The shakuhachi and its music

Authored by: Tsukitani Tsuneko , Charles Rowe

The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9780754656999
eBook ISBN: 9781315172354
Adobe ISBN: 9781351697613


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The shakuhachi is a bamboo vertical ‘notched flute’ born in China and developed in Japan. It is extremely simple in shape, with a sharp blowing-edge (utaguchi) at one end, on the side of the cylinder opposite the performer, and five fingerholes, four on the front and one thumb-hole on the back. The standard length is one shaku eight (hachi) sun in the traditional Chinese measuring system (one shaku equals ten sun); hence the name shakuhachi. The Chinese characters shaku and hachi are pronounced chi and ba in modern Mandarin. A shaku/chi in Tang-period China (618–907) was shorter than today, so that one shaku eight sun was 43.7cm, whereas in Japan today it is 54.5cm

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