This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Mar 3, 2012

Review : On-Lak nose flute

Kiyoshi Suzuki (スズキ キヨシ) is a Japanese musician, specialized in African percussions, an instrument maker, a music teacher and lecturer, and a performance organizer. His wife Sachie Tomioka (トミオカ サチエ) is a designer and an aromatherapy instructor. Both are very involved in environmental and human causes, and form the Kiyoshism studio, or On-lak Ichiba ("music market").

On their website (and here translated by Goggle), you can read all about their activities, and discover the instruments Suzuki makes and sells : percussions, Kalimbas, "shala-shalas" and... nose flutes.

The particularity of Kiyoshi's instruments is that they all use a funny, colored and recycled supplementary percussion system : flattened beer caps used as little cymbals! Even the On-lak nose flutes (おんらく) wear their little beer cap, coming from a Japanese, Indonesian, Hawaiian, Indonesian... beer bottle.

Mr. Kiyoshi very gently answered my questions :

- When did you begin to make nose flutes, and why ?

I began to make them about 5 years ago.
I think ... the nose flutes is "a barrier-free musical instrument". It is a communication tool, so funny and so amazing !

- How did you get the idea of adding beer caps, and why ?

The cause of that is the sound object "Okan Shala-shala." ”Okan Shala-shala” is a Kiyoshi's original item. The Japanese meaning of "Okan" is beer caps. It's a like a tambourine, and makes a sound of good noise.

- What is the meaning of the name "On-Lak" ?

We are a husband and wife unit. Kiyoshi is a musician (Percussion & Kalimba player). Tommy is a designer.
Our unit name is "On-Lak Ichiba".

The Japanese' meaning of "On-Lak" is "music".

"On" meaning is  sound.
"Lak"means "enjoy, comfortable, etc."
The Japanese meaning of "Ichiba" is "market (PARCO)".
We enjoy music !!!

The On-lak nose flute

I tried to find to get one by the past, but did not succeed because the one I looked for was on, and without a Japanese postal address, it is not possible to order from this seller. But recently, I had the luck to become friend with ShowNoseFlute, this young, fine and gentle hanabue player, and we decided to make a exchange of nose flute, since he was interested by some western ones.

So, thanks to Show, I received my first On-lak. And as a greedy collector, looking for info about it, I finally discovered the original On-lak website, and was able to... order more! (very easily, sending a english email with my colour choices at info[at], and paying with Paypal).

The On-lak is a vietnamese type nose flute, as we know them, made in quite good grade rosewood (some show the very recognizable light-dark patterns), and, as we already know, are very playable with a nice sound (some difficulties, though, for noses with hard cartilage coming low under the base of the nose, because of the position of the air entrance on the flute).

But the On-lak is a very funny instrument with its "Okan" soft percussion cymbal. How to play it ? Well, there is a user-manual that is provided with the flute, which says (thanks to Show for the translation) :

« Sandwich the nose flute between thumb and middle finger, and put the index finger on the crown cymbals. Fit nose on dent of the top (see photo). »

So, the right use is to shake and tap cymbal, according to your skill and imagination, with the index, while you blow the flute. Or you can use it as a flute only, and then use it as a shaker. Let's say the percussive sound is not very loud, as you can expect from a single beer cap smashing a small piece of wood, but for a solitary playing or before a microphone, the okan will do the thing!

You can hear the okan effect in this recording by ShowNoseFlute, in which he uses different nose flutes : the percussion sounds come from his On-lak flute.

And I made a little stupid and quick video for you (and you already know that I'm not a good player...) :

So, if you look for a funny and original nose flute, just choose the colour you like for the cymbal and for the cord, and ask Mr. Kiyoshi!


Links :

The Kiyoshism website

The Kiyoshism website (translated by Google)

Orders at info[at] (replace [at] by @, for sure)

The On-lak Ichiba Youtube channel (many kalimba and performance videos)

Kiyoshi Suzuki Facebook page

Sachie Tomioka Facebook page

On-lak Ichiba on Twitter



  1. Hello Antoine,
    Question..... Do you need Protective Glasses to play the On-Lak? Also, since there's Beer involved must the player be OVER 18 years old?
    Thank You,
    Brian F. aka: brionski

  2. Hello Brian,

    Yes, you're absolutely right : i must wear protectic glasses to avoid the projections of rotten tomatoes when I play the flute!

    And yes : you have to hide the On-Lak in a paper bag when you walk in the street.

    Best wishes to you,


  3. Antoine,
    YOU are the BEST!!!
    THANK YOU for educating noseflute lovers ALL AROUND the WORLD of the MANY and INTERESTING instruments available.
    All the Best,
    Brian F (brionski)

  4. Hello Antoine.

    Thank you uploaded On-lak !
    I grad it to you enjoy On-lak.

    Your playing is nice, and your play style is very cool ;-)
    It has more bright sound than tap finger, I feel.

    All the best,

    Sho Hirasawa

  5. Hello Sho!

    Thank you very much for your comment!
    (but my playing is not nice ... i'm not a good nose flute player... just a nose flute lover)



  6. Thank you Brian!

    I'm not sure to be the best anyway :) But surely, I like to share and spread my interest in nose flutes.

    All the best to you,