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I am saddened to hear of Masa's passing.
He most recently played on "memoirs of a Geisha", and in years past played on the Miniseries "Shogun". He was a hallmark of the L.A. Shakuhachi scene.
I have long been a fan.
My students and I will play Banshiki in order for his spirit to pass easily to its next reincarnation.
He will be missed
I watched the Special Features disc for Memoirs just a few nights ago. It has a short segment about creating the soundtrack for the film, with footage of Ma, Perlman, and I now understand, Masa playing the shakuhachi. He seemed as joyful in his playing as did Ma and Perlman, which is saying rather a lot.
His music will certainly continue.
Yoshizawa Masakazu-sensei playing in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.
Date and photographer unknown to me.
The shakuhachi world has lost not only a fine musician, but a dedicated and effective teacher and a great scholar of ancient and modern Japanese traditional music.
My deep condolences to his family and to his students. I only took lessons from him briefly while he was finishing Memoirs of a Geisha, so I can only imagine the devastation some of his longtime students must feel. I'm thinking especially of you, Bruce Jones, who he spoke of with fondness and appreciation in the course of conversation on shakuhachi and the web and design work you did for him.
Last edited by Chris Moran (2007-11-02 21:54:32)
I was a student for much too short a period of time to fully
do justice to Masakazu's talents and generosity. He was a
cultural treasure that Los Angeles was extremely fortunate
to have. He will be deeply missed and the Japanese arts
and music community in America will have a giant hole to fill.
My last words with him were a few days before his last trip
to Japan. I knew about his illness, but in typical form, he
smiled and told me not to worry, saying, "This is just a business
trip. I'm going to buy more flutes because I have new
students and I'll visit some family. I'll be back in 10 days."
I asked him to buy me an 8-hon shinobue and he assured
me he would. I left his modest house in San Gabriel looking
forward to a new hand selected flute and my next lesson.
I feel it's important to try to continue to carry on the work he
started here. To that end I'd like to try to coordinate a group
to swap techniques, learn from each other, and otherwise
carry on the legacy of Yoshizawa-sensei.
What better memorial could we give him then keeping his
work alive through his students? If you studied under him,
for any length of time, on any Japanese instrument, and
would like to contribute to carrying on his legacy, please
send email to
I will collect responses and coordinate the formation of a
group if there is enough interest.
Last edited by skatefriday (2007-11-10 23:11:29)
I emailed a friend recently about my experience at Yoshizawa-sensei's memorial. He thought I should post it. Please keep in mind that I only took lessons briefly with sensei in 2005 and I know practically no one in the field of Japanese music or the Japanese-American community. And I don't read, speak or write Japanese. I arrived 10 minutes before the announced time of the memorial and the memorial room was packed full of people -- so I stood in the hallway between the memorial room and the reception room and only caught glimpses of the speakers. I did not see a written program of the services anywhere. Perhaps someone more connected and knowledgeable can write about their experience at the memorial? I hope so. Please feel free to correct, add, etc. Here's my email:
>Masa had at least 200 people, including the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles attend his memorial service Sunday.
>This is not a shakuhachi master who passed on in obscurity. He was even recording very shortly before he died.
>The recording they played at the end of the memorial was a composition of Masa's played with "Chinese koto" and biwa. Someone announced that the instrument Masa was playing in the recording was known as "Shaku-Gen" or "Shaku-Jen" (??) and sounded very much like the giant 3.6 that he made for an earlier recording project. There were pictures at the memorial of him playing the giant flute, using the heel of his right foot on the Tsu hole.
>I knew no one at the services other than Bruce Jones who I only spoke with briefly. Bruce delivered a very beautiful and moving, yet understated eulogy about his 12 year association with Masa.
>A local gaijin Japanese musical authority/musician who had the longest association with Masa -- some 35 years -- also eulogized him with wonderful anecdotes. His name was Jack. I don't know his last name (perhaps someone can enlighten me, please). Very pleasant and humble man with white hair (certainly someone to know much more about and I am embarrassed to say I can't even give you his name). He related one thing I was totally unaware of -- Masa was a master sushi chef!
>Also caught a glimpse of a dvd of Masa playing at the cultural center with his group, looks like it was recorded in 2006. The dvd cover was all in Japanese. I'll have to find out what it was later.
I offered some prayer and mantra on behalf of myself, my wife, my mother and all the shakuhachi forum people who could not attend.
>Came out of the service to my car in the parking lot with a flat tire. No cell phone, the wife had mine and she was in Eagle Rock. Spent the next 2 hours re-teaching myself how to change a tire and use a car jack (last time was my old 67 volkswagen, 25 years ago). Ate some good sushi out of a local market.
>All the best,
Sounds like you had a very well balanced day....
So, this guy is the reason why I am playing shakuhachi now!!
First time I heard shakuhachi was "Shogun".
I wish I meet him.
First time I heard shakuhachi was "Shogun".
Actually I think that the musician on Shogun was a shakuhachi player by the name of Kazu Matsui.
Yoshizawa Masakazu's recording history in film, television, etc. is on the site that Bruce Jones created for him at http://www.kokingumi.com/MusicHistory.htm
I have little doubt, though, that you heard Yoshizawa-sensei in film -- sometime, somewhere -- probably many times. He performed in over two dozen soundtracks, including "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" -- which he took some delight in specifying to me a couple of times.
Note: I'm still looking for the recent (2006?) live performance dvd that I caught a glimpse of at the memorial reception. When I find a copy I'll post details on how to get it. His attention to tradition and detail in his performance style makes for a priceless learning experience.