SEIKADO shakuhachi workshop

I recently acquired two beautiful shakuhachi to restore both made in Kyoto’s SEIKADO workshop.
Here are some informations on the Kitahara family, shakuhachi makers for 4 generations !

SIKADO workshop is located in Kyoto

Founded in 1908 By Kozan Kitahara I in Osaka, Seikado workshop has been focused on trying to modernise shakuhachi making as an answer to growing requirements of musicians of that time in order to build up the shakuhachi to an optimal of acoustic qualities; that was the beginning of ji-ari shakuhachi.

Kozan Kitahara I 初代 北原篁山 (1883-?)

After IIWW, the workshop moved to Kyoto and Kozo Kitahara, the second generation had to recreate a number of specific tools lost during the war.
Kozan Kitahara II, an other son born in 1925 became an accomplished player in Tokyo where he founded in 1957 Yonin no Kai ensemble and recorded several albums.

Today, the 3rd and 4rth generation are working together in Kyoto’s workshop producing shakuhachi for many professional players world-widely.


The first of those two flutes I restored is now ready to find its new owner; the second one (older) will come soon…


Spring meditation with avian orchestra

I am very delighted these days by playing this long 3.0 Hochiku recently finished.
(which I’m not hurried to see leaving my workshop for someone else !)

Yesterday, I recorded this flute with my workshop’s window opened to wilderness;
Lucky I am to be in the woods
with birds symphony everyday
and the creek as a drone.


April Shakuhachi

I have work since the beginning of Springtime on 4 different shakuhachi :

 1.8 ji-ari – 2.1 ji-nashi – 2.2 Myoan style Ji-nashi – 3.0 Hochiku ji-nashi

I built each of this shakuhachi with a specific state of mind, searching for sounds based on very different criteria.
I feel satisfied with being more and more able to aim to one type of sound, and then select the good piece of bamboo and work it specifically to approach what I’m searching.

 — « How long does it takes you to build a flute ? »

 — « Several hours and over fifteen years ! »


A rare masterpiece : Miura Ryuho 3.0 ji-ari shakuhachi

I have been entrusted a master shakuhachi to repair :
a 3.0 ji-ari in 3 parts made by the famous Miura Ryuho.

Miura Ryuho is one of the most renown modern makers in Japan; he makes instruments for many of the greatest professional players. Born in 1952, he studied with both Yokoyama Ranpo (father) and Katsuya (son) and was assistant maker of Yokoyama Katsuya. He is famous for being one of the rare makers to be able to build very long ji-ari with an accurate bore design.
Takahashi Toyomi with whom I studied in 2019 in Tokyo is one of his students.

This shakuhachi is a piece of art !

Regarding the crafting, it is precise, aesthetic and perfectly mastered. This shakuhachi is dividing in 3 parts and utaguchi is made from mammoth ivory and gold. the rattan of the 2 joints is incredibly fine.
I am usually not fond of very long shakuhachi (cho-kan) and not very good at playing them.
But this one (about 1 meter !) is an exception.
The finger holes are placed very ergonomically giving a (relative) comfortable fingering especially the 5th hole for the thumb which is moved on the left avoiding excessive tension in the wrist.
As for the blowing, it is so surprising to feel the whole bamboo vibrating loudly with just a light stream of air…
The tone colour is rich, and tuning and balance perfect up to dai-kan.

So I tried, modestly and toughly, to play a Honkyoku with this great instrument : Hifumi Hachigaeshi no Shirabe.

Actually, I did meet this shakuhachi before in Lisbon ESS summerschool in 2019 and here it is in my workshop 2 years later !
The repair was only on one of the joints that got loose.

Thanks Klaus for entrusting this great shakuhachi to me !

The funny thing is that at the same time, Nicolas sent me another kind of long flute to repair :

A huge 3.0 Taimu from the regretted Ken Lacosse – Mujitsu (one of his last shakuhachi made). It’s a beast made in an incredibly thick wide bore piece of madake; typically the kind of flute I am unable to play !

Here it is on the workbench :

To get an idea of how it sounds, have a look at Cornelius Boots videos.

It is rare that I have so long shakuhachi with me at the workshop; and having two at the same time with so different approaches of shakuhachi making was a luck and, as always, an opportunity to learn a lot for me.


Kaneyasu Dodo – 兼安洞童

I recently had the opportunity of restoring a beautiful shakuhachi made by the master Kaneyasu dodo probably in the 1930s.

Kaneyasu Dodo – 兼安洞童

Born in 1894 and died in 1981 (Shakuhachi gives long life !), he was a disciple of the great master Inoue Shigemi and is known for being the founder in 1928 of a kinko school where he taught both playing and making all his life long : Dainihon Chikudo Gakkan 大日本竹道学館.
This association is still existing in Japan nowadays.

The instrument I restored (actually for sale on the shakuhachi in stock page) is quite unique.
It is a 1.8 ji-ari shakuhachi made in a gorgeous thick piece of bamboo with several kinds of repairs.
My contribution to bring back this shakuhachi was to add 4 new rattan inlaid bindings and repair damages in the bore finished with a new lacquer.
Sealed with two different hanko, one of the maker and another one of the school.

This antique shakuhachi is now ready for a new life !


Some shakuhachi that you haven’t seen…

Since September, several nice instruments have been sold without any publication on the website…
I wanted to present some of them here !

1.8 Ji-nashi 1.8 for a Myoan player

A customer from the last year has fallen in love with the Myoan style which he’s learning with a French teacher based in Kyoto : Sébastien Shogetsu.
I made for him an excellent ji-nashi, with a very fine and flexible playability, from a piece of black French bamboo with a lacquered root in the style of antique flutes.
I’d be honoured that this instrument might be presented to the Myoan group in Kyoto probably next year !

1.8 ji-ari 1.8 from French bamboo

The last 1.8 Ji-ari I built from the bore design of the previously restored Tamai Chikusen.
A great shakuhachi, rich in tone and well balanced now played by a new commer i our French Chikumeisha group.

2.0 Ji-ari 2.0 from a piece of Madake brought from Kyushu

This nice Ji-ari with sobre aesthetic has a delightful dark and mysterious tone as the old kinko flutes I love.
Made from a piece of Madake offered by the woman I met by the bamboo grove where I was harvesting (see this article for the story).
This flute is now in Gunnar’s hand and I’m waiting for his approval…!


Restoration of a masterpiece shakuhachi

I recently had the chance to acquire a ji-ari shakuhachi from a renown maker Tamai Chikusen.

This maker on whom I have very few informations is very famous for being the master of most of the great nowadays makers (Takeharu, Kinya Sogawa, Yamaguchi Shugetsu, Tom Deaver…)

This ji-ari presented a bad large split on all the upper part and several cracks on the lower part.
Thus, with honour and respect, I carefully repaired this beautiful instrument with elegant rattan bindings and I’m glad to be able to repair such severe cracks (over 5mm wide !) without any glue in respect to the traditional way.

I was thanked by the flute itself when discovering its great powerfull haunting voice !
For now, I will keep this instrument for myself using it as a model for my own ji-ari.

New videos with Max Brumberg

Here are two new videos shot with my friend Max Brumberg flutemaker based in south-east France.

He got passionate about the antique Greek double reed Aulos and is part of the crazy few constituting the revival of this antique instrument…

Here is the meeting between Aulos and Shakuhachi :

And a solo where I play one of the shortest piece of the Honkyoku repertoire :
Ashi no Shirabe

Both of them played in the great acoustic of the Roman church of Fons a village near Figeac.

Chikudo Ji-ari Shakuhachi

For the last two years, I’ve been studying the making of ji-ari thanks to all the restoration work on fine flutes I was entrusted with. My goal until now was to be able to produce good ji-ari shakuhachi with non-madake French bamboos.

Here are then the last two ji-ari that I made which I feel satisfied with the result and want to go on improving.

Read more

A challenging shakuhachi repair…

This was the last (but not least !) of the shakuhachi brought back from London; it was entrusted to me by Jose Vargas a shakuhachi maker friend from Madrid. This repair was very challenging for me and a way to prove that even the worse splits can be repaired.

Here it is in the condition when I received it; it’s an old 2.6 kinko ji-ari very well crafted :

After a few days in warm humid atmosphere, the split was reduced from 6 to 2mm but not entirely closed. So I used hose clamps which enabled to close it some more before complete binding.

Finally, I couldn’t reduce the split less than a millimetre on its worse parts so I  infiltrated glue in it. Then I had to reshape the joint which was completely deformed and fill all the gaps in the bore with ji before complete lacquering with several layers of strong urushi.

It is very pleasing for me to be able to give its voice back to a nice shakuhachi; in a way I feel I’m honouring the maker’s work.

I hope that for a next badly cracked shakuhachi, I would be able to close completely the splits…