Hoshino Shigenori (星野茂則)

Shigenori HOSHINO was a feudal retainer of the Owari clan and an expert in kyujutsu (the art of Japanese archery) who lived during the early part of the Edo period. He is more usually known by the name of Kanzaemon HOSHINO. He twice set the record for the best archer in Japan at Sanjusangen-do Temple's archery competition, which required archers to shoot down a long, narrow corridor.

He was born as the third child of Denemon Norito HOSHINO in 1642. He is said to have been born in what is now the town of Kira in Hazu County, Aichi Prefecture, and there are monuments to his place of birth and hometown in the Shitanda area of Miyasako in the same town. The Hoshino Clan is said to be related to the Senshu Clan of Atsuta-jingu Shrine. Shigenori's grandfather, Choemon Norikatsu, was a retainer of Chikayoshi HIRAIWA, and became a retainer of Masanobu TAKEKOSHI after Chikayoshi's death. Shigenori's father, Denemon Norito, served under Yoshinao TOKUGAWA and held various posts including umamawari (horse guard), daidobugyo (magistrate), and hiroshiki ashigaru gashira (commander of foot soldiers). After learning kyujutsu from Owari feudal retainer Tadashige NAGAYA of the Hegi-ryu Chikurin-ha school, Shigenori was appointed the yumiyaku (one responsible for archery duty) of Mitsutomo TOKUGAWA.

On July 13, 1662, he took part in Sanjusangen-do Temple's archery contest in Kyoto and recorded 6,666 hits out of a total of 10,025 arrows, breaking the record of Daiemon YOSHIMI of Kishu clan and making him the best archer in the country. As result of this achievement, he was appointed the yumigashira (commander of archers) by the clan and awarded land worth 500 koku.

In 1668, Sonoemon KASAI of Kishu clan set a record of 7,077 hits out of a total of 9,000 arrows, breaking Shigenori's record.

On May 31, 1669, Shigenori made another attempt and broke Sonoemon's record by scoring 8,000 hits out of a total of 10,542 arrows, once again becomig the best in Japan. According to legend, Shigenori began shooting at 6 o'clock in the evening on May 30 and finished at noon the next day, with about six hours remaining and with his energy still left. This achievement earned him an additional 300 koku.

He died on June 5, 1696 at the age of 55. His descendants passed on kyujutsu for generations as Owari feudal retainers, but the 10th-generation descendant, Kanzaemon Hisanori (deceased in 1906), had no legitimate son and so Tsunemasa TOMITA succeeded as the 11th-generation descendant. Most of the Hoshino family's documents are said to have been lost in a recent fire.

The following anecdote appears in the third volume of the sequel to the Meiryo Kohan historical records.

Kanzaemon was known as a man of great strength. One day he visited the chief retainer of a certain lord. The chief retainer being a lover of sumo wrestling, sumo wrestlers were always going in and out of his house; as such, a strong wrestler happened to be visiting him that day. The host asked Kanzaemon to wrestle with the sumo wrestler. Kanzaemon declined repeatedly but as his host insisted, he was left with no choice. When Kanzaemon appeared for the fight with the hem of his hakama (a kind of skirt worn over a kimono) tucked up and still carrying two swords, everyone grew suspicious and the sumo referee questioned him about it, but Kanzaemon replied as follows. "I am a samurai and not a sumo wrestler." "I am fighting upon the host's request." "As such, there is no rule according to which I have to be unarmed." When the fight began, Kanzaemon drew his sword and in the same stroke, cut down his opponent, greatly astonishing everyone. Kanzaemon sheathed his sword and before leaving, seated himself before the host and said, "Please know that this is the way the samurai fights." The host was inwardly furious but was helpless to do anything. It is said that people who witnessed the scene later remarked as follows. "Kanzaemon reacted in a justifiable manner." "Kanzaemon reacted in a justifiable manner." "The host was completely at fault."

[Original Japanese]