The Pregant Woman

That's what happend to Kyōchiku near Ōmuta City in Fukuoka Prefecture:

At that place I was called to stop by a young lady. The contrast between her and the coarse Komusō must have been a peculiar sight. "Sorry Mr. Komusō, but I have a little request." Turning around after having been called, I noticed that she was heavily pregnant and started blinking my eyes with surprise.

"Yes, what can I do for you?", I answered, unintentionally becoming a little formal. She approached me with her enormous belly and said: "If you please." That had never before happened to me, and I was completely clueless. So I confessed: "To be honest, I'm not from here but have come from far away knowing nothing. Is something the matter?"

"No, I would only ask you to stroke my belly with your shakuhachi." Now I got it. "Oh, that's it. Well, that would be fine." I replied with a solemn voice, but could not help smiling when I started to carry out the procedure. When she afterwards gave me her donation nicely wrapped in a sheet of white paper, I was totally at ease again. I thanked her and left.

That made sense: To stroke the belly with a shakuhachi which is a kind of channel, where air passes through so easily, guarantees a save delivery. It looks like a strange superstition, but maybe it's more a kind of therapy that gives confidence to a pregnant woman. After having the belly stroked with an open channel shakuhachi, she gains confidence and power for a save delivery. That is one of the benefits of meeting a Komusō, and indeed after that first time, pregnant bellies approached me several more times and I - now being used to the procedure - could respond without hesitation.

Among the honkyoku there is the famous piece San'ya 三谷 ("Three Valleys") and some people write it with different characters as 産安 ("Delivery Safety"; the usual Japanese word for save delivery would be anzan 安産, composed of the same characters but in opposite order). If you play that piece to a pregnant woman, it is believed, that she will have a save delivery. The piece therefore works just like a Japanese omamori お守り amulet for the same purpose. But I think that belief comes from the meaning of the Chinese characters. In the end all our piece have the power of leading into a realm of limitless safety and deep relaxation. They all are medicine, but I think it's interesting that a special meaning is attached to the piece San'ya by using those Chinese characters. (p. 7-8)

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The Shakuhachi was regarded as some kind of sacred implement, being touched with it would bring good fortune. Even the modern Komusō treat their Shakuhachi with respect, and therefore it is never placed on the floor or tatami directly and one will never step over it. It goes without saying that is never used to play any vulgar music.