An ancient Japanese horizontal flute made of natural shino-bamboo.
It is said to have originated in China and used in "Dengaku" during the Heian Period.
Dengaku is an agricultural ceremony practiced during those times to celebrate rice planting by dancing to the tunes played by flutes and Japanese drums (Taiko).
Back in those days, shinobue was an attraction during village celebrations and played for entertaining the regional society (excerpts from "The fascination of the horizontal flute" by Hyakunosuke Fukuhara).
As stated above, it can be said that the shinobue is an all-purpose entertainment flute that was passed on for generations by being closely attached to regional societies.
Uta and Hayashi Shinobue:
"Uta"means song, and "Hayashi" means festival. Uta shinobue can be used to play almost any kind of music, since they are tuned properly and in pitch. In contrast, hayashi shinobue are not perfectly tuned to western scales so can only be used to play the hayashi folk festival music.
The shinobue can play 2 and a half octaves. There are known to be 13 kinds of lengths to choose from. The longest is called 1-hon(F) choshi, while the shortest is 13-hon(F) choshi. (The biggier the number is, the shorter the shinobue gets)
Please keep in mind that the shinobue are not exactly tuned to Do-Re-Mi scale (even with uta shinobue) like western instruments. When a tone is low or high, each player shold adjust the pitch using techniques called Meri and Kari (Changing the angle of your embouchure) Some people post how to do it on youtube so you might want to check it out.
To get higher octaces, breath from your diaphragm and try to focus your breath into tighter stream It takes some practice, but everybody gets it eventually.
How to Cover the Holes:
For the right hand, use between first and second joints, (NOT finger tips) You can adjust from the little finger first, then close other holes accordingly.
Your little finger should be comfortabe, otherwise the air leaks and the sound becomes unclear.
How do I Care for My Shinobue?
Playing results in condensation on the inside of the flute. This is removed by a piece of absorbent cloth
with a weighted string attached to it (840 yen at Mejiro). Also, pure- light vegetable oil can be applied
to the outside of the flute to prevent drying which leads to cracking.
Please avoid using any cooking oils! (Suitable olive oil is 840 yen at Mejiro.)