The words written in Chinese characters, or kanji, on either side of my photograph both say "Reibo," though with different characters and meanings. To me they represent two fundamental aspects of playing shakuhachi honkyoku. Those on the left, written by Jin Nyodo, use the character for "bell" plus the character "bo" meaning "to seek or yearn for," whereas those on the right, written by Furuya Teruo, use the character for "spirit" along with bo. The former is much more common, and is said to refer to the story of the spiritual ancestor of all shakuhachi players, Fuke Zenji, who, rather than play a flute, rang a bell to awaken others to the teachings of the Buddha. The character rei on the right, meaning spirit, has been simplified, but originally consisted of the characters for rain (still extant in the simplified version), plus a pictograph of raindrops falling on dancing shamans. So rather than the concept of an inner spirit, or external spirits, it has the sense of the spiritual power one conjures through a practice such as the playing of honkyoku.

For me, honkyoku playing at its best embodies both aspects of reibo depicted above. In societies with a strong metaphysical heritage, even if that heritage is dying out or is not intrinsically relevant to a practice such as playing honkyoku, it seems that the metaphysical tends to outweigh the physical aspects of playing honkyoku. In other words, players focus more on the "spiritual" side of playing to the detriment of developing their technique and sound. Yet Fuke Zenji no doubt did not use a broken bell, and so when playing honkyoku it is important not only to develop one's spirit, but also to be able to produce a clear, powerful tone, as well as to have an instrument that can carry that tone.

The purpose of this website, then, is to provide the tools, in terms of guidance and instruments, to make that goal achievable by anyone willing to devote the effort. For me, the journey on that path has been thus far extremely rewarding, and I hope it can be as well for all who choose to follow it.