Current Head Teachers in Japan:

Kakizakai Kaoru

Kakizakai Kaoru was born in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture in 1959. He began playing the Peruvian flute called the Quena while he was an engineering student at Aoyama Gakuin University. Although he enjoyed playing Quena he was also very interested in playing an indigenous Japanese instrument and, partly at the suggestion of his father, while he was yet at university he decided to try playing shakuhachi.

His first teacher was Seido Saito, a Kinko style teacher in Kakizakai’s home town of Chichibu. He was 21 years old at the time and, much to Mr. Seido’s surprise, Kakizakai was able to make a strong sound on the shakuhachi immediately. No doubt this was largely because of his background in playing Quena. Partly as a result of this initial success, Kakizakai found that he was strongly drawn to the shakuhachi as “his” instrument, so much so that he made the decision to give up the Quena in favor of the Japanese flute.

Kakizakai’s progress with Mr. Seido was rapid and, recognizing an unusual talent, Mr. Seido recommended that he become a student of Yokoyama Katsuya. He followed this advice and in 1982, the same year he graduated from college, he sought out Mr. Yokoyama and began a course of study with him that lasted nearly 30 years.

Upon finishing college, Kakizakai took a company job as an electrical engineer working in a lab that produced electrical capacitors. He continued studies with Yokoyama Sensei however, which he complemented with academic studies by completing coursework at the 32nd NHK Traditional Music Conservatory in 1987. He also continued to develop as a performer and ten years later, in 1997, he was the winner of the shakuhachi division of the prestigious Kumamoto All Japan Hogaku competition.

As his musical skills continued to develop, Kakizakai eventually acknowledged that his real professional passion was playing shakuhachi. As a result, in the spring of 2000 he made the major decision to leave secure employment as an engineer in order to devote himself to teaching and performing shakuhachi. A catalyst for this decision was being asked by Yokoyama Sensei to perform Takemistsu’s work “November Steps”, which he did at the NHK Performance Hall in Tokyo in June of 2000. This was a considerable achievement for a relatively young player.

Over the years, Kakizakai has recorded with Yokoyama Sensei on his CDs and videos, and has produced several CDs of his own. He has performed in the US, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia, and is a regular faculty member of the Boulder Colorado Rocky Camp as well as the Australian Shakuhachi Festival. Currently, Mr. Kakizakai is a lecturer and research fellow at the Tokyo College of Music. He also serves as a full time instructor for the KSK and the NHK Culture Center, and is President of the International Shakuhachi Kenshukan Chichibu School and Higashi Yamato School.