During the time of the samurai Japan was home to hundreds of different styles of swordsmanship. Kagoshima was home to one of the most feared and famous of these schools – Jigen-ryu. Featured in popular manga and anime such as “Rurouni Kenshin” and “Golden Kamuy”, Jigen-ryu is still well known by people all over Japan. The Satsuma samurai who practiced Jigen-ryu were said to be able to cut down an enemy in a single stroke. At the battle of Toba-Fushimi, enemies of Satsuma were found with their own sword guards embedded in their foreheads, having tried and failed to block the powerful first strike of Jigen-ryu. Despite its fearsome image, Jigen-ryu has deep philosophical teachings, and advises against killing and violence. The founder of Jigen-ryu, Togo Chui stated, “swords should never be drawn” and instructed his students to tie their swords into their scabbards with a paper string to prevent them being drawn in anger. However, if attacked the Jigen-ryu swordsman should tear the sword out of its scabbard and cut down the enemy with one unstoppable blow. Jigen-ryu teachings state “never doubt the first strike, the second strike will lose”, showing the determination and ferocious mindset of the school. At the same time peaceful and powerful, Jigen-ryu has been passed down unchanged in the Togo family for over 400 years and is still practiced in Kagoshima today, providing a rare chance to see the culture of the samurai alive in modern Japan.
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