Flute (shakuhachi - 尺八 (しゃくはち / ryuteki - 龍笛)

The shakuhachi is a traditional bamboo Japanese flute. It was used by Zen monks as a meditation tool. It's name refers to it's size (one foot and eight tenth, 55cm). A shakuhachi has five holes, four on the front and one at the back. Other kinds of flutes closely related are also called sahkuhachi even it their length and number of holes do vary.

The monks of the Fuke sect were aloud by the Shogun to move freely around Japan to perform their art. They were used sometimes as spies and the Shogun had also his own spies disguised as Fuke monks especially as they perform with a basket hiding their head. Samurai stories often refer to this.

If the shakuhachi is played by blowing at one end, the ryuteki is a bamboo transverse flute. It's name means 'dragon flute'.


Woodblock print of a flute player by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Fuke sect monks style performing with shakuhachi [source]




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