Black Earth Shakuhachi School 尺八

Zen Honkyoku & Nature Hymns for Big Bamboo

The living tradition of natural bamboo shakuhachi flute:
creativity, nature and meditation.

Founded by Grandmaster (dai shihan) Cornelius Shinzen Boots in 2009, Black Earth is the only school in the world offering both dokyoku Zen repertoire (Watazumi lineage honkyoku) and a robust catalog of original compositions for bass shakuhachi.  Specializing in longer, wide-bore jinashi flutes, our ethos is rooted in original Zen (Ch’an), grounded animism and deep musicianship.

As an East-West school with certified lineages on both sides, our relationship to the distilled nature of this vertical, root-end woodwind from ancient Japan unifies and informs our training and practice.  We are dedicated to the living tradition of shakuhachi as an established and evolving musical performing art, a breath (qi) cultivation and a meditation practice.

Big Bamboo

Just as the cello is a distinct voice from the violin, the Taimu or bass shakuhachi requires its own approach and delivers its own timbre and personality. The natural bamboo bore of our flutes (a type known as jinashi) compounds this flavor or personality and connects our breath and awareness directly to a natural material – reed, wood, grass: bamboo. In contrast, the dominant shakuhachi flute aesthetic features shorter flutes that are filled with lacquer, in order to rebuild the bore for bright, loud tone and more precise tuning.

The balance between tradition and creation is effortlessly attained when you take direction directly from the bamboo itself. Although you cannot skip a significant period of training only to be drifting along by means of juvenile intuition, neither is strict, rigid dogma necessary to pursue the deeper way of breathing bamboo. The path of Black Earth School is animism over indoctrination. The soul is wise, but the intellect is provisional; when we cultivate wisdom and the soul, the analytical mind will serve rather than rule. This produces music from a truly open-heart, rather than a dubious replica of ancient glories – no matter how impressive to the mind such replicas may be.

Symbiosis is the keystone for our practice and philosophy: always power with, never power over.  Welcome to the underground archetype of woodwinds.  Our approach is also known as The Complete Awareness and Solid Foundation Method.


East: Japanese Shakuhachi & Koten Honkyoku

Watazumido → Yokoyama → Michael Chikuzen Gould → Cornelius Shinzen Boots [shihan 2013; dai shihan 2022].
                                     ↘Yoshinobu Taniguchi

West: Jazz & Creative Woodwind Composer-Performer

Duke Ellington Charles Mingus → Eric Dolphy → David N. Baker → Cornelius Boots [BM 1997; MM 1999].
                                             ↘John Coltrane Rahsaan Roland Kirk
[→ = direct training; = indirect]

Past Events & Classes

2019 Summer Intensive in CA

2019 Taimu Shepherding with Ken Mujitsu LaCosse

T-shirt – organic
Front Image


T-shirt – organic
“Dad’s Polo” Design


Zipper Hoodie – organic