World Arbiter 2009

Japanese Traditional Music: Gagaku · Buddhist Chant

Gagaku • Buddhist Chant: recorded by Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai,1941

  • First restoration of rare recordings comprising a five cd series of traditional Japanese music.
  • Released May 24, 2011
  • $16.98, free postage within the US
  • On iTunes
  • On Amazon

Track List

Tracks 1-14 Gagaku Tracks 15-24 Buddhist chant

  1. Kumeuta
  2. Azuma-Asobi
  3. Taishikichô Chôshi
  4. Koma Ichôshi
  5. Etenraku
  6. Konron Hassen
  7. Seigaiha
  8. Chôgeishi
  9. Taiheiraku No Ha
  10. Taiheiraku No Kyû
  11. Batô [Kangen]
  12. Batô [Bugaku]
  13. Koromogae
  14. Kashin
  15. Shichisan
  16. Shakujô
  17. Kyôke
  18. Taiyô
  19. Ungabai
  20. Kassatsu
  21. Rongi
  22. Rokudô Kôshiki
  23. Shaka Nyorai Go-Wasan
  24. Reijô Nachi-San

World Arbiter 2009
Japanese Traditional Music
Gagaku · Buddhist Chant
1941 Recordings of the Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai

A historical background of the period of this recording.

An extensive anthology of traditional Japanese music was recorded -around 1941-42 by Kokusai Bunka Shinkô-kai: International Organization for the Promotion of Culture. KBS was established under the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs in 1934 for cultural exchange between Japan and foreign countries. In 1972 it became the Japan Foundation, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. KBS activities ranged from lectures, concerts, artistic and academic exchange, publishing books, photos, to producing films and records, establishing libraries and related cultural facilities abroad, among them this record set of traditional Japanese music1.

According to a description in the KBS journal Kokusai Bunka (vol. 16, October 1941), the ethnomusicologists Tanabe Hisao (1883-1984) and Machida Kashô (1888-1981), a phonetician Satta Kotoji, a music critic Satô Kenzô, the director of the international section at Tokyo Hôsô (forerunner of the current NHK) Tanomogi Shinroku, and KBS board member Kuroda Kisyoshi were involved in this project. Tanabe and Machida probably had strong roles in selecting the music. In July 1939, the first step in outlining repertoire was made and a sketch of the whole plan was completed in October 1941, yet a final version was not fixed until early 1942, as mentioned in a KBS annual financial report (Showa jûroku nendo jigyou houkoku, 26 June 1942). Comparing a list from October 1941 with the records published in 1942, the number of discs is similar but 20 percent of the music was substituted.

The collection comprises 60 discs (120 sides) arranged in five volumes, representing genres such as gagaku (court music), shômyô (Buddhist chants), nô (Noh medieval theater play) heikyoku (biwa-lute narratives of battles), shakuhachi (bamboo flute music), koto (long zither music), shamisen (three-stringed lute music), sairei bayashi (instrumental music for folk festivals), komori-uta (cradle songs, lullabies), warabe-uta children songs, and riyou (min’you) (folk songs.) Considering that the years 1941-42 were a daunting time for Japan in terms of economy and international relationships with Asian and western countries, it is remarkable that this excellent anthology was completed or published, as it contains judiciously selected works from various genres given by top level artists at that time. KBS’ recording project is of unique historical importance, culturally invaluable as a document of musical practices in traditional Japanese genres during wartime.

Very few copies survive: this CD is taken from a set once belonging to Donald Richie, a writer and scholar on Japanese culture (particularly on Japanese cinema), who gave it to Ms. Beate Sirota Gordon, known for her contribution to the establishment of Japan’s Constitution during the U.S. occupation after WWII. Gordon’s father, Leo Sirota, a piano pupil of Busoni’s, fostered many excellent Japanese pianists at the Tokyo Ongaku Gakko (Academy of Music, forerunner of present-day Music Department of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) during 1928-1945. Ms. Sirota Gordon gave the set to Arbiter’s director Allan Evans, who contacted this writer in the fall of 2006.

As KBS’ original purpose was to promote cultural exchange between Japan and foreign countries, the text is in both Japanese and English. It would truly be my pleasure if this revival of sounds heard 70 years ago once again brings to life the musical practices heard at that time.

Gagaku (‘elegant music’) is the oldest surviving musical tradition, with a history of more than 1,300 years. It has been developed and passed down, strongly associated with imperial court cultures. Gagaku in current practice may be divided into three categories, by origin and style; 1) indigenous vocal and dance repertoires, primarily performed in the Shinto ceremonies accompanied by several Japanese indigenous and foreign instruments; 2) foreign instrumental music and dances, tôgaku (music of Chinese origin) and komagaku (music of Korean origin) used in various court, Buddhist, and Shinto ceremonies, which consist of various instruments brought from the Asian continent; and 3) vocalized Japanese or Chinese poetry, saibara and rôei established in 9th century Japan, mainly enjoyed by high-ranking noblemen in rather informal court ceremonies.

The first category may be further divided into sub-genres such as mikagura, asuma-asobi, kumemai, ruika and the like. The two former genres, mikagura, asuma-asobi, are performed to praise the gods’ virtue, the rest, kumemai, and ruika are respectively associated with the emperor’s coronation and funeral. Mikagura is regarded as the most sacred music and has been performed in the heart of the Palace since the 11th century. It consists of four sections; 1) purification of the ritual site, 2) welcoming of a god, 3) entertaining the god, and finally 4) seeing off the god. Azuma-asobi is performed in ceremonies paying respect to imperial ancestral spirits on both spring and autumn equinoxes. It is also offered at important special rituals in such grand shrines as Kamo jinja (Kyoto), Iwashimizu hachimangû (Kyoto), Kasuga taisha (Nara), and others. Kume-mai is a dance for the Daijô-e, an emperor’s coronation ceremony, which commemorates the victory of imperial ancestors in local feuds. Ruika is sung at an emperor’s funeral, its text taken from one of the poems in the 8th century Kojiki myth. It is difficult for the public to witness these ceremonial musics, as they are strongly tied to sacred (and secret) Shinto or imperial annual events, or only performed during a special occasion occurring once in several decades, except for azuma-asobi, which is displayed to the public in some shrines.

In contrast, the second category of tôgaku and komagaku is the most frequently performed genre. This is large-scale instrumental ensemble music, sometimes accompanying a dance. Tôgaku and komagaku, are also called music of ‘the Left sahô’ and of ‘the Right uhô’ respectively and performed alternately in ceremonies. The tôgaku ensemble consists of a shô (mouth organ), hichiriki (double-reed pipe), ryûteki (transverse flute), biwa (pear-shaped lute), koto (long zither), taiko (large drum), kakko (cylindrical, double-headed drum), and shôko (bronze gong), while komagaku consists of a hichiriki, komabue (transverse flute, shorter than the ryûteki), taiko, shôko and san no tsuzumi (hourglass-shaped drum). Many tôgaku pieces can be performed in both bugaku dance form and by an instrumental ensemble without dance kangen. With bugaku, strings are not used. The differences between kangen and bugaku styles can also be found in the inclusion of dance, and in minute musical articulation regarding placements of stresses and breath-cuts in phrases. Music for bugaku is often played at a much faster tempo than kangen, usually with lively accents. Regarding komagaku, it preserves only the bugaku style today, even though it was also performed in kangen style until the 19th century.

Modes and Rhythm
Today, six modes are found in tôgaku theory, divisible into two groups, ryo and ritsu. Ryo corresponds to Myxolydian and ritsu to Dorian in Western modal theory.
Ryo (Myxolydian) group ­ Ichikotsu-chô: (tonic) key of D; Sô-jô: key of G; Taishiki-chô: key of E
Ritsu (Dorian) group ­ Hyô-jô: key of E; Ôshiki-chô: key of A; Banshiki-chô: key of B
However, throughout gagaku’s long history in Japan, some notes have changed or deviated from the authentic Chinese modal theory. Komagaku has three modes: Koma-ichikotsu-chô (E), Koma-hyô-jô (F#), and Koma-sô-jô (A).

Regarding their rhythmic aspect, all gagaku pieces may be classified as either non-metric or metrical. The main part of gagaku music is often preceded by a short non-metrical prelude, such as Bongen in tôgaku and Ichôshi in komagaku, heard on this disc. Metrical rhythm can be divided into duple (quadruple) or 2+4 meter (or 2+3 meter) types. The number of pieces in the latter two types, 2+4 meter rhythm called tada-byôshi, and 2+3 meter yatara-byôshi, are rather small in the whole tôgaku repertoire, but these rhythmic types are enjoyed due to their liveliness, often appearing in concerts. On this disc, a piece Batô is performed both in tada-byôshi and yatara-byôshi.

The bugaku of tôgaku and komagaku, usually combined into a pair and alternately staged, have often been performed at various ceremonies. For example, in the Heian period (9th to 12th centuries), a palace New Year’s banquet and services in Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples provided important occasions for bugaku performance. Music without dance was also played to accompany high-ranking aristocrats’ processions or during offerings to the gods or Buddha in a religious service. Noblemen are fond of playing and singing by themselves in a small and private salon concert called gyoyû, at which kangen pieces and saibara or rôei songs were usually enjoyed.

Musical Tempi
78-rpm records made before World War II had limited playing time. There is always the issue as to how the records faithfully reflect a period’s practice, particularly regarding tempo, since one side of a disc had a capacity of under four minutes. A practical decision was adopted for the KBS recordings: to document only a part of a piece in its customary tempo rather than attempting to contain an entire piece by adopting a faster tempo. Thus, the recorded music heard here could very well reflect the period practices.

If we compare the tempi of tôgaku pieces on the KBS set with those in Gaisberg’s 1903 recordings,2 the latter are faster than the former. Although all pieces are performed in kangen instrumental ensemble style (without dance) on the 1903 recordings, some are in fast tempo like the bugaku performance style. In contrast, KBS recordings were performed in either kangen or bugaku style, and the tempo of the former is much slower than the latter. Tempi in the KBS kangen are slowed down almost to our present-day’s style. If the KBS records reflect a contemporary practice, one may say that the current slow tempo kangen style was already established by the beginning of the 1940s.

Music Section of Imperial Household Agency
Kunaisho Shikiburyô Gagakuka (currently the Kunaichô Shikibushoku Gakubu)
Although the history of governmental organization for court music dates back to the beginning of the 8th century when the Music Bureau Gagaku-ryô was founded, the base for our present-day imperial court’s music section was established in 1870, soon after the Meiji Restoration (1868). From the 10th to the late 19th century, each specialty, such as the shô (mouth organ), hichiriki (reed pipe), fue (flutes), and strings, and some particular song and dance repertoire, was handed down in specific hereditary families. The newly established gagaku section Gagaku-kyoku in the modern period abolished this hereditary transmission system and made all specialties open to every musician. At the same time they also began learning western music for modern court ceremonies. Thus, post-Meiji gagaku musicians have had to master a wind and string instrument, all percussion instruments, songs, tôgaku or komagaku dances, and a western orchestral instrument. Although the exact names of the performers heard here are not clear, some of the forty musicians were hired by the court around 1943-44, 90% of which came from hereditary families. After 1945, the number of imperial musicians was reduced by half of the pre-War group (today we have 24 musicians). The ratio of ancient hereditary musicians is decreasing in general but new hereditary families arose from those who newly entered the gagaku circle and whose sons took up positions and musical traditions in the post-war court.

Note: Full text and translation of lyrics are printed in booklet accompanying CD.

1. Kumeuta was passed down in the Kume family, who served the Imperial family in the 7-8th centuries. As this old song commemorates an imperial family victory over a local lord, it is usually performed on the occasion of a new emperor’s coronation. The first half depicts the battle victory, yet the second half is a rather humorous telling of a domestic affair between a husband and wives. The second half is sung on this recording, accompanied by wagon (zither), shakusyôshi (clappers), hichiriki (reed pipe), and ryûteki (flute).

2. Azuma-asobi, originating in eastern country of Japan, is said to have been absorbed into court tradition during the 7-8th century. A suite of songs and dances, it consists of ‘Ichi uta’, ‘Ni uta’, ‘Suruga uta’, ‘Motomego no uta’, and ‘Obire uta’ with a prelude and interludes. Dance is performed in the ‘Suruga uta’ and ‘Motomego no uta’. This recording includes a prelude ‘O buri’ and ‘Ni uta’ in free rhythm, accompanied by shakubyôshi, wagon, hichiriki, and komabue (flute). ‘Ni uta’ starts with solo singing, followed by unison.

3. Taishikichô chôshi (bongen; tôgaku, taishiki-chô mode)
Tôgaku has six modes, one of which is the taishiki-chô mode, its tonic in E. Chôshi, similar to a netori, or tuning, is a prelude that establishes the atmosphere for the piece that follows. The shô (mouth organ) and hichiriki first play canonic phrases in free rhythm, then the ryûteki and kakko enter. The shô and hichiriki call their part chôshi, whereas ryûteki players refer to theirs as bongen.

4. Koma ichôshi (komagaku, koma ichikotsu-chô mode)
This is a free rhythm prelude in koma ichikotsu-chô mode (in E) usually performed preceding a main body of komagaku dance. The music starts with a dialogue between the komabue and hichiriki; later the san no tsuzumi (drum) joins in.

5. Etenraku (tôgaku, hyôjô mode, kangen)
‘Etenraku’ in hyôjô mode (in E) is certainly the most popular piece of the kangen ensemble. The music is in three sections. If we identify each section as a, b, c, the most common performance of this work would be: aabbcc aabb; an abbreviated version, aabb, is performed on this recording. It starts with ryûteki solo and kakko (drum) with shôko (gong), and in the tutti, other instruments, shô, hichiriki, and taiko (big drum), join in. Biwa (lute) and koto (zither) join afterwards.

6. Konron hassen (Hassen) no kyû (komagaku, koma ichikotsu-chô mode)
From the dance repertoire. in koma ichikotsu-chô mode. Four dancers wear a bird-like mask. This piece consists of two sections, ha (Breaking) and kyû (Development), but only the section kyû is given here. The performance ends without its customary closing pattern but with a simple prolongation of the final note.

7. Seigaiha (tôgaku, banshiki-chô mode, kangen)
The title of this tôgaku piece in banshiki-chô mode (in B) indicates ‘blue ocean waves’. The dance is referred to in the famous ancient Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, in which Hikaru Genji, a main character, beautifully dances the ‘Seigaiha’ with his rival and good friend Tô no Chûjô. The dancers wear a gorgeous robe with wave-patterns and embroidered images of plovers. Kangen style is heard on this disc, with the music ending in the middle of the piece, at the 4th rhythmic cycle.

8. Chôgeishi (tôgaku, taishiki-chô mode, uhô)
This tôgaku piece in taishiki-chô mode (in E) is often played at the conclusion of a formal gagaku program (particularly in a bugaku concert) as an exit processional. If performed after a tôgaku piece, it employs a rhythmic pattern with the kakko drum, while after a komagaku piece, a lively pattern of san no tsuzumi drum is selected. The performance heard here is a san no tsuzumi pattern.

9. Taiheiraku no ha (Bushôraku) (tôgaku, taishiki-chô mode, bugaku)
‘Taiheiraku’ consists of three sections: michiyuki (Procession), ha (Breaking), and kyû (Development). The section ha is also known as ‘Bushôraku’. In bugaku performance, this piece is categorized as ‘military style’ in which dancers wear traditional Japanese warrior-style costume with helmet, armor, shield, spear, and sword. This performance is in bugaku style and ends at the 4th rhythmic cycle.

10. Taiheiraku no kyû (Gakkaen) (tôgaku, taishiki-chô mode, bugaku)
‘Taiheiraku no kyû’, also called ‘Gakkaen’, contains six phrases. If we label each section as a, b, c, d, e, f, the most common performance as bugaku would repeat the whole piece three times: first as abab cdcd efef, the second and third times as ab cdcd efef, This recording however contains an abbreviated version: ab cd ef, followed by a Koranjô, a short ending pattern (Ichikotsu-chô, with D as tonic) played by a ryûteki flute and percussion, as heard in bugaku concerts. It is also a custom to play the Gakkaen melody once more at the very end of a performance to accompany dancers descending from the stage.

11. Batô (tôgaku, taishiki-chô mode, kangen)
‘Batô’ can be played as a bugaku dance or by a kangen ensemble. This example is of the latter, and includes shô, hichiriki, ryûteki, biwa, koto, taiko, kakko, and the shôko. The music ends at the 8th rhythmic cycle. The rhythm here is tada-byôshi, consisting of 2 + 4 beats. In a bugaku, the dancer wears an exotic red mask and dances with active movements, said to depict the features of a barbarian from the Silk Road area of western China (Xinjiang province). Bugaku ‘Batô’ performance in tada-byôshi rhythm is usually categorized as a dance of the Left (sahô-bugaku or samai), while one in yatara-byôshi (2 + 3 beats: see Batô, track 12) is classified as a dance of the Right (uhô-bugaku or umai).

12 Batô (tôgaku, taishiki-chô mode, bugaku)
Played in bugaku style, Batô is performed with shô, ryûteki, hichiriki, taiko, shôko and san no tsuzumi. The rhythm is yatara-byôshi: 2 + 3 beats. The music belongs to tôgaku, yet is categorized as a dance of the Right together with other komagaku bugaku dances when played in yatara-byôshi rhythm. If we compare this bugaku in yatara-byôshi performance with the former example of kangen in tada-byôshi, one may easily discern that the former is played in a much faster tempo than the latter and articulated with strong accents.

13. Koromogae (saibara)
Saibara, accompanied vocal music that arose in mid-ninth century Japan, consists of a Japanese text with melodies from tôgaku or komagaku. A vocal leader holding shakubyôshi (clappers) starts the solo part in a free rhythm, later joined by all the singers and accompanying instruments: shô, hichiriki, ryûteki, biwa, and koto. The shô traces a melody with single notes in saibara accompaniment, unlike the technique of chords employed by a tôgaku ensemble. The song ‘Koromogae’ depicts the ancient custom of changing clothing styles at the turning of the seasons. The first half of the melody is recorded.

14. Kashin (rôei)
Rôei is another accompanied vocal music genre with a text of two lines from a Chinese couplet. All melodies are in free rhythm, accompanied only by the shô, hichiriki and ryûteki. The song ‘Kashin’ is usually sung at the start of a year, as its verse celebrates eternal happiness and prosperity. In Japan, there are two ways to recite Chinese poetry: pronounced close to the original Chinese, or in Japanese translation, supplying kana inflections and particles. ‘Kashin’ is the only example of the former in rôei repertoire.

Buddhist music
Buddhist music, together with Buddhism itself, was introduced into Japan from the Asian continent. Buddhist sutras are usually recited or sung, and this recitation or singing, called shômyô, is regarded as an indispensable element for realizing the Buddhist world in rituals. Today, various Buddhist sects are found in Japan, which were roughly divided into several groups according to the period of arrival or establishment;

Kegon-shû (Todai-ji temple, ect.), Hossô-shû (Yakushi-ji, Kôfuku-ji, etc.), Ritsu-shû (Tôshôdai-ji, etc.), which were brought over in the 8th century;
Tendai-shû (Enryaku-ji, etc.), Shingon-shû (Chishaku-in, Hase-dera, Kongôbu-ji, etc.), which were the esoteric sects introduced in the 9th century;
Jôdo-shû (Chion-in, Zôjô-ji,) and Jôdo shin-shû (Hongwan-ji, etc.), developed from the Tendai sect in the 12th century, especially devoted to Amitabha Buddha;
Hokke-shû (Kuon-ji); developed from Tendai sect in the 13th century and placed primary importance on Hokekyô-sutra;
Rinzai-shû (Tenryû-ji, Myôshin-ji, etc.) and Sôtô-shû (Eihei-ji, Sôji-ji, etc.), Zen sects imported during the 14th century;
Ôbaku-shû (Manpuku-ji), the most recent Zen sect, arrived in the 1600s.

These sects differ in terms of their choices of sutra, religious practice, text, and musical style of chanting. There are even several schools within one sect that employ different chanting styles. For instance, in the Shingon-shû sect, three chanting schools are to be found: Chizan-ha, Buzan-ha, and Nanzan-shinryû..
The content and process of Buddhist rituals also exhibit variety, yet generally there is a shared basic structure of four parts in terms of purpose and function in a ritual. Shômyô chants can also be classified according to functions:

Introduction: to pay respect to Buddha, Buddhist teaching, and priests, during which offerings are made: Shichi bongosan, Saimon, Kuyômon
Setup: to praise the main Buddha (character) of a ceremony, purify and beautify the ritual’s place: Bai, Sange, Bonnon, Shakujô, Taiyô, etc.
Main part: a statement of the main subject of the ritual and prayer: Jinbun, Hyôhaku, Ge, Kyô, Kôshiki, Rongi, Hôgô, Nenbutsu, Kassatsu, San, etc.
Closing: to spread the religious effects to the broader public: Ekô

A shômyô text may be divided into three types in terms of language; bongo or Sanskrit, kango or Chinese, and Japanese. Chants sung in the introduction and setup part are usually in Sanskrit or Chinese, while such chants as Hyôhaku, Kôshiki, Rongi in the main part that are more characteristically ‘explanatory’ in nature are recited in Japanese. In general, many of the shômyô in Japanese carry a syllabic melody, while Sanskrit or Chinese shômyô prefer a melismatic one.

In addition to these shômyô, mainly chanted by Buddhist priests in temples, other categories are sung by lay believers, usually in a simpler Japanese. Some wasan chants are recited in a daily practice at a believer’s home and goeika is sung on a pilgrimage along the way to a sacred Buddhist site.

Much time is required to sing just one phrase in a shômyô chant. Examples heard on this disc are all extracts from either an opening part or a highlight of the sutras.

About the Performers:
Nakayama Gen’yû (1902-1977): A Tendai sect priest, Nakayama-shi, or Reverend Nakayama, learned Ôhara school shômyô, Tendai sect, from Rev. Taki Dônin. He taught as a professor of Eizan Gakuin school, edited and annotated Gyozan shômyô zenshû (complete works of Tendai shômyô), Rokudô kôshiki, and other works on Tendai shômyô.

Yoshida Tsunezô (1872-1957): A music educator and shômyô researcher, Yoshida graduated from Tokyo Ongaku Gakkô and taught music at normal school in Fukui and Kyoto until 1935. He started research on shômyô in the mid 1920s and published many collaborative works with Rev. Taki Dônin (Tendai sect) such as Tendai Shômyô Taisei (comprehensive work of Tandai shômyô).

Onozuka Yochô (1875-1947): A Shingon sect, Buzan school priest, Rev. Onozuka studied at Hase-dera and Kongôbu-ji and established Buzan-ha Shûdô-in, an institute in the Shin Chôkoku-ji temple, Tokyo, for the dissemination of shômyô chanting.

Osanai Soken: Unidentified, possibly a Jôdo-shû priest, who also recorded Karukaya Dôshin Wasan for Regal Records3.

Suzuki Kiso and Satô Chiyo: unknown, possibly female Buddhist lay believers.

15. Shichisan (Tendai-shû), performed by Nakayama Gen’yû
Known also as Shichi bongosan, this sacred hymn is usually sung in the beginning part of a ritual to purify the place. It has a melismatic character that sets a long and complicated melody to each single text syllable. As the text is a transliteration of Sanskrit words into Chinese characters, it is regarded as being rather enigmatic and magical.

16. Shakujô (Tendai-shû), performed by Nakayama Gen’yû
Shankujô is usually sung after three chants — Bai, Sange, and Bonnon, in the setup part of a ritual (purification). The term also indicates a musical instrument ­ the rattle shaken by a priest during chanting.

17. Kyôke (Tendai-shû), performed by Nakayama Gen’yû
Kyôke is a Japanese chant used to disseminate Buddhist teachings and lead people to the enlightened world. Various texts are composed according to the purpose of a ceremony. The text heard here, attributed to the legendary 8th century Buddhist Saint Gyôki, is a popular one used in the Hokke hakko ritual, a lecture interpreting Hokekyô (Lotus Sutra).

18. Taiyô (Tendai-shû), performed by Nakayama Gen’yû
Taiyô is usually recited after Bai and Sange. Its text varies according to the ceremony.

19. Ungabai (Shingon-shû), performed by Onozuka Yochô
Ungabai, or simply Bai, is also recited in the beginning of a ceremony to purify and calm a place. A long and complicated melody is rendered to each syllable of its Chinese text. Only the beginning phrase is heard here.

20. Kassatsu (Shingon-shû), performed by Onozuka Yochô
Kassatsu is a recitation of a name(s) of various Buddha/Bodhisattva to show faith in them. Here, the name of Birushanafu, or Vairocana, is repeatedly uttered.

21. Rongi (Tendai-shû), performed by Nakayama Gen’yû and Yoshida Tsunezô
The Rongi functions as a kind of ceremonious examination in studying Buddhist teachings. It is performed by two priests, a master and apprentice, in a question ­ answer format. A Japanese text is used.

22. Rokudô kôshiki (Tendai-shû), performed by Nakayama Gen’yû
Kôshiki usually has a very long and explanatory Japanese text, used to praise a virtue of Buddha, Bodhisattva, Buddhist saints, or to interpret Buddhist teachings. Various kinds of kôshiki have been composed by each sect. Rokudô kôshiki explains features of the world’s six levels: ten-dô (heaven), nin-dô (the human world), shura-dô (world of carnage), chikushô-dô (world of the beast), gaki-dô (world of the hungry demon), and jigoku (hell). Musically it is also enriched by various melodic patterns and wide ranges that influenced other medieval narrative genres such as heikyoku and nô. Part of a chikushô-dô is heard on this disc.

23. Shaka nyorai go-wasan, performed by Osanai Soken
Wasan employs plain Japanese text to help the public easily understand intellectual Buddhist teachings or deeds of the ancient saints in Buddhism. This wasan relates the birth of of Shaka nyorai (Shakyamuni).

24. Reijô Nachi-san (the sacred spiritual Mount Nachi) (goeika), performed by Suzuki Kiso and Satô Chiyo
Goeika is a genre of sacred songs sung by lay believers on pilgrimage to a Buddhist holy site. This Reijô Nachi-san, or the Sacred Mount Nachi, located in southern Wakayama prefecture (formerly Ki-no-kuni), is the first stop on a pilgrimage to thirty-three temples in Saigoku (now Kansai). A simple but elaborated melody is set to a plain Japanese text of 5+7+5+7+7 syllables. The chant starts with solo singing, actually a recitation of a phrase of repentance called sangemon, followed by the main part of the goeika in unison. A gong and bell (indicated by * in the text) accompany the singing.

-©2008 Naoko Terauchi

Dr. Naoko Terauchi is a Professor of Japanese traditional culture and performing arts at Kobe University, Japan. Her publications include, Gagaku no rizumu kôzô: Heian jidai-sue no tôgaku kyoku ni tsuite (The rhythmic structure of Gagaku: focusing on tôgaku repertoire in the late Heian period) (Daiichi shobô, 1996), ‘Western impact on traditional music: ‘reform’ and ‘universalization’ in the modern period of Japan’ (Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 141, 2003), and Geijutsu, bunka, shakai (Arts, cultures, and society) (2nd ed), (textbook for the University of Air) (co-authored) (Hoso daigaku kyoiku shinkokai, 2006).

1. A comprehensive study of KBS is in: Shibazaki Atsushi. Kindai nihon to kokusai bunka kôryû: kokusai bunka shinkoukai no sousetsu to tenkai, Tokyo: Yûshindô, 1999.
2. Frederick Gaisberg, pioneering producer and engineer for the Gramophone and Typewrite Company, later HMV in London (currently EMI), made recordings in Tokyo in 1903, reissued as “Nihon fukikomi kotohajime (1903 first recordings by Frederick Gaisberg)” Toshiba-EMI CD TOCF-59061-59071, 2001.
3. A label that was part of Nippon Columbia during the 78 rpm era.