history kendo kenshi

Showa no kensei (昭和の剣聖)

This small article intriduces the “Showa no kensei (昭和の剣聖)” or “The Sword Saints of the Showa period.” All of these kenshi are widely known within the Japanese kendo community, and abroad as well, but I thought a quick article in here would serve as a useful reference.

I hope to expand on this and write longer and more in-depth articles about various kenshi from by-gone years (and not limited to just kendo or renowned personages).

In particular, I feel that Takano Sasaburo’s impact on kendo is not fully understood by many modern practitioners, myself included. Doing research for these articles gives me the chance to learn more and clarify my own thoughts and ideas about kendo, which can only be a good thing!

Takano Sasaburo (高野佐三郎)
1862 or 3 – 1950. Ono-ha itto-ryu, kendo hanshi.

Notable events in his career:

1879 – Entered Yamaoka Tesshu’s Yubukan
1986 – On Yamaoka’s recommendation he was appointed as a kendo instructor at Keichicho.
1888 – Became a police instructor at Saitama prefectures Police HQ and built a new house and dojo (named Urawa Meishinkan) in Urawa City (now Saitama City).
1896 – Became a chief bujutsu instructor at Saitama Police Academy.
1899 – Established Tokyo Meishinkan (at this time there were 41 sub-branches of Meishinkan around the Kanto area, and he was said to be teaching around 10,000 people, including police and students).
1907+ – Took the lead in teaching kendo at various specialist institutes and universities: Tokyo Koto Shihan Gakko Gekkiken Koshi, Tokyo Koto Kogyo Kendo Shihan, Waseda Daigaku Kendobu Koshi, etc
1911-1917 – Was entrusted by the Butokukai as one of the people to help create/establish kendo no kata.
1913 – Awarded hanshi.

Nakayama Hakudo (中山 博道)
1872 – 1958. Shinto munen ryu and Muso shinden ryu, kendo/iaido/jodo hanshi.

Notable events in his career:

1909 – Founded Yushinkan. This dojo taught kendo, iaido, and jodo and was seen as a sogo budo dojo and was ranked alongside Takano Sasaburos Shudokogakuin (established 1928) in prominence.

At the same time he was became a Keichisho (Tokyo Metropolitan Police) kendo shihan.

1929 – Nakayama (shidachi) demonstrated the kendo no kata (at that time, nippon teikoku no kata) in front of the emperor with Takano Sasaburo (uchidachi)

Saimura Goro (斎村 五郎)
1887 – 1969, hanshi judan.

Notable events in his career:

1906 – Began training as a teacher at the infamous Budo Senmon Daigaku in Kyoto. Learned kendo under Dai Nippon Butokukai shihan Naito. After graduating he went on to become an Assistant teacher at Busen.
1916 – Left for Tokyo. Upon arriving there he became the kendo shihan for Keshicho, Toyama Army School, Imperial Guards, Waseda (various schools), Nippon Daigaku, as well as becoming a professor at Kokushikan Senmon Gakko.
After the war – Was the shihan for Keishicho and Kokushikan.
1964 – At the Tokyo Olympics he demonstrated kendo no kata with Mochida.

Mochida Moriji (持田 盛二)
1885 – 1974, hanshi judan.

Notable events in his career:

1907 – Began training as a teacher at the infamous Budo Senmon Daigaku in Kyoto. Learned Hokushin Itto-ryu from the Dai Nippon Butokukai shihan Naito.
1919 – Awarded kyoshi by the Butokukai.
1925 – He became the shihan at Chosen Sotokufu (in Korea)
1927 – Awarded hanshi by the Butokukai.
1929 – Takes part and wins the Tenran Budo Taikai (kendo) in front of the then emperor, Hirohito.
1930 – Starts working for Kodansha and becomes the shihan of Noma dojo.
1957 – Awarded Judan by the ZNKR.

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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6 replies on “Showa no kensei (昭和の剣聖)”

I’ve read on some article writen by Kenji Tokitsu that Naito Takaharu had also a big influence on kendo, his relationship with Takano Sasaburo was almost that of “rivals”. Anyway very interesting people, thanks for sharing.

Was waiting for this article to pop up… finally! What I think would be really useful would be some more detail about these guys. There’s a lot of stories about them filter through to the non-Japanese speaking kendo community but you never know where it all fits. Nakakura sensei and the two Hagas are other kengo that I would like to find out more about… お願いします!Of these guys, Saimura sensei is the one that intrigues me the most because of his eternally serene face. b

Very useful article. I helps understand the roots of modern Kendo. If you plan to go into more detail on each of these sensei, it would be interesting to understand who were their direct successors. Well done George.

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