Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XVIII (18th)
In 1883, Shibata Sensei XVIII founded TAIYUSHA, a KYUDO practice hall in Kyoto, Japan. The 18th, 19th, and 20th Shibata were head masters of TAIYUSHA for over 100 years until the facility finally closed in 1991. The Shibata were also heads of the Kyoto Bowmaker's Guild for many generations.
Somewhere between 1877 and1889, during the Meiji Restoration, Kanjuro Shibata XVIII was officially appointed the "Bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan" representing the first of presently four consecutive generations of Shibata Imperial Bowmakers. The most important duty of the Imperial Bowmaker is producing the GOSHIMPO-YUMI (Defined Treasure Bows), which are enshrined at the Grand Imperial Shrine at ISE (pronounced 'ee'-'say') and are replaced every twenty years.
Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XX (20th)
Founder of Zenko Kyudojo and Zenko International
(1921 - 2013)
Our teacher, Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XX, was the 20th in a line of consecutive master bowmakers and a teacher of traditional Japanese archery. Shibata served as the official bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan from 1959 until 1994, when his adopted son, Nobuhiro (a.k.a. Shibata Sensei XXI), was recognized as the 21st in the Shibata lineage and assumed the duties of Imperial Bowmaker.
Shibata Sensei XX (or SENDAI, meaning "the one before") began training in the arts of bowmaking and Kyudo at the age of eight under his grandfather, the 19th Kanjuro Shibata Sensei. In 1959, upon the death of his grandfather, he officially became Kanjuro Shibata XX and assumed the duties of ONYUMISHI or Imperial Bowmaker.
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Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XXI (21st)
Head of Zenko
After the retirement of Shibata Sensei XX in October 2011, his adopted son (i.e. his son-in-law), Shibata Kanjuro XXI, took over as the official head of Zenko International - the multi-national umbrella organization of Shibata-style KYUDO. Shibata Sensei is a 21st generation master bowmaker, archer, and is also a 4th generation official bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan in the Shibata family lineage.
Sensei lives in Kyoto, Japan where he has operated a 'YUMI' or bowmaking workshop for more than two decades. Sensei typically visits the Colorado archery school 1-3 times a year for training-intensive seminars. He also makes annual teaching trips to Europe. All students are strongly encouraged to attend these Colorado seminars.
Since Shibata Sensei lives overseas, the duties of running the operations of the KYUDOJO in Boulder fall to the grand-daughter of Shibata Sensei XX, Aki Shikami.
Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XIX (19th)
(c.1880 - 1959)
Interestingly, Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XIX (19th) was the grandfather, not father, of our late teacher, Shibata Sensei XX (20th). Most Japanese traditions follow the system called IE (pronounced 'ee'-;eh'), a system of passing traditions from father-to-son. However, Shibata Sensei XX's father elected not to be a bowmaker, so at the age of eight, Shibata Sensei XX became the student of his grandfather, Shibata XIX (19th).
According to Shibata Sensei XX, his grandfather was extremely strict and formal in his teaching, which posed to be challenging at times for the young Shibata XX.
In 1980, Shibata Sensei XX accepted an invitation from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche to come to the West to teach KYUDO to Americans. He founded ZENKO KYUDOJO in Boulder, Colorado. From his arrival in 1980 until his death in 2013, Shibata Sensei taught his style of Japanese archery (HEKI RYU BISHU CHIKURIN-HA) to hundreds of students in Colorado and founded over 25 Kyudo schools throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
Read Shibata Sensei XX's philosophical epigrams HERE.
Older Shibata Generations I - XVII (1st-17th)
In the mid 16th century, the first Kanjuro Shibata (a.k.a. Munekazu Shibata) lived on the island of Tanegashima just south of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. Munekazu was the master bowmaker for the powerful Shimazu samurai clan. Somewhere between 1553 and 1574, Munekazu moved to Japan's then capital city of Kyoto where he then made bows primarily for the Tokugawa shogunate clan. The SHOGUN conferred the title, ONYUMISHI (royal bow manufacturer and archer) upon Munekazu. Since that time, the Shibata family has maintained an unbroken lineage as master archers and bow makers for the SHOGUNATE and DAIMYO families of Japan. Each generation of Shibata Bowmakers has taken the name of Kanjuro and holds the title ONYUMISHI.
In addition to making bows for warriors and nobility, the Shibata family also made HAMA-YUMI or "sacred bows" used in Shinto and Buddhist rituals. Duties include making 59 ceremonial bows called 'YUMI' every twenty years for the ISE Shrine (pronouned 'ee'-'say'), the highest Shinto shrine in Japan dedicated to Shinto goddess Amaterasu Omikami and located in the city of ISE in MIE prefecture of Japan. This duty is now the responsibility Kanjuro Shibata XXI and was most recently fulfilled in 2012.
Many of the Shibata have also been master archers of the BISHU CHIKURIN HA branch of the HEKI RYU School of KYUDO, which is the style of KYUDO still practiced at the ZENKO KYUDOJO in Boulder, Colorado today.
Above: These are the Japanese characters or KANJI for the Shibata family name. The name is made up of two words: the top character reads SHIBA meaning "tall grass" and the bottom character reads TA meaning "rice field." So the name Shibata translates as "tall grassy rice field" and likely describes the geography of the families origins.
Above: This is the crest or MON (pronounced "moh'-'n') for the Shibata family. It is a monochromatic, two-dimensional representation of a plum flower and was probably a common flower where the Shibata family is from on the Kyushu island of Japan.
Celebrating 30 Years of Tradition in Boulder, Colorado, USA