The third annual Calgary Japanese Festival - the Calgary Omatsuri - took place on Saturday, August 17, 2013. I had the pleasure of interviewing my classmate from the Calgary Japanese Language School, Martial Simard. Martial Simard plays the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. Here is a snippet of Martial-san's performance at the Calgary Omatsuri:
It is sometimes called a "Japanese Zen flute". Chinese immigrants introduced the shakuhachi to Japan in the eighth century. This is a photo of what shakuhachi music looks like:
This musical instrument gets its name from the following kanji: "shaku" (尺) which is an ancient measurement (equivalent to 30.3 cm) and "hachi" ((八) which means "eight". In this case, it refers to another measurement, "sun". "Shakuhachi" thus translates into English as "eight hachi" or eight tenths of a shaku. Come to think of it, my iaito is measured by shaku and sun as well.
Here is my interview with Martial-san. Prior to our chat, Martial-san informed me that the shakuhachi must be kept in the shade, so please don't mind the shadows of the dancing tree branches. Or the taiko drum in the background. It was impossible to find a quiet spot. At least my microphone picked up Martial-san's soft timbre:
If you would like to learn more about the shakuhachi, or if you'd like to learn how to play the shakuhachi, please visit the International Shakuhachi Society website.
Martial Simard was the first performer at the 2013 Calgary Japanese Festival. The Calgary Omatsuri took place at the Bridgeland Community Centre on Saturday, August 17, 2013.
Beginner's Guide to the Shakuhachi - website
Blowing Zen: Finding an Authentic Life, Revised updated edition - book on Amazon
Blowing Zen: Finding an Authentic Life - book on Alibris
Japanese Music Institute of America - website
Shakuhachi Music on Amazon