As known from the
Kyotaku Denki, Kyotaku was a name already used for shakuhachi in former
times. Here is the story how Koku Nishimura came to name his flutes
From the book "Koku",
which is about Koku Nishimura's life, and translated by Agar Kyosui
According to the ancient book of “Kyotakudenki”, the Kyotaku is a
bamboo wind instrument developed in the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 907
AD) by Chohaku, a disciple of an odd Zen monk Fuke. Chohaku’s flute
was designed to imitated the tone of Fuke’s “Taku” bell, as used in
mendicancy (religious begging) and was constructed with no finger
holes, able to make only a single pitched note.
During mendicancy, Chohaku would follow Fuke. just as the Taku
bell's sound`boon' would dissipate into the air, Chohaku would reply
the sound `buun'made by his bamboo flute - this is why it was called
(“Kyo” means false ).
However that flute and its name have disappeared a long time ago.
Now a bamboo flute called 'Kyotaku' has been created by me, Koku
I have utilized very old traditional bamboo flute making techniques
. After a number of researches and trials, I was finally able to
complete my own Kyotaku design, which is a secret traditional craft.
With deep low sounds we can calm down our minds more than with
shallow high sounds. The longer a bamboo flute become, the lower
sounds it makes.
Originally, my bamboo flute design had no name, however the flute
came to be called Kyotaku after I was invited to a meeting of
(Shiko Munakata, Kan Misumi, Katsukiyo Koyama, Kanji Koyana, Koume
Akasaka) at the Nihon Club in Yuuraku-cho, Tokyo in 1954. At that
time, I played a piece of music ‘Ajikan’ with my bamboo flute ;
after listening to the music, they understood that my bamboo flute
was quite different from Shakuhachi in terms of its length and
sound, and that it needed its own name suitable to express the
originality of this bamboo flute.
I told them about the story of Fuke and Chohaku and they agreed that
Kyotaku was the appropriate name for the bamboo flute. After the
meeting, the bamboo flute I created came to be called Kyotaku.
In creating a Kyotaku, the resonant qualities of th bamboo, that is,
the sounds from Nature are vitally important and should be taken
care of carefully- So far it has not possible to create Kyotaku
through computer science.
The quality of each Kyotaku is highly dependent on the quality of
the whole bamboo.
In Japan, there are now several dedicated schools (Dojyo) to learn
Kyotaku, and at each Dojyo, the Dojyo-master teaches his followers.
Abroad, there are also many eager followers and fans of Kyotaku - in
Denmark a CD called “Kyotaku” was produced and was sold
I am always impressed to hear Kotaku played around the world.
Kyotaku is played only for the true classical music of Zen.
Presently many people enjoy the majestic sounds of Kyotaku. And they
are now trying their best to hand down Kyotaku to the future
generations of our world.