About the Schools of Shakuhachi
There are two types of school if we divide them generally :
The Kinko school (Mountain type) and the Tozan school (Moon type).
The Kinko has features which is known as “the classical and individual part” while the Toyama has a “uniquely western part”.
This seems to be a contradiction but the fact that they all have upheld the magic of traditional Japanese musical instrument - Shakuhachi.
How to select Japanese timber bamboo.
In the winter, although it’s very cold,
we go to bamboo forest to carefully choose the best bamboo materials for making Shakuhachi such as thickness,
roundness, internode, hardness, and color, etc.
After that, we will exploited be best bamboo and transport them to Shakuhachi maker.
We will check and select the materials carefully one more time, then store them at warehouse. We do it in every year.
For the Shakuhachi makers, The happinest is that they can find out the best material for making Shakuhachi,
although they have to pass through many hardships such as going to bamboo thicket in the winter to find out good materials for making good Shakuhachi.
It seems that all of my youth experience is so worthy.
At the making process,
we choose the materials (length from 39,4 cm to 76.6 cm) from the warehouse,
then straighten out the bamboo joints. We dry them by fire and straighten out them by using a vise.
Natural bamboo is very curved, and it seems that there is not straight bamboo in the nature.
If we don’t straighten out them, the next Shakuhachi making process will be influenced by this shortcoming,
in spite of the fact that there are some bad circumstances such as the material is crumpled and broken because of not being able to endure.
After clearing rough surface of the bamboo, we will have glossy products.
After the bamboo is straighten out, the master will use asaw to cut the root of the bamboo.
The bamboo that is just exploited from the mountains usally have many dust in their roots,
this makes them become havier and look bigger. Because of this,
the master must take out the dust, and cut out its roots.
Then, the bamboo will be driend under the sunlight.
In this stage, the master will drill a hole of the joint.
The master will note the places that need to drill hole from the lower pipe to the mouthpiece,
in orther not to make mistake when drilling hole. The hole on the pipe must be made correctly,
it’s must be circulary, if not, the Shakuhachi will sounds strage because of the leaking air.
Drilling the hole at the right place, and make sure the joint will not leak air are the works of a master.
The hole must be carefully checked and drilled to make sure it will be in the right place.
The joint of the Shakuhachi must be made properly,
so that the upper pipe and the lower pipe can be connected perfectly.
In making the joint of the Shakuhachi, the masters usually make the cirlcle joint.
The upper pipe and the lower pipe of the Shakuhachi must be made perfectly fit,
not to tight, not to loose. And must be made sure that there is no slit leaking air out.
It’s must be perfectly connected.
Making mouthpiece of Shakuhachi has two type:
the Moon type –mouthpiece of Tsuko, and the Mountain type – mouthpiece of the Kinko.
The material to make the mouthpiece usually are ivory and buffalo’s horn.
And the 24k gold will be embedded on the mouthpiece. Every Shakuhachi factory has its own style of making mouthpiece,
but to make sure that Shakuhachi user could easily using Shakuhachi and playing the music on user’s own style,
our Yozan Factory still making this style of mouthpiece.
Because the mouthpiece is making of buffalo’s horn. So that the mouthpiece cound easily be damaged by the worms. And because this part is which decides the sound of the Shakuhachi, the master must making it carefully.
When making the Shakuhachi, if the material is so shortage, the master can use other material to make the Shakuhachi. And the shape of the Shakuhachi can be made differently due to the style of the making master.
After finish making the joint,
mouthpiece and the holes on the Shakuhachi are drilled,
the master come to fix the inside of the Shakuhachi.
First of all, the master will use a file to cut all the bamboo joint inside the Shakuhachi from the the end of the pipe up to the mouthpiece.
This cutting process is so hard that making the hands of the master full of swelling.
At the end, the master mixes up the color and the polishing powder in the water,
uses a stick putting the mixture in the inside of the Shakuhachi.
I will play many times,
listen the sound and rely on my seasoned hands as well as the feeling of using knife and measure tools whereby we file and make up the mixture inside the shakuhachi creating the precise sound.
Sometime i fall in concentrating state and be able to complete a series of stages rapidly.
Everytime i have difficulties, i usually recall what my teacher taught, therefore, i can find out some new ideas for completing products.
After syntonizing, I color the inside of shakuhachi. In terms of Kinko type, back is used and red is used for Tozan type.
I use a pen brush to finish this stage. After completing coloring, I syntonize one more time because the sound of shakuhachi may be changed due to this.
Rings of shakuhachi
Three ropes in the middle of flute is made by using a copperplate,
a silver rope and a gold rope. They are bended so as to be fit with the flute and then they are sticked.
They are fixed by glue in the top and below of flute.
The master will use a file to cut the excess silver - wire and gold - wire,
then use paper to polish it, make it look so shiny. Then the master will use the rattan scroll around it, and finish.
And if you don't like this ring of Shakuhachi, you can choose to stick the silver accessories on it.
Decorating and shading
Rolling by three basic rattans
The middle of flute is shined and sheep skin is shaded uniquely and wiped by paint.
Another part and the bamboo’s cover gloss is increased.
I rub the bamboo joints and color them, then use goat skin to rub again in order to make its colors become brighter.
I scrape the bamboo’s cover of the other parts to make its color more pretty.