Section l : Process of Digging Out Bamboo

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quotation:The Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments the SHAKUHACHI
                 Tokyo Ongaku-sha Co.Ltd 1990

引用:楽器の事典 尺八
         (株)東京音楽社 1990年発行

 The bamboo is a perennial evergreen tree that grows in many places within Japan. For Japanese, the sight of bamboo trees growing together with those trees that have colorful leaves in the autumn is not at all unusual, but there are many foreigners who are impressed by the beauty of this scene. Scientists differ on how many varieties of bamboo exist, but generally it is classified into 13 genera and 230 species. The bamboo used to make the shakuhachi is the type called madake. Specialists on madake are divided on whether it is originally native to China or Japan, but it can be thought of as native to Japan. Madake grows south of Nanawa-mura, Kitatsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture 〔located roughly at 42 degrees north latitude〕, so we do not findt it in Hokkaido. In the past, it was attempted to make a shakuhachi according to modern methods using hachiku bamboo, which was used for the ancient gagaku shakuhachi, but the bamboo split during the manufacturing process. Hachiku, then, is not appropriate for the modern shakuhachi production method, and
presently only madake is used.

 Not all madake can be used to make the shakuhachi. It can only be made of the madake that grows in Japan. And the best material is that which grows in Western Japan in relativly hilly areas not close to the coast, rivers, lakes, marshes, and ponds. Photograph 4 shows the scene of madake growing in a grove. This is a sight that can be seen anywhere in the southern part of Honshu. For making the shakuhachi, bamboo that is 4-5 years old is most suitable. If it is younger, it tends to be too soft and if it is older, it tends to be dry and to split easily, so both kinds are inappropriate.

 The first step toward making the shakuhachi is to choose the bamboo grove. Experts can tell by gazing at a grove from a distance whether or not there is madake growing there that is suitable for making the shakuhachi.

 Long ago, madake was also called nigadake[“bitter bamboo”].This is because its sprouts, which are also used as a foodstuff, have a slighlty bitter taste. In China too there is a variety of bamboo that has this name, but although it is a species of madake, it differs from the Japanese variety. ln Chapter 46, we touch upon this subject.

A prop from the Noh drama that is made of bamboo.

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