Kozone Kendo (小曽根乾堂)

Kendo KOZONE (male, June 13, 1828-November 27, 1885) was a seal-engraver from the last stage of the Edo period to the Meiji period in Japan. He is known for engraving gyoji (imperial seal) and seal of the state under the order of the Meiji Government.

His childhood name was Rokurota, or Rokuro. His imina (personal name) was Homei. His azana (courtesy name) was Shujoku.
Kendo was a second name, and name of room was 'Chintei Sanbo.'
His common name was Sakae. He was from Nagasaki City.

Brief biography
Kozone's forefathers were believed to be vassal of Katsuyori TAKEDA, while founder of his family was Michiyoshi HIRADO, who lived in the early Edo period. Michiyoshi lived in Hakata-ku, Hirado city, and Motohakata machi during the Keicho era, and made his living by secondhand dealer and trading. Michiyoshi ran a variety of businesses which included construction of Southeast Asian country-style residences in Dejima, repair works of 'Megane-bashi' (a bridge with two semicircular arches), and built Zuikozan Eisho-ji Temple. Hirado family changed their name to KOZONE during Michiyoshi's days. Later, KOZONE family's fortunes faded and they sank into poverty during Kendo's grandfather's days. Kendo's father, Rokuzaemon, became one of goyo-shonin (chartered merchants) for Domains of Echizen and Saga toward the end of Edo period, and succeeded as one of the leading wealthy merchants in Nagasaki. Kendo was the first child of Rokuzaemon, and his mother was from Nakayama family.

Rokuzaemon had deep knowledge in literature, and called himself as 'Chikuei,' believed to have named after Shochiku SHINOZAKI. Rokuzaemon loved calligraphic works, paintings, and old utensils, and had a habit of placing seals. Rokuzaemon was hoping that Kendo would be distinguished in literature, and was enthusiastic about Kendo's education. Kendo met his father's expectations, and studied calligraphy from 春老谷、水野眉川、銭少虎, studied nanga (a school of painting originating in China) under Somon TETSUO, and learned tenkoku (seal-engraving) from Sekino OGI who was in the school of Genhakumin (seal-engraver in the middle Edo period). On top of Chinese poetry, calligraphy, drawing and seal-engraving, Kendo was well versed in music and pottery.

Kendo liked to play gekkin (moon harp), and studied Ming & Xing-era Chinese music under Tanren MIYAKE. Ming & Xing-era Chinese music is a traditional music of China, brought by 林得建. Later, Kendo and his pupils had a honor of performing this Chinese music in front of the Imperial family at an Imperial villa in Tokyo. The music came to be called 'Kozone Ming & Xing-era Chinese music,' and was transferred to various places in Japan from Nagasaki. Kozone Ming & Xing-era Chinese music' has been designated as intangible cultural asset of Nagasaki city.

Kendo made a great contribution in developing Kameyama porcelain, and he himself left some hand-painting with Somon TETSUO and Itsuun KINOSHITA. After closing Kameyama pottery, Kendo charged the restoration of the pottery to his eldest child, Seikai. Under his father's will, Shintaro KOZONE invited potters from various areas around in 1891, and founded a kiln at home. Shintaro's pottery was called Kozone porcelain or Teizan porcelain, and maintained until 1899.

Kendo was particularly talented in tenkoku (seal-engraving), and at the age of 17, he made a piece upon a request of a local person of note. At the age of 21, he published his own inpu (compilation of seal marks), "Kendo Inpu" and "Kendo 印藪," both highly admired by Shochiku SHINOZAKI, Tanso HIROSE and Haisen KUSABA in the preface. He also left a book on tenkoku (seal-engraving) titled "Hyakka Insen." At 30, he made a trip to Edo, was received in audience with Iemochi TOKUGAWA, the fourteenth Shogun, and dedicated clerical script written with a steel pen and was granted an autograph letter as an Imperial gift.

In 1871, he was ordered by the Meiji Government to carve gyoji (imperial seal) and seal of state. Kendo has been submitting a petition to the government that previous gyoji (imperial seal) and seal of state should be renewed, because they were not properly following inho (sealing way) and tenho (carving way). Kendo stated that gyoji and seal of state should be carved from gold or precious stone, but dared to use stone in order to save government spending, and presented them. Kendo's consideration turned against his intention, and Rekido ABEI (seal-engraver in the Meiji period) reproduced two seals with mixed metal, on the basis of Kendo's works.

Kendo soon left for Qing to accompany Munenari DATE, ambassador plenipotentiary to conclude Japan-Qing Treaty of Friendship.
In Qing, Kendo was appreciated by Li Hongzhang, ambassador plenipotentiary of Qing, and was given the '鎮鼎山房'

Kendo was not only a man of literature, he was also a man of great ability in business. With the support of Shungaku MATSUDAIRA, Kendo, he and his father reclaimed Namino-taira coasts and equipped port facilities in the area, making a great contribution to the growth of trading.

Kendo also associated with Ryoma SAKAMOTO and Kaishu KATSU. He took care of a child of Kaishu KATSU and his wife in Nagasaki. Incidentally, Kaishu's seal was made by Kendo. Kendo sponsored Kameyama shachu (company) founded by Ryoma, and arranged an old factory site of Kameyama pottery as the headquarters of the Company. Kameyama shachu kept its headquarters at Kozone's home even after the company changed its name to Kaientai (an association of roshi organized by Ryoma SAKAMOTO).

In his later years, Kendo extended a variety of achievements: opening of Naminohira Elementary School run by Nagasaki City, foundation of temples and shrines, building of piers, and arrangement of transfer of Takashima coal mine to Mitsubishi Zaibatsu.

He died at the age of 59. Kendo's shigo (posthumous title) was Taikiin Hakugen Kendo Koji. His graveyard is located at Naminohira Taihei-ji temple.

Literary work
"Seishin Ion (West Jin 遺音)"

[Original Japanese]