Despite being visited less frequently by tourists than other locations in Kyoto, Honpō-ji Temple is an exceptionally beautiful place to spend time while the sakura cherry blossoms are in flower. Founded back in 1416 by a Buddhist priest of the Nichiren sect, Honpō-ji is home to traditional Japanese gardens as well as famous works by the 16th century artist Hasegawa Tōhaku.
This April, a springtime musical event will be held on the grounds of Honpō-ji for the first time in about four years, as the Temple serves as the backdrop for an online shinobue performance. Reaching out beyond Japan, the spring concert will be streaming internationally with tickets available online.
The musician who will be playing at this live, online event is Kazuya Sato, who has dedicated much of his life to the art of Shinobue, a traditional bamboo flute which has been a part of Japanese artistic culture for centuries. Also known as a Takebue, this instrument has long been involved in ancient public art forms, including the internationally recognised Noh and Kabuki, two of the most important forms of Japanese theatre.
Kazuya Sato has been earnestly practicing with the Shinobue since graduating university, but he first picked up the flute as a junior high-school student to get involved with a local Karatsu Kunchi Festival being held in his home prefecture of Saga.
The iconic wind instrument has been part of a journey into music which also led Kazuya Sato to study the piano, drums, and guitar. Today Sato has become a composer in his own right, preforming during a special Buddhist ceremony at UNESCO World Heritage Site Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara, and even taking a part in composition of the main theme for NHK TV drama ‘Gochisosan’ which went on to win Song of The Year at the 2014 Japan Record Awards
The Shinobue has a distinctively Japanese sound, and its clear tone is quickly recognisable in many songs composed by artists in Japan. Through his talented performances Kazuya Sato gives life to feelings of tranquillity, not just drawing on music rooted in culture and heritage, but also creating songs with flowing melodies which listeners can immediately connect with today. In his previous work he’s been accompanied by classical piano and strings, but the simple elegance of the flute is always the main focus of his concerts.
Bringing the art of Shinobue to Honpō-ji Temple will undoubtedly compliment the traditional Japanese aesthetic of the surrounding architecture and gardens.