Kumamoto Trip, 2004

Jul 1, 2017

In November, 2004, I had the great opportunity to travel to Kumamoto, Japan, in search of knowledge, and great bamboo. This was my first trip there, and was possible only through the extreme kindness and efforts of Jeff Cairns, an ever-talented shakuhachi teacher and performer, to scratch the surface. Through Jeff, I also received a very gracious welcome from Tsurugi Kodo sensei, his father, Tsurugi Kyomudo sensei, and the entire Tsurugi family. The knowledge, expertise and lineage of the family is vast, and their kindness in sharing a little bit of it with me was, is, a wonderful thing!

It was a short trip, focused primarily on building techniques. In one week, I did manage to experience and absorb many other amazing aspects of the shakuhachi… history, harvesting (take hori), curing (abura nuki), playing techniques, the witnessing of world-class, traditional performers, how to treat urushi lacquer rash, and even my first, official public performance on the instrument (“Taki Otoshi no Kyoku”).

For a shakuhachi builder, it was a trip of a lifetime… for anyone, it was a window into the incredible respect, kindness and hospitality that is the true nature of Japan. Since my still camera became somewhat goofy on my first day there, the photos below were taken as digital-stills from the many hours of video shot as reference, and are low res. Sorry!