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* A local samurai (or gōshi 郷士) is a samurai who's in charge of their own village

Hibiya Kenjirō

Adachi's Local Samurai at the End of the Edo Period

Hibiya Kenjirō


Tenpō year 7 (1836) – January 15th, Meiji year 19 (1886)

Hibiya Kenjirō is a local samurai from Adachi who was active from the end of the Edo period (1603–1868) to the beginning of the Meiji era (1868–1912).

We introduce the achievements of Hibiya Kenjirō, along with his collection of historical documents and artworks.




Learn More about Hibiya Kenjirō

Hibiya Kenjirō's official YouTube channel, Twitter account, and others.


About the creation of this project

 I was surprised to learn that this place has a long history and it holds a tremendous amount of historical documentation, when I visited the Hibiya House in the summer of 2015. It is also located near the Umejima Overpass on Kan-nana Street in Chūohonmachi in the Adachi ward where I pass everyday on the way to work.


 Hibiya Kenjirō was the head of the family during the Bakumatsu (the final years of the Edo period) until the beginning of the Meiji era, who published the first Japanese-German dictionary in Japan. My interest grew when I learned that he was a historical figure. Like myself, the current members of the Hibiya family have only seen these documents recently. I must tell you especially to researchers that the Museum and I have the pleasure to present you Kenjirō and his family’s documents, publications, and numerous fine arts and crafts, and to have taken part in the mystery solving of this historical figure, (as you may likewise appreciate them). His history links to other historical figures including the Bakumatsu politician Katsu Kaishū, the German educator Rudolph Lehmann, and several painters from the Kanō school.


 The Hibiya Kenjirō project is not to simply boast about his achievements  – rather it is a starting point to encourage others to appreciate history, arts, and interactions with foreign countries through the lens of the Hibiya Family’s heritage (15 April 2022).

Tada Fumio, curator at the Adachi City Museum​

 Hibiya Kenjirō was excellent in both academics and sports: in the beginning of the Meiji era, he published an authentic Japanese-German dictionary that comes with a commentary. Such books were  rare at that time.

 He received the Hokushin Ittō-ryū swordsmanship certification for his excellent skills. Thus, it is amazing to know that such a person existed in those days, but what is even more extraordinary is that the documents about him exist today.

 I would like many people to know that there were people like him, and I believe it is our obligation to preserve these precious documents for the future.


Ioku Shigehiko, Professor of Literature at the Keiō University


 The Hibiya Family tells us about periodical literature from the Edo era and also many other rich cultural properties. These show the family’s role as the regional leader amid turbulent times in Japanese history. I am pleased that this website has finally been published.

Ueno Daisuke, Associate Professor at the Keiō University


 The documents of the Hibiya Family are important because they are the epitome of Japanese society from the Edo period to the end of the Second World War. They tell us what the people of those times actually felt.

 I believe that the book does not only reveal Hibiya Kenjirō’s way of life and other leaders of the Bakumatsu Restoration, but also the state of society and culture in the surrounding areas that matured throughout the Edo period.


Mishina Masanobu, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Faculty of Commerce at the Takushoku University 


 The Hokushin Itto-ryū swordsmanship, which Hibiya Kenjirō studied, was initiated by Chiba Shūsaku at the end of the samurai era and eventually became famous as the highest brand of swordsmanship, leading to the birth of modern kendō (bamboo swordsmanship).

 Chiba Shūsaku was a strong and clever man who revolutionized the pedagogy of traditional swordsmanship in a way that anyone could develop Hokushin Ittō-ryū swordsmanship.  

 Consequently, the total number of Hokushin Ittō-ryū students reached over 10,000, and there were disciple dōjō gyms spread throughout the country where over 30 samurai clans studied swordsmanship.

 As a student of Shūsaku, Hibiya Kenjirō was introduced to Hokushin Ittō-ryū at the age of 16 and was granted a menkyo-kaiden (full proficiency certificate) at the age of 20. 

 This is the second greatest achievement in this swordmanship after the genius Kaiho Hohei who received his menkyo-kaiden at the age of 19.

 Hibiya Kenjirō opened a dōjō gym of Hokushin Itto-ryū in Adachi in Musashi Province where he taught many students. Kenjirō also served the shogunate and dealt with many issues during the Meiji era.


Shiina Kazue Naritane, Hokushin Ittō-ryū swordsmanship master


 In the old houses, including the House of the Hibiya Family in Adachi ward, there are  important documents, arts and crafts and ware that have been passed down from one generation to another. 

 Among these, there is the Hibiya Family’s “complete set of antique Hina Dolls”. The set was crafted for his eldest daughter’s first seasonal festival. The dolls are valuable objects that represent extremely high standards of Edo’s seasonal festival culture, arts and crafts. The dolls are currently deposited at the Tōkyō National Museum and displayed to the public occasionally.


 We pay respect to the Hibiya Family for taking great care of their family legacies, and making efforts in preserving them maintaining their historical and cultural practices for the public to study them. Finally, we hope the studies of these legacies will lead to further research in various academic fields. 


Hayashi Naoki, Head of the Cultural Institute for Japanese Dolls


Akizuki Tanetatsu Calligraphy “Enka, Shutsubotsu, Un’u, Meiri” (Mist, Haunting, Clouds and Rain, Adrift) Meiji 14 (1881)

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