Thursday, October 4, 2012

Videos from 29 September 2012 Phoenix AZ Shakuhachi Friends Concert.

29 September 2012 Phoenix AZ Shakuhachi Friends Concert.

Kaoru Kakizakai playing Sanya at 

Kaoru Kakizakai playing Sagariha 

Kaoru Kakizakai playing Shingetsu (Heart Moon)

Kaoru Kakizakai playing Gekkou Routeki


Kaoru Kakizakai Performs Amazing Shakuhachi Concert!


DSC_0025  Beyond the amazing music, I really enjoyed seeing the faces of the audience. I had set up my video camera and was seated off to the side. From my position, it was easy to see the audience's faces. We had a large number of people who'd never heard the shakuhachi before. There was also about half-dozen shakuhachi players in the crowd. The faces went from almost jaw dropping awe and steady fixed gazes to those that had a child-like  glow to their face.
We had a nice turnout and after the concert, Kakizakai hung out and answered questions.

DSC_0061 (2)
Kakizakai did get to be a tourist while he was here in the Phoenix area. Barbara showed him around and he even met some of the locals.
If you like the sound of the shakuhachi or are just interested in it please check out our web site for more information. We have monthly gatherings where everyone is welcome even if you've never seen a shakuhachi, come on out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Master Shakuhachi Flute Player Kaoru Kakizakai to Give Concert Sept. 29th.

kakizahai 2 Internationally recognized Japanese shakuhachi flute master Kaoru Kakizakai will be performing a concert of solo works of secular and spiritual music that spans the centuries.

Saturday September 29th at 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Ticket pricing: $15 and Students and children under 13 year of age $10.

At the Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Sanctuary
Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation
6400 W Del Rio, Chandler, AZ 85226


Kakizakai was born in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture in 1959 and started playing the kena while he was in his teens. At 21 he started playing the shakuhachi in the Kinko style. His teacher recognized an unusual ability to play so he recommended him study with the master, Yokoyama Katsuya. He graduated from the NHK Traditional Music Conservatory and is the winner of the prestigious Kumamoto All Japan Hogaku competition. He has recorded with Yokoyama sensei on his CDs and videos and is a popular leader of shakuhachi workshops for the International Shakuhachi Training Center (Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan) in Tokyo. He has performed extensively in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia and is a faculty member of the Boulder Colorado summer intensive camps as well as the Australian Shakuhachi Festivals. Currently he is research fellow at the Tokyo College of Music, full time instructor for the International Shakuhachi Kenshukan and NHK Culture Centre and President of the International Shakuhachi Kenshu-kan Chichibu School and Higashi Yamato School.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alcvin Ramos’s Web Site and Video!


Check out Alcvin Ramos’s web site. It’s wonderfully done and has a lot of info there.

From His Biography

Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos lives a life guided by shakuhachi. If it were possible to hear the breathing of the cosmos; it would probably sound like the shakuhachi of Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos; simple, complex, intense, deep; his music is a visceral adventure of the soul, rich in heart and wondrous vibratory realizations. His flute sings to us everywhere the shakuhachi has been, concert halls, to caves, castles to campfires, ancient temples to living rooms; the summit of mountains to deep in the rainforests.

Alcvin was born in Japan to Filipino parents, attended school in the States, and now lives in the rainforests of BC, Canada. He is Canada’s leading teacher of the shakuhachi, attaining the rare level of Dai Shihan (grandmaster). He practices the traditional ways but enjoys exploring sonic worlds of other traditions and beyond. In high school, Alcvin first heard the sound of the horizontal Japanese bamboo flute (yokobue) in an Akira Kurosawa film called RAN, played by master Hiroyuki Koinuma and was deeply inspired to study shakuhachi. After studying Eastern Religions and Philosophy in University Alcvin returned to Japan to study shakuhachi for serveral years. Through his study of the shakuhachi in Japan, Alcvin has had the opportunity to travel through Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada and America learning about various cultures and arts. The shakuhachi continues to lead him to more adventures to fascinating and beautiful places and people through the playing and creation of music.

Alcvin is one of the foremost teachers and performers of shakuhachi in North America. He was the first non-Japanese to win a prize in the all-Japan Shakuhachi competition. In 2001, he received his shihan (masters) license from one of the greatest shakuhachi masters in history, Katsuya Yokoyama and one of his most exceptional students, Kaoru Kakizakai. In November of 2008, Alcvin received his Dai Shihan (grand master) license along with a new name, “Ryuzen” (Dragon Meditation) from another one of Japan’s greatest players and teachers, Yoshinobu Taniguchi. Previously known as Alcvin “Takegawa” Ramos, Ramos replaced “Takegawa” with “Ryuzen” to embrace the new stage of his development. Ramos is the first Canadian and first one of Filipino descent, and one of only a handful of non-Japanese, to receive this esteemed honour. Alcvin has also studied jinashi shakuhachi playing intensively with Atsuya Okuda of the Zensabo and shakuhachi construction techniques with Shugetsu Yamaguchi, Murai Eigoro, and John Kaizan Neptune.

Alcvin has taught and performed all over North America, Europe, and Japan and pursues an active solo as well as collaborative career and has played with many distinguished artists such as John McLaughlin, Bill Laswell, Toshinori Kondo, Hun Huur Tuu Mongolian Throat Singers, Kazutoki Umezu, Celso Machado, Joseph “Pepe” Danza, Uzume Taiko, Ma Jie, Mariano Gonzales, Danny Kalanduyan and has opened for Anoushka Shankar and the Yoshida Brothers. Recent bands he has played in: Dharmakasa, Isshin Denshin, Densabi, Maru, Grooved Whale Project, Haagen, and is presently leading the Samaya Ensemble. A composer and multi-instrumentalist, Ramos explores playing with different musical traditions from around the world as well as new ways of playing traditional instruments and combining them with synthesized and electronic music.

Ramos is also a craftsman who produces finely crafted jinashi (hocchiku) zen flutes. With an intimate knowledge of the koten honkyoku (traditional solo Zen-inspired pieces) and the structure of the flute, each of Ramos’ flutes is made especially for honkyoku playing. Ramos believes that honkyoku expresses and utilizes the total spirit-sound of the shakuhachi. Every few years, Ramos takes his shakuhachi students to Japan where they harvest bamboo for making shakuhachi and to visit sacred places around the country in order to deepen their understanding of the instrument. Ramos lives in Canada, where he is the director of the Bamboo-In, a shakuhachi retreat centre on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

He also has a page with playing tips and instruction

A Beginners Guide to the Shakuhachi from Byron Kopman on Vimeo.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taiko Experience 2012 with Fushicho Daiko Dojo at Japanese Friendship Garden, Phoenix AZ.

I just saw that the Japanese Friendship Garden (in Phoenix AZ) on March 24, 2012 has an event "Taiko Experience 2012" with Fushicho Daiko Dojo (including the opportunity to learn taiko with special ticket purchase).
You can check out their web site at

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tai Hei Shakuhachi Japanese Bamboo Flutes

Tai Hei Shakuhachi Japanese Bamboo Flutes are made by Monty H. Levenson.

I have several of his flutes and they are quality flutes each and every one. There 2 levels of student flutes and Professional versions.

You can also find shakuhachi accessories, playing guides & book, sheet music, recordings / CDs and flute making craft manuals, books & videos.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Shakuhachi Fingering Charts

Here are a number of wonderful fingering charts.


Tozan Fingering Chart by John Kaizan Neptune : Left part / Right part / Entire

Kinko Fingering Chart from Shakuhachi Society of B.C. : Left part / Right part / Entire

Kinko Fingering Chart from Japan World Music : Entire

Tozan and Kinko (old & new) Fingering Chart : Left / Center / Right

Very simplified chart (only ロツレチリ), can be useful for initiation workshops : Entire

From a posting in the ESS Shakuhachi Forum,


Also Check out the Phoenix AZ Shakuhachi Friends web site at



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Looking On-line Metronome

simplebestmetronomeI’ve been trying to build my tempo/rhythm skills. So I thought about going old school and getting a metronome. Then I came across this on line one that looks and works just like a real one.

I’ve tried digital ones but it helps me to have the visual of the the swinging arm.

This site has a few other links and things but big and in the center of the screen is a real looking metronome. There’s buttons down the right side to let you choose speeds from 40 BPM to 200!

If you’d like to try them out here’s their link:

Also don’t forget to check out our Shakuhachi group web site at

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Videos from 2012 Phoenix Matsuri Festival.

Kokin Gumi & Friends (Jim Thompson on Shakuhachi) performing at the 2012 Phoenix Matsui festival. Our group met up there to here the performance. Also the Matsuri festival is very cool stuff overall.

Don't forget to check out our web site at .

Friday, February 10, 2012

Good Days and Bad Days!

 To start with I’ve been playing for about 6-7 years now and feel like I’m doing well. I’ve got a small repertoire of songs I will do in public. I practice about 30 minutes most mornings and more often than not about 30 more either at lunch time or in the evening.


My lunch time paying is done in a local park so I can get used to performing in front of other people. I find a comfortable place and open my binder and run through my songs. Starting with Choshi, then Tsuki gusano yume (drean of moon grass), then into Azuma no kyoko, hama chidori and kojono ysuki. I’ve just recently thrown into my play binder Sanya. Normally I make it through my lunch music, sometimes well done, sometimes ok.


Here’s a bit of what I experienced today. Almost all of my playing started out so weak and thready I stopped playing and went through some scales to try and reset my embrasure. I’d have things going well for a bit then I’d lose it again. Especially the top end of Kan and meri notes, so chi meri and hi were REALY rough!


Ok, so I’m not asking for advice. I’m just saying that even after 7 years of fairly devoted practice, some days the shakuhachi can be humbling. So tomorrow morning, I'm back out for an ealry Saturday in the park and going at it again. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Had our February shakuhachi gathering, playing, instruction and party.

We had our February 4th Shakuhachi Gathering at my home in stead of our normal Scottsdale location. We basically had our normal agenda of mentoring and instruction but then we also had a party.

I live up in Cave Creek with an amazing few of mountains from our front porch. The space we used for the instruction was big enough for us to play flute without any issues. The room has great acoustics.  Steve and Howard, two new members to our group joined us. We had 6 players attend our gathering and it felt like everyone had a great time.

We also had some time for those who wanted to show off a bit and play for each other. Howard who normally plays the native American flute did a few songs for us.

My wife Bina made us some food for our party. Yummy stuff!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Go see Kokin Gumi & Friends at the 2012 Japanese Matsuri Festival

Kokin GumiThe The 28th Annual Matsuri Festival of Japan is on February 25-26. Featuring exhibits, demonstrations, arts and crafts, children's activities, bonsai displays, Japanese food, and 3 stages of live entertainment.

One of the performances if by a group called Kokin Gumi & Friends. Music with Traditional Japanese Instruments including Shakuhachi. Their performance is at 3:30 on the Plaza stage, lets all meet up there and see their performance.

There is so much more to see and do all day. check our there web site at Also it's FREE! You can also check out Mark Zemnick's site for photos from last year. . Again so much cool stuff to see. I'll be there most of the day and hope to see you at the Kokin Gumi performance.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The International Shakuhachi Society Info

 The International Shakuhachi Society is a world forum for people interested in the Japanese bamboo flute. It enables players, teachers, composers, ethnomusicologists and hobbyists to share information with a wide and sympathetic audience. On average they have over one hundred full time members.

Check out there web site at:

 The site contains special features and tools for members to track their collections, create Bio Pages, and list Events. We are working towards allowing members to contribute to many portions of the site.
The society focuses on the following topics:
The history of the Japanese musical instruments shakuhachi, koto, and shamisen.
The history of the Komuso monks.
The history of music compositions: Zen music, classical chamber music, modern music.
The notation and playing techniques of the various schools.
Information about musicians and recordings.A Komoso
Are you looking to meet other players in your area, access additional content, or contribute to the site? Then consider becoming a member. Dues keep the site alive and growing.
This site is a catalog of historical information, not a store. To purchase a shakuhachi or recordings, or find information about current musical events please visit our Sites & Events tab. We cannot advise you on where to find copies of recordings or sheet music since we don't know either. Unfortunately most are out of print. Your best bets are - Meijiro.
For an ongoing discussion of shakuhachi related topics check out the Shakuhachi Forum.
The information at this site has been compiled from various texts and contributions of our members. We have done our best to keep the information accurate but there are probably many errors and omissions, both historical and philosophical. With our member's help this site will constantly improve in quantity and quality.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Next Meeting Saturday 4 February!

Our next meeting that will be on Saturday the 4th of February should be a lot of fun!
Reminder, we'll be having it at my home not at the SNAP location. Also after we get done with out flute playing and instruction we'll be having our first group party.  So even if you can't make the 10:00 AM start of the instruction please come to the party at noon.

Since it will be a party, music is always welcome. If you've got an instrument you enjoy playing, any instrument at all, bring it along and lets have some fun. Maybe we can try some improvisation between the shakuhachi and other instruments.
Two weekends ago I went to Boyce Thompson Arboritium for a class to make a didgeridoo. It came out realy well and others are welcome to try it out.

Hope to see a lot of you there and of course bring a guest if you'd like. The more the merrier.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

–Buddhist saying and Ma

“Do not speak, unless it improves on silence.”

Within Shakuhachi music there is silence, between notes, between phrases. This is not emptiness, it has space and relationships. It is Ma ().
It is best described as a consciousness of place, not in the sense of an enclosed three-dimensional entity, but rather the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision.
Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements; it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. Therefore ma can be defined as experiential place understood with emphasis on interval.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shakuhachi: Kominato Akihisa and the Music of the Universe

Kominato Akihisa is a young virtuoso on the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. In the hands of a virtuoso like Kominato, the shakuhachi can express a wide range of emotions, almost like a human voice in song. By bringing a spirit of innovation to the rich traditions of this historical Japanese instrument, Kominato has delighted audiences around the world. In this video, Kominato introduces the history and diversity of the shakuhachi, and performs a special piece accompanied by piano.

Our Next Meeting is January 7th at 10:00 AM

Hello All,

Our next gathering of the Phoenix AZ Shakuhachi Friends will be this Saturday the 7th from10:00 AM to about noon.

Come one, come all and check it out. As always we'll be at SNAP Scottsdale neighborhood arts place.