Riley Lee:
I wrote the following for the Australian Shakuhachi Society's Newsletter.

Yokoyama Katsuya 1934-2010.

I can’t remember when I first met Yokoyama-sensei. I think it was in 1972. I was introduced to him after a concert of his in Tokyo. How gracious this already famous, shakuhachi master was to yet another adoring shakuhachi beginner!
Shortly thereafter, my friend and long time student of Yokoyama, IchirĂ´ Seki took me with him to Yokoyama-sensei’s Tokyo apartment for a lesson day. I was in seventh heaven for many days thereafter, not caring that he had praised my old Gyokusui 2.4 flute infinitely more than he had my playing of it.

After that, I had lessons with Yokoyama whenever I could. But I was rarely where Yokoyama was, so I never had enough. In 1984, after tiring of hearing me bemoan that I was not able to study regularly with Yokoyama, Patricia suggested that I ask him to come to Hawai'i to teach me. What!?! How could I possibly ask that, and how unlikely he would agree!!!

But Patricia patiently reminded me that I wouldn't know until I asked. So I finally did.
To my amazement, Yokoyama-sensei responded positively, saying that he needed to finish writing a book (his autobiographical "Shakuhachi no Miryoku", The Fascination of the Shakuhachi - the only book in Japanese that I have read cover to cover). He thought that stopping over in Hawai'i for a week on his way home from an upcoming mainland USA tour would be perfect for this task. He'd teach me several hours a day and spend the rest of the time writing, with no other distractions. Wow! I owe Patricia big time!!

My treasure trove of Yokoyama memories is miniscule compared with that of his more regular permanent students, especially Furuya, Kakizakai and Matama. And yet, I am satiated with the rich experiences that I have shared with Yokoyama-sensei and with the inspiration and teachings that he has given me. He was that generous.

This week, I had to inform a mutual friend of Yokoyama-sensei’s death. The 84 year-old Japanese lady immediately responded by saying something like, “Well then, it’s now up to you lot, the next generation, to insure that Yokoyama’s art continues to inspire!”
So true!

Here is a photo of Yokoyama's students playing San'ya (his request) at today's wake in Tokyo, sent by Christopher Blasdel.

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