The Kabayama Bukei
Minamoto Yoritomo became Sei-i-tai Shogun in 1192, the first to wield total authority throughout all of Japan. This began an era of Japanese history which lasted nearly seven centuries, ending only with the Meiji Restoration of 1867.
In 1196, Yoritomo’s son Tadahisa, became Daimyo of Satsuma and took the name of Shimazu. His ancestors remained the hereditary rulers of Satsuma, Japan’s second largest province. Fiercely independent, proud, and traditional, the Shimazu had conquered virtually all of Kyushu and the Ryuku Islands at the height of their power in the late sixteenth century.
The fifth generation Shimazu, Sukehisa, took the name of Kabayama, from the birch-covered mountaintop where his castle was built.
The Kabayama Samurai of Satsuma spread to Osumi province after four generations, where they continued to serve the Tarumi-Shimazu. In 1609, Kabayama Hisataka, Chief Retainer to Daimyo Shimazu Iehisa, lead 1,500 men to victory in the capture of Luchu. A little more than 250 years later, Kabayama Kichiji [see watercolor above] fought during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 lead by Dai Saigo Takamori, ‘the Last Samurai’.
Rev. Kabayama Jun emigrated to Canada’s West coast in 1929. During World War 2, he and his family were relocated to Raymond, Alberta, where he served as United Church Minister and Sensei of Kendo and Judo.