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Travels with my shakuhachi

I have about 20 shakuhachi. I'm not a so-called collector, these are all used for performances. The majority of these I chose and purchased. Some are gifts from shakuhachi makers. Some were given to me as a keepsake and I'd like to talk about my very first shakuhachi.

1.8 maker unknown

The first one is a 1.8...shakuhachi maker unknown. Over 40 years I've been using this shakuhachi, since childhood. It's a shakuhachi for practice and it's not an expensive shakuhachi at all. My father Yodo Kurahashi lived in China for about 10 years with his family, before I was born. He came back to Japan at the end of WW2 in dire poverty. He lost two of his children due to starvation and lost all his shakuhachi as well. His sister's husband was very sympathetic and he gave Yodo-sensei a very cheap exercise shakuhachi to use for a while until his fortunes changed. My father's life became a little better later on and he was able to get a little better shakuhachi, so this cheap excercise shakuhachi was put in the closet, and soon after, I was born.

When I was in elementary school I found this old shakuhachi covered in cobwebs at the back of a closet. I declared that this was MY shakuhachi and I began my practice with this flute. My father told me that when I became a little better player I should buy a better shakuhachi. Anyway, I kept on using this shakuhachi. When I was in university the shakuhachi cracked and I had it repaired by the second generation maker, Iida Sesshu, and after repair this flute became much better, though still a cheap practice flute. It was not made with modern, highly developed technology. It is hard to make a sound and it's hard to move my fingers around and I often became frustrated because it was so hard to manage. I was told that I could not become a fine player using this flute but after repair, such a sweet sound emerged from it that I fell in love with it. This shakuhachi is full of defects but because of it's sound I cannot let go of it. Often I have been frustrated with it but it has been with me now for over forty years.