Current Head Teachers in Japan:

Matama Kazushi

Mr. Matama was born in Yokohama in 1947. As a teenager he was a member of a local hiking club and he initially became interested in the shakuhachi because of a bit of folklore he read at that time. According to one of his hiking books, playing the shakuhachi in the mountains was a means by which to predict the next day’s weather! This assertion piqued Mr. Matama’s interest and with encouragement from a neighbor who played shakuhachi, and from his older sister who was a koto student, he decided to find a teacher. He was 17 years old at the time and still in high school.

His first six years of study were with a local player and teacher in Yokohama. While this proved to be a good introduction to the instrument, as he made progress he found himself wanting to have a deeper playing experience and so got permission from his teacher to move on. Of several available teachers, he was most drawn to the playing style of Yokoyama Katsuya and in 1970, he visited Yokoyama Sensei at his studio and became his student. In retrospect, he says “My choice [of Yokoyama Sensei] was great”. Of note, there are very few currently active players who have had a longer relationship with Mr. Yokoyama.

Mr. Matama completed high school in 1967 and enrolled in Hosei University as a history student. He graduated in 1970, the same year he began training with Yokoyama Sensei, and in November of that year took a job as a driver and accounting clerk at a company that manufactured wristwatches. A little over a year later he decided to change professions, gave up his position as a company man, and in 1972 he successfully auditioned to enroll in the NHK Traditional Music Conservatory.

Throughout this period he continued to study with Yokoyama Sensei and by the time he completed his studies at the NHK Conservatory a year later he already had students of his own. Around this same time he received a Shihan license from Mr. Yokoyama and gradually, by playing every day and meeting with his own students, he made the decision to make shakuhachi teaching and performing his profession.

Throughout his career, Mr. Matama has toured in Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and the U.S. with Yokoyama Sensei and with several top Japanese musical groups. In 1999 and again in 2000, he helped produce the “Australian Shakuhachi Music Festival” in Sydney and Brisbane. He has served as the director of Ramposha Chikushin Kai, and is currently is the executive director of the Yokohama branch of the Chikushin Kai.