• John Kaizan Neptune

    John allows the moment to resonate after playing
    a piece on the shakuhachi in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

  • The Workshop

    John cures a piece of bamboo to turn into a shakuhachi.
    His flutes are sought after by performers across the globe.

  • The Beginning

    John started playing the shakuhachi in Japan when he was 19.

  • Martinu Hall

    A performance at the Martinu Hall ,
    part of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

  • Bamboo Magic

    Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth,
    growing up to 3 feet in 24 hours at its peak.

  • Dome House

    This is the house John built in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture
    with the help of friends and a few carpenters back in the 80's.

  • Kamogawa

    Aerial shot over the fall countryside of John's
    adopted home of Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture.

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PROJECT KAIZAN

About the Film

“KAIZAN: Rhythm and Bamboo” is a feature-length documentary exploring the story of California surfer turned Japanese shakuhachi flute master John “Kaizan” Neptune. Directed by John’s son David Neptune and produced by our team of filmmakers in Los Angeles, the film examines what it takes to cross cultural borders and become a master of this traditional art form. John has innovated on the shakuhachi’s design and developed new sounds never heard before with the instrument. His efforts have been praised by most but criticized by some. John has lived in Japan for over 40 years, focusing single-mindedly on the shakuhachi to further delve into the infinite possibilities of sound. But what are the sacrifices involved with becoming a true master?

This story told from David’s perspective will take audiences on an unforgettable journey through personal discoveries, humorous interludes and musical epiphanies.

THE MAN BEHIND THE MUSIC

Who is John “Kaizan” Neptune?

Born in California in 1951, John Neptune was an adventurous boy who loved playing baseball and catching lizards in the desert with his father and brother. John went on to attend the University of Hawaii mainly because he absolutely loved to surf. Uninspired by traditional academics, he realized he was less and less interested in pursuing a degree or a conventional life path. He decided to drop out of school to further pursue his love of surfing in South America. With one more semester already paid for, he asked for recommendations and ended up in a class called ethnomusicology – the study of world music.

This class opened up the idea of music as a way of understanding culture and exploring different ways of thinking. It was because of it that John first heard the sound of the shakuhachi – a traditional Japanese flute made from a single piece of bamboo. Completely taken by the instrument, he saved up some money and moved to Japan in 1973 at the age of 22 for the sole purpose of studying at the Tozan school of shakuhachi. After several years of focused training and overcoming challenges in Kyoto, he earned his degree of mastery, along with his name, “Kaizan”, which means ‘ocean mountain’ in Japanese.

From there, he moved to Tokyo and quickly became known as the rising star of the shakuhachi world, where he encountered much praise but also occasional criticism. Through 46 years of steadfast dedication to the shakuhachi and 23 albums encompassing different styles of music including jazz, classical, traditional Japanese, and world fusion, John has become one of the top masters of the instrument and a world class musician. He continues to live in Chiba, Japan where he composes music and crafts the shakuhachi, among other experimental bamboo instruments. While he lives and breathes music, he is also an avid mountain climber, surfer, punster, grandfather of two and occasional skateboarder – as he says at his ripe age of 65, “it’s all downhill from here… so pass me a skateboard!”

team

We are the…
Kaizan Team

GET TO KNOW US

About the Team

Our team comes from a multicultural background, bilingual in English and Japanese, and have been traveling around the globe filming together for the last 3 years. Along the way we have interviewed shakuhachi masters, John’s teachers, his fellow musicians in Japan, USA, India and the Czech Republic, music magazine editors, radio DJs, John’s family members, his fans and many more to provide a complete image of John as a person.

Through experiences along the way we have been inspired to look at our own upbringing and how we relate to our families. Being part of this personal, up-close journey has allowed us to deepen our understanding of what it means to be an artist and the commitment it takes to overcome challenges and actualize artistic vision. Through this film we hope to inspire audiences around the globe and help them gain insight into their own family relationships and artistic expression. To sum it up in John’s words, we want people to know that “If you do it, it’s possible.”

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DAVID NEPTUNE

Director, Writer, Producer

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CHIAKI YANAGIMOTO

Producer

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    MIKE McNAMARA

    Producer

      gallery

      Gallery

      Rig used for macro shots
      Future Shakuhachi in the raw
      Releasing Oils
      Taiko An in Kyoto
      Climbing Mountains
      Komuso in Nagoya
      Shakuhachi With JKN Brand
      Bull Temple in Bangalore, India
      Father and son
      Dome house
      The Takeda Drum Invention
      TV Show From Back In The Day

      Rig used for macro shots

      Rig used for macro shots

      Rig used for macro shots

      Enlarge

      Future Shakuhachi in the raw

      Future Shakuhachi in the raw

      Future Shakuhachi in the raw

      Enlarge

      Releasing Oils

      Releasing Oils

      Releasing Oils

      Enlarge

      Taiko An in Kyoto

      Taiko An in Kyoto

      Taiko An in Kyoto

      Enlarge

      Climbing Mountains

      Climbing Mountains

      Climbing Mountains

      Enlarge

      Komuso in Nagoya

      Komuso in Nagoya

      Komuso in Nagoya

      Enlarge

      Shakuhachi With JKN Brand

      Shakuhachi With JKN Brand

      Shakuhachi With JKN Brand

      Enlarge

      Bull Temple in Bangalore, India

      Bull Temple in Bangalore, India

      Bull Temple in Bangalore, India

      Enlarge

      Father and son

      Father and son

      Father and son

      Enlarge

      The Takeda Drum Invention

      The Takeda Drum Invention

      The Takeda Drum Invention

      Enlarge

      TV Show From Back In The Day

      TV Show From Back In The Day

      TV Show From Back In The Day

      Enlarge
      posts

      DID SOMEONE SAY NEWS?

      Stay up-to-date with the Latest KAIZAN News

      1605 2017

      New Website is Here!!

      All you need to know about our documentary film "KAIZAN: Rhythm and Bamboo" is here. Please browse through and let…

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      Connect with Us

      HOW DO WE DO IT?

      Your Support Matters

      We are fortunate to have the support of the International Documentary Association in the form of fiscal sponsorship, which means donations made in support of the film through the IDA portal are tax deductible. We are also supported by a film grant from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan. Now at the beginning of post production, we continue to seek funding from individuals and organizations to support the completion of our film. A warm thank you from our team for your continued support.

      We would love to hear your thoughts, questions, or ideas for collaboration.

      Contact us using the form below or reach us directly at: contact@projectkaizan.com

      You can also follow us on our facebook page.

      Thank you for your continued interest in KAIZAN: Rhythm and Bamboo.
      We can’t wait to share more of this exciting journey with you!

      PROJECT KAIZAN Welcomes Your Support

      KAIZAN: Rhythm and Bamboo is fiscally sponsored by the International Documentary Association, and any contributions made through the IDA Portal is fully tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

      WE ARE ALWAYS OPEN TO NEW IDEAS

      Project KAIZAN is more than just a film — it’s a collaborative platform. Reach out to us if you are sitting on top of a cool idea that needs an outlet with a Shakuhachi-esque flare.

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