The following are concepts that were discuss in lessons that I had with Yamada-Sensei, while taking ichigenkin lessons in Hawaii a few months before she passed away. - R. Raine-Reusch
The ichigenkin is a plain instrument. It is not fancy; it has few decorations. The techniques are simple, yet powerful. It is the unassuming aspect of the ichigenkin that is important. It reflects daily life. Within it, everything is found, from the sublime to the mundane. The ichigenkin transforms the mundane to the sublime, while it clothes the sublime in the mundane. Yet while it transforms, it reveals what is already present. Everything changes yet nothing changes. It is still just one string.
The ichigenkin plays your soul. It is the voice of your inner self.
Within each note is contained every aspect of your life, every thought, feeling, sound, and experience. All is contained within each note. The accomplished player can focus these - can make these rich and full.
If the accomplished player plays a painful note, then the air around the instrument cries, if the accomplished player plays a happy note, the air around the instrument laughs.
The ichigenkin is an instrument of essence. With the accomplished player, the ichigenkin is like a knife that cuts to the core. It reveals life in its purity.
Nothing is hidden with the ichigenkin. It reveals all. All the joys and pains of the player are shown; all the fears and triumphs of the player can be seen. It reveals the truths and the lies, the real and the imagined. If the sound is thin and shaky, or strong and bold, secrets are revealed. It is an instrument of stark truth and honesty, do not try to hide behind it, it hides nothing.
All of life and nature are within each note of the ichigenkin. It is nature itself - full of the rhythms, harmonies and discords of life. All the structure and chaos of the universe are found within it.
The ichigenkin is part of nature. It is made of wood and silk. No human touch is required for it to sound. Nature alone can make it speak.
The ichigenkin is a natural instrument. All the sounds of nature are heard within it. The accomplished player looks to nature to know the ichigenkin, and plays the ichigenkin to know nature.
The ichigenkin is never separate from the musician; it never leaves the musician once they play. The ichigenkin plays the musician, even when the musician is not playing the instrument. The musician is the instrument, the instrument the musician.
If the accomplished player plucks the string, music is present. If the accomplished player does not pluck the string, music is still present.
The ichigenkin is empty. There is nothing there. It is full of this nothingness. The ichigenkin is full. Everything is there. There is nothing left to put in. There is nothing left outside of it.
For the accomplished player, there is no ichigenkin; there is just plain wood and fibre. Yet, for the accomplished player, there is only the ichigenkin. Nothing else exists.The ichigenkin is played from deep within the player's body. If no thought is used, the sound is pure, direct from the soul.
The ichigenkin is the essence of ma, emptiness that is full. Every note of the ichigenkin contains silence; every silence contains sound. The rhythm of the ichigenkin must be full of ma, as should be each note. It is the ma on which the sound rests. It is the ma within each note that gives it strength.