In remembrance of Hamaji Kouichi-shihan
By Ishida Hiroaki
Translation by Arun Roberts and edited by Greg Clarke,
representative, Sumera Budo-juku,
gMy teacher, the late Hamaji Kouichi-sensei, treated one and all equally. He taught with his whole heart and with full sincerity at all times.
In remembrance of those days, I would here like to impart some of the memories I shared with him.h
Foremost, the event that left the strongest impression upon me happened shortly after entering the ryu, when I was around 17. Although I have forgotten what it was about, I once raised some argument in opposition to Sensei's teaching.
At that time, Sensei said: gIs that so? In that case you must be a Menkyo Kaiden. I guess it's alright for you not to train anymore then.h
I tensed up, I was taken aback. Perhaps because he understood my reaction, he continued teaching without a word.
Since that time Sensei said to me, gShugyou is training of the Hara. Whatever it is, do it once with your whole Hara, correct it, and from there you come to understand it clearly according to your own efforts.h To me, at the time a high school student, this was etched indelibly upon my mind as the most important attitude for a practitioner to assume.
Then, during Sensei's final years, when he was around 70, we were practicing Kage's Hosomichi at Isshinji Dojo, Sensei on the Jo and myself acting as Uchidachi. When I went to cut the tip of Sensei's jo, he evaded the Tachi, and thrust the jo into my side. In that moment, just before the tip of his jo made contact, I suddenly felt ill, as though the strength had left my body. I felt a shiver run down my spine and without thinking I stopped mid-Kata.
When I told all this to Hamaji-sensei, who gave me a perplexed look, he said,
gI must have hit you with my gKih, I suppose, if that's even possible.h
I offered: gI heard you say once said that you efelt a shudder run through you, just as though it was the breeze of Miyamoto Musashifs sword brushing by?h
gYou might be right,h he said in passing.
Even now, that sensation is still
imprinted on my body as a
In regards to gKih, after finishing with Honte uchi during jo training, I remember he would often quote Shirai Toru's Kakkijutsu: gTo have Ki surging out from the tip of the jo, this is Muso-ryu's Gokui.h
Hamaji-sensei always made a clear distinction between Budo and sport.
gIn sports, even should you lose you don't die. In Bujutsu, losing entails either death or serious injury. With the kind of selfish mind that seeks only to defeat the opponent, leaving oneself unwounded, Bujutsu is impossible. Because Bujutsu is such that if one loses, one dies; if one wins, one receives permission to defeat the opponent. One would allow the opponent to cut through their own skin so they in return to cut the opponentfs muscle, one allows them to cut through their own muscle so they in return to break the opponentfs bone. And when at last, after endeavouring long with this resolve in mind, one breaks free of the concerns of life and death and connects with Heaven and Earth, one arrives at true Budo,h
would often say this to highlight the differences between Budo and sports.
gLooking at the people of today, there is a trend towards taking no responsibility, even should they fail and towards prioritising only what they want to say. This is completely in opposition to a person's path. To create beings capable of taking actions, responsible even to the point of staking one's life upon them - this is Budo. Jo especially is a wonderful Budo capable of guiding people without injury and is based upon the Tenjihoko, found in Japanese classics such as the Kojiki.h
I requested to Sensei and his wife in 1975 to act as matchmakers for my marriage.
On the day of the ceremony, one of my
friends went to pick up Sensei and his wife. gI heard plenty of stories in that
car. You are attached to a remarkable teacher,h he exclaimed enviously. gIt is
a rare teacher who thinks of his students that much. Moreover, his wife has a
refinement about her that is nearly divine, as one would expect of the wife of
a great teacher. You must be a happy man.h
Later, this same friend would come to perform ascetic training together with Sensei at Kiso@Ontake Mountain's Kiyotaki and was surprised at Sensei's sincerity and power when performing Kongou-kyou Dokuju, causing him regret at his own inexperience. He too was forever in awe of Sensei.
On 19th September, 1981, a party
was held to celebrate Sensei's 70th birthday at Ozan Hall in
At the party Sensei was overjoyed and presented a gift of calligraphy of gKyuu-shih, the nine thoughts, to all the guests.
At about this time, on re-reading the Densho, Sensei began to think that training in accordance to what was written there was a way to come closer to the founder, Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi. He was in the middle of performing a hundred days training in the Kongou-kyou Dokuju, a ritual found in the Gomokuroku's gHyakka-nichi no Shoujinh. Those gifts of gKyuu-shih he handed out were taken from The Analects of Confucius, and the same as the gKyuu-shih of gKyuu-shi Ichigen Omou-beshih in Gomokuroku. Also during his hundred days' training, he acquired a copy of gShinto Muso-ryu Myougo no makih and endeavoured to train in accordance with the strategies written therein.
At the party Sensei told us all that the training of mental powers such as breaking glass cups, disturbing water while in the glass, and balance practice were achievable through the hundred-day training as was written in this Densho called gShinto Muso-ryu Myougo no makih.
At the party to celebrate Sensei's 70th birthday.
|Calligraphy of gKyuu-shih was given to all the guests.|
Producing a one page memo, Sensei asked me, gIshida, do you understand this?h
Written there was a recipe called gHyouryou-gan (food pellets) of the Iga-ryu Ninjutsuh, so I answered, gSensei, I've seen this. Yes, I think this is the Iga-ryu Ninjutsu's Hyouryou-gan.h
gThis is the provisions included in the hundred days' cleansing but I'm not sure I understand how to prepare it. Do you understand it?h
To which I replied, gI will look into this thoroughly.h Taking the memo from him, I returned home to investigate and was shocked at what I discovered.
The memo was identical to the Hyouryou-gan found in the Bansen-shu-kai (military strategy, philosophy and tactics) record, exact down to the quantities to the method of preparation.
On 23rd July, when a Keikogi which was given to Sensei as a present from the students of the Dojo was ready, I delivered it to him along with my research and he was so pleased he allowed me a look at this gShinto Muso-ryu Myougo no makih.
As I expected, it was exactly the same as the
prescription in the Bansen-shu-kai records. When I explained this to Sensei he
said, gHmm, perhaps there might have been some connection between Jo
practitioners and the Ninja.h He then went on to tell a story of something like
a gNinjah martial art technique which was written in a Densho burnt to cinders
with the old Hamaji house. It told of a Jojutsu Shihan of the Kuroda-han arresting
a lunatic who was swinging a sword around on the roof of the castle with the
use of a single Jo technique, which was perhaps possible because the Shihan had
learnt some Shinobi waza, Sensei speculated.
However, when it came to making the Hyouryou-gan it was actually quite difficult due to the ingredients and the seasons. Sensei gave up making the medicine and instead ate an wholly vegetarian diet, not touching a single piece of any kind of meat and made Kongoukyou Dokuju and Jo practice his core focus for one hundred days. Moreover, he attempted to train that spirit, namely psycho kinesis, required to achieve the complementary scholarly and martial paths, as is written in the gShinto Muso-ryu Myougo no makih.
As a result, he received an inspiration: gOn the earth, there is an absolute power that equally affects all things in accordance with their mass, namely gravity. Obeying this power with no resistance, thereby acquiring a sense of oneness with all things, collect the Ki of the heavens and the Ki of the earth in your Tanden, sit straight, stand straight, and walk determinedly. I have discovered that this is the fundamental phenomenon of all things.h
Furthermore, during this hundred days'
practice, he climbed
He went to Kiyotaki in
Sensei was surprised and consulted with the Ontake sect master, was advised to return both the photos and negatives to the waterfall. Therefore on 13th September we went together to Kiyotaki and offered the photos, negatives, Kongoukyou Jukkan, and a money donation to the altar at the Gyoushadou.
The force of Sensei's Dokkyou at the Gyoushadou was awesome. Such a tremendous force, it was as though performed by a completely different person to the normally calm Sensei. He was requested by someone I'd not seen before, who had by chance come to pray, to perform the incantation and Sensei, with composure, recited the Kongoukyou. But I remember being moved by the joy of having such a wonderful teacher of inestimable value to be entrusted by someone with the recitation so naturally, rather than by self-promotion.
Nearly one month after that, on the 24th
and 25th of October, 5 or 6 people went together with Sensei on a
gPerhaps it might be best to tell the story to the Goji.h he said, proceeding to tell his story to Taki Goji, the chief priest of the shrine. The priest said that there was nothing in the Gyoushadou and upon hearing sensei said perplexed: gPerhaps they disappeared? Oh well. As it says in the Kongoukyou, 'The law of all worldly phenomenons is like a dream and an illusion, like bubble and shadow, like a haze or lightning. The truth will be seen as such'. Perhaps it's better this way.h
At the eighth station on Kiso Ontake moutnain. Center: Hamaji-sensei, holding the jo. Standing to the left, dressed in white, the author.
Returning home from the Gasshuku, I
dropped Sensei off at his house. Producing a copy of the gShinto Muso-ryu
I have continued this training contained within gMyougo no makih since then. After receiving it also I accompanied Sensei to Kiyotaki once again and this time, I recited the incantation of the gMyougo no makih and performed ascetic rituals beneath the waterfall, during which time, Sensei practiced Jo alone before the waterfall.
gKiyotaki is thought somehow to be one place the founder Muso Gonnosuke trained at. I feel that Kongara and Seitaka, the two sprites before the waterfall are similar to the sprite that appeared to Muso Gonnosuke in a dream the night he completed his 37 days ascetic practice at Kamado Shrine. Muso Gonnosuke is such that there are rumours of his originally coming from Kiso, so he may indeed have trained here at one time,h he said there. He told me that in an effort to get even a little closer to the spirit of the founder he once trained there in the Gomuso.
gShinto Muso-ryu Myougo no makih was
written concerning a jutsu acquired by one Nakamura Yajirou Kakuzan at the
completion of ascetic training on the top of a mountain, during the second year
of the Kenji era (AD 1276). The inheritor, Doushun, a monk of the
The spells written therein appeared to be Classical Chinese. It was apparently thought to be an article of Shugendou, or else of the amalgamated Shinto-Buddhist line. Upon investigation it was revealed that it is a secret teaching called gMusubi no Kotobah, found within Misogi-ryu Shinto, a sect revived by the venerable Kawatsura Bonji who hailed from Usa of Bizen during the Meiji era. The text is not pronounced in On-yomi but in Kototama, an ancient Japanese language, reading, gKaku Remitoarahanitouraomote, kamimohitomo, yorozunomonomo...h. Also, within the secrets of using the gNusah (purifying staff) in Misogi-ryu, there is a technique for releasing possessed spirits, containing the same movements as Shinto Muso-ryu Jo's gOkuden no Suigetsuh. The handle of the Nusa used is made of Bamboo and round like a jo.
When I told all this to Sensei he said, gThat is interesting. You may be well advised to research that further.h He went on to tell me of how one Hirano Saburou, or someone of the like, had healed none other than a possessed spirit by inscribing the Kyuji.
gDo you understand this?h he asked me
next, showing me a copy of a text passed down to Hirano Saburo entitled
gGoshinhou kyuji juji no daijih.
By good fortune, it was a basic incantation of Esoteric Buddhism and Shugendou. Having also trained in this method, I quickly showed it to him. He was terribly pleased and from then on included the Goshinhou kyuji and the Japanese reading of the gMyougo no makih incantation with his reading of Kongoukyou in his training.
When Sensei was around 20 years old he happened to meet at the residence of Toyama Mitsuru an ascetic, a one Harada of Suwa, whom was in the habit of visiting there periodically. On one particular occasion, upon seeing Sensei's face Harada exclaimed, gLeft as things are, you haven't a month left to you. Please, come with me and together we'll cure you.h Sensei indeed had an illness in his lungs for which he was receiving medical attention. Dropping everything, he went immediately with Harada to Suwa to receive treatment.
The said treatment was derived from one of the physical trials of the ascetics. One places a towel inside a boiling kettle then, removing it and wringing it out with one's bare hands, applies the same towel to the back and chest.
In addition the staple for the period was cabbage with the addition boiled vegetables only. Anything else was forbidden.
Continuing in this vein for roughly a month, strength began to return to his body and when he had recovered enough to partake in regular walks the two of them went out to perform Takigyou at Harada's recommendation.
This training consisted of, after standing under a waterfall, putting on tall, single toothed Geta and racing up mountain path; practicing swinging a katana while holding it backwards, and doing chin ups on a katana hung between two branches, among others. Training, of course, in the ways of the ascetic.
Although I had heard this story countless times from Sensei, after his 100 days purification were over I said to him, gJust once, I would like to see that place for myselfh.
gThat happened close to 50 years ago but it is one memory I hold dear. Shall we take a look?h and so it was that the two of us went to Suwa.
Sensei sent notice in advance and we set off for Harada's house. But when we got there he had already passed on and the site at which the treatment took place was also gone.
The current owner was the ascetic's elder brother and a devotee of the late, venerated Touyama Mitsuru. As such, he had at one time resided at the Touyama residence and regaled us with stories of Touyama and showed us various articles written by him. Then, we asked to be taken the aforementioned waterfall. But when the brother guided us to a mountain temple in the suburbs of Suwa, the waterfall under which Sensei had trained 50 years ago had dried with only a small trickle remaining.
Sensei was terribly disappointed. He confided to me that here he keenly felt the transition of the last 50 years. I had been looking forward to, if possible, performing Takigyou, but failing in that felt similarly let down. Seeing this Sensei began telling stories of what he had done here and how he had done a certain thing over there and how he had run along this path, as though thinking back upon images of the past. He also said he would like to come once more and try out some Jo.
I also recall that afterwards, by the
guidance of Mr Harada, we came to a practice ground for gliding in Kirigamine,
where he was coaching. I thought it odd when Sensei displayed a great deal of
knowledge about the sport so I asked and was surprised to hear that he had
actually done some gliding in his youth.
For me, Sensei's final teaching came after the Enbu at the 1984 Aichi prefecture Kendo, Iaido, and Jodo Koudansha tournament. gWe did well today,h he said. gLast year was noisy with all the babble of those attending. But this year as soon as the Enbu started the crowd went so quiet you could hear a pin drop. That is because we grabbed the attention of those watching and that is the way it should be.h
In the autumn of that year, the Jo and Shinto-ryu Kenjutsu Enbu at Atsuda Jingu's Nippon Kobudo Taikai was to be my last Keiko with Sensei. Sensei performed the role of Uchidachi for me with an unearthly intensity and such spirit I thought time that had stood still for an instant. It was Sensei's final gift to me.
Commemorative photo at Atsuta Jingu Nippon Kobudo Taikai..
Practicing Keiko before the enbu.
Exactly one month before he passed away, I received an unexpected phone call from Sensei. gJust drop everything and come to my house,h he said, as though brooding over something. Although surprised, when I went to see him, he told me various stories for 2 or 3 hours and then, seeing as there was a meal prepared, suggested we eat together.
When Sensei and I began eating the meal,
which was prepared by his wife, I noticed there was absolutely no flavour.
Having eaten his wife's delicious cooking countless times I thought this very
strange. Seeing me act a little dubious, he tried to assure me, gThis is food
recommended for diabetics. It's flavourless, yeah? But occasionally, food of
this sort is nice too, don't you think?h But I could not help but feel
something catch in my chest.
Sensei passed away one month later at 3:16pm on 9th May 1985 but I can only think that one month earlier when he suggested we eat he together must have been expecting his passing, in the depths of his consciousness.
when I think what I must do in order to repay Sensei's kindnesses to me, I have
decided not to seek after traces of my late teacher, but to seek and to find what
he himself was searching for. But what was it he was searching for? I think it
In his final years, Sensei performing Enbu with Nishioka Tsuneo-shihan.
|Enbu at the 5th anniversary of the establishment of Kobukan Dojo (20th March, 1980)|
After his death, I received Sensei's last wishes, gShould anything happen to me, go to Nishiokah. After which I came to request of Nishioka Tsuneo-shihan his guidance and teaching.
This article is a reworking of parts of the book gAijoh, released in 1988.
y Regarding the publication of Shinto Muso-ryu gJo no Hinkakuh. z
Amongst the belongings of the late Gerald Toff a tape recording of an interview with the late Hamaji Kouichi-shihan (first generation head of Aijokai) has recently been found, collated in the form of a manuscript with permission from his wife, and has reached the stage where it can be published as gJo no Hinkakuh
According to the records, the tape was taken at the home of Hamaji Kouichi-shihan, on 3rd January, 1977.
Mr. Toff was also a member of Aijokai and, while working as a university professor, was well known both as a Kobudo researcher and as commentator on a Sumo documentary aimed at the overseas market, airing on NHK's free-to-air network.
In this book are glimpses of Hamaji-shihan as one who has studied Jo through both the Meiji and the Taisho eras, living in the style of a Bushi. He talks on the history of the spread of Shinto Muso-ryu Jo and the teachers who worked towards it. Also mentioned are his requests to those who will pass on Jo to the next generation.
In order that those who will go on to hand down Shinto Muso-ryu Jo, starting with ourselves, are not pushed along by the present age and in aid of them considering once more what the transmission of Budo is, this book is a work that will certainly become an important reference for the present generation.
hope to contribute to the continuing growth of Jodo by introducing this book to
the many practitioners studying Budo with the same fervour as enthusiasts of