This type of ji-nashi is built in the ancient style of Edo period. I try to make these shakuhachi in the same spirit as the Komusō monks did.
I could learn about the characteristics of these fuke shakuhachi from several experts as the makers Dan Shinku and Maekawa Kōgetsu, researches from Shimura Zenpo and of course Kiku Day’s PHD Thesis on the evolution of ji-nashi construction.
The specificities of these shakuhachi making them very different from modern ji-nashi are mostly in the utaguchi shape and the design of the bore. Their playing is therefore less powerful in volume, rather intimate and much more focused on Neiro (tone colour).
The hole placement method being different, the tuning of these shakuhachi is less tempered with a typical Chi pitched higher than usual.
• Ji-nashi shakuhachi made in the ancient style of Edo period
• root-end or ground-cut bamboo usually thinner
• Myoan style deer horn inlay at utaguchi
• Dark red Neri Bengara urushi
Hochiku – 法竹
The Hochiku is a ji-nashi shakuhachi made to be as natural as possible, without adding any ‘ji‘, urushi lacquer or inlay at utaguchi.
It is usually longer and larger than usual shakuhachi.
This type of flute has been popularized by Watasumi Doso, the iconic Rinzai monk who developed techniques of breathing and playing and a dedicated repertoire for this type of long ji-nashi.
The main tonal difference is the harmonic complexity due to the irregular natural bore of the bamboo. It is then up to the player to adapt and discover its acoustic richness.
• Long wide bore ji-nashi
• ‘natural’ bamboo tone
• no inlay at utaguchi
• no lacquer
(Optional : dark red Neri Bengara urushi)
With ji-nashi type of shakuhachi, the work on the bore is done only by removing material (only enlarging bore diameter is possible); there is no ‘ji‘ plaster added enabling to reduce bore diameter. (ji-nashi means “without ‘ji‘)
Thus, the difficulty is to find a piece of bamboo with the natural shape of the bore corresponding to the desired proportions.
What results is a wider diversity of tonal qualities for this type of shakuhachi. Each flute is very unique and my duty as a maker is to try to get the best acoustical balance for each piece of bamboo.
For some of those shakuhachi, I would feel necessary to add just a bit of ‘ji‘ at some resonance critical points to achieve a good balance of the tone.
These shakuhachi are then called ji-mori.
The ji-nashi shakuhachi I build in Atelier Chikudo are classified in three grades of quality : * , ** , *** , marked on the instrument next to the hanko (signature).
• Roots-end bamboo (french bamboo or japanese madake)
• Kinko inlay at utaguchi
• Natural bore without ji plaster
• Black urushi lacker
The ji-ari(lit. “with ji“) is a rather modern development in shakuhachi making history. During the XXth century, the makers had to adapt to a growing demand from professional shakuhachi players searching for concert flutes, with a powerful and rich tone and a perfect pitch on 3 octaves.
The knowledge in the physical acoustic of shakuhachi, have led the makers to use the ji plaster (mix of gypsum and urushi) in order to build up entirely the bore of their flutes corresponding to a precise design measured with gages.
These ji-ari shakuhachi are then constructed in two parts to make the work on the bore easier. The two parts are assembled in a tenon joint called nakatsugi.
The making of such instruments requires a lot of time and experience and are also demanding on the maker’s playing skills in order to test properly all the possibilities of his instruments.
I build my ji-ari shakuhachi from either French bamboo or Japanese madake that I harvest myself.
Two-parts shakuhachi (nakatsugi-kan)
Use of ji plaster for optimal resonnance
Rattan rings at the joint parts
Red urushi Shu-no-moto
Stainless steel rings + rattan or cherry bark
Handmade silver rings + rattan, cherry bark or urushi artwork