In April of 1988, at the age of 17, Hanzaburo Araki picked up the instrument of his father and grandfathers for the first time. Four months later, at a sold-out concert in Shimonoseki, Japan, before contemporaries and enthusiasts, he made his debut to the exacting standards of his father, Araki Kodo V
For the next four years he played and instructed extensively in Japan, both privately and at Keio University, during which time he was named Baikyoku IV, setting him in line to continue the family tradition.
Upon returning to the United States he continued to play and teach at several prestigious institutions. A panel leader and workshop host at the Seattle Folklife Festival, Araki has performed every year from 1998 to 2012. He has also performed for the Gates Estate, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum and at the Japanese Gardens (Seattle and Portland). In 2009, he was named Araki Kodo VI by his father in a small ceremony in Tokyo.
Named after Araki Hanzaburo (Kodo II), he is the 6th generation to be named a shakuhachi master and the world’s only player to carry that title. His namesake had a profound effect on the art form. One of Araki’s (Kodo II) main accomplishments was an improvement in shakuhachi notation. In classic “honkyoku,” or solo playing, there was no need to indicate rhythms and tempos; ensemble playing required precision and clarity regarding time and speed. Araki (Kodo II) developed a system of notation consisting of katakana characters and a system of dots and lines which indicate rhythm that is in common usage to this day.
Araki Kodo V was head of the Kodo-kai Shakuhachi Guild and the fifth generation of one of the most important shakuhachi lineages in the history of the instrument. His solo shakuhachi and television debut came in 1950 at the age of 12 and performed his first solo recital in 1962. Araki has performed, recorded and taught extensively in Japan and the US, where he had long and fruitful residences starting in 1963. These have included lectureships at such top universities as Columbia, Michigan, Stanford and UCLA.
Araki also holds a masters degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University (1971). Maintaining his presence on both sides of the Pacific for over 50 years, he presented his “Shakuhachi Honkyoku Concert” at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1986. In Japan he has produced four solo recitals over the years, the most recent in 1993. He has recorded his entire Kinko School honkyoku repertoire for the NHK Service Center with his son, Hanzaburo Araki (1996). Now known as Araki Chikuo, as is tradition at his retirement, he has handed the title of Kodo to his son, Hanzaburo, now Kodo VI.