The Iaido Journal  Feb 2010
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Through the Mists of Time 1

copyright 2010 Douglas Tong, all rights reserved 

In this series of articles, we examine parts of Master Yoshio Sugino’s seminal book Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu Budo Kyohan (A Textbook of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu Martial Training), published in Japan in 1941. In it, Master Sugino describes the philosophy and techniques of Katori Shinto Ryu from the Sugino point of view.

In this article, we examine the First Preface in the book, written by the Head Priest of the Katori Shrine in 1941.

Author’s note:
I had the wonderful good fortune to have, quite literally, stumbled upon an old English translation of this wonderful text when I was in Japan. As you will notice, the translation was done by an unknown (and unspecified) Japanese speaker and it is quite admirable. I have not altered the translation since it has a certain authentic flavour which if I further translated would certainly dilute the effect. The English would be too perfect and the nuances and unique voice would be smoothed over. I like this translation. It has a certain appeal. It is grand, epic, and moving in a virtuous sort of way. And it echoes a voice from 70 years ago. A young voice, a strong voice, a voice of purpose and passion. A voice from the mists of time…

First Preface

“The great official Katori shrine is ancient and old. The heavenly ancestor gods’ command landed at Tojo Ashihara in this region. The violent gods were made peaceful and quiet. Keitsu, founded by the great gods’ top Shinto priest, in east Japan, in the great gods’ shrine, majestically shines, seriously worshipped in the morning fields, the warrior gods’ leader, conquering foreigner’s army gods, as from ancient times especially admirable truths are gathered from the people, is said to be obvious.

And, Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu’s founder, Saisashino Igamori Ienao named himself Choisai. Furthermore, Katori’s great god’s spiritual majesty he felt every night. With a great bow in front of the great gods, he prayed a poem. With a bokken, with war magic, he trained himself truly. After 1000 days, at last, the great gods blessed him, as god/man first together in one body, the secret law he learned below heaven, no one else was enlightened with this god’s waza, these martial arts he gave to his students after.

In this way, Choisai, Japanese budo style section founder, and looked up to by students among whom are: Isemori, Moroka, Ichiwa, Tsukahara, Sosamori, Matsumoto, Bizenmori, and that many other excellent followers came out, is well understood by ordinary people.

At this time, Shinto Ryu’s students, Sugino-Sensei and Ito Kikue-Joshi have introduced and written about old budo and its inherited law, this first part to appear in the world, for those who hope to learn budo, for those who train to nourish Katori Shinto Ryu budo is this book published.

Shinto Ryu’s shrine is deeply related to me. I was asked to make this preface. The content of this book to express well the budo spirit and the art with detailed explanation and many pictures are put often so at first sight you can understand. Therefore, for this art, students should not fail to read this good book. Everyone is recommended to read it.

At this time also, at the main shrine, since the 11th year of Shōwa* at the country’s expense with the shrine building to especially now, the Russian/Chinese war (1894-1901) were won since the Emperor’s majestic war power, time and time again, rises, at this point Katori Shinto Ryu budo textbook is given. Our main shrine is deeply related to founder Choisai’s secret and publicly the Japanese spirit’s true backbone, old budo clearly appears to help, totally the gods consideration for this gift and give thanks and timely to give meditation.
(* 1936)

Furthermore, for the trouble that Sugino Shi and Ito Joshi have taken to write this book, I deeply thank them and apologize for all the hard work.”

Head Priest of the Katori Shrine
The16th Year of Shōwa*

Excerpt from:
Sugino Yoshio & Ito Kikue (1941). Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu Budo Kyohan.

* 1941. For more information about the Shōwa Period, see:ōwa_period

Author’s post-script:

Tsukahara? Tsukahara Bokuden no doubt.

Tsukuhara Bokuden was perhaps the most famous product of the Katori Shinto school. He has been hailed as the greatest swordsman in Japanese history and as folklore goes, the one that is born only once every 500 years. He has been documented as participating in 37 battles (his specialty was singling out enemy commanders and slaying them) and more than 100 duels. He eventually created his own style, Kashima Shinto Ryu.

 Mr. Tong can be contacted via email at:

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