View Full Version : Spatial variation in Japanese Budo

16th July 2004, 15:46
My curiosity has been raised by a recent comment posted by Dr. Bodiford on his contrasting of "Twilight Samurai" and "The Last Samurai". I have quoted the portion I found interesting below:

"Fifth, speaking of swordplay, in Twilight it is quite good. It is still cinema-style chambara, but it clearly attempts to depict actual kenjutsu methods common in the northeastern region of Japan where the film is set. Unlike the mishmash in the Last Samurai, I could see recognizable (i.e., identifiable by name) stances, closing techniques, and strikes."

I was wondering if anyone might be able to point me to any literature resources (japanese-english) that may have explored the geographical variations within budo, and their historical migration, if any, over time.



Joseph Svinth
21st July 2004, 02:42
Well, when in doubt, one asks Professor Bodiford. His reply:


As you might expect, this is an area that is still waiting for definitive research. Nonetheless, a great deal of information can be gleamed merely from traveling about Japan and attending martial art performances (enbu) at shrines from year to year. Smaller regional events are especially revealing.

There is not much literature available, but I recommend the following. Only one of them (Watanabe Makoto) directly addresses the topic at hand. He provides a detailed map of the entire country. I do not know how reliable it might be, since he fails to cite any sources.

Imamura Yoshio and Watanabe Ichiro are the most scholarly sources. Imamura in particular provides detailed and reliable data on martial art schools in various domains. For many domains, though, he simply says that reliable sources do not exist. He has summarized his findings in a number of articles and essays (which I omit below).

Prof. Enomoto Shoji of Nanzan Univ. also has published articles on other topics which nonetheless provide some information relevant to geographic distributions. Since they are not directly on the topic, though, I also have omitted them. Finally, note that all names are in Japanese word order (family name first).

Aizu kendo shi (Gazetteer of Swordsmanship in Aizu Domain). 1967. Edited by Aizu Kendo Shi Hensan Iinkai. Privately Published.

Imamura Yoshio. 1989 (1967). (Shutei) Jukyu seiki ni okeru Nihon taiiku no kenkyu (Studies in Nineteenth-Century Japanese Physical Education). Corrected edition. Tokyo: Daiichi Shobo.

Majima Isao, editor. 1996. Zenkoku shohan kengo jinmei jiten
(Biographical Dictionary of Swordsmen from all Domains Throughout Japan). Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha.

Watanabe Ichiro. 1967. Bakumatsu Kanto kenjutsu eimeiroku no kenkyu (Investigations in Records of Martial Art Matches in Eastern Japan during the Late Nineteenth Century). Tokyo: Watanabe Shoten.

Watanabe Makoto. 1971.5. "Edo 300 han bugei ryuha soran" (Overview of Martial Art Schools in the 300 Domains of the Edo Period). Rekishi tokuhon (Journal: Reading History), pp. 133-163.

Yamamoto Kunio. 1981. Saitama bugeicho (Martial Accounts of Saitama Prefecture). Urawa City, Saitama Pref.: Sakitama Shuppan.

Joshua Lerner
21st July 2004, 03:08
This may not be quite what you are looking for, but you might find it useful anyway -

Ryu and geography (http://edomonjp.hp.infoseek.co.jp/~_______________________________/sp-bujitsu.shtm)

23rd July 2004, 19:45
Thank you all for your responses. Especially to Prof. Bodiford for the references, and to Mr. Svinth for taking the time to ask the good Doctor.