Yesterday, a group of touring Canadians (and a North American) visited Chichibu on their annual Bamboo Roots trip to Japan. Originating from annual tours led by Alcvin Ramos of BC Shakuhachi Society in Vancouver, this year the group was making the trip without him, including Jim Flight, Peter Smith, Darren Stone, Koji Matsunobu and Jane Kilthau (NY). Their shakuhachi pilgrimage includes the Shinto practice of misogi cleansing under an icy autumnal waterfall, collecting bamboo in groves in Nagano, making jinashi instruments straight from the forest and hiking some of the temple trails. The 3 gaijin shakuhachi students living in Chichibu and Tokyo - Kundan, Richard and I - joined them.
Kakizakai Sensei gave the 8-person group a four hour workshop on Shingetsu and Yamagoe. This was very inspiring as the two pieces, both amongst Kakizakai's "top three", along with San'an, are completely contrasting in character and energy required. Shingetsu is exquisitely calm and controlled, a reflective dusk meditation, whose expression is understated and veiled but ever present. Yamagoe is one of the most vibrant, raw, energetic, explosive honkyoku pieces, fiery on Yokoyama's early recordings, full of masculine enthusiasm and explicit vitality.
[left to right] Kirsty Beilharz, Kundan Ewan, Richard Chenhall, Jane Kilthau, Koji Matsunobu, Megumi Kakizakai, Jim Flight, Kaoru Kakizakai, Darren Stone, Peter Smith.