The following ten kinds of musical insruments are used in Tengaku :


Syou is composed of one 'Kashira' (head) and seventeen bamboo pipes. Kashira is made of wood, and a disk ('Kyo') made of bull horn is set on the top of it. It has seventeen holes for each of the bamboo pipes.

Each bamboo pipe is the same thickness but different length. Seventeen bamboo pipes are attached in a circle on the top of the Kashira. Fifteen of the pipes have Sita made of a copper and gold alloy at their bases.

The vibration of Sita produces the sound. The weight made of a mixture of wax and pieces of lead is attached to the part which vibrates, and the tune is adjusted because of this.

There is a slit (we call 'Byojyou') on the back of every bamboo pipe arranged in a circle. Air in the pipe between the Byojou and base sympathizes with the vibration of Sita, then makes sounds.

There is a small hole near the base of every pipe. Covering these holes, we make sounds by breathing in and out.
Before playing the Syou, we have to warm Kashira of Syou by a firepan and we warm it again after playing for drying humidity absorbed in Syouseki which is plastered on the valve.

If we don't do this, the sound deteriorates and, loses its tune.


Hichiriki is composed of a bamboo pipe approximately 18 centimeters long (the diameter of the top is about 1.5 centimeters and the bottom about 1 centimeter). It has seven holes on the front and two holes on the back. The pipe is rolled up by birch bark except holes. Ashizetu (mouthpiece) is inserted into the pipe for playing.

The mouthpiece, called "Shita", is made of a stalk of reed. One end of it is pressed flat and is inserted with the ring made of rattan in order to prevent the mouthpiece from opening too wide. The other end of it is rolled up by "Zushi (Japanese paper)".

Hichiriki is a small instrument. But at the ensemble it takes charge of the melody because it'volume is big and it can make tune freely.

Special techniques are frequently used in order to create embellishments other than the main sound. The technique is called "Enbai." Enbai is the most characteristic way to play the Hichiriki. This skill makes possible a smooth flow and easy transitions.

Hichiriki can change more than one level of tune from up to down by the mouth and breathing without a finger change. Hichiriki can give melody smoothness, the effect of fingers' slide, and moreover the necessary accent and rhythm appropriately. It is done by making the most of the combination and adjustment of holding the Hichiriki to one's mouth, the strength of breath, and finger motion.

The effect of Enbai on melody are

1. embelliment between the main sound which provides melody ,and emphasizing and stabilizing the secondary sound.

2. making it easy to lead the secondary sound and prviding expectation.


Enbai depends on the player's expression and skill. And there are a lot of expressions of Enbai.


Ryuteki is composed of a bamboo pipe which is about 40 centimeters long. The pipe is wrapped in birch bark. And it has one hole for the mouth and seven holes for fingers on the front.
Ryuteki's range of melody is much wider than Hichiriki's. Making the most of its characteristics, it can create various melodies which are light and includ embelliments opposite the melody of Hichiriki.

Ryuteki is played solo at the beginning of Chuseigaku.

It is easy for Ryuteki to change one octave by adjusting the strength of breath. That is why it is often used for it's melody.

The low sound is named 'Hukura' and the high sound 'Seme.' The player understands the time to play Seme or Hukura by remembering 'Syouka (the melody).' (Syouka is understood only by singing Syouka with the teacher, no description on paper.)


Kagurabue(Kagura) is also known as "Wabue" and "Hutobue." Kagurabue was born in Japan compared with other "Yokobue" e.g Ryuteki was born in China and Korea.

Kagurabue is composed of a bamboo pipe which is about 45 centimeters long. The pipe is wrapped in birch bark. And it has one hole for the mouth and six holes for fingers on the front. The sound is by one octave lower than Ryuteki and the sound is deep and mild.

At Konkokyo Service, it is used in 'Kaityou' (with the tune, Kaityou-kyoku) and 'Tamagushi' (with the tune, Tamagushi-kyoku) with Wagon, Hichiriki and Syakubyousi.


Koto has a very long history. It was invented two thousand years ago during the Sin dynasty in China. Koto with twelve strings and with thirteen strings were born during the Zui dynasty and the Tou dynasty. Koto with thirteen strings was introduced into Japan and developed. There are three kinds of Koto in Japan. They are named "Gakusou," "Chikusou," and "Zokusou." In Konkokyo-Tengaku, Zokusou is used.

The strings are stretched on the front of the body made of paulownia. It is tuned by "Hashira" streching the string. There are thirteen strings. Koto-zume (zume means nail) are set into thumb, forefinger and middle finger of right hand.

There is distinction among schools, for example 'Yatsuhasi-ryu', 'Ikuta-ryu',and 'Yamada-ryu' and so on. Each school seems to have different shape of Koto zume. At Konkokyo-Tengaku, we use 'Zohge-zume,' which is made of ivory, in Kibigaku and 'Take-zume,' which is made of bamboo, in Chuseigaku. Koto-zume is about one centimeter long and the top width is about 7 millimeters.


Wagon was born in Japan. The length is about 1.93 centimeters and the width at the top is about 15 centimeters and at the bottom is about 24 centimeters and the thickness is about 4.5 centimeters. It used to be made of the Japanese cypress but now is made of paulownia.

There are six strings on Wagon. Hashira is made of a maple branch of with its skin as is. It has the slid on the head in order to stretch a string.

The spatula which is made of buffalo horn is used to play the Wagon. The name is 'Kotosaki,' it is about 7.6 centimeters in length, about 1 centimeter in width, and about 1.5 centimeters in thickness.

During the Konkokyo Service, the Wagon is used at 'Kaityou' and 'Tamagushi' together with Kagura, Hichiriki and Syakubyousi.


'Taiko' is composed of the bass drum hung in the middle of a frame. The drum is about 60 centimeters in diameter. Only the front side is hit by the drum stick. The top of the drum stick is round and the body is made from wood and wrapped in skin.

Taiko beats time and acts to lead the rhythm.


'Kakko' has a body made of wood. The shape is fat at the middle, and surface of the skin at both ends are tightened by black strings ("Ohsirabe" made from horse hide).
On playing, both ends are hit by drum sticks made of wood. The way to hold them is like supporting by a little finger.

Kakko is played mainly at the orchestra of Chuseigaku. It plays the role of adding accents to the monotonous rhythm and controlling beating time.


"Shouko" has a bronze plate to hit unlike Taiko and Kakko. The plate is hung by a hook at the top. It is played by striking the plate with drum sticks. It is played mainly at the orchestra of Chuseigaku. Like Kakko, it plays the role of adding accents to the monotonous rhythm and controlling beating time.


"Syakubyosi" is made of a piece of wood which is cut in two pieces at the center of. They are played by hitting each other.
They are about 36.3 centimeters long (the width of the top is about 7.8 centimeters and the bottom is about 8 millimeters together), and the thickness is about 1.1 centimeters. Boxwood, sometimes cherry and Japanese apricot tree is used as material.
Mainly it is used by the conductor as the signal to start and end a tune at the Service. It is also played at "Kaityou" and "Tamagushi" with Wagon and Kagurabue.