The shakuhachi is made from the base of a bamboo stalk. A hole is drilled down the center of the stalk and finger and thumb holes are drilled into the side. The shakuhachi is played by blowing air across the beveled edge at the top end of the instrument while covering and uncovering the holes with fingertips.
The shakuhachi has been used since the 15th century in Japan to create music for Zen Buddhist meditation. The sounds produced by the shakuhachi range from feather-soft whispers to strong piercing tones. They are intended to reflect sounds from nature such as bird calls, wind, and water. Today the shakuhachi is also played in jazz, orchestral, and popular music ensembles.