Anazawa Morihide


Anazawa Clan


Sado Province

Lifespan:  15xx to Keichō 20 (1615)

Other Names:  Tomonosuke (common), Jōmi, Unsai (monk’s name)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Anazawa

Anazawa Morihide was an expert in the military arts during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  He was known under the common name of Tomonosuke.  Morihide founded the Anazawa school of the naginata (a polearm with a curved single-edged blade similar to a glaive).

Morihide is surmised to have come from Sado Province.  He learned the military arts from Iizasa Ienao, a master of the Tenshin-Shōdenkataori Shintō school known as the ancestor who rejuvenated the military arts in Japan.  Morihide became well-known as an expert of the naginata.  Later, he sought a contest against an opposing school of spear fighting taught at the Hōzöin (a sub-temple of the Kōfuku Temple in Nara) so he dressed-up as a servant and slipped into the temple.  After approaching Hōzōin In’ei, a monk and the founder of the school, who discerned that Morihide was not an ordinary servant.  He earnestly requested a contest which was then held.  Morihide was also familiar with the style taught at the Hōzō Temple which burnished his skills with the naginata.  He was so skilled that he eventually served as an instructor of Toyotomi Hideyori.

In 1614, during the Winter Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, Morihide fought for the Toyotomi and participated in the Battle of Shigino, clashing against the army of Uesugi Kagekatsu.  He imposed losses on the opponents including Orishimo Geki, a spear expert under the command of the Uesugi.  Nevertheless, after being surrounded by Geki’s fellow soldiers, he was finally killed in action.  This scene in which Morihide wielded the naginata on the battlefield is the last known account of him.


There is a story that, to demonstrate his skill with the naginata, he sparred against and defeated two opponents with bamboo spears and it was said he had skills like a god.