For the opening of Chanoyu Week NYC 2023, this event will immerse you in the samurai’s search for a world where movement and stillness coexist in harmony. To reflect the essence of movement, Masami Shioda, master of one of Japan’s most famous sword arts, Shinkage-ryu, will demonstrate special sword kata forms. These flawless, physical techniques passed down for over 500 years are not usually displayed to the public.
After this captivating performance, the audience will experience the serenity of chanoyu with Yoshitsugu Nagano, a master of the samurai tea style Ueda Soko Ryu. Preparing matcha using ritualistic gestures and meticulous attention to detail, he reveals the world of “stillness” hidden within the warrior.
Together they will discuss the theme of “form” and related abstract sensibilities of spirituality and aesthetics. They will consider the mechanisms of transmitting a tradition from one individual to another and from one generation to another. They will also address why the samurai’s approach to human development through kata is still so important in contemporary Japanese society.
Shinkageryu-Hyoho is a style of swordsmanship that represents Japan. Kami-Izumi Isenokami Hidetsuna created this style at the end of the Ashikaga era in the midst of the warring age of Japan.
Kami-Izumi Hidetsuna was born in 1508 at Oogo Castle in present day Gunma prefecture. From a young age he studied Kage-ryu swordsmanship. A gifted scholar and avid Buddhist, he trained deeply in Zen. In his adolescence he completed his formal sword training and added his own “Way of Marobashi” to create Shin (or neo) Kage-ryu. Eventually the style passed on to the Yagyu family, and for 260 years it became the foundation and spiritual pillar for the rulers of the Tokugawa shogunate, leaving behind a legacy.
Swordsmanship is ultimately about how to kill. However, Shinkageryu emphasizes the spiritual perspective drawn from Buddhist philosophy with a more abstract aspect of how to nurture and develop a person. Shinkageryu attempts to answer the luminous and “formless” question of how to nurture a human with a training regimen that has a tangible “form.” This “form culture” is a valuable inheritance from our ancestors that is relevant to even people of this modern age and worthy of being passed down to the next generation.