|In reading the Kanji
for Kage Ryu readers will
observe it is the Kanji for Keshiki
meaning a view or scene.
This is the original name of the Ryu, and it has not been changed
since inception in the mid sixteenth century. There are many
Makimono (scrolls)and manuscripts and other evidence that
supports the Ryu. It's teachings and practices and tradition which
of course includes the verbal teachings that have been handed
down throughout the generations.
The founder of the Kage-ryu
was Yamamoto Hisaya Masakatsu of Akizuki Han.
Akizuki is a part of present
day Amagi-shi in Fukuoka. Next to this is Kasuya-gun, the home
of the first Lord Tachibana. Yamamoto was a retainer of the
clan. The second Lord Tachibana Muneshige moved to the Yanagawa
fief in 1590. He had received this land from Hideyoshi Toyotomi,
as he had fought with him leading Otomo Bungos advanced
guard. Naturally Yamamoto went with him when he moved to his
aquired fief. It stretched from the south of Fukuoka right down
to the border of the Hosokawa fief (Kumamoto Ken).The location
of the old Yanagawa domain was a castle town up until the Meiji
restoration.It is in present day Yanagawa-shi (City). There
the Tachibana line remains unbroken to this day. Although the
castle is long gone the family still preserves many precious
treasures, documents and displays them in rotation in a hall
There are also are many living
traditions associated with the Tachibana clan, Kage Ryu being
one of these. They also maintain traditions of the Hosokawa
Clan as a present 17th generation second son is married to the
17th generation descendant of this clan.
Found in a Tokyo art
shop is this print shown of Tachibana Muneshige with his Choken
The Tokugawa Shogunate standardised
the size of swords in Japan to Jo-sun.
This is written as Tei-sun meaning designated
length. This was 2 shaku 3 sun (64.7 cms) [one shaku is just under a
foot], whereas one sun is just under one and a quarter inches. Shaku,
sun, bu, rin is a decimal system.
To maintain control over the country
the Shogun would arrange for his loyal clans to keep an eye on those
considered not to be so loyal. It was for this reason that the neighbouring
Nabeshima clan paid visits to the Tachibana Fief to ensure that the
Tokugawa laws were being observed. The Nabeshima fief, now Saga City
is about a one hour horse ride from Yanagawa. An interesting fact is
as Yamamoto Tsunetomo dictated to his scribe the aphorisms of the Hagakure
Kikigaki, anecdotes lamenting the failing ways of the samurai in the
Nabeshima fief in the early 1700's.
Shown left :The Jingai
made froma Horagai shell (Triton shell ) used to begin embu for the Kageryu and other ceremonies. It was
used by the Yamabushi to keep in contact with each other as they
travelled across the mountains from place to place. Like swordsmanship there are certain
fundamentals related to the Jingai.
The word fuku(blow) is never used,
but the sound is made to rise (hora wo tatsu). The Jingai must
never be placed with shell mouth facing down. This is considered
to be very impolite and unlucky.
Elevated upwards it is blown using
the side of the mouth and there are three rolling notes played in a flowing
manner. They can be of set melody for ceremonies in Shrine or Temple or a certain amount of free expression can be used for normal occasions.
There are generally no hard and fast
rules to the order of notes played with the exception to ceremonies
at shrines or temple. This must be unique in the respect that when it
is used by the Yamabushi it is one of the few times we see Buddhist
ceremony at a Shinto Shrine. The next major occasion will be at Dazaifu
Tenmangu Shrine in Kyushu next year. It will be a 1200 year commemoration
as in actual fact Hakata and Dazaifu are even older that Kyoto.
Little did he know that at the same time Yamazaki Buzen the Shihan of Kage-ryu was busy carrying on the tradition that Yamamoto thought was disappearing.
Determined not to have the Ryu
and it's weapons standardised, the Ryu practised in secret.
It became an Otome Ryu (that which
flows but remains at home). Another term used to describe a
secret sword style is
Mongai Fushutsu, (not to be taught outside the gate).