The KSK-Europe project

Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshūkan

(International Shakuhachi Institute)

KSK – Chikushinkai

in Japan and Europe

The Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshūkan (国際尺八研修館), “KSK”, often also known as Chikushinkai (竹心会, Bamboo-Heart Association), is a modern school of shakuhachi with deep roots in the traditions of Japanese music. It was called into being by Yokoyama Katsuya, one of the great shakuhachi performers of the 20th century. Having trained in a number of lineages and musical forms, among them Kinko (starting with lessons from his own father Yokoyama Ranpō), the music of Fukuda Randō, and the honkyoku (“original pieces”) transmitted by Zen- and shakuhachi-master Watazumi Dōso, and also maintaining the old tradition of being simultaneously a performer, a composer and a maker, Yokoyama Katsuya came to international attention through his performances of works by Japanese composer Takemitsu Tōru and others.

Through this engagement with the contemporary music world, Yokoyama Katsuya became known internationally, and travelled extensively outside of Japan. He soon came to the realization that the international interest in the shakuhachi called for an organization which permitted non-Japanese shakuhachi students to obtain training at a high level and on equal footing with Japanese students. To fulfill this need, he created in 1988 the KSK, the “International Shakuhachi Institute”, which he headed until his death in 2010. Yokoyama Katsuya with the KSK organized the first World Shakuhachi Festival in 1994 in Bisei (Japan); and both Yokoyama-sensei (up until his death) and the KSK, have been central to the organization of all subsequent world shakuhachi festivals.

The KSK is currently led by senior disciples of Yokoyama-sensei, amongst them Furuya Teruo (current director), Matama Kazushi and Kakizakai Kaoru, all of whom have been guests at festivals and summer schools in Europe and elsewhere on several occasions. Numerous non-Japanese students have studied with Yokoyama-sensei and his senior disciples, including Horacio Curti, Jim Franklin and Véronique Piron, now living in Spain, Germany and France respectively. These three players hold Shihan (master’s) licenses from Yokoyama-sensei, a certification which authorizes them to teach the material of their branch of the traditional/classical Japanese art form of the shakuhachi. Although they have had different teachers within the KSK, all three share similar views on key aspects of the understanding of the instrument, its music and its transmission. Accordingly, they have been collaborating on various projects for several years.

As a consequence of increasing interest in Europe in the shakuhachi, and during discussions with Furuya-, Matama- and Kakizakai-sensei in 2014, they were strongly encouraged to establish and coordinate a European branch of the KSK.

They carry out this task together, as well as individually, through performances, workshops, and teaching in numerous European countries, focusing on the key repertoire areas of the KSK: koten-honkyoku (classical honkyoku), music for traditional Japanese ensembles, and contemporary music, involving the encounter of the shakuhachi with other musical instruments, genres and cultures.

This endeavour aims to offer a platform through which the KSK’s understanding of the shakuhachi and its diverse musical practices may be made available to others in the West, and especially in the European region.

Underlying this project is the desire to continue the transmission with the generosity these three players have experienced from their own teachers.

This website offers information about the teacher/performers, a schedule of workshops and other activities, and details of available materials (from CDs and DVDs to notations among others) related to this understanding of the shakuhachi and its musical practices..

Véronique Piron, Jim Franklin, Horacio Curti