In the countryside southwest of Portland, the capital of Maine, there lives a couple of musicians. The husband’s name is Hands, and the wife’s name is Colleen, both in their fifties. Their backyard covers ten acres (sixty acres), and Ren Kelin grows flowers, chickens and ducks. One day, when Hands was practicing the shakuhachi, the rooster crowing in response, and the tone rose with the shakuhachi to B-flat. This anecdote was learned after my wife and I came to visit the Hands. In July 2021, my wife and I drove six hours from Long Island, New York, to make a special trip to listen to Hands play shakuhachi and talk about shakuhachi life. Even Rooster is interested in shakuhachi, and this trip will definitely yield a lot.
Hands is of mixed race, his father is Japanese and his mother is of Irish descent. His full name is Hanzaburo Araki, and Hanzaburo is pronounced Hanzaburo in English. Most Americans can’t call it Hanzaburo.
Hands’ first exposure to musical instruments was at the age of eight. He played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” from memory under the watchful eyes of a strict female piano teacher, flipping the score carefully while playing. The teacher stopped him and asked him where he played on the score, but he couldn’t answer. The teacher got angry and turned to leave. Little Hands is also very helpless. He doesn’t know how to read staff, and he still doesn’t.
Hands’ first exposure to musical instruments was at the age of seventeen. At that time, he moved to Tokyo with his parents and wanted to learn shakuhachi from his father. His father handed him a shakuhachi, and he took it and blew it, making a sound. The shakuhachi is difficult to blow, and beginners often spend a lot of time blowing the sound, and it will take a long time to blow the sound better. Hands blew without difficulty and made great progress.
”You must have a foundation in music, did you learn other instruments before learning shakuhachi?” I was curious.
”No. Since the piano teacher left, I no longer learn the piano, and I don’t learn any instrument, and I don’t participate in a band or choir. In school, music is grouped with pictures, ceramics, woodworking, etc., and is an art. Classes. Art class is just one of them, I never choose music,” explained Hands.
After so many years of abandonment, Hanz’s musical talent has not been erased. It seems that he is gifted. At the very least, he taught himself the shakuhachi correctly with the luck of his abdominal muscles. It’s just that he didn’t know why he was doing it right at the time. Isn’t the air blowing out of the lungs, he thought? What’s with the belly? The shakuhachi teacher has to teach students how to use the luck of the abdomen, and the father does not need to teach him this, he teaches the tune from the beginning. This ability later caused problems for him, and when he started teaching his students, he couldn’t explain how to get lucky. At this rate, wouldn’t it only be possible to teach those who are self-taught without a teacher?
His father wrote the Japanese-style (vertical) shakuhachi sheet music especially for him. He can’t understand this, but it doesn’t matter, the tune is “Scarborough Fair” that has been imprinted in his mind. He used memorized tunes to compare scores, and his father taught him how to read them. Hands learned shakuhachi from his father, six hours a day, intensive training, and four months later he could officially perform on stage in Shimonoseki.
It took Hanz four years to learn all of the dozens of original and outer songs handed down by the family. Others may take more than ten years to learn these pieces. His father gave him the name Mei Xu, which means that he has obtained the qualification of a teacher and has reached the level that he can teach. He started teaching shakuhachi.
However, Hands is not used to living in Japan. Appearance, he does not look like Japanese. In terms of language, he did not speak Japanese when he was in the United States, and he only spent six months intensive training in a language school in Tokyo. He can speak Japanese, but he still has some accent. People always think he doesn’t understand Japanese. Socially, he has no friends. Society as a whole was caught up in an economic frenzy, with people flocking to money, leaving the traditional music scene behind and letting it age. He has no friends of the same age in the shakuhachikai.
Hands decided to return to the United States, returning to Seattle, where he grew up, alone in 1992. It was January and a few friends decided to have a party and play Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day in March. In a short period of time, he learned fifty Irish pieces in one sitting – he did have a talent for music. The festival was so successful that a few friends decided to start a band. Hands is mainly responsible for playing the Irish piccolo (penny whistle) in the band. This instrument is a vertical wind instrument like the shakuhachi, but it is thinner and shorter. With the experience of playing shakuhachi, especially in terms of luck, he plays the Irish piccolo with ease. Later he also played other vertical wind instruments. Since then, Hands has continued to play Irish music for a living.
”You play Irish music, do you have something to do with your mother?” I asked.
”It doesn’t matter much. I have listened to a lot of music of various styles and ethnicities since I was a child, and also listened to Irish music. That festival event was completely by chance. I am not tall, 1.65 meters tall, with a brown complexion. , doesn’t look Irish, and doesn’t have an Irish name, which people always find weird in America. In Ireland, people don’t look at their skin color, they just listen to music.”
”Why don’t you make a living out of shakuhachi? “I thought that Hands had systematic shakuhachi training and would be more comfortable playing shakuhachi than Irish instruments.
”I had the opportunity to play shakuhachi several times a year in the United States, but I couldn’t make a living from it. At that time, people came to learn shakuhachi from me, and they mainly came for spiritual guidance. At that time, I had no idea about the shakuhachi tradition. As far as I know, my father did not teach me the spiritual connotation of shakuhachi.” The
shakuhachi flourished in Japan during the Edo period, and the nihilistic monks of the Puhua sect held shakuhachi in the city to beg. They do not regard shakuhachi as musical instruments, but as instruments of practice. This practice is called blowing meditation. After the end of the Edo period and the Meiji period, the Puhua sect was abolished, and the shakuhachi was converted into a musical instrument. Even so, the spirituality of shakuhachi has been handed down, and some American students are also very interested in the spirituality of shakuhachi, but Hanz cannot meet their needs.
Although Hands couldn’t make a living out of shakuhachi, shakuhachi took root in him. He also had the opportunity to learn later that his family had a prominent reputation and status in the history of shakuhachi.
Hands took us into the living room and showed us the pictures of our ancestors hanging on the wall. Great-great-grandfather Araki Bansaburo (same name as Hanz), the second-generation ancient boy, with white hair; great-grandfather Araki Shinosuke, third-generation ancient boy, handsome and burly; grandfather Araki Ju, fourth-generation ancient boy, young and elegant.
”Where’s your father?” I noticed that there was no picture of his father on the wall.
”It is stored in another room. He is still alive, and the pictures cannot be hung on the wall.”
His father, Arakida, was also a fifth generation old boy, and Hanz was a sixth generation ancient boy. A shakuhachi family, five consecutive generations, condensed in a country house in Maine.
The founder of this shakuhachi family, Araki Hanzaburo, was born in a family of feudal lords (samurai who belonged to the princes) in 1823 at the end of the shogunate, and loved shakuhachi since childhood. At that time there was a shakuhachi master named Wuliu. Every time Hansaburo passed by Wuliu’s door, he would stand quietly outside the fence listening to the shakuhachi, and his heart was full of joy. Bansaburo went to see Wuliu and asked him to be his teacher and started to learn shakuhachi.
Later, Bansaburo heard that there was a very famous person in Asakusa, Tokyo, named Rufeng. He really wanted to learn shakuhachi from Rufeng, but he had no chance. One day, Hansaburo was invited to play a song somewhere. There was a person sitting next to him, scolding, “It’s so lame that it can’t be called a shakuhachi!” When I inquired about it, the person who scolded him was actually Rufeng, whom he usually admired. He secretly said to himself, “Is Rufeng that kind of person? Calling someone like me who is not known for being complacent is such a rude fellow. Well, if I want to find a good teacher, I must be more powerful than Feng!” His family was poor and could not afford the gift money to be a teacher, so he entered the Yiyue Temple of the Puhua School and became a monk of nothingness.
At the age of twenty-two, Bansaburo met a nihilistic monk on his way to alms. According to the rules, when monks of nothingness meet, they must blow shakuhachi to each other. After Banzaburo played a tune, he called out his name and asked the other party’s name. The other party is Toyota Koto. Gutong’s real name is Toyoda Katsugoro, and he studied under Yamada Rutong and Hisamatsu Fuyo, both of whom are masters of koto. Yamada Rudo studied with Ikeda Ikeda, a student of Niseko Kotoko, and Hisamatsu Fuyo was tutored by Niseko Kotoko’s son Sansei Kotoko. Jiusong Fengyang took over Qin Guliu after the third generation. Bansaburo had long heard that Gutong was very famous, and when he met him on the road, he was surprised and delighted, and now he solemnly asked Gutong to accept him as a student. Gu Tong agreed, and they agreed on a day for class. On the appointed day, Bansaburo came to see Gutong, Gutong said that he was making shakuhachi, and he would come next time. When is the next time? Not sure yet. After that, I made a few appointments, and Gu Tong always had an excuse, “I’m drunk today” and “I have something to do today”, so I couldn’t teach him anyway. After two months, on a rainy day, Bansaburo went to see Gutong again. He estimated that Teacher Gutong was idle, and if he didn’t teach, he would not go there in the future. This time, Gu Tong smiled and said to Ban Saburo: “You are really an admirable person. I deliberately didn’t teach it to test your will. Now that I have tested it, I will teach you all the songs I know. “Han Saburo was overjoyed. Since then, Bansaburo has studied with Gutong for several years and has made great progress. Teacher Gu Tong died in 1851, when Banzaburo was twenty-nine years old. He felt that he still did not learn all the secrets of the teacher, and he felt very regretful.
Banzaburo inherited the name of Kodo-sensei and became Niseko Kodo. After losing his teacher, Niseko Tong was alone and unhappy. He met a master piano player who he admired, named Nagase Katsuyuki. Although the koto and shakuhachi are different types of musical instruments, their deep meanings are the same. Under the guidance of Katsuoichi, Nisekodo composed many shakuhachi songs. After Katsuoichi’s death, Nisekodo was alone again. On a faint autumn evening, a gust of breeze blew through the courtyard, and he suddenly captured the desolate sound of nature, and his heart was suddenly enlightened – he could use the natural sound to convey the sound of shakuhachi! Hearing the voice of Xiaoxiao Chunyu, he felt the tranquility of the shakuhachi; listening to the sound of the sassy autumn wind, he felt the sadness of the shakuhachi. The sound of the wind passing through the pine trees, the sound of the rain beating on the roof, the sound of birds flapping their wings, and even the noise of the marketplace, and the sound of everything in the world, were integrated into the shakuhachi sound. He found the teacher again, and he took the heaven and earth as his teacher.
Later, Niseko Tong went to the door of his teacher, Hisamatsu Fuyang, and after the death of Hisamatsu Fuyo, he and his senior brother Yoshida Yitiao successively took over the qinguliu. At the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period, the Puhua sect was abolished, and the practice of blowing the shakuhachi by the nihilist monk was banned. Araki Koto and Yoshida Yituo together came out to explain to the government that the shakuhachi is a musical instrument and should be preserved. At the critical moment when the shakuhachi faced extinction, they took on the important task of reviving the shakuhachi and inheriting the ancient style of the koto. Shakuhachi has been passed down since then. There are three existing shakuhachi schools, chiaroscuro, qinguliu, and dushanliu, all of which were successfully transformed at that time. The Department of Light and Darkness still regards the shakuhachi as a spiritual instrument; Qin Guliu regards the shakuhachi as a musical instrument, but still regards the shakuhachi in the period of the nihilistic monk as the essence; Dushanliu starts a new work, composes new songs, and strives to make the shakuhachi and modern times. Music fusion.
Niseko Tong received a wide range of disciples, and the disciples spread all over the upper class, and cultivated a large number of shakuhachi descendants. His disciples include the eldest son Araki Shinosuke, Kawase Junsuke, Miura Kototo and others. Shunsuke Kawase founded the Bamboo Friendship Society, which is the most prosperous branch of the koto tradition. Aoki Suzumu, a disciple of Kawase Junsuke, founded the Suzumukai. Shunsuke Kawase and Koto Miura passed on Shiro Yamaguchi, and Shiro Yamaguchi founded the Bamboo League Society. A disciple of Araki Shinosuke, Natomi Shoudo, founded the Children’s Gate Society. Shinosuke was excellent in shakuhachi playing, and he was the leader of the shakuhachi world at that time along with Kawase Junsuke. Niseko Tong passed on the name of Koto to Shinosuke, which is the third Koto. Niseko Tong took another name, Bamboo Weng. Zhuweng died in 1908 at the age of eighty-five. The Araki Ancient Boys belong to the Ancient Boys Association.
Now several main branches of Qin Guliu are descendants of the second generation Araki Gutong. Nisekodo is regarded as the ancestor of the rejuvenation of the koto style.
Although Hanz’s great-grandfather, Gutong III, was a genius of shakuhachi, his lifespan was not very long, and he only lived to be fifty-six years old. The name of Gutong was passed on to Hanz’s grandfather Arakiju, who was the fourth generation of Gutong. In addition to shakuhachi, the fourth generation ancient boy also studied and studied Ya music, Western music, and sanxian, and he was versatile. However, his lifespan was shorter than that of Gutong III, and he only lived to be less than forty-one years old. The responsibility of inheriting the lineage of Araki fell to his five-year-old son, Tatsuya Araki. Araki Tatsuya also inherited the name of Gutong later, which is the fifth generation Gutong. He is Heinz’s father.
Heinz’s father was born in 1937. At the age of ten, he began to study shakuhachi with Yoshida Kindo, a disciple of the fourth Koto, and later he studied with Kimura Yusai, a disciple of the third Koto. Although he could not get his father’s personal teaching, what he learned was the true inheritance of his own sect, and his own talent was very high, so he learned very well. Shakuhachi-sensei was very kind to him, but his mother was very strict. When Kodo IV died, Japan was fighting on many fronts in the world. The war of aggression not only brought serious disasters to many countries, but also brought endless suffering to the Japanese people. The young Araki Tatsuya also grew up in an age of hardship, and was cultivated as a family heir, bearing a heavy burden on him since childhood. His mother was very strict with him. He went to school, did his homework, and practiced shakuhachi. If he did not finish it, he was sent to the temple to study Buddhism. He had no play, no friends, no happy childhood. When he grows up, he will bring unpredictable variables to the inheritance of the Shakuhachi family.
In 1962, the second year of his father’s graduation from the music department of Keio University in Tokyo, he inherited the name of Gutong. In 1963, he went to the United States to study. My father went abroad for more than 20 years. Why is he going abroad? According to him, it was because of tuberculosis that he could no longer play. One of my grandfather’s disciples in Los Angeles suggested that he come over, so he came to America to try a new life.
”Did your father leave Japan because he had tuberculosis?” I asked Hands.
”My father did suffer from lung disease. He thought he couldn’t perform and could only teach. But the deep reason is that he lived under great pressure since he was a child. It was a very difficult and painful memory. He wanted to escape, want to get rid of.”
His father taught in the Ethnomusicology Department of the University of California in Los Angeles, the University of Washington in Seattle, and Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Father and mother met and married at the University of Washington. After giving birth to twin sons and a daughter (Hanz’s older brother and sister), Heinz was born in Connecticut in 1970, when his father was about to complete his master’s degree. Since then, my father has played, directed, and lectured at Columbia University, Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and other private and state universities.
Five generations of Koto came to the United States, although it was a kind of escape for himself, or to find a new life, but it was an event worthy of record in the history of American shakuhachi. Before him, as early as 1918, a Japanese shakuhachi player, Tamada Kitarang, immigrated to the United States and later became the shakuhachi teacher of the famous composer Henry Cowell. Cowell is a pioneer of constant innovation and has a very important place in the history of music. Under the influence of Yutian Xitailang, Cowell composed the shakuhachi song “World Xiao”. After Yutian Xi Tailang, the arrival of the fifth-generation ancient boy was another important event. Since then, some Americans have come to Japan to learn shakuhachi, and they have brought shakuhachi back to the United States, about 30 years before the shakuhachi was introduced to China.
Heinz’s father returned to Japan with the family in 1975. When the young Gutong of the fifth generation returned from his study tour, Gutong would welcome him very much and have high hopes for him. However, there was an irreconcilable conflict between his mother and wife. Heinz’s grandmother was very opposed to her son going to the United States, and the foreign daughter-in-law made her look more and more unpleasant. The relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law was tense, and Hanz’s father was caught in the middle, very distressed, and finally took the family back to Seattle. His mother, the one who wanted to train him to be the heir, the one who didn’t want him to leave home, pushed him out of the house again, out of the country!
”What kind of person was your grandmother?” I asked Hands.
”She treated me very, very well. But I’ve heard many times that she was very bad to my parents, especially to my mother. I was very young and didn’t see it with my own eyes, so I don’t know. But I can understand them. The relationship between the two is tense.”
After Hands’ father returned to the United States, even Shakuhachi gave up. For about ten years, from the age of seven to fifteen, Hanz could not hear the shakuhachi at home. Therefore, after Hanz became sensible, he was not influenced by Shakuhachi at home.
”Why did he stop playing shakuhachi if it was just because of a bad relationship with his mother?”
”He never had a good memory of playing shakuhachi. After our family returned to the United States, he decided never to return to Japan. He was so unhappy that he stopped playing shakuhachi.”
Hands’ father switched to teaching, teaching math in high school. In addition, I work part-time at night as a manager and bartender at my father-in-law’s bar. As a math teacher, the job instability made him very anxious. His father worked day and night, and he was rarely with Heinz, and his husband and wife seldom showed up together. Heinz’s children thought his parents were not together. It is not easy to make a living in a foreign country, so why not return to the shakuhachi?
In 1988, Hanz’s father, who was in trouble, was over 50 years old and returned to Japan with his family again. Gu Tong would welcome him back to lead, and this was the message he got. After actually going back, he discovered the multi-layered meaning of Eastern expressions. Those who verbally welcomed him back were not welcome in their hearts, and he would take the leadership of others. He did have a negative relationship with the Gutong Association. He had been away for more than 20 years without making any contribution to the Gutong Association. However, he is Araki Gutong after all, the real heir of the Araki family, so he still sits in the position of the president of the Gutong Association. The Gutong Association has branches in Tokyo, Kyushu and other places. It is a loose organization. Teachers have their own full-time jobs, and they teach Shakuhachi in their spare time. Only the fifth generation Kodo is a full-time teacher, teaching shakuhachi in Tokyo, Kyushu and other places. He was not interested in the name of the president or the name of the ancient boy, and devoted himself to shakuhachi playing and teaching, as if to make up for the lost time.
Heinz’s father lived up to the name of Gutong and eventually became a top shakuhachi master. In 1998, the second International Shakuhachi Festival was held in Boulder, Colorado, USA. It was the largest event in the history of the world’s shakuhachi, with hundreds of shakuhachi players from all over the world participating. The conference invited five of Japan’s top shakuhachi masters to play on the same stage. The five are: Yamaguchi Goro, Yokoyama Katsuya, Yamamoto Kuniyama, Araki Kodo, and Aoki Suzumo.
Hands’ father has been teaching shakuhachi in Japan for more than 20 years. By 2005, there were problems with his mental health. Hands flew from the US to Japan to help him get better. In 2011, another severe mental breakdown occurred and he had to retire. His wife had first returned to the United States and bought a house in Colorado. Now they live there.
”How’s your relationship with your father?” I asked Hands.
”Not very close,” Hands told me frankly. They haven’t lived together for a long time, and even when they lived under the same roof as teenagers, they didn’t have much time to communicate.
There are many misses between their father and son.
In November 2008, at a party commemorating the 100th anniversary of Gutong II’s death, his father announced that he would retire and passed the name of Gutong to his son. , for the Second Bamboo Weng. Heinz inherited the name of Gutong, or was inherited the name of Gutong, because he did not know there was this event and was not there. Missing such an important occasion, Hanz felt emotionally hurt and can’t let go. As long as my father told him in advance, he would definitely buy a plane ticket from the United States to Japan.
However, Hands knew that this was his father, and that only he could do such a thing. Although his father inherited the name of Gutong, he didn’t value the name and didn’t like to be the character. The glorious family history was as light as a cloud in his heart; moreover, the inheritance of the family had left a negative mark in his heart. Since he returned to Japan, he has been playing shakuhachi from morning to night, unless he is going out. As soon as he got home from the outside, he picked up the shakuhachi again, and kept blowing it until he went to bed, often forgetting to stop to eat. For him, it is very important to play shakuhachi well and become a master of shakuhachi; as for obtaining personal glory through shakuhachi and carrying forward the glory of his ancestors, it is not important. Therefore, he only taught Hands how to play shakuhachi, and did not tell him about the shakuhachi tradition and family history.
Doesn’t Hanz’s father know about the shakuhachi tradition and family history? He knows. He wrote this knowledge into his master’s thesis. The shakuhachi descendants all know that the monk of nothingness regards shakuhachi as a spiritual tool, and his father also has his own understanding and realization. He described his shakuhachi philosophy in an interview with a reporter: “When we play shakuhachi, there is a saying called one sound to become a Buddha, which means that one sound can reach the state of enlightenment. Focus on one sound, forget everything, and focus on the mind. Blow without distraction. No technique required, focus on blowing, make a sound, whether it is a vague sound, a clear sound, or any other sound. On the breath, through the abdomen, through the soles of the feet, such as from the other side of the earth Breath in air at one end and blow it out. In any position, standing, sitting, or walking, if you try to focus on your breath, won’t you feel peaceful? That’s true Zen life.” But he never thought Tell Hands this insight.
Hands felt that it wasn’t entirely his father’s fault, and that he himself was responsible.
If he returned to Japan, he would be his father’s right-hand man. He can teach junior students, father can sit on it and give pointers, or teach students who are already quite advanced. In this way, the two of them will cooperate very well, and the Shakuhachi career will be better developed in their hands.
According to Hands, his father was trapped in a traditional business circle. According to the traditional model, a shakuhachi teacher teaches a group of students, and after the students complete their studies, they teach more students, and the sect is more and more prosperous; externally, he interacts with guzheng and sanxian players who belong to the traditional music industry, and performs together. People look after each other and give each other opportunities. Father left Japan for more than 20 years, alienated from the circle, and it is not easy to return to the circle. Hands believes that if he had returned to his father at that time, he would have used modern concepts to help him run the business, perform more, and record more albums; the performances were not limited to the traditional Japanese music industry, but went out, to the United States, to Lincoln Center. . With his father’s level of playing and the experience of living in the United States for more than 20 years, as well as the cultural atmosphere of the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, he can show shakuhachi to a whole new audience and open up a new world.
Some misses are forever missed. His father is retired, which means that there will never be a chance for Hands to fulfill his wish to help his father develop his shakuhachi career. Hands has always regretted it, and he desperately wished he could go back in time and return to the United States from Japan at the age of twenty-one. At that time he was very young and desperately wanted to take control of his life, and his family was not a consideration. It would be great if he just went to the United States for a vacation, and then returned to his father’s side to continue his shakuhachi career!
Some missed, too late to remedy. What his father did not pass on to him, he made up for himself.
He learned that his father had written a master’s thesis and asked Wesleyan University to send him a copy. He learned from the thesis that his ancestor, Koto Araki II, was a figure in the history of shakuhachi.
”How did you feel when you received the paper?” I asked.
”After so many years, I can’t remember the specific text of the paper, but I remember being very excited when I got a copy of the paper. This is what my father told me in words, and my father told me in a special way.” Han said.
Hanz also knew that his father named him Ban Saburo, which was Niseko Tong’s real name. His father gave him a shakuhachi name, Mei Xu. Mei Xu is the name that Hanz’s grandfather inherited before the ancient boy name. His father did not tell him about the family heritage, but there were clues in his name.
He also slowly came to know the spiritual connotation of Shakuhachi. When I was young, I learned a lot of shakuhachi songs handed down by the nihwu monks. At that time, I felt that I was just playing music, and later I realized that the nihwu monks practiced through these songs.
”Your father said when he deciphered one sound to become a Buddha, focus on one sound, forget everything, and play it without distractions. How do you understand it?” I asked.
”For many years, I refused to admit that shakuhachi had anything to do with spirituality, seeing it only as music, as art. Now I realize that music is actually all about spirituality. When you play an Irish instrument, close Eyes, immersed in it, isn’t the heart clear and pure?” It
sounds reasonable. Who says only shakuhachi can be used for practice?
Hands lived in Seattle, Washington in the west, Portland, Oregon in the south, Portland, Maine (the city of the same name) in the east, and most recently on a small farm in the suburbs with his wife Colleen lives there. During the new crown epidemic, he could not go out to perform, and he had a lot of time to practice shakuhachi every day. He has about ten remote students, one in China, one in Sweden, and others across the United States. He taught shakuhachi through video lessons.
In addition, he also has time to think about the love between father and son and Shakuhachi. His father had a rough life, and once gave up shakuhachi to pursue a new life, but there seemed to be some kind of power in shakuhachi that pulled him back. Hands has not been influenced enough by the shakuhachi tradition since he was a child. When he was young, he deliberately resisted shakuhachi. Now he no longer resists, and let the power of shakuhachi pull him back. The two generations have come to the same destination on the tortuous and circuitous road. His father didn’t really return to the shakuhachi until he was fifty years old, and Hands was just fifty years old now, just in time. Whether it really returns depends on the action. He now plays shakuhachi every day, and his wife, Kerin, testified that she had never seen Hands play shakuhachi so hard before.
Hands took out a shakuhachi and played a piece for my wife and I. It was the traditional shakuhachi piece “One, Two, Three Bowls.”
The song is a familiar song in the shakuhachi world, but this shakuhachi has a lot of history.
Hands’ shakuhachi student Jeff knew bass guitarist Brian Rich. Brian was the founder of a well-known rock band who moved to Australia from the United States and settled in Tasmania. Brian plays shakuhachi and collects shakuhachi. Brian asked Jeff if he knew of anyone who wanted to buy a shakuhachi. Jeff asked who made it, and Brian said it was Araki. Jeff said, I am studying shakuhachi with Araki. Jeff connects Brian and Hands. Hands then learned that Brian had obtained a shakuhachi made by Kodo II Araki when he was eighty-two from a collector. Hands bought this shakuhachi.
In June 2020, Hands received a shakuhachi. Seeing the words “Araki Bamboo” and “Eighty-two years old” engraved on the shakuhachi, Hands couldn’t hide his excitement, and couldn’t help but announce to his friends on Facebook: “Today, I received a product made by the ancestor of the same name. The shakuhachi. I can’t express in words what it means to me to play Nisekodo’s shakuhachi. I never thought that such a thing would happen in my lifetime. I can now have a family history, my ancestors The relics left me have a real connection with them.”
Hands remembered a photo from 31 years ago, a young man holding a shakuhachi in his hand, also made by Niseko boy. His father often changed him for shakuhachi, and he played a lot of shakuhachi, and he didn’t care which one had any special features. Only now did he know to ask, where did that shakuhachi go? Maybe it was collected by collectors, maybe someone else played it. Hands only hoped that someone could play it well, because it was a shakuhachi made by his great-great-grandfather!
Now, he finally has a shakuhachi made by his great-great-grandfather!
Hands used this shakuhachi made by Nisekoto to play the shakuhachi song “Song of the Moon” composed by Nisekoto, and the image of a rising autumn moon appeared in his mind. The tune unfolds slowly, then the tune turns high, and then high-spirited and sonorous, like the moon rising from the ground, getting higher and higher, until it reaches the middle of the sky, and the light shines on the earth. He seemed to return to more than a hundred years ago and saw his great-great-grandfather in the garden of his house in the noisy Tokyo city, holding a shakuhachi in his hand and looking up at the bright moon. It seemed to him that the sounds of nature were melding into the shakuhachi. He remembered that Niseko Tong said that the sound of everything in the world can be integrated into the shakuhachi sound.
The low-pitched talk, the high-pitched sway, the melody has traveled through more than a century and five generations. It was the call of the ancestors and the answer of the descendants.
Hands played another piece, called “Bronze Mirror”, written by his father. About ten years after my father stopped playing shakuhachi, he started composing this piece in the United States, formerly called “Resonance”. Reverberation is the return of sound after it reaches some kind of surface. The father uses the constantly emerging melody to express the response, presumably the exploration of a new way of expression, without specific meaning. Later, when my grandmother got old and entered a nursing home, and my father lived in the house alone, I made some modifications to the piece and renamed it “Bronze Mirror”. Bronze mirror reflection, perceived by vision, such as the response perceived by hearing, is essentially a response. Her father told Hands that her grandmother once owned an antique bronze mirror, which she cherished very much, but unfortunately it was lost in the war years. This piece was written for that bronze mirror. The unspeakable entanglement between the father and the shakuhachi in his life is actually intertwined with the grievances of the mother and son. Now that she is about to die, her father is reflecting. Heinz didn’t know what his father was thinking about, only his grandmother.
”What’s your take on this piece?” I asked.
”I understand a repeating and similar melody as a wave-like propagation. The wave-like propagation, like reverberation and reflection, is the repetition of similar things. When I play this piece, I feel a family heritage, from generation to generation. The inheritance, the inheritance from the previous generation to the next generation, is like ripples on the water spreading to the distance.” Hands said.
Hands also played “The Lion in the Cloud Well”, the first shakuhachi that his father officially taught him, and performed with him on the same stage. He expresses his affection for his father in this way. He said: “It was the first piece of music my father taught me, and I love it to this day. Those who know Japanese and Chinese traditional culture know that love is often expressed indirectly, such as in the meals made by mother or father’s. Teaching.” Hands didn’t have much contact with his father during his life, and he didn’t have a very close relationship. Only when I was studying shakuhachi with my father from the age of seventeen to twenty-one, and we were together almost every day. Now that I think about it, it was a wonderful time! His father would grade him after the performance, and his father would only grade him, not the other students. The usual grades are B or B minus. At one point, Hands thought he was doing a great job and was expecting an A, but his father never gave it. His father did not praise him directly.
”Your father must be delighted that you can make a sound the first time you play a shakuhachi?” my wife interjected.
”His face was waxed and expressionless,” Hands said.
Heinz’s father is such a personality, many traditional Orientals are like this. However, the father never expressed dissatisfaction with Hands. Even without the praise, Hands felt it was the most harmonious time between father and son. To this end, he wants to show the skills his father taught him, and help his father leave something in this world.
”Your father didn’t teach you the shakuhachi tradition. You picked it up yourself later. Did the shakuhachi tradition add anything to your shakuhachi experience or life?”
”I think so. I want to carry on this tradition, I To reproduce my father and my ancestors, I want to reproduce them well. My father is a great musician, and I want people to know him better.”
Hands collected these shakuhachi pieces made by his great-great-grandfather and made an album. , called “Resonance”. He explained for the album:
Since the first generation of Araki Hansaburo, my family has been the lineage of Shakuhachi masters that has not been interrupted.
My family has seen empires rise, change, and fall.
We see heritage valued and valued, we see it weakened and commodified.
We emigrated, we came back, we emigrated again.
We play shakuhachi in the passage of time.
I’ll be the last in my family to hold this title, so I set out to document as much as possible the playing styles that have been refined over six generations and add to the family’s musical treasure trove that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Hands will be the last Araki Koto. He has no children, and the Araki family will break the Shakuhachi lineage. The last Araki Koto, the Shakuhachi family that is about to end, how heavy it sounds! However, his father has paid less attention to the name, and Hanz naturally does not have that much pressure. He just hopes that one day, Gutong’s name can be passed on to a student.
”Do you have a candidate in mind?” I asked.
”I have a Chinese student who is very young and plays very well. I can pass this title to him, I don’t know if he wants to. The career of a musician is full of pressure, I just want my students to enjoy music. , I will do my best to help.”