Kaoru Kakizakai (b. Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, 1959) is an internationally renowned player and teacher of the shakuhachi, a traditional vertical bamboo flute of Japan. Kaoru Kakizakai started playing the kena while he was in his teens. At 21 he started playing the shakuhachi in the Kinko style. His teacher recognized an unusual ability to play so he recommended him to study with the master,Yokoyama Katsuya. He graduated from the NHK Traditional Music Conservatory and is the winner of the prestigious Kumamoto All Japan Hogaku competition. He has recorded with Yokoyama sensei on his CDs and videos and is a popular leader of shakuhachi workshops for the International Shakuhachi Training Center (Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan) in Tokyo. He performed Toru Takemitsu’s November Steps with the NHK Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit and Hiroyuki Iwaki and with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in Russia, conducted by Akira Naito. He has performed extensively in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia and is a faculty member of the Boulder Colorado summer intensive camps as well as the Australian Shakuahchi Festivals. He also performed a duo programme with pianist Maria Joao Pires.
Currently he is a research fellow at the Tokyo College of Music, full time instructor for the International Shakuhachi Kenshukan and NHK Culture Centre, and President of the International Shakuhachi Kenshu-kan Chichibu School and Higashi Yamato School.