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

 It is well known that bamboo grows very quickly, but the record for fast growth is more than one meter in a 24 hour period. It takes 3 monthes for a bamboo to mature form a sprout to a bamboo capable of reproducing. After that time, it does not grow any bigger. Also from the time it is a sprout, the number of joints is already fixed, and the distance between joints is determined by the time the sprout emerges above the ground level. [From Nomura Takaya, Take : kyōi no seicho no shikumiy, (Japanese Association for the Study of Bamboo, 1982)] 
 Photograph 5 shows the madake bamboo that is the raw material of the shakuhachi. Thetrunk of the madake is 13-18 ce ntimeters in diameter, and it has a length of more than 5-10 meters. The joint of the madake takes the form of a double ring-shaped protuberance. Two branches grow out from these joints. There are about 5000-7000 leaves on each branch, and about 20-60 joints on each bamboo. [From Ueda Kōichirō, Bamboo, (Mainichi Shimbun Press, 1971) Photograph 5 shows a bamboo grove.

 The shakuhachi is manufactured using only a certain part of the bamboo tree--the portion that extends from the subterranean portion to that which extends about 1 meter above ground. The part of the bamboo that is underground has 30-40 strong thin roots that spread out in several layers surrounding the trunk. The subterranean stems, which are stronger and thicker than the roots, extend long and thick like a net. And even smaller roots extend from the subterranean stems. For this reason, earth fissures seldom occur in a bamboo grove and there is the saying in Japan, “in case of an earthquake, seek refuge in a bamboo forest.”

 The harvesting of bamboo is referred to as “digging”, not “cutting”. Bamboo cannot be dug out at any time, but is limited to certain seasons. The best time is from November to January. Around this time, the moisture in the bamboo is at its lowest point in the year, and there are few insects. In other words, this is a period when the activity of the bamboo slows down.
 Digging bamboo requires a great deal of experience and physical strength. It is the desire to make a good instrument that spurs on this work.

 The Chinese poet Wang Wei, who wrote during the latter half of the eighth century during the Tang period, left behind a poem about bamboo that tells of a poor scholar who was so poor that he cannot take proper care of his garden. The small paths that run through it have become overgrown, but even so it has pine trees and chrysanthemums. The scholar
has so many books that it would take five horse-drawn carts to carry them all, but when an important guest comes he can only offer a meager repast of boiled vegetables. But visitors come anyway---in order to gaze upon his beautiful bamboo trees.

 Wang Wei was a poet, a scholar, and a painter. He loved the natural scenes of mountains and rivers and was proud of his great number of books and his fine bamboo forest, although he was poor and had only rough food to eat. Thus, he left behind this poem. As this poem suggest, the bamboo forest was a place where wise men gathered in order to escape the mundane world. From long ago,then, bamboo was something that drew the human spirit.

 Photograph 6 is a close-up of a bamboo grove. One can discern the double ring-shaped protuberances and that the stem and leaves are the same color.

Photograph 5

Photograph 6

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