The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Dozan Fujiwara
Dozan Fujiwara
“Traditional +” vol.4 – Traditional Instruments of Japan Today
(Dec. 8, 2013 at Spiral Hall, Aoyama, Tokyo)
Organizers: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo Culture Creation Project Office (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), Tokyo Traditional Arts Program Executive Committee
Traditional +
Dozan Fujiwara
Dozan Fujiwara
Artist InterviewArtist Interview
Mar. 28, 2014 
Dozan Fujiwara, exploring the potential of the Shakuhachi, in the pioneering spirit of a great master  
Dozan Fujiwara, exploring the potential of the Shakuhachi, in the pioneering spirit of a great master  
The shakuhachi is a traditional Japanese five-holed bamboo flute played by blowing against the sharpened but reed-less mouth. On February 10th of this year, the master shakuhachi flute player Hozan Yamamoto, who pioneered new possibilities for the shakuhachi during the first contemporary boom in traditional Japanese music (Hogaku) popularity in the 1960s and later rose to the rank of Living National Treasure, passed away at the age of 76. He collaborated with jazz musicians from Japan and abroad, including Gary Peacock and Yosuke Yamashita and created new music fusing Hogaku and Western music, like the epoch-making work Ginkai done with the Kikuchi Trio. As a student of Hozan from his middle school years, Dozan Fujiwara (born 1972) acquired exceptional technique and became the leading new face among shakuhachi performers in the world of traditional Japanese Hogaku music from the 1990s while carrying on the spirit and legacy of that great master. Since his days as a student at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Dozan has been involved in a variety of collaborations, and since his debut as a performer in 2001, he has not only been active as a live performer of the traditional repertoire but also performing in units including KOBUDO with cellist Nobuo Furukawa and pianist Takeshi Senoo and a marimba unit with SINSKE, and with orchestras in Japan and abroad and worked with contemporary music composers in experimental performances, actively spreading the appeal of the shakuhachi to a growing audience. In this interview on January 23, just a month before the news of his teacher’s passing, Dozan took the time to speak with us about his artistic activities and the appeal of the shakuhachi flute.
Interviewer: Junko Hanamitsu

First encounters with the shakuhachi

Could we begin by asking you to tell us about how you first became involved with the shakuhachi flute?
I began learning to play the shakuhachi when I was in the 5th grade of elementary school. I had come to like playing the recorder [an instrument played in the Japanese elementary school curriculum] and had continued playing it. My grandmother at our family home was a flute teacher and she suggested that I try playing the shakuhachi. That led to my first encounter with the instrument. Since there is no such thing as a child-size shakuhachi, I was barely able to [reach and] cover the holes with my fingers and at first I was unable to get any semblance of a true sound out of it. Until then I had never encountered an instrument that I couldn’t get a sound out of, so it was a big challenge and a shock for me. Since I was also a smaller boy in physique, I couldn’t begin to match the volume of breath that the adult around me had. So, I began searching for was on my own to get a decent sound out of the instrument. I believe now that if the shakuhachi had been an instrument that I had been able to get a sound out of from the beginning, I would never have gotten into it as much as I did. It may be that that initial period of trial and error to find ways to play it is the reason I am able to play the shakuhachi in such a variety of ways today.

How did you come to study under the great master shakuhachi player Hozan Yamamoto?
My first teacher passed away at an old age, and for a while after that I studied under a younger teacher until I reached a certain level. Then I was introduced to Hozan Yamamoto during my second year in middle school (8th grade). By that time I was able to play a number of pieces to some degree, so rather than being “taught” to play by master Hozan, it was more like a process of listening to his sound and then trying to “steal” what I heard and make it my own.

Hozan-san was one who pioneered new possibilities for the shakuhachi during the first contemporary boom in traditional Japanese music (Hogaku) popularity in the 1960s with new experiments like playing in collaborations with jazz musicians. What kinds of influence do you feel he had on you as a shakuhachi player?
He had a very big influence on me. I believe that I am able to be active as a performer in the ways I am today because of the areas master Hozan pioneered. I feel that I have always watched him [from behind] and tried to follow his example.

Do you feel that there are any particular musical experience thus far, including those involving Hozan Yamamoto, that have had an especially significant influence on you and your career?
Since my grandmother was a koto (traditional Japanese 13-string zither) teacher, the sound of koto practice was always a part of daily life, and since my father and mother loved music too, I was surrounded by the sound of Western-style music including classical Western music as I was growing up. Also, my uncle was a jazz pianist, who taught me some things about the principles of jazz. Although it was before I began studying under him, I listened to an album of master Hozan performing with the jazz pianist Masahiko Sato and imitated some of it by ear. So, I believe that being able to watch master Hozan and his avant-garde musical activities from my middle school years was a very important experience for me.
During my middle school and high school years, I wanted to hear everything I could involving the shakuhachi, so whenever I saw the word shakuhachi on the TV schedule page of the newspaper or in FM radio magazines I would make sure to listen to the program. From the NHK (national broadcasting company) program “Contemporary Music” I developed an interest in contemporary music as well. I also went to performances and get there 30 minutes early so that I could be in line to get one of the best seats at the very front.

After high school you entered the traditional Japanese [Hogaku] music department of the Faculty of Music at the national Tokyo University of the Arts.
When I was in middle school, I went to the campus festival at Tokyo University of the Arts once and was deeply inspired by the occasion, with all types of music to be heard here and there around the campus, and that experience made me decide that this was the university I wanted to go to. My interest was tending toward contemporary music when I went to university, so I took a lot of courses of the type that students studying to become composers took. As a result, I was fortunate to become friends with people like Kyo Ichinose and Motoharu Kawashima who are now composers. I went on to graduate school at the university and then worked as a teaching assistant there, so I ended up being at Tokyo University of the Arts for eight years.
While I was at the university I organized a variety of live performances that eventually led to my making a debut as a performer. Among my first activities as a performer were making an album with a koto and performing at clubs. Since I knew a lot of koto music, I was valued as a collaborator and invited to perform in many places.

The spread of shakuhachi music in the world

Before we ask you about your current musical activities, would you tell us some background about the shakuhachi as an instrument? For many Japanese, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word shakuhachi is the image of a mendicant Zen priest playing it in period films or period dramas on TV, and I doubt that there are many people who have heard an actual performance.
It is said that the roots of the Japanese shakuhachi were introduced to Japan from the continent [China/Korea] in the Nara Period (AD 710 -794) along with Gagaku court music, and an example of that “Gagaku shakuhachi” still exists in the Shosoin historical collection from that period. However, in the ensuing Heian Period (AD 794 – 1185), the musicians became like public employees and gradually decreased in numbers, with the Gagaku performers among the first to be dismissed. In the ensuing Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333), whether it had managed to remain as a thin thread of the original tradition or was reintroduced from the continent, we don’t know, but one record accounts that, “the recently unseen shakuhachi has reappeared for the first time in 100 years,” so we know that at reappeared that time. However, we cannot be sure that it was the same type of shakuhachi as the one we know today. Also we know that in the Warring States Era (16th century) an approximately 30 cm flute similar to today’s shakuhachi and called the hitoyogiri became popular among the samurai class. The famous warlord Oda Nobunaga played one that was later passed on to succeeding warlords Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu and then the Edo Period (1603-1867) lord (daimyo) Tadateru Matsudaira and is now preserved in the Teishoin repository in Suwa.
Finally, it was sometime in the Edo Period that the shakuhachi as we know it today took shape. At the time, only mendicant priests of the Fukeshu sect of Zen were officially permitted by the government to play the shakuhachi and receive alms. But, apparently common people also played it, and it appears that mendicant priests also taught people to play it as a way of making a living. However, Fukeshu was abolished after the change of government with the Meiji Restoration (1868), which threatened the existence of the shakuhachi, but persistent shakuhachi players petitioned to allow it to remain as a common musical instrument without religious affiliation.
The basic external appearance of the shakuhachi has not changed since the Edo Period, but since the Meiji Period (1868-1912), it has evolved in use with measures to increase its sound volume by means such as applying an inner coating of lacquer mixed with wet-stone grindings or gypsum to make a coating called the ji. Also, in order to facilitate playing along with other instruments, some people have taken practical measures such as increasing the number of finger holes to seven or nine.
Since each piece of bamboo used in making a shakuhachi is naturally different and the flute is made by hand, there are no two shakuhachi flutes that are the same. The craftspeople make the flutes based on the individual characteristics of the piece of bamboo used. And by the way, I own about 50 shakuhachi flutes, among which there are about 14 or 15 that I use often.

It is a very simple instrument in form, but when I hear you play, I am amazed at the unimaginable variety of sounds you can get from it.
The greatest appeal of the shakuhachi as an instrument is its range of tonal qualities. I don’t think there is any other instrument that can let you enjoy such a wide range of tonal qualities. In order to play with beautiful melodious sound, Western instruments have evolved toward unified sound in terms of tonality. For example, the violin evolved from gut strings to steel strings and [Western] flutes were given keys to make it easier to produce sound with unified pitch and to make it easier to change from one key to another in the music. However, these changes have made the tonal qualities of the flute homogenous. In contrast, with the Japanese shakuhachi, the tonal variance has continued to be been important quality that has been preserved.

We often hear the expression “kubi-furi sannen” (three years of learning head-work), which refers to learning the techniques for using head movement, including the up and down movement of the chin, called meri and kari and the lateral shaking of the head, called yuri that are used to get the great variety of sound out of the shakuhachi. In this sense, playing the shakuhachi seems to be a very physical kind of performance.
Yes. In the use of the breath as well, there is a sense of drawing up breath from the ground and the feeling that the music is born in the body. In terms of performance method, it is made up mainly of the three elements the breath, fingering and head-work. There is a type of breath called fah that is a kind of “undulating breath” made up of a combination of the uniquely shakuhachi-style breath and the sound of the instrument itself and we make variations in the tonal quality of the sound by fluctuations in the strength of breath as well. Pitch is controlled by the way you cover the finger holes. And the movement of the head is used to create a vibrato effect and create breadth in the pitch. Since these three elements are used in combination to create each sound produced by the shakuhachi, it is actually a much more complex instrument to perform on than it may appear.

What are musical scores for the shakuhachi’s like?
There are two main schools of shakuhachi performance, the Kinko School and the Tozan School (Tozanryu) that I was strained in, and the musical scores are written by a different set of rules for each school. Originally, the music came first and the scores were written as a form of notation to help the performer remember the sounds produced with the body and the instrument, so you can’t play the actual music simply by reading the musical score. Today’s shakuhachi scores have notation for how the finger holes are covered and how the head movement is used. For one octave there are nearly 20 combinations of the two, and of course there are also instruction manuals. But still, the shakuhachi is not an instrument such as the piano, where pressing a key produces one specific sound, if you haven’t heard the sound of a piece being played, you can’t replicate it simply by reading the score. There are things like intervals that aren’t in the notation, so you have learn the piece by listening to it and always keeping in mind the unique atmosphere of the piece until you memorizes it physically.

So, the biggest appeal of the shakuhachi is the potential for infinite variety of sound, it seems. In the past, you have said that you can’t produce sound that isn’t already within you, and that makes me wonder where the original sound is born?
It is difficult to put in words, but in the case of the traditional pieces, the sound is born in the process of listening to the performances of your teacher or masters of the past and then trying to find that sound. The sound doesn’t just come to you all of a sudden. It isn’t as if you are playing and you make a sound that sounds good to you and then you immediately begin to use it. Rather, the sound is born from a sense that you carry with you constantly in the manner of, If this piece comes along, this is the kind of atmosphere that I want to create as I play it.

I have heard that shakuhachi players are always composing pieces as well. About how many pieces are there for the shakuhachi in all?
I have never counted them, but in our Tozan school alone there are enough to fill about three bookcases, so there is quite a large number, both in the traditional repertoire and in new pieces. The pieces in each school can’t be played unless you are taught them, so there are naturally some pieces that are only played by one school or the other. In the past, the rules were strict and you could not perform a piece publicly before you received the permission of your teacher to perform it, but now we have the scores and the recorded performances, so it is possible now to learn a piece to some degree by yourself. However, there is still a lot you will not know unless you actually receive instruction in a specific piece.

About how many people are studying and performing on the shakuhachi in Japan today? In one report I saw an estimate of about 30,000.
There are an increasing number of people today who are learning the shakuhachi but don’t belong to either of the schools, so it is difficult to say what the shakuhachi population is. There are also an increasing number of women studying it today, and it is being taught at places like culture centers. If you ask at one of the schools’ offices you can find out about the number of places where it is being taught in each locality. There are active shakuhachi teachers all around the country today.
I believe that overseas as well there are a growing number of people who are familiar with the shakuhachi. In the Czech Republic there is an annual Prague Shakuhachi Festival where people come to learn to play the shakuhachi in a live-in workshop atmosphere, and I have been asked to go this year as a guest instructor. There is also an International Shakuhachi Festival organized by the International Shakuhachi Kenshu-Kan held once every four years since 1998 in a different country each time. This was launched thanks to the efforts of the late shakuhachi artist Katsuya Yokoyama, who was the one who performed the shakuhachi part in the premiere of Toru Takemitsu’s composition November Steps, a work commissioned by the New York Philharmonic. I served as one of the jury in the contest of the 2012 festival held in Kyoto, and there were entries from Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and all parts of the world, and most of them were quite accomplished.
Since last year, I have been teaching a shakuhachi course in the Hogaku department at Tokyo University of the Arts and I have students from abroad in that class as well. When I was a student at the university myself there were exchange students in my class from America, Sweden and Australia. It may be hard to believe, but in the Hogaku department there are more overseas exchange students in the shakuhachi course than in any other. Part of the reason may be that the shakuhachi is easier to maintain than most traditional Hogaku instruments. There are also people who are making shakuhachi flutes abroad today.

Did November Steps play an important role in winning recognition for the shakuhachi overseas?
Yes, I think it did have a big effect. Since it is a work the deliberately focuses on expression of the differences between Eastern and Western culture, it had an especially strong impact on Westerners. At first, I think there were many people who interpreted it as a meditative work, or Zen music, but now it [the shakuhachi] is appreciated as a performance instrument. There are now artists overseas who are actively uploading their [shakuhachi] compositions on YouTube, and they are very interesting, so I recommend that people watch them. This contemporary face of the shakuhachi is something that perhaps the Japanese are least aware of.

Encounters with people give birth to new worlds of music

What kinds of performance activities are you involved in today?
The activities I am continuing on a regular basis are those of our “Kobudo” ensemble with cellist Nobuo Furukawa and pianist Takeshi Senoo and a marimba unit consisting of myself and Sinske. Working in collaboration with performers from other genres of music stimulates me in new directions and it also provides opportunities for people who have only been familiar with Western-style music until now to be exposed to Hogaku music, and this has had a good effect on all of us I believe. I have also worked with the Volkhard Steude Quartet once every few years and we have recorded an album. I will be touring with them in Japan this year as well.

Last year, I was involved in the “Traditional+” series, a project that introduces appealing new aspects of the traditional arts from a contemporary perspective, and you performed for us in it. The performance was at the free performance space Spiral Hall in Tokyo and you performed a new work by the composer Kyo Ichinose with an ensemble consisting of four of your students at the Tokyo University of the Arts. It was a highly experimental performance in which speakers were set up to create a “surround sound” environment for the audience area and Ichinose-san edited the sound of you playing solo and the shakuhachi ensemble’s performance in real time to be played from the speakers. The result was a sound experience that made me appreciate anew the rich variety of tonal color that the shakuhachi is capable of by creating a layered effect of multiple shakuhachis and enabling free-form changes in the direction of the sound.
I wanted to make the most of that opportunity to give the audience a very special experience. I believe that “music is people,” and rather than having some specific musical objective, I find joy in discovering new worlds of sound through encounters with people I meet. Rather than being interested in some specific instrument or genre of music, I am interested in sounds that are unique to a specific person, sound that only that person or artist can produce. Things that are good are good, things that are delicious are delicious, regardless of whether it is Chinese cuisine or Japanese of French cuisine, I gladly accept delicious food as delicious. And, that is the attitude I approach music collaborations with.

How do you approach the task of working the shakuhachi into [Western-style] classical music?
It is a difficult point to explain, but I would say that when I join in with an ensemble, it is something like changing clothes. The appearance and the atmosphere change if I am wearing Japanese kimono or Western-style clothes, and if you are dressed casually or formally, but the “me” inside the clothes is the same. In that sense of changing clothes, I enjoy music in a variety of different forms. I don’t think about what the collaboration partner is expecting of me, I think about what is the most appropriate clothes to wear and then approach the music with a concern for what will fit the place and the occasion best.

The other day, you appeared as a guest performer in the “Drums & Voices” collaboration of percussion from Japan and six ASEAN countries sponsored by the Japan Foundation, and with very interesting results.
For that performance we were working from a pre-arranged score to some degree, but the music director Michiru Oshima told me to just play freely. But it was a case where I was stepping in to join a group that had already been touring together in a number of countries and had already consolidated their music as a group, so it was a bit difficult for me to enter into it as a latecomer. I was given the opportunity to do a couple of special rehearsal sessions with them prior to the performance so that I had an opportunity to think about what the most appropriate sound would be for me to add to the group. And then, I was able to take part.
It was very interest finding things we had in common and finding differences that were there. Today’s world is connected with information on the internet, and the differences in the ways we appreciate music are decreasing, so I feel that there is common ground where we can understand each other and share things. In collaboration with Asian artists the sense of rhythm is completely different from the sense of rhythm when working with a Western orchestra, and it may be a unique character of the Japanese that we are able to adapt and join in without much trouble. We are able to live in any country we go to and be able to perform there with a sense that there are Japanese living here too.

It seems to me that compared to [Western] classical music with its thorough analysis of the musical structure, the thought applied in the approach of shakuhachi music is completely different. How do you feel about this?
When I was in high school I was the drum major for our brass band who set the beat with the baton. When I am playing with an orchestra, I follow the score by ear to grasp the music and as I do, I am always thinking what the best sound from my shakuhachi will be to go with it. Unlike in the past, there are many Hogaku musicians today that have a basic background in Western music. There is a growing number of musicians that you could call musically “bilingual” or “trilingual” and can understand either Hogaku or Western music, and that is the kind of musician I want to be as well. It is a feeling like, when I speak Japanese I sound like this, but when I speak English the sound changes. It is like being able to switch musical style like switching languages. Whether it is music where you have to stay on beat or whether it is Japanese style free rhythm, and other aspects like making sound based on emotional input or intensity, we can understand both.

When a musician becomes bilingual, are there things that are lost as well [compared to concentrating in one tradition]? I seems to me that is the barrier that traditional culture comes up against eventually.
I believe that way of thinking is a bit extreme. Even with Kabuki theater, they don’t perform to candlelight anymore. They have adopted the modern technology of lighting and curtain-raising. That kind of change is unavoidable, ad I believe that the traditional arts always continue to change in this way. On the other hand there may be people who will try to revive the old traditional arts. I think the most important thing is that there be a lot of people who are trying a lot of new things through trial and error. If you are going to reach people with the traditional arts today, there has to be a lot of power in it in order for it to communicate successfully. I always feel that I don’t want to be doing the kind of music that sounds like an exhibit of the past in a museum.

Shakuhachi music was originally played by mendicant priests as a form of prayer, so it has a deep connection with words, doesn’t it?
That is true, and as such shakuhachi music is music born of the Japanese language. Japanese is composed of the five vowels a, i, u, e, o, and short syllables like ko, nn, ni, chi, wa, and each syllable is pronounced separately and with the same strength, which leads to a very strong consciousness of each sound. And, I believe that connects to our music. There is also a variety of regional dialects and accents in Japanese. That is reflected in shakuhachi music, where for example pieces from the northeastern Tohoku region have a distinctive intonation that seems to derive from the Tohoku accent, while the pieces from Kyoto are relatively lacking in excessive intonation. This type of intonation reflecting a certain accent is sometimes created by the use of head movement (yuri) and the tonality or “color” of the sound you produce. Even the same piece can change and take on a regional “accent” as it is passed on from generation in each region. Some shakuhachi players even go so far as to say that a piece from Tohoku has to be played on a shakuhachi made from Tohoku bamboo. It is the same as people saying that the rice of a region tastes best when it is cooked in the water of that region, but I am the type who is inclined to suggest cooking a region’s rice with water from another region to see what happens. That is the approach I take when I do collaborations with other musicians.

You also compose pieces. May I ask what composing means to you?
I guess I do it with the feeling that it is music that only I can compose (laughs). I would like to be able to compose pieces that only I can create. Rather than thinking of myself as a composer, I think of composing as part of my work as a performer, and though I can’t do all that much, it makes me happy when someone is really attracted to what I do.

An era when traditional music is learned at universities

In Japan, traditional music has long been something that was passed on within the relationship of master (teacher) and apprentice, but today it is now being learned as part of university curriculum. In recent years, the outstanding artistic activities of graduates of the Tokyo University of the Arts’ traditional Hogaku music department stand out especially. Since last year, you have been teaching as a full-time instructor at your alma mater, the Tokyo University of the Arts. How many students are there not at the school who have chosen to major in the shakuhachi?
Tokyo University of the Arts has an affiliated high school where I teach as well, and in all I there are now three high school students and 18 in the university and graduate school majoring in shakuhachi, including ones who are learning the styles of all the different traditional schools of shakuhachi. Of these, I am teaching 12 students in all. Compared to the past, I believe that their level of skill has improved significantly.
As selective courses there are also classes available in Western-style music. Among the courses I teach, there is one in which I teach shakuhachi ensemble performance. There are ensemble pieces in the repertoire, but until recently I had performed in them without really studying them formally. But, in my teaching now I am taking things a bit further and exploring more of the musical elements of them, including elements that in a sense represent a Western style approach.

Traditionally in the Hogaku field, the primary teaching method was to have the apprentice watch the master and copy (steal) what they could just by watching and listening. Is that method changing recently?
It appears that that old method isn’t enough today. But, for young people with a lack of experience in the field, I think there is a need to have to learn in that way by watching the performances of the old masters and to try to learn from them to some degree in order to understand why the music has evolved the way it has. If things don’t go beyond the level of personal self-expression—“this is my way, this is what I want to express”—then it remains no more than just a single person’s music. The traditional music is built on a background of contributions by a huge number of people, and I am teaching the students in a way that enlists the help of the people of the tradition. It is a real waste if students don’t try to learn from the masters of the past because they consider their music to be outdated. They should learn that the masters of the past are there to support the students of today.

At the schools (universities) today, is it possible to study the styles of the different schools of shakuhachi?
Yes. At the universities today it is possible to do many things that aren’t normally done. By taking advantage of the opportunities to broaden your perspective in that way also helps you see your own music (style, school, etc.) more clearly when you return to it after studying another style. The university today offers an environment where students have access to wide range of musical experiences, including media-based music.

What do you want to pass on most to the next generation of [shakuhachi] musicians?
First of all, I want them to listen to a lot of performances by the older masters. There are a lot of good music [performances, recordings] to hear. When it comes time to choose the essential sound that you want, you will not get far if you don’t have many good musical experiences. As you get older, your career will involve mostly [musical] “output,” so I want the young people in their teens and 20s who still have a lot of time to use that time to get as much “sound input” [musical input involving new qualities of sound] as they can.
It is easy now to search out and find great performances from the past on the internet, but ironically young people are listening to them less and less. It seems to me that the convenience of being able to listen to them whenever you want has in fact caused their essence to fade farther away in the minds of many young people. When I was a student, the music library at the university was like a mountain of treasure to me, and I listened to a great number of recordings [sound resources] there. In the old days, few resources were available and we often had to go out and search far and wide to find what we were looking for, and there was great joy and satisfaction when we finally found them. I think that experiencing that kind of joy is a very important thing. Young people today have so many resources available within reach that they don’t make the effort to go out searching very far. In this sense, convenience has its sad consequences and I wonder if it isn’t making people less hungry and denying them experiences of the satisfaction of achievement.

Do you feel that the intensity of each sound and the use of interval (ma) has changed with the times or with the generations of shakuhachi performers?
When I was around the age of 20, I would express the weight of a piece of music by slowing the tempo. But, as I have gotten older, I have become able to use what you might call the intensity of the sound to bring greater depth of meaning to the music so I can express the weight without slowing the tempo. I believe this is a matter of experience. As for the use of interval, I have long employed intervals that are slow and perhaps too long. I think that has been my way of bringing weight to the music or creating dramatic tension.
In contrast, I feel that the performances of younger players today flow from one element to the next too quickly or easily. I was raised in a traditional Japanese house with tatami mat floors and sitting on the tatami at a low table to eat and such, so I haven’t felt much difference from the old music environment, but I do believe that the changes taking place in today’s life environment is causing changes in our perceptions. But sound is something that you are not aware of if you are not listening for it, so I believe that I personally have to be constantly generating that kind of sound. If you are constantly hearing something, it becomes the standard, so if it is traditional music, I want performers to create the solid type of sound that the traditional classics are built on. Because, I want the next generation to hear the kind of sound that we heard.

Today, Hogaku has become part of the required elementary school curriculum and outreach programs for the schools are increasing in number. This seems to me to be a good opportunity to increase the number of people who listen to Hogaku music.
I have participated in the outreach for schools and I want the younger generation of musicians to actively create more opportunities like that to have contact with children and the audience in general. There is also a need to use the media to spread our music, and from April I will be appearing regularly on the NHK program “Nihongo de Asobo” (Let’s play using the Japanese language). In order to expand the audience base, there is a need to develop new methods different from what has been used until now, and I trust that good quality efforts will always succeed in communicating something positive.

Finally, I would like to ask you about your plans and hopes for the future.
Since I have a desire to experiment with new worlds on sound on a slightly larger scale, I want to form a larger Japanese traditional instrument ensemble and conduct activities with it on an ongoing basis. I feel that I am now in the preparation stage for realizing this kind of activity. With this aim I have been reaching out in search of new connections and I have hopes that it will lead to some new involvement. The “Traditional+” event recently was a good example of the kind of things I want to continue to do, things that will lead to new discoveries, things that the next generation will find interesting. For me personally, it was going to concerts and hearing things that I wanted to learn to be able to do that has gotten me to where I am today. Things would continue if we don’t find new interests or make new discoveries in that way. I have reached the age where I want to help provide such opportunities, so I believe that I have to work hard now to do lots of things that will stimulate and inspire the younger generation.