Taisha-ryū Historical Research Group



In September 2023 a member of our team visited Saga City in Saga Prefecture, Northern Kyushu.

The first stop was Kukusō-ji Temple (國相寺) in Saga City. The temple is recorded in the Yamaryō Family Tree as the last resting place of Nakano Shūmei, the author of the Taisha-ryū Kaichū (タイ捨流解紐) and 5th shihanke of the Taku Line of Taisha-ryū. Unfortunately, none of the graves listed in the temple registry, including those of Nakano Shūmei and his wife, could be found in the graveyard.

This was followed by many hours of scanning documents at the Saga Prefectural Library with the kind assistance of Mr. Ishibashi Michihide. The more than 500 pages of material on masters and students of Taisha-ryū in the Nabeshima domain will likely take many sleepless nights to process and analyse.

On the next morning, another field trip to the Suigetsu Zen-ji Temple (水月禅寺) in Yokamachi, Saga city, proved more fruitful. Reverend Itahashi Hakudō – head priest of the temple, besides being a wonderful conversationalist, it turns out, also happened to know the current generation of the Yamaryō Family and was quite happy that someone was interested in history. He was kind enough to say: “Come over for tea next time you’re in Saga!”. He gave us some clues as to where to look for further documents connected to Yamaryō Enzaemon Tadatake (山領圓左衛門真武).

In the temple cemetery, there were several important finds. It was known that the grave and monument of Yamaryō Shiyume Toshimasa (山領主馬利昌) were to be found there and Prof. Kuroki mentions in his Tales of the Martial Arts of Hizen that the grave of Nabeshima Naomasa’s swordsmanship master – Enzaemon (Shiyume’s son) was also there. This proved to indeed also be the case and the grave of Nakano Shūmei’s successor – Yamaryō Zenbei (山領善兵衛) and his wife (Shūmei’s  daughter) were also identified.