Kumoi Jishi

Kumoi Jishi is one of the canonical pieces of the Kinko-ryu. But some people think that this is not the Kumoi Jishi that Kinko Sensei played. The title may refer to a lion dancing in the sky, or maybe he’s in a field of peony flowers, accompanied by flocks of butterflies, or the name may refer simply to a particular tuning of the koto. The lion was a mythical creature in traditional Japan, so it’s not the lion we know from the actual world, and may in fact not be a lion at all, but a magical deer or dog. Welcome to the vague and misty world of shakuhachi musicology: many firmly held opinions, not much data.

This piece is unusual for being played mostly in the upper octave. It is light and lively, if it is played that way, and not suitable for meditation. Or it can be played in a slow and stately manner, in which case you can meditate your heart out playing it. I play it here in 7:30 minutes. Kurahashi Yodo II, my Japanese teacher, plays it in 10 minutes.

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