What do ‘jinuri’ and ‘jiari’ mean?

The terms jinuri or jiari refer to shakuhachi which have had ji (a paste of stone powder mixed with urushi (Japanese lacquer)) applied along most or all of the bore. Literally, jinuri means that ‘ji has been applied’, and jiari means that it ‘has ji‘. This is the standard and most common type of modern shakuhachi, and so in Japan is simply called ‘shakuhachi’.


In the Edo period, jinashi were the standard shakuhachi. The nodes of the bamboo were removed from the bore, and often not much else was done. Since the sound is directly affected by the inner dimensions of the instruments, this usually results in an instrument which has numerous tuning issues, as well as troubles in stability and tone colour of tones. A good jinashi maker, with enough skill and experience, can bring out the full potential of a good piece of bamboo. However, sometimes even the best maker cannot make a satisfactory instrument even out of well selected bamboo. Watazumi for example is known to have said that from 100 pieces of bamboo, there may be 1 good instrument.

The Kinko Ryu Grandmaster Araki Chikuo (1823-1908) is regarded by many to have been the greatest jinashi shakuhachi maker. He also started adding small amounts of ji in those shakuhachi which could not become good enough merely by subtracting bamboo from the bore. This innovative use of ji was further developed by his students – in particular by his son Araki Kodo III, and student Miura Kindo, who are regarded as having been the finest jinuri shakuhachi makers – into what is now the standard modern style of shakuhachi making, know as jinuri or jiari.

These instruments generally have a smooth bore, and require great skill from the maker in controlling the inner dimensions to within tiny fractions of millimetres, in order to give the required tone colour and for each note to be stable and in tune.

Justin’s Jinuri

Justin learned jinuri making from some of the foremost makers in Japan. Modern shakuhachi making at the professional level is extremely demanding, with many techniques to learn and a high standard of requirements for volume, accurate pitch, and balance of notes individually and as a whole instrument, as well as the various technical demands of the repertoires of various schools. Justin worked extensively to achieve these aims both with his making teachers but also with his teachers Furuya Teruo, Yokoyama Katsuya and Araki Kodo, who have extremely high standards for their own performance needs and those they demand of their students. In recognition of accomplishing this, Yokoyama Katsuya awarded Justin his professional name ‘Senryu’, as a performer, and also for stamping on his shakuhachi as his official professional mark.

While the exacting standards of Justin’s shakuhachi making teachers have been invaluable, as a musician, Justin was encouraged to follow his own taste for working towards a tone colour which could really satisfy him. For this endevour, he has found most inspiration from older makers, in particular the great Araki-ha masters Araki Kodo III (1879-1935) and Miura Kindo (1875-1940). Justin has spent much time playing and studying these instruments in private collections as well as being commissioned to restore many fine examples, and having some in his own collection. Working with Araki Kodo V has been invaluable in accomplishing this delightful Araki-ha style. In recognition of Justin’s skill, Araki has presented Justin with the hanko ‘Kodo sen’, meaning ‘chosen by Kodo’.

For more information or to order an instrument, please contact Justin here.