in the United States
Shakuhachi music in the USA was started officially by Seifu Yoshida in 1923.
On September 1st, 1923 there was a major earthquake in the Tokyo area (410,000 houses were burned or destroyed). Many foreign countries including the U.S.A. helped the people and government of Japan.
The people of Japan were very grateful and so Seifu Yoshida offered a Japanese music concert tour to the U.S. to express Japan’s gratitude. Also he believed that Japanese music was unique and well worth sharing with westerners. He toured the U.S. playing Shakuhachi and Koto music with his wife, Kyoko Yoshida, starting from each island of Hawaii then to California. With his straight forward actions, it is easy to assume that the musicians of the U.S. respected his spirit of motivation and immediate action.
In 1931, he was formally invited by the USA (Pro-Musica Society), and again performed in Honolulu, Hilo, Maui, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Boston, and other cities.
Yoshida’s hometown and the Koga family
Seifu Yoshida (1890–1950), born in Nagasu, Kumamoto-ken, Japan, was a well known shakuhachi grand master and was the original recording artist of shakuhachi for “Sea of Spring,” composed by Michio Miyagi—who was also a genius koto player and composer. (All of the Miyagi’s shakuhachi and koto music was originally recorded by these two artists.)
-Mr. and Mrs. Seifu Yoshida - Chicago, U.S. in 1924
He not only performed all over the islands of Japan, China and Korea, but also taught shakuhachi music whenever and wherever invited to instruct.
One of the cities he taught in was Omuta-city, 5 miles away from Yoshida’s hometown: at the Omuta Unsoh K.K. (Transporting Company) which was owned by Koga family.
Masayuki Koga and his father
Masayuki’s father, Kiichi Koga(1907-1983) was one of Yoshida’s students in Omuta City.
When Masayuki was 14 years old, he found his father’s shakuhachi instrument and textbook that was made by, and written by Seifu Yoshida. Masayuki asked his father how to make sound, then his father gave him a basic note instruction and showed Oiwake folksong fingering. His father knew that being a musician was not easy, so he encouraged Masayuki to become only an amateur player and gave an artist’s philosophy that he believed. That attitude became the core of Masayuki’s life. Masayuki wanted to be of serious shakuhachi player, so he asked his father if he could study Master degrees of Law at Meiji University in Tokyo so that he could keep studying shakuhachi. He then graduated and chose the professional musician’s way. Of course, his father was disappointed, but soon after, he accepted his son’s decision and encouraged Masayuki to be successful in music.
50 years later
In 1973, Masayuki Koga moved to the U.S. and performed from East coast to West coast and taught shakuhachi music whenever and wherever he had the occasion. After several years of his own experience of performing and teaching, he felt that the U.S needed a music institute.