Taisha-ryū Historical Research Group

TAISHA-RYŪ HISTORICAL RESEARCH GROUP

!!! NEW ISSUE IS OUT !!! The 2024 THRG Annual Bulletin

Dear friends of Hyōhō Taisha-ryū and the history of koryū! We are delighted, for a second year in a row, to be able to publish for you the Annual of the Bulletin Taisha-ryū Historical Research Group !

In this second issue we focus on one of the more famous (but lesser known) students of Taisha-ryū founder Marume Kurando – the lord of the Yanagawa Domain (柳川藩) – Tachibana Muneshige (立花宗茂; 1567 – 1643), and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 1592-1598 campaign in Korea, in which Muneshige displayed his strategic military prowess. Readers will also encounter interesting and hard-to-get information about the swordsmanship history of Yanagawa and the styles which evolved out of Taisha-ryū, coming to dominate the kenjutsu landscape of the domain for about two centuries. Schools descendents of Taisha-ryū such as Shinnuki-ryū (心貫流) and Ōishi Shinkage-ryū (大石新影流) flourished in Yanagawa and even had a significant influence on the history of the development of modern kendō, and its equipment especially. As a treat, this year we’ve also included a multilingual map of the first Korean campaign and a poster of Tachibana Muneshige!

We wish to thank everyone who supported our efforts in 2023 and look forward to your continued support for our research into Taisha-ryū’s history this year! You can support us through PayPal at taisharyu.history@gmail.com

Please do not hesitate to contact us at taisharyu.history@gmail.com if you have feedback, questions or you are interested in last year’s issue!

G.K.

2024 Issue Overview: 

Tachibana Muneshige and the Taisha-ryū Legacy of the Yanagawa Domain

Coming from a respected family in Chikugo Province on the island of Kyushu, Tachibana Muneshige was an educated member of the elite. A skilled military commander, he distinguished himself in his service to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and was, in the end, granted the fief of Yanagawa in that same province. Like many other high-ranking bushi at the end of the Warring States Period, he was intimately involved with Hideyoshi’s 1592-1598 campaign in Korea, where he showcased his tactical genius. After Sekigahara, he was demoted for a time for siding against Tokugawa Ieyasu, but was later restored to his domain, where the Tachibana family would rule until the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

It is a little-known fact that Muneshige was issued a series of transmission licences for Taisha-ryū by Marume Kurando in 1596 – precisely the period between the two Korean campaigns, when the daimyō had briefly returned to Japan while peace negotiations between the Japanese and the envoys of Mìng China were taking place at Nagoya castle in Hizen.

While Muneshige himself probably never taught Taisha-ryū, there were others in Chikugo who did. After the school’s fall from favour in the time after Sekigahara, a daughter style – Shinnuki-ryū, which was founded by a student of Kurando’s – Okuyama Zaemon Dayū, became prominent and widely-practised. Shinnuki-ryū itself gave rise in due time to two other prominent schools from the Yanagawa Domain – Chūkō Shingan-ryū and Ōishi Shinkage-ryū, the latter of which survives to this day. All three would, in time, prove formative for the swordsmanship style of the domain, but also have a recognisable influence on the development of modern kendō (just like the other daughter style of Taisha-ryū – Abe-ryū had in the Akizuki Domain) and especially on its protective equipment and the use of shinai in competitive matches.