“Murasaki Reiho” (Live)

October 14, 2009

An impromptu performance of “Murasaki Reiho” recorded October 10, 2009, at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan.  Performed here by Kurahashi Yodo II and Houser Keido as part of the commemorative festivities marking the founding of the shrine—1298 years since a god first alighted on the sacred site.  The messenger of the god, as well as the icon of a shrine dedicated to successful business, is the fox.  As is often the case in Japan, various activities occur simultaneously during a festival.  The drum heard here, for example, was located some distance from the stage and accentuated the prayers of the devoted.  Families, pilgrims, and tourists can be heard strolling about, conversing, munching on snacks, inspecting religious and secular wares for sale, and generally enjoying the day (the weather, following a typhoon, was beautiful, sunny, and warm—unusual for Kyoto at any time of the year).  We feel the our performance reflects the merry mood of the celebration and corresponds to the robust character of the alleged composer of “Murasaki Reiho,” the beloved musician, poet, artist, tea master, and zen monk Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481).

Here’s a poem by Ikkyu:

A single shakuhachi laments sorrow difficult to bear;

Blowing it, one enters into the song of a barbarian flute at the frontier.

In the city, at the crossroad, whose tune is it?

Among the students of Shao-lin, I have no friends.

(trans. Sonja Arntzen)

Murasaki Reiho (Live)


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