Type: Notched Flute > Aerophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.111.12
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: Hotchiku [in Japanese k. 法竹 h. ほっちく, meaning “bamboo of the dharma”; lit. “dharma bamboo”]. It is sometimes romanized as hocchiku or hochiku, is a Japanese end-blown aerophone, crafted from root sections of bamboo. After cleaning and sanding, the heavy root end of the bamboo stalk reveals many small circular knots where the roots formerly joined the stalk.
The same part of the bamboo plant is also used to produce the shakuhachi but, unlike the shakuhachi, internal bore of the hotchiku and external surfaces are left un-lacquered. Inlays are not used in the mouthpiece. The membranes at the nodes inside a hotchiku bore are generally left more intact than those of a shakuhachi, though older komuso shakuhachi also share this trait.
Playing Techniques: The techniques for playing Hotchiku are similar to shakuhachi techniques, although the sound resulting from hotchiku is more fragile. Due to design and tuning this kind of flute cannot really be easily tuned to the modern 12-tone system like the ji-nashi shakuhachi. The angle or blowing edge of the utaguchi [歌口, lit. “singing mouth”], of a hotchiku is closer to perpendicular to the bore axis than that of a modern shakuhachi but this is mostly a choice of the maker depending upon the size of the bamboo.
Older Komuso and Myoan shakuhachi also share this trait, though unlike Hotchiku they usually have an inlaid blowing edge. This property, along with the un-lacquered bore, results in a rough and breathy timbre. Because of its extremely natural construction, the hotchiku is commonly used for suizen 吹禅 [blowing Zen meditation].
Playing traditional honkyoku would only be attempted by highly technically skilled shakuhachi musicians since the blowing and fingering techniques required for honkyoku have to be altered considerably. Since hotchiku are not generally tuned to a standard musical scale, they do not commonly accompany other instruments.
Citations: Hotchiku website [in Japanese] with pictures ;