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The Ogasawara-ryū (小笠原流, "Ogasawara school") is a traditional Japanese system of martial arts and etiquette, formalised and handed down by the Ogasawara clan.


The school was originally developed by Ogasawara Nagakiyo during the Kamakura period (1185–1333). It specialised in horsemanship (bajutsu), archery (kyujutsu), mounted archery (yabusame) and etiquette, with an emphasis on ceremonial and ritual practice.[1][2] Nagakiyo was the first to be called Ogasawara after his own village and was from the Minamoto clan. His father, Minamoto Tomitsu was highly skilled in both literary and military arts. Due to his bravery during the suppression of the Taira Clan, he was given an honorary post.

During the reign of Ashikaga Takauji, the first Ashikaga shōgun, Nagakiyo's descendant Ogasawara Sadamune (1292–1347) was given responsibility for maintaining correct etiquette at Takauji's court, giving the Ogasawara-ryū official sanction. Sadamune was a student of Seisetsu Shōhō (Ch'ing-cho Ch'eng-cheng) and incorporated Seisetsu's Zen practices into the school.[3][4] Three generations after Sadamune, Ogasawara Nagahide wrote the first manual of courtly etiquette, the Sangi Itto in 1380, after inheriting his father's post. The Sangi Itto also contained the Ogasawara family's teachings on horsemanship and archery.[5] Despite this, the martial aspects of the school's teaching were largely lost by the end of the Muromachi period (1573), and the school survived only as a system of courtly manners. The Ogasawara style of mounted archery was eventually revived in 1724 by Ogasawara Heibei Tsuneharu.[6]

In the 1960s, Tadamune Ogasawara laid claim to the inheritance of the ryū's teachings on formal etiquette, and introduced these elements to the public for the first time.[7] These teachings, under the title of Ogasawara Ryū Reihou, are still in use today. The Lexus auto company trains its salespeople in Ogasawara Ryū Reihou.[8] The Imperial House of Japan uses Ogasawara etiquette and the current master of ceremonies is an heiress of the 52nd Emperor of Japan.[citation needed]


The Ogasawara school laid the foundations for etiquette for the samurai class of Japan. These rules and practices covered bowing (the school's teachings describe nine different ways of performing a bow[5]), eating,[9] marriage[10] and other aspects of everyday life, down to the minutiae of correctly opening or closing a door.[11]


  1. ^ Shōji Yamada; 山田奨治 (1 May 2009). Shots in the Dark: Japan, Zen, and the West. University of Chicago Press. pp. 59. ISBN 978-0-226-94764-8. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  2. ^ Thomas A. Green; Joseph R. Svinth (2003). Martial Arts in the Modern World. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-275-98153-2. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  3. ^ Martin Collcutt (1981). Five Mountains: The Rinzai Zen Monastic Institution in Medieval Japan. Harvard Univ Asia Center. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-674-30498-7. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  4. ^ Kōzō Yamamura (27 April 1990). The Cambridge History of Japan: Medieval Japan. Cambridge University Press. p. 602. ISBN 978-0-521-22354-6.
  5. ^ a b Dave Lowry (26 September 2006). In the Dojo: The Rituals and Etiquette of the Japanese Martial Arts. Shambhala Publications. pp. 118–120. ISBN 978-0-8348-0572-9. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  6. ^ Thomas A. Green; Joseph R. Svinth (30 June 2010). Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation. ABC-CLIO. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-59884-244-9. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Hereditary Master; Tadamune Ogasawara". Ogasawara-ryu.com. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  8. ^ Paul R. Niven (7 July 2008). Balanced Scorecard: Step-By-Step for Government and Nonprofit Agencies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-470-32798-2. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Chopsticks". Ogasawara-ryu.com. Archived from the original on January 24, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  10. ^ Stephen R. Turnbull (8 December 2000). The Samurai Tradition. Psychology Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-873410-22-6. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Etiquette for Opening and Closing Fusuma". Ogasawara-ryu.com. Archived from the original on January 24, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2012.

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