Proto-historic Background of Martial Arts Schools in Eastern Japan
Kashima city is best known for having the oldest martial arts schools in Japan. While some of its martial arts schools, such as the Kashima Shinryū, were officially established in the latter half of the medieval period, there was already a long tradition of martial arts in Kashima region since the Kofun period (the fourth to the seventh centuries AD). This paper focuses on archaeological remains and the landscape around the Kashima Grand Shrine, to clarify the significance and influence of the Kashima Grand Shrine in managing the eastern part of the territory of ancient Japan. This paper examines some characteristics of the region, such as its coastal location that enabled the transportation of materials and soldiers. Another specific aspect of the place could be the advanced metal production evident in the giant sword of the Kashima Grand Shrine made in the early ancient period. Ancient workshops for metallurgy were found at the former local government office in Hitachi-no-kuni, the area of today’s Ibaraki Prefecture. It thus seems no coincidence that Kashima was chosen as a kind of military base. The archaeological findings that have been made in this location provide many reasons why the lineages of various martial arts schools, including the Kashima Shinryū, derived from this city, which led to the formation of later bushi groups in the medieval period of eastern Japan.
Copyright (c) 2018 Takamune Kawashima
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