“With whom can I discuss this philosophy?

I’ll be silent, since so few can follow my tune”

—Ch’i-chi (864-937), translated by Burton Watson, The Clouds Should Know Me by Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China.

Nagara no Haru

“Nagara no Haru” is a rehearsal recording featuring Kurahashi Ayako-sensei on shamisen and vocals.

Azuma no Kyoku

“Azuma no Kyoku” is a traditional honkyoku piece in the gikyoku style which accentuates a steady rhythmic structure (reminiscent of Chinese music).

This is the final posting of “Kyoto Meditations.”  I would like to thank everyone who offered comments during the past year.  It has been gratifying to know that these recordings reached so many listeners in all parts of the world.


Yugure no Kyoku

June 20, 2010

“Everything that is authentic is sacred”—Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double.

Yugure no Kyoku


May 30, 2010

“Suzuki Roshi said, ‘If I die, it’s all right.  If I should live, it’s all right. Sun-face Buddha, Moon-face Buddha.’  Why do I always fall for that old line?”—Philip Whalen, “Walking beside the Kamogawa, Remembering Nasen and Fudo and Gary’s Poem.”


A piece in the nezasaha tradition.


May 9, 2010

“Like bamboo shadows on the steps, they can’t be swept away.  Like the moon moving across the water, it doesn’t leave a trace”—Pao-t’ung, qtd. in The Heart Sutra, translated and commentary by Red Pine.


The nezasaha school from Japan’s northern Tohoku region emphasizes a pulsating breathing technique.


April 18, 2010

“…Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.”
— F. R. Scott (1899-1985), “Villanelle for Our Time.”


Long associated with the defunct Futaiken Temple in Sendai (the site is now a parking lot), “Sanya” (“Three Valleys”) is the quintessential honkyoku piece.

“Hifumi Hachi Kaeshi”

March 14, 2010

“Poetry is where you find it, not where it says it’s at”—Ed Dorn.

Hifumi Hachi Kaeshi

“One-Two-Three, Return the Bowl”—a literal translation of the title, “Hifumi Hachi Kaeshi”—is a traditional piece played by mendicant komuso monks while on pilgrimage.
N.B. I will be in California for the next two weeks.  I will resume podcasts on April 4, 2010.  Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement.


February 21, 2010

“We see him [Arthur Rimbaud] victimized by the illusion that freedom can be obtained by external means”—Henry Miller, The Time of the Assassins.


Horai is a sacred mountain in Chinese and Japanese lore.  Traditionally, the region represents a timeless heaven on earth, as well as a kind of fountain of youth, a place where no one grows old, where all diseases are cured, and the rice bowl is always full—in contrast to Prince Siddhartha’s initial discoveries after venturing outside the palace walls.  The music is a standard piece in the komuso repertoire.

“Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said.  You might want to think about that”—Cormac McCarthy, The Road.

Chikugo Sashi / Iyo Renbo

Two short pieces from the zen music repertoire (honkyoku).

“Sanya Sugagaki”

January 10, 2010

“To achieve personal peace in active joy in this century [twentieth] perhaps more than any other has meant dropping out of the current power structure.  Since the Second World War for many men this has meant finding a viable alternative to the dragging decay of Christian capitalist democracy and the delusions of extreme leftist reform associated with the Depression and the Thirties.  In the Forties and Fifties this alternative consisted in forms of ideological refusal to held captive by the history of the West”—Eric Mottram, Introduction to The Scripture of the Golden Eternity by Jack Kerouac (1970).

Sanya Sugagaki

“Sue no Chigiri”

January 3, 2010

“That’s what we all are.  Amateurs.  We don’t live long enough to be anything else”—Charlie Chaplin.

Sue no Chigiri

Recorded in Osaka, Japan, June 14, 2008, featuring Nakano Mikiko (shamisen and vocals) and Kurahashi Ayako (koto).  Introduction by Kurahashi Yodo II.