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Hokushin Ittō-ryū Swordsmanship Certificate

Updated: Dec 7, 2022


By Chiba Mitsutane (Chiba Dōsaburō)

Ink on paper; a roll

Third year of Ansei (1856)




 This is an official proof of mastery for the Hokushin Ittō-ryū (Japanese swordsmanship) (北辰一刀流) awarded to Hibiya Kenjirō (日比谷健次郎) (1836–1886).

 This certificate is bound in a handscroll. The Big Dipper constellation is drawn on the top of the scroll with a golden background. The first half contains a list of the military rules for Hokushin Ittō-ryū swordsmanship. The second half of the scroll displays a combination of two different family traditions: the Hokushin-ryū founded by Chiba Tsunetane (千葉常胤) (1118–1201), and the Denryū Ittō-ryū (傳流一刀流) passed down from the originator Itō Ittōsai (伊藤一刀斎) to Mikogami Tenzen (御子神典膳) (1559–1628) which then became Ryōden gōhō (両傳合法), showing the lineage of how Chiba Shūsaku established the Hokushin Ittō-ryū.

 Chiba's dōjō (martial arts gym), Genbukan, was located in Kanda Otamagaike, Edo (today known as Kanda Higashimatsushita-chō, Chiyoda ward, Tōkyō).


–Examples of the details shown in the handscroll–


 Chiba Tsunetane was the founder of the Hokushin-ryū, one of Minamoto no Yoritomo's (源頼朝) (1147–1199) chief officials referred to as one of "Four Heavenly Kings" (or Shitennō 四天王), and Chūkō no so (benefactor) of the Chiba clan.

 Itō Ittōsai, known as the "Sword Saint" was a wielder of the Musō-ken (Dream-Sword).

Mikogami Tenzen (originally Ono Tadaaki) was an instructor for the Shoguns.


All Japanese names in this translation follow the Japanese order: surname-name, and all Japanese names and words follow the Hepburn romanization method.







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