Thrusting it's a spear
Mowing it's a pole sword
It can cut down like a sickle
And it never fails to hit its target
The Sickle-Spear of the Hôzôinryû (11) Print E-mail

Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû

Kawaji Toshiakira and the Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu

Kagita Sôke
Kagita Sôke
Kawaji Toshiakira (1801 - 1868) was an outstanding character of the late Edo period. He held various important positions in the administration of the shogunate and is especially renowned as the signatory of the Treaty of Shimoda1 and as an advocate of the opinion that the four southern islands of the Kuril Islands were Japanese territory.

Beginning in 1846 this Kawaji Toshiakira served for five years as city magistrate of Nara. His government was a wise one. For example, he implemented measures to help the poor as well as he had a lot of trees planted, especially around the temples Tôdaiji and Kôfukuji. These plantations became the basis for what is Nara Park nowadays. For everything he did the people of Nara are still thankful today.

Kawaji Toshiakira left the "Neifukiji2", a diary he kept when he was city magistrate of Nara. From this diary we learn that Kawaji himself was a student of Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu, that he sent his son Ichizaburô to the Hôzôin to learn Sôjutsu, that he visited the Hôzôin to watch training and that he often had conversations with the prior. Also remarkable is that he took his personal training so seriously that after getting up early every morning he did 2.000 practice-swings with a sword weighing 3,7 kg followed by 4.000 repetitions of the basic exercise called Shigoki3 with a training-spear weighing 3 kg and a 13 km long walk wearing an armor weighing 11 kg. He then would study books like the Zizhi Tongjian4 or the four Confucian classics5 before devoting himself to his official duties.

Kawaji Toshiakira
Kawaji Toshiakira
By his training in the early hours of the day which went unnoticed by others and his reading Kawaji Toshiakira cultivated his mind as well as his body. This was not only his means of preserving his health but reflected his attitude of being always prepared to serve his country. One entry in his diary states: "If one, wearing an armor weighing approximately 11,3 kg and carrying a long sword with a 69,6 cm long blade and a short sword with a 39,4 cm long blade, is not capable of walking 11,8 km and riding 19,6 km one horseback, he is useless as a warrior."

Below I would like to present a selection of Budô and Sôjutsu related citations from the "Neifukiji".

11th day of the 1st month: I was appointed city magistrate of Nara.
12th day of the 9th month: I have increased the number of repetitions of my spear drills. I need my training here exactly as I did in Edo.
11th day of the 10th month: Today I swung my sword and did my spear practice as I always do.
14th day of the 10th month: I got up at six o'clock in the morning, swung my sword and practiced with the spear as always.

14th day of the 5th month: Every morning I do 1.500 Shigoki and swing my sword 500 times. But even so I have the feeling I am not moving enough.
19th day of the 8th month: Every morning I do 3.000 Shigoki and swing my sword 1.000 times.
29th day of the 8th month: I did 3.000 Shigoki, rode on horseback, swung my sword and taught Ichizaburô fencing.

25th day of the 1st month: Yesterday I made Ichizaburô enter the Hôzôin so he will learn Sôjutsu there … Because it was his first Training, racoon-soup was served in accordance with the old etiquette. Once this soup actually was prepared with racoon, but today konjac is used instead because at the training place no meat is eaten …
2nd day of the 5th month: I wrote an encouraging poem (for Ichizaburô), so he will exert himself at sword and spear training.

4th day of the 4th month: I scolded Ichizaburô when I heard that he had a brawl with one of the masters.
15th day of the 5th month: (Hôzôin) Inkai came visiting and we had a nice talk on Sôjutsu.
22nd day of the 5th month: The Hôzôin is located on the compounds of the Kôfukuji but stands outside the walls of the former … The training hall has a tiled roof of course. It definitely is a magnificent building. The wall (?) panels are 5,46 m by 12,74 m, the pillars 18,2 cm by 18,2 cm in cross-section. The floor is made from Japanese cypress without seams or visible nails. The whole structure resembles a Nô stage in all aspects. And even if one would hang (all) the spears on a wall of the training hall like they were a roller blind made from bamboo they wouldn't extend up to the ceiling. There would still be left another 60,6 cm, which illustrates the impressive height of the hall.
22nd day of the 10th month: I have watched a demonstration at the training hall of the Hôzôin.

His diary shows us how rigorous Kawaji was against himself and how kind he was towards others. It strongly suggests that we should take our predecessors' attitude and ways of training as a model for our own training. Furthermore Kawaji's diary teaches us that there was a prior at the Hôzôin, which belonged to the Kôfukuji, up to the late Edo period, that Sôjutsu was still taught there then and finally, that the training hall was an impressive building.

(First published in the Nara town magazine Ubusuna on November 5th 2009)
  1. This treaty regulating commerce, navigation and borders between Russia and Japan was signed in the city of Shimoda on February 7, 1855.
  2. Approximately: Happenings during my time as city ​​magistrate.
  3. In this exercise the spear is lowered into Gedan (almost touching the ground) then pushed with the right hand through the left hand while performing a step sideway, then pulled back into the horizontal basic stance (Yarigamae) while yelling "eyh".
  4. A book on Chinese history published in the 11th century by Sima Guang.
  5. These are: "Great Learning", "Doctrine of the Mean", "The Analects" and "Mencius"; compiled in the 12th century by the Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi.
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