Restoration of Hokushin Ittoryu

Restoration of Hokushin Ittoryu school of swordsmanship

During the Meiji period it was the Tobu Hall at Mito that preserved the technical transmission of the style.

The Hokushin Ittoryu techniques were handed down from Master Chiba Eijiro to Ozawa Toraichi, then to his son Ichiro and finally to the family’s adopted son Toyokichi.

At other training halls, the practice method of using the Oni Gote (a large-sized leather gloves used for striking when practicing the kata) ceased to be transmitted.

When Master. Ichiro ‘s real daughter grew up and got married, the Ozawa family’s son – in – law (Takeshi Ozawa) took over the running of the school. This arrangement ended in Master Toyokichi’s abrupt departure from the Tobu Hall where he was eventually invited to become the instructor at the newly opened “Kodo Gikai Society”* in Tokyo .

As a result there was no transmission and exchange of techniques between Master Toyokichi and the Mito contingent, there after making the practice of Hokushin Ittoryu at Tobu Hall merely in name only.

The actual transmission of the Hokushin Ittoryu sword techniques got inherited at the fencing classes held at Kodo Gikai Society.

*a politically backed non-profit organization established in 1918 to preserve various Japanese traditions and ideology.

The Tobu school transmission at Kodo Gikai Society

The training hall at the Kodo Gikai was located in the vicinity of the rear gate of the Shinjuku Gyoen Park which like the former Genbukan was considered to be the largest in Japan. The organization was backed by influential politicians and the events were sponsored by big businesses. The fencing tournaments held at its facility were often covered by radio broadcasts and other publications such that it became very well-known and popular throughout Japan.

Tanijima Saburo, became an inside disciple of Master Toyokichi at the Kodo Gikai Society, thus inducted to the Hokushin Ittoryu’s technical lineage.


Master Tanijima Saburo

Master. Tanijima was born in Shikazaki-cho, Ibaraki Prefecture. After graduating Ryugasaki Junior High School and while enrolled at Nimatsu Gakusha, he also became a private student at the Kodo Gikai Society.

He eventually became skilled in Hokkushin Ittoryu to a point where he performed the “uchidachi” when demonstrating the kata with Master Toyokichi

However, the facility of Kodo Gikai Society got destroyed by air raids during WWII. Master Tanijima returned to his hometown after the war and held classes at nearby Ushiku City.

After Master Tanijima’s demise, the practitioners of Hokushin Ittoryu steadily declined in numbers..

It was only Shiina Kazue (the administrator and owner of this website) that ended up remaining the last practitioner and the lineage holder.

The following is a brief summary concerning the state of lineage today.



The lineage today – Soke (the Grand Master)

With the mainstream lineage ceasing to exist, many schools and organization claiming to be Hokushin Ittoryu today are in name only.

However, the official entitlement of “Hokushin Ittoryu ” has been preserved by the family lineage of Chiba Hideyuki who served at the Nakanishi school as a scribe for handing out grades and teaching licenses to their practitioners.

The Chiba Family tried to bestow the Hokushin Ittoryu Grand Master title to Shiina Kazue, whom they considered the last individual who had inherited the orthodox techniques of the style.

Another big factor it seems was that the first generation ancestors of the Chiba and the Shiina family were actually blood related.

It is quite a different matter becoming the head of the lineage from just a mere practitioner. In the past Shiina declined the request on numerous occasions stating that he did not have the quality to assume such responsibilities. But during June 2013, after his 60th birthday, he finally decided to accept and assume role as the seventh generation Grand Master of the Hokushin Ittoryu school of swordsmanship.