Teaching Shakuhachi in Spain and Other News


Teaching people about shakuhachi, Spain, 2024

I held a little shakuhachi ‘show and tell’ here in Rota, Spain. We were at a beautiful overlook of tumbling green pines and the sparkling blue sea. In the photo I’m holding an unworked root end or ‘blank’ and I’m telling all who would listen about how shakuhachi are constructed. It went really well thanks to Liz translating my flat American English into flowing Spanish.

I haven’t had new photos of myself up here for a while. I’ve since taken the Zen Buddhist Precepts, received a Rakusu 絡子 which is around my neck in the photo, and I shave off my hair now.

As for my name, Josen means ‘Eternal Spring’, as in a water spring, and the Kanji are 常泉. It’s both a Chikumei and a Kaimyo or ‘Bamboo (shakuhachi license) name’ and ‘Dharma name’. Both are given by ones teachers after many years of dedication.

The Rakusu is supposed to pay homage to the robes Siddhartha Gautama Buddha mended together from scrap fabric. For mine I chose bamboo green and I plan to craft a bamboo root ring for it once I’m back in the shop (it’s common for people to replace these rings and you sew the Rakusu so that it can be easily taken out). In this way, I can also honor that sacred plant which gives me so much in life.

It bears the crests of the two head temples of the Soto Shu 曹洞宗 sect of Zen, Eiheiji and Sojiji 永平寺 總持寺. With both the Precepts and the shakuhachi title of Dai Shihan, I know I will endeavor to live up to them for the rest of my life. It’s about the effort, about caring, and making any small contributions that I can in my short lifetime.

The wooden platform we were on was built over top of an old concrete gun bunker from WWII… Now, delicious nettles sprout out of the cracking concrete and moss materializes. (Moss once proliferated so much across the earth that it caused a ‘mass extinction event’ in the form of an ice age, or so I’ve been told… I love moss and forgive it of its past transgressions…)

Afterwards, me and Liz harvested some of the seaside nettles which we fried up. They taste amazingly close to nori thanks to growing in sandy sea soil. What a treat!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *