Koga Takashirou Kagehiro
Argent, a pair of calipers, in chief a pair of katanas in saltire, a point pointed sable.
Japanese is Romanized for Westerners to be able to read it. It is pronounced phonetically, generally pronouncing each letter-though not always as English speakers pronounce them.
Making it even more complex, the Japanese are fond of nicknames, pseudonyms, and taking names based on events and actions.
He is called:
His full name:
Also known as:
Previously known as:
TakaKensei resides in the southern marches of Atenveldt in the Barony of Mons Tonitrus. He first encountered the SCA in 1999 C.E. and became truly involved in late 2006, early 2007.
When beginning the SCA, the interest in different aspects and locales of history meant consideration was given to a range of Persona to focus study on: Spanish Moors, Arabic/Saracen, Venetian, Germanic, Scottish, and Japanese.
He regularly travels to Caid, Artemisia, and the Outlands. And is always making plans to visit other Kingdoms as the opportunity presents. TakaKensei is down for shenanigans, tomfooleries, trouble-making, and mischiefs of all sorts intended to increase fun and amusement.
I am often asked why I “do Japanese” rather than something European. And on the rare occasion when I present as English, Viking, or Italian, I am too-strongly encouraged to do it more often.
Japan inspires me with its beauty and honor and culture in a way that more familiar European cultures do not. It is not an easy road to travel; when I started there were few resources. My son, Taira Shigekune, took up that gauntlet with me initially. And shortly thereafter so did she who inspires me, EiwaKensai. Together, we three presented Japanese culture in the best way we could to the rest of Atenveldt and those Kingdoms to which we travelled.
Japanese challenges my abilities and understanding of culture and language, and I struggle to do it the justice it deserves. I have found like-minded friends and allies across the Known World, all honorable, chivalrous, and far more talented and generous than I deserve. They have offered me hospitality and friendship and I count myself lucky to have them. And, to the best of my ability, I offer the same camaraderie for anyone seeking to study and portray a non-European persona in the SCA. Or anyone who feels bullied or put upon for any reason.
Finally, I offer the words of one of those like-minded people:
It has been said by some that the warriors of the Heavenly Kingdom do not belong on the Field of Honor.
The Three Vows of Honor
I vow to honor my foe and call his blows fairly and trust that he is fair in turn
I vow to honor my chosen ancestors, to learn well their weapons and the manner in which they wield them.
I vow to honor my hosts, to learn well their weapons and the manner in which they wield them.
It has been said by some that the warriors of the [East] do not act like guests among us and upset the tranquility of the Kingdom.
The Three Vows of Harmony
I vow to remember that I am a guest within this society and show gratitude for the hospice.
I vow to keep my arms, armour, and dress suitable to my station.
I vow to show respect to the King, the Peers of the Realm, the Nobles and Barons, and all the populace of the Kingdom.
The Three Vows of Knowledge
I vow to learn deeply of the ways and customs of my chosen ancestors - to honor, cherish, and emulate them.
I vow to learn deeply of the ways and customs of my hosts - to honor, cherish, and emulate them.
I vow to share what I learn to those who wish to know but never preach to
- The Honorable Lord Otagiri Tatsuzou, Outlands, October 25, 2005. (copyright 2005 Ron Broberg)
TakaKensei is a member of the buke class of Japan, existing in the late 16th century during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1603). He is skilled both in regular warfare and irregular warfare as both a covert agent and mercenary (忍び) in feudal Japan. TakaKensei’s functions have included a range of irregular warfare, such as espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination and guerrilla warfare. He has also served at the head of charges and commanding lines of ashigaru in more conventional warfare roles.
For most of Japan's history, there were two different branches of aristocracy, often overlapping but just as often separate. There was the military aristocracy, the buke (or samurai class) and the civil aristocracy, the kuge (the court nobles). Everyone who had an office in the civil government had a corresponding court title, and therefore a kuge court rank. Even the shôgun held a court rank and appointment. (Otherwise, he would be unable to conduct business for the emperor.)
Samurai (侍) were the military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan.
In Japanese, Samurai are also referred to as bushi (武士,) or buke (武家). According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning 'to wait upon', 'accompany persons' in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau. In both countries the terms were nominalized to mean 'those who serve in close attendance to the nobility', the Japanese term saburai being the nominal form of the verb."
By the end of the 12th century, samurai became almost entirely synonymous with bushi, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. The samurai were usually associated with a clan and their lord, and were trained as officers in military tactics and grand strategy. The samurai numbered less than 10% of then Japan's population, but their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.
The civil aristocracy, the court nobility, are the kuge.
The kuge (公家) was a Japanese aristocratic class that dominated the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto. The kuge were important from the establishment of Kyoto as the capital during the Heian period in the late 8th century until the rise of the Kamakura shogunate in the 12th century, at which point it was eclipsed by the bushi. The kuge still provided a weak court around the Emperor until the Meiji Restoration, when they merged with the daimyō, regaining some of their status in the process, and formed the kazoku (peerage).
A persona story is a work of historical fiction, created as a source from which to start researching a particular culture and timeframe in history. As I grow older, this persona story becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile.
My Original Persona Story:
Koga Takashirou Kagehiro was born in the year of Eiroku Ku (nine), the Year of the Tiger, Elder brother of Fire. That is 1566 C.E. for the understanding of those from Europe.
Koga is descended from the Minamoto clan, and is a Seigake ranked family. One of the nobility, or the dōjō, permitted to sit on the floor with the emperor and hold the position of minister. As a member of the Koga family, Taka-go studied medicine, anatomy, and other irregular warfare arts, in addition to the traditional combat arts of the samurai and bushi. He has also studied calligraphy and origami that he might not disgrace his family at court.
As the fourth son, he expected no inheritance and sought to build his own reputation, his own Honor, to further honor his family. As a young man, following the death of Oda Nobunaga at the hands of Akeche Mitsuhide, one of Oda’s supporters was targeted as well. Hattori Hanzo, with a small number of men of the Koga prefecture, led Tokugawa Ieyasu through Iga lands. TakaGo was one of the youngest warriors to serve as an escort for Tokugawa Ieyasu and his men as they escaped from Akeche Mitsuhide assassins.
He served as a hired sword of sorts for several daimyo, joining with the army of Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi to invade Korea. The invasion of the Korean peninsula was eventually beaten back by the superior numbers of the Chinese and Koreans and TakaGo returned to Japan in 1594. He returned twice more to Korea before the Shogun finally left the peninsula for good in 1598.
After this, on the urging of his father, TakaGo went to learn of the broader oceans and seamanship from the Nagano family on the coast. Learning the skills of sailing as a crewmember aboard Nagano vessels, TakaGo grew rich in knowledge and experience. By then TakaGo’s life of travel and adventure had infected him with a wanderlust and he took up with a Chinese merchant ship crew to explore. A chance meeting led to him taking up with a privateer crew on the vessel Provocateur; he found some of similar temperament among them.
He traveled along the Silk Road, both overland and maritime, across China, with and among the Mongol tribes, through India, across the far southern oceans and seas, through Persia, across the deserts of Arabia, and found himself in a European Court…
Things I Do
Things I Am Interested In
Timeline of Activity
TakaKensei first encountered the Society for Creative Anachronism in AS XXXIV (C.E. 1999) while stationed in Drachenwald (Germany) as a soldier. One of his friends took him to a fighter practice several hours’ drive away and introduce him to fencing. Taka spent more than 3 hours fencing (badly) and was hooked.
Upon moving to Atenveldt (Arizona) he took up with the local group, engaging almost exclusively in the weekly fighter practices—and was quite excited by the much-better-than-epee rapiers used in the Kingdom.
Taka does not remember his first event except that it was in the Barony of Tyr Ysgithr. And it was very nearly his last. But he persisted at fighter practices until he was stationed in Hawai’i. Around deployments, he made several overtures to the canton to no avail. Lacking other outlet, he took up kendo and taught rapier to a handful of others soldiers who were interested.
Upon returning to Atenveldt in A.S. XLI (C.E. 2006), Taka increased his activity, having realized how much he enjoyed the camaraderie; he become more involved with the Barony of Mons Tonitrus, attending many local events and branching out every so often. In time, he joined the Guard of Phelan and Amira, attending his first Coronation Court. And was bored nearly to tears. He did meet many other like-minded SCAdians (not the bored part—the fighting and historical study parts) and has since made life-long friendships.
Through a Series of (Unfortunate) Events Taka re-formed the Company of the Sable Blades with Baron Heinrich, Baroness Julianna, and THL Wolfgang von Hesse. Together, we undertook teaching and learning and working to make rapier fighters better.
He received his Award of Arms from Phelan and Amira (Areus & Andromeda), did a bunch of stuff and was invited by Queen Elzbieta to join Her Defenders of the White Scarf, did some more stuff and was asked by Brian and Lia to consider being one of Their Premiers to the Atenveldt Ministry of Defence.
Taka continues to do stuff and strives to be the best and most Honourable Citizen of the Society he is able to be.
He has and continues to travel to Caid, Artemisia, the Outlands, and Drachenwald. And is always making plans to visit other Kingdoms as the opportunity presents.
Taka is down for shenanigans, tomfooleries, trouble-making, and mischiefs of all sorts intended to increase fun and amusement.
All of TakaKensei's Awards can be found on his Atenveldt [op.atenveldt.org/?p=4353 Order of Precedence].
Offices & Positions
Barony of Mons Tonitrus
Notable Contributions and Accomplishments
I served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army on active duty and retired. He now works as a contractor at Fort Huachuca, AZ.