Yasuko Nakashima, KotoThe eldest daughter of Utashito Nakashima, Yasuko Nakashima began early koto studies with Michio Miyagi, Kiyoko Miyagi, and her father. In 1979, Yasuko became the Director of Seiha Hōgaku-Kai and the second iemoto after her father. Her extensive career of over 70 years includes performances on both the 13-string koto and 17-string bass koto as well as composing a large body of musical compositions. Yasuko graduated from Tokyo Academy of Music (present Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1946 after studies with Michio Miyagi, Kiyoko Miyagi and composer Kōzaburō Hirai. In 1952, she represented Japan in the International Music Council in Pasadena, California. She later attended and graduated from Monterey Peninsula College. In 1957, Yasuko and Shin’ichi Yuize were married and engaged in various musical activities together, such as a series of joint concerts, concerts for Yuize’s works, and family concerts. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from the Japanese government as well as many other international distinctions for her role in promoting and furthering education in Japanese traditional music through performance instruction, performing activities, and recordings in Japan and overseas. As a substantial composer, Yasuko’s music is available on several labels. She has cultivated many top performers and musicians at the Seiha Music School and the Seiha Ensemble. She is still active as a performer, composer and teacher.
Kazuko Nakashima, Shamisen and VoiceEldest daughter of Shin’ichi Yuize and Yasuko Nakashima, Kazuko Nakashima is currently Director and Vice-iemoto of Seiha Hōgaku-Kai. Kazuko's musical heritage dates back to her grandfather. She began her early musical studies under composer Kōzaburō Hirai and learned the piano from both Kōzaburō Hirai and Takejiro Hirai. Kazuko also studied the koto under her father during her childhood and later, the jiuta shamisen and voice, under both him and teacher, Akiko Yazaki. Since 1987, she has taught jiuta shamisen and voice at Seiha lesson studio (dōjō) and from 2004 at Seiha Music School. Kazuko performs regularly in various solo and family concerts throughout Japan and overseas. Her vocal beauty and mastery of the shamisen can also be heard on numerous recordings.
Satoshi Utanoichi Okuda, Koto and KokyūThe great-grandson of Utashito Nakashima and eldest son of Kazuko Nakashima, Satoshi Utanoichi Okuda was born in 1979 in Tokyo. Satoshi received his formal training on the koto during his childhood and teenage years from his grandmother, Yasuko Nakashima. For a short time, Okuda left Japanese traditional music studies to learn Western music. Okuda later returned back to studies of the koto with Nakashima in 1985. He continued his studies and graduated with his koto teaching certificate (junshihan) in 2000, as the top of his class and was awarded the Sōsaishō Prize. Out of deep respect for his great-grandfather Utashito Nakashima, Okuda used part of his first name as his own new stage name "Utanoichi." He later fine-tuned his studies in koto and shamisen under his grandfather, composer and performer Shin’ichi Yuize with special emphasis on jiuta shamisen music and the works of Yuize and Michio Miyagi. He received his Master’s Certificate (daishihan) in 2011 and established his own training studio to teach a new generation of musicians. In addition to koto, Okuda is trained in kokyū with performances at several venues throughout Japan. He also performs his own music.
Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, ShakuhachiChristopher Yohmei Blasdel began the shakuhachi and studies of Japanese music in 1972 with Japan’s Living National Treasure Gorō Yamaguchi and continued with the master until his death in 1999. In 1982, Blasdel received his MFA in ethnomusicology from Tokyo University of the Arts and was honored with the professional name "Yohmei" from Yamaguchi in 1984—the first of only two non-Japanese accredited by Yamaguchi. Blasdel’s shakuhachi repertory is deeply rooted in the classic styles of sankyoku ensemble playing and the lofty solo honkyoku music, but he is also known for his precise performances of contemporary music and improvisational abilities. Presently, Blasdel performs around the world and has taught at such prestigious institutions as University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, International Christian University in Tokyo, Temple University (Japan), Earlham College (Indiana), Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), University of Washington (Seattle), Charles University (Prague) and many others.