霧海 Lit. 'A flute in the Foggy Sea.' A honkyoku of the Kinko-ryû.
Muraiki ムラ息 Lit. ‘uneven breath.’ A form of explosive attack using the breath.
Myôan-ji 明暗寺 One of the founding temples of the Fuke Sect.
Nayashi ナヤシ A technique that involves beginning a note from a meri position and raising the chin to a kari position.
Ne-iro 音色 Lit. ‘tone colour’. The Japanese word for timbre.
Okurauloオークラロ A type of shakuhachi with keys like the Boehm flute invented by Ôkura Kishichiro (1882-1963).
Ori-suri 折りすり A technique of lowering and raising the pitch at the end of a note.
Otodashi ichinen Kubifuri sannen koro hachinen 首出し一年首振り三年コロ八年 Lit. ‘it takes a year to make a sound, three to shake the head and eight to koro.’ An expression used by shakuhachi players to express the difficulty of the instrument.
Oto no tachiagari ga hayai 音の立ち上がりが早い Lit. ‘the standing of the sound is early.’ An expression used when referring to the quick response of the shakuhachi.
Oto no tachiagari ga osoi 音の立ち上がりが遅い Lit. ‘the standing of the sound is late.’ An expression used when referring to the slow response of the shakuhachi.
Otsu The first octave of the shakuhachi.
Rônin 浪人 These were the masterless samurai of the Edo Era.
Ryûteki 竜笛 The transverse flute of the gagaku ensemble.
Sadô 茶道 Lit. ‘the way of tea’. The Japanese tea ceremony.
Samurai The warrior of Edo Period Japan.
Sangakku 三学句 The practice of fencing, shakuhachi and Zen by the komusô.
Sankyoku 三曲 This refers to the trio ensemble for shakuhachi, koto and shamisen and also the music written for this group. Many pieces also include either the koto or shamisen player singing the vocal part.
Satori 悟り Enlightenment in Zen.
Sawari さわり The buzzing sound made by Japanese stringed instruments.
Shaku An old measurement roughly equal to the modern foot. Used to measure shakuhachi.
Shakuhachi 尺八 Lit. ‘one shaku and eight sun.'
Shamisen 三味線 The three-stringed Japanese lute.
Shinobue 篠笛 The simple transverse Japanese flute made of bamboo.
Shitauchi 舌打ち The word for articulation by tonguing.
Shishô 師匠 The respectful title of a teacher in Japanese traditional arts.
Sun One tenth of a shaku.
Shôsoin 正倉院 The repository of the possessions of the Emperor Shômô in Nara.
Suizen 吹禅 Lit. ‘blowing Zen.’ The practice of Zen in playing shakuhachi.
Suri-age すりあげ A form of ornamentation involving a slide upwards at the end of a note.
Take jôge yuri 竹上下揺り Lit. ‘up-down movement of the bamboo.’ A form of vibrato executed by shaking the bamboo.
Tate yuri 立て揺り A form of vibrato executed by swaying the head from side to side.
Tempuku 天吹 A precursor of the shakuhachi.
Tengai 天蓋 The lattaced straw headgear worn by the komusô.
Tettei-on 徹低音 Lit ‘sound in and of itself.’
Tonoko との粉 The whetstone powder used for lining the bore of the shakuhachi.
Tôzan ryû 都山流 A school of shakuhachi formed by Nakao Tôzan (1876-1956).
Tsukiyuri 突き揺り A form of vibrato executed by pushing the bamboo up and down on the lips.
Urushi The lacquer applied to the bore of the modern shakuhachi.
Utaguchi 歌口 The mouthpiece of the shakuhachi.
Utsu 打つ Lit.’to hit.’ A form of finger articulation and ornamentation.
Wabi-sabi 詫び寂び An aesthetic quality prized in Japanese arts which favours the faded and nostalgic.
Yoko yuri 横揺り A form of vibrato executed by moving the head in a diagonal manner.
Zazen 座禅 Lit. ‘sitting Zen.’
Zempei 全閉 Completely closed hole.
Zenkai 全開 Completely open hole.
Zenki 禅器 Lit. ‘tool of Zen.’