Christopher Yohmei Blasdel graduated with a BFA degree from Earlham College in 1974. While an exchange student in Japan, he began the shakuhachi and studies of Japanese music in 1972 with Living National Treasure Goro Yamaguchi. In 1982 he received an MFA in ethnomusicology from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and was accredited as a shihan shakuhachi master by Yamaguchi.
Christopher balances traditional Shakuhachi music, modern compositions, improvisation, and cross-genre work with musicians, dancers, poets, and visual artists in his musical activities. A selection of his CDs, including traditional shakuhachi honkyoku meditative pieces along with contemporary music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. He performs around the world and has guest lectured at such institutions as Earlham College, Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok), Texas A&M University, University of Washington, Charles University (Prague), Cal Arts, International Christian University (Tokyo), University of Maryland and Temple University.
Christopher has composed and performed music for NHK documentaries and various films and was the Artistic Director of the International House of Japan from 1987 to 2013. He co-organized the Boulder World Shakuhachi Festival ’98 and assisted the Sydney World Shakuhachi Festival in 2008. Christopher also co-founded the Prague Shakuhachi Festival. His semi-autobiographical book, The Single Tone—A Personal Journey through Shakuhachi Music (Printed Matter Press, 2005) and The Shakuhachi, A Manual for Learning (1988) are two of Shakuhachi’s most important English language resource books. Christopher presently lectures at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa and holds a fifth-degree black belt in Aikido.
In May, 2024, his translations and annotations of Edo Period song texts–Jiuta Sōkyoku Lyrics and Explanations: Songs of the Floating World–will be published by Routledge Press as part of the SOAS Studies of Music Series.
Check out Christopher’s Youtube page here.