TONE: Introducing Shakuhachi, Traditional Japanese Bamboo Flute (In Japanese)    
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Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Japanese, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian,Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Greetings sweet viewers, and welcome to Enlightening Entertainment. When traditional instruments meet contemporary tunes, it creates a fresh new ambience that is nevertheless close to our hearts. The Japanese ensemble, TONE, is one such inspiring encounter. TONE was founded when the talents of three artists came together in 1988 in Hokkaido, Japan. Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka plays shakuhachi, the Japanese traditional bamboo flute. Ms. Mihoko Ono plays koto, a Japanese traditional stringed instrument, and Mr. Ryoichi Soyama plays guitar.

Together, they create a unique blend of old and new. While the bamboo flute plays leading tunes with its spacious and melodic sound, the guitar provides a gentle accompaniment, and koto adds a shimmering effect. Moreover, their compositions in Western musical scales give these traditional instruments whole new roles.

The TONE members use their music to depict the majestic natural scenery of their native Hokkaido. From “the sound of the sea” to “the mountain pass,” from “summer rain” to “snow flurries,” each piece is a musical portrait of their homeland; each note is composed with love and a sense of nostalgia in their hearts.

Now, let us enjoy “The Ishikari River,” composed by Yukihiko Mitsuka. This piece vividly conveys the vibrant energy of the longest river in Hokkaido, the Ishikari River, following the water’s course from the snowy mountains through the lush plains to the vast Pacific Ocean.

What a wonderful and expressive performance! Although the shakuhachi has a humble appearance and a simple design, it is capable of producing a great variety of sounds. Historically, shakuhachi is related to the Zen Buddhism. The wandering Japanese Buddhist monks, or komuso, played it as a means of attaining enlightenment or for its revitalizing effect. Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka is not only a shakuhachi player and composer, but also a famous shakuhachi maker.

We call it a Japanese traditional musical instrument, but rather it is a folk musical instrument. Among folk musical instruments, it is very unique, because they have been repeatedly trying very hard to make it better although it is such a simple musical instrument. We would like to make a good musical instrument with the best performance possible while dreaming of making it up to even a world-class standard.

Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka is the head of the Senshu Shakuhachi Studio. Many renowned shakuhachi players perform with the fine instruments that he crafted.

I wanted to make varied music using bamboo flutes by myself, but good ones were not available in those days when I began 20, 30 years ago. Thus, I thought that it might be possible to make a musical instrument, because it seems to be not so difficult to make one. In addition, its material is bamboo, and we have a lot of them in Japan. So I thought maybe I could make a better flute, and that was why I started to make it.

For more than two decades, TONE has been giving concerts throughout Japan. Their music has also been appreciated through meticulously made albums. The modest shakuhachi flute thus has brought a peaceful state of mind to many listeners.

When we return, we will continue our program featuring the Japanese ensemble, TONE, and its lead performer, Yukihiko Mitsuka. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to Enlightening Entertainment on Supreme Master Television. We now continue our interview with Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka, a famous shakuhachi maker and performer with the unique Japanese ensemble, TONE.

As a concert shakuhachi player, Yukihiko Mitsuka always seeks the best quality of sound on shakuhachi. This is what motivated him to make shakuhachi of his own. He tells us about the origin of the name shakuhachi, which interestingly was taken from “one foot, eight inches.”

This one has the standard length of one shaku and eight sun according to the Japanese measuring unit. I took shaku and eight (Hachi) to name it such. Therefore, it is such a musical instrument that the length of the musical instrument became the name.

Could you teach us about a characteristic of the bamboo flute?

First of all, it is made of bamboo. This kind of bamboo is a long jointed bamboo. Speaking of a long jointed bamboo, it seems to be a very special one, but it is a widespread bamboo found in every neighborhood, and is utilized as a clothes pole in the Japan. Once upon a time, it was used for a filament material when Edison invented the electric bulb, and it is a bamboo with high density. Because it is believed to be very good for a musical instrument, I use this type of bamboo grown in Japan.

A bamboo has knags which are fixed in number. This bamboo flute contains seven holes, and the 7th hole is a mouth to blow. And another interesting point is that there are two holes between the 4th and the 5th, and three holes in between till the next knag.

And the numbers of holes between two knags are fixed regardless of the size of a bamboo flute. This one is very long, but it has two holes between two knags, and three holes in between till the next knag. Only this is fixed. It can be a characteristic, yes?

According to Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka, it takes years of dedicated work and great patience to produce a good shakuhachi.

As I said some time ago, a long jointed bamboo grows up tall in a month or so. I obtain a bamboo which has lived fully till the limit of its life expectancy, and let it dry in a dark place for about five years. The right bamboo is very hard and becomes high in density, and is good for a bamboo flute.

A good shakuhachi emits a deep, airy, and soulful sound, making the art of playing it a meditative tradition. In fact, the technique of playing the shakuhachi rests in a relaxed mind.

When you actually blow one, when you try to make any sound, you try hundreds of ways to blow, but the point is rather to shape your mouth so that you blow up your breath in a faraway direction. A bamboo flute can make sounds regardless of where your mouth is placed on.

You just relax, and try not to do anything, and then it will work. It is better not to do anything more. You do not need to make such a particular face. You often make a strange face to blow, but you cannot make any sound. So, without expectation, do not do anything. Nothing is difficult in this sense, I think.

Please share with us your plans of activity here in this studio and your future prospects.

What we do is an activity in which we make bamboo flutes and perform music using our musical instruments. This is one of CDs we have produced ourselves, and we’d be happy if, through our activities, we can make many people know that bamboo flutes are very wonderful musical instruments.

Now, let us enjoy the following performance by Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka and his ensemble, TONE, titled “Our Own Way.” This harmonious and lighthearted tune seems to encourage us to keep walking towards our dream. After all, every one of us has “our own way.”

We thank Mr. Yukihiko Mitsuka and the other members of TONE, Ms. Mihoko Ono and Mr. Ryoichi Soyama, for sharing with us such beautiful music. May you continue to be inspired to create more soothing melodies that comfort our souls.

Joyful viewers, thank you for joining us today on Enlightening Entertainment. Now, please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, next after Noteworthy News. May your days be brightened with celestial music.

The ensemble TONE’s music CDs are available at
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July . 2020