Sojiro, the great ceramic ocarina player, was born in Tatebayashi city, Gunma prefecture.
He was attracted by the sound of the ocarina, which he heard for the first time in 1975.
Since then, he started making his own ocarina, and for ten years until 1985, he made ten-thousand ocarina.
Among them, searching for his own sound, he selected ten-odd ocarina, which he still uses when playing.
He made his record debut in 1985, and was thrown into the limelight by an NHK special program “The Great Yellow River” in 1986, gaining his position as a popular artist.
From then on, he has released original albums every year, holding uncountable concerts and events. In 1993, an album in three parts–“Kidou”, “Fuuto”, and “Suishin”, –won “Planning award” of the 35th Japan Record Award.
He wishes to continue his concerts, compositions and creative activities, always being deeply related with nature and the earth, cherishing communication with the earth. His numerous original albums include “Ayumi”, “Orion”, “The Quiet Earth” and others. He also released the series “Ocarina Etude”, which includes classics and famous Japanese and worldwide music.
Sojiro’s ocarina life starts out from an encounter with Hisashi Kayama. It was in 1975, at a small village in a ravine of Tochigi. The sound, played by the mentor, echoed in the air of the valley. The moment is full of great emotion, as he hears the sound of the ocarina for the first time.
After a few months, Sojiro decided to be apprentice. A charcoal hut at the outskirts of a forest, a tiny space with just a lamp. This was Sojiro’s starting point. Always until dawn, he played the ocarina towards the mountains.
Later on, he moved into a house nearby using recycling wastes, and got water from a mountain stream, not so far away, by drawing a pipe several meters long. He didn’t miss practice here either. Playing outside on a snowy day felt especially good. Snow erases the surrounding noise, and the sound of the ocarina in the extreme silence is unexplainable.
Being apprentice to Hisashi Kayama, he made ocarina at an ocarina atelier during the daytime, and practiced in the evening for about an hour. Back home, he practiced alone seven to eight hours every night until dawn. This intensive lifestyle lasted three years.
Sojiro’s original sound would develop even further.
He moved to Motegicho at the east edge of Tochigi prefecture, and started his search for his own sound. It was a vacant house where a water mill used to be.
He created his own form, piled up bricks, and finished up, making a kiln all by himself. He fired the kiln with firewood.
Starting from four types,−−pipe C01, G02, C04, and G05,−−he continued by trial and error for nine months.
He tried all kinds of clay, when he got the chance. He tried clay from Seto, Tajimi, and Toki around Nagoya, as well as local Tochigi and Ibaragi. He was absorbed in working sixteen hours per day.
In 1980, he moved into a closed primary school, and used it also as his atelier. Again, he made a firewood kiln, piling up bricks. His types of ocarina increased, and his challenge went on to make bigger ones, like pipe F06, C07, and G08. At the same time, particular keys, such as pipe B♭and A♭, came into being after a rather long period of trial and error. Literally, he was soaked in ocarina.
He made about a hundred and twenty pipes per month, among which about a hundred would be fired slowly for 13 hours. And another one or two weeks would be needed for fumigation, polishing, and tuning after firing. Which leads to eight firings in the kiln per year, to be able to make about a thousand pipes.
He made over ten-thousand pipes, from 1975 to when he made his CD debut in 1985.
What he is using himself, are the ten-odd pipes out of those ten-thousand.
Sojiro’s sound is condensed into the first ten years after he encountered the ocarina. He uses all his energy for his ocarina.
Among the pipes he made, there are quite a few that only Sojiro could recognize. Some of them can be played only by Sojiro.
The reason for this is that he reaches towards each pipe, not on his pace, but thinking of the condition of the clay’s pace. Sometimes, the work is rather simple. He looks steadily as if he is cultivating or picking out grass in a field.
This sound of the ocarina convinced Sojiro, who loved songs and in fact wanted to sing, that the lyrics were not necessary. It is the sound of the earth. There is no need for words.
Only Sojiro, who made these pipes with all his heart, can breathe life into them. Just Sojiro’s own sound. No wonder so many people become so impressed.
He receives immeasurable support.
Because of Sojiro’s unique sound of “Pride”.
Borrowing from Sojiro’s words, “Ocarina Plows the Air”.
The origin of the ceramic pipe goes back to an ancient civilization of the 3rd and 4th centuries BC. At that time, the pipes had fewer holes, some of them had only 3 or 4 scales, or people just breathed into the pot-shaped pipes.
The ceramic pipe that we see now has existed since the middle of the 19th century. The original form was born in a small town in northern Italy. From its form the derivation of the word ocarina is said to be “small goose”. The Tyrolean poets praised it throughout Europe. Simple and familiar with the fulfilling depth of a beautiful sound, the ocarina was appreciated by all sorts of people and soon gained popularity in Europe, from which it spread all over the world.
The ocarina boom passed over Japan without it being much noticed. By producing music for the NHK program “The Great Yellow River” in 1986, the sound of the ocarina prevailed all over Japan. Now, the population of ocarina lovers is increasing in Japan, and most of them have been influenced by Sojiroﾕs music.
All the ocarina Sojiro uses today have been handmade by him, starting from designing a form, mixing the clay, and firing in a kiln. Out of every one-hundred ocarina fired, he feels like playing only three or four ocarina.
Sojiro started to create ocarina in1975, and kept making and searching for his own sound for ten years until 1985. As a result he made about ten-thousand pipes. But he actually uses the only ten-odd ocarina he has selected among them.
Sojiro has come this far, searching for his own music matching his sound to nature and the earth.