Riley Lee

About The Teacher

Riley Lee began studying shakuhachi in Japan in 1971. In 1980, he became the first non-Japanese dai shihan (lit. ‘great teacher’). He was also the first non-Japanese to play wadaiko (Japanese drums) professionally (from 1974) as a founding member of Ondekoza (now Kodo).

Riley moved from Honolulu, Hawaii to Sydney in 1986 with his wife Patricia and their twin daughters. Riley’s PhD in ethnomusicology is from Sydney University. He has 60+ commercial recordings; his first (1980) is still available on Smithsonian-Folkways. Riley co-founded the Australian Shakuhachi Society with Patricia in 1996. Ian Cleworth and Riley co-founded Sydney-based TaikOz in 1997.

He was the Executive Director, Artistic Director and major sponsor of World Shakuhachi Festival 2008, held in Sydney. This highly acclaimed international event was organised primarily by some of the faculty of the Rockies Shakuhachi Camp. That year, Shakuhachi Camp was held in Sydney and was called “Shakuhachi Summer Camp of the Rockies Down Under.”

Riley has often said that his favourite event on his busy touring schedule has always been the Rockies Camp. He looks forward to seeing you there in 2019.


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