Jon Kypros is a shakuhachi teacher, craftsman, and the creator of the Bell Shakuhachi. He handcrafts shakuhachi known as jinashi and jimori. These types of shakuhachi retain all or most of their natural bamboo bores. Crafting them to a high-level is inherently more challenging than any other type of shakuhachi. Thus, the finest examples are rare and often costly. For this reason, Jon goes to great lengths to produce affordable copies of his works which he calls Bell Shakuhachi. To begin, Jon first harvests his own Madaké bamboo…
Copying Bamboo for The Bell Shakuhachi
Above is one of Jon’s first, relatively simple attempts at molding and copying a piece of bamboo. On the left is a black resin copy (not Jon’s current bamboo eco-composite) and on the right is the original piece of bamboo. As we can see, Jon’s mold copied every visible detail of the bamboo. Jon now crafts his molds so that he can copy every single aspect of his original bamboo jinashi shakuhachi, inside and out, finger-holes and all.
The meaning of the Name, Bell Shakuhachi
Bells of all kinds have a long and important history in Japan. Serendipitously, the shape of the root-end of bamboo which is used for shakuhachi also resembles a bell. It’s often referred to as the “bell” or “bell-end”. There’s also a Honkyoku shakuhachi piece titled Reibo 鈴慕 which translates as “Yearning for/Missing the Bell”. With these things in mind, it becomes clear why Jon named his work, the Bell Shakuhachi.
Jon Kypros Shakuhachi Bio/Credentials
Jon is somewhat unusual, in that he entered the world of the shakuhachi as a bamboo flute maker. In 2003, at the age of seventeen, Jon took a piece of humble bamboo and crafted the first flute he’d ever owned or played. With the proverbial seal broken, he quickly became enthralled with creating a wide array of bamboo flutes, largely from stock he harvested himself. He then began selling his instruments as his sole source of income. At first, he intentionally avoided the shakuhachi because the online community was often contentious, and even quite aggressive at times. However, in 2004, at the age of eighteen, Jon’s curiosity finally won-out and he crafted his first shakuhachi from a piece of bamboo he had harvested. The experience of playing even such a humble first attempt was like nothing he had encountered before.
In 2005, with what little money he had saved from selling his bamboo flutes, Jon moved to New York City to study shakuhachi. From 2005 to ’08 he was the student of Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin and Kurahashi Yodo II. While there, he was surprised at some of the exceedingly expensive shakuhachi which could only be acquired by the wealthy, irrespective of their sincerity or skill, as well as the dominance of jiari type shakuhachi. At that time and place, jinashi shakuhachi, such as those Jon was crafting, were largely considered inferior instruments compared to jiari, save for very rare and very expensive examples.
These realities lead Jon to think of how he might make quality jinashi shakuhachi both more prevalent and also more affordable, particularly for those of modest means like himself. He began looking into the various copying methods used to make jiari type shakuhachi to see if they could be applied to jinashi. In 2007, he successfully copied the inner bore of one of his jinashi shakuhachi via a mold, unknowingly becoming the first to ever do so with a jinashi shakuhachi.
In 2010, Jon became the student of Justin Senryu Williams and would go on to spend nearly a decade under his tutelage. Justin’s keen training and insights were pivotal in improving both Jon’s skill as a player and his knowledge as a maker. In 2012, Jon realized his vision by creating the world’s first complete copy of a jinashi shakuhachi which he called The Bell Shakuhachi (1.8 D). To do so, he first crafted a jinashi shakuhachi in the traditional way and then went about the extensive process of copying it via complex molds of his own design. He sold a modest amount but he making them to further refine his process and to craft an even more ideal jinashi shakuhachi to copy. After many years of hard work, Jon released the new Bell Shakuhachi in late 2018. Jon’s Bell Shakuhachi are now played by practitioners all around the world.
Jon continues to explore the inexhaustible depths of the shakuhachi with the same spirit as his early days of crafting bamboo flutes.
Jon has studied the following styles of shakuhachi Honkyoku and Sankyoku
Under Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin and Kurahashi Yodo II
•Jin Nyodo Honkyoku and Chukuyushu Sankyoku
Under Justin Senryu
•The 10 Kinpu Ryu (aka. Nezasa-ha) Honkyoku and select pieces in alternate keys (Urajoshi)
•The 11 Seien Ryu Fudaiji Honkyoku
•The core 25 Myoan Shimpo Ryu Honkyoku
•3 Myoan Taizan Ha pieces in the lineage of Miyagawa Nyozan (Choshi, Takiochi, and his master work Ajikan)
•Select pieces from Kinko Ryu, Ikkan Ryu (see Kinko Ryu), Kyushu Kei, and Oshu kei
•Various Honkyoku composed by Watazumi (Dokyoku)
•A number of other Honkyoku which have either unknown or diverse origins