Bo Ya (Hakuga in Japanese) may be the best known musician of Chinese antiquity; he was a virtuoso on the qin, a horizontal Chinese harp that is a symbol of Chinese erudition, in the Spring and Autumn Period (8th-5th century B.C.E.). Incredibly, Bo Ya’s music is still played. The Hakuga Yama float shows Bo Ya with a koto, the Japanese version of a qin.
Though Bo Ya’s skill was widely acknowledged, he felt that no one really understood his music. One day a humble wood cutter named Zhong Ziqi (Japanese: Shōshiki) heard Bo Ya’s music from a distance, and could perfectly interpret what he was expressing. Thereafter a Chinese phrase “to know one’s music” became synonymous with empathic and ideal friendship, transcending differing backgrounds.
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