The best of course would be to train in Japan. There are three dôjôs, one in Nara, one in Higashiôsaka and one in Nagoya, where training is held regularly. Addresses, training hours and contact data can be found at the Japanese site of the Hôzôinryu.
Outside Japan the only place offering Hôzôinryû Takadaha Sôjutsu training on a regular base is located in Hamburg/Germany:
monday 17:00 - 19:00
thursday 17:00 - 18:00
Everyone interested in Hôzôinryû Sôjutsu is always welcomed to visit the regular training sessions but prior announcement of such a visit either by phone during the Sôjutsu training hours at the dôjô or here would be highly appreciated.
Additionally there is a long spear-weekend once a month, which does not only offer enough time to train the forms of all three levels with various partners, but also to do intensive exercises of basic techniques.
The weekend dates for 2017 are: 25/26 February
19/20 August - 5th European Kobudo Convention
all 14:00 - 18:00 (Sa) and 13:00 - 17:00 (Su) (longer on request)
All other dates for 2016 will follow asap.
Written by Kagita Chûbê, 20th sôke of the Hôzôinryû
Historical traces of the Hôzôinryû
As I already wrote in the previous issue, the Hôzôin was still in existence at the end of the Edo period and sôjutsu was still taught there then. But during the anti Buddhist movement at the beginning of the Meiji period its buildings were torn down and its land was expropriated. At that time regrettably its dôjô was lost as well as the archives of its writings. Thus there are only very few historic monuments related to the Hôzôinryû that are left today, which I would like to introduce below.
If you tell a Japanese person you are practicing sôjutsu he will usually ask you "soj… what?" If you then say "yari" (spear) he will usually respond by saying "I see! …Spear." illustrated with a throwing gesture.
No wonder. Even in Japan almost nobody knows what sôjutsu is or that sôjutsu still exists nowadays. And if people have an idea at all what sôjutsu is, it is usually informed by TV series and movies which often draw a picture of the use of spears that has absolutely nothing in common with reality.
At best people remember scenes from the films of Kurosawa Akira showing platoons of spearmen working as units with long spears, very long spears.
1: Saya - The scabbard covering and protecting the blade, when the spear is not in use. There has been a great variety of designs for yarizaya,
especially during the Edo era, that went much further than functional
necessity demanded for at that time the yari was not only a weapon but
also a symbol of status and rank.
Keikoyari (training spears) are not obtained easyly even in Japan. The author saw a kamayari for sale in a budô equipment shop in Tôkyô just once. And there is only one maker/distributor of wooden weapons who sells kamayari and suyari (but only 9 shaku long) through his webshop. Recently he ships the spears to destinations outside Japan as well, but I fear the transportation might be even more expensive than the spear itself.
So in the end you have to ask a carpenter to build a spear to your specifications. Or just do it yourself. Don't worry. Building a spear isn't that difficult. On the contrary it is a lot of fun, at least for me.
As in most koryû (old schools) the line of head masters from the current sôke Kagita Chûbê back to Hôzôin Kakuzenbô Inei who founded the school is well documented.
About the life and doings of the founder of the school on the other hand only relatively litte is known for sure. And the little information that you can find often is contradictory or belongs to the realm of legends.