Wasa Norito (和佐範遠)

Norito WASA was a feudal retainer of Kishu Domain in the early Edo period. He was a kyujutsuka (archer) of Chikurin line of Heki school, and the Tenkaichi (Japan's No. 1) of Toshiya (long-range archery).

Birth

He was born as a son of Sanenobu WASA in Negi, Wasa-mura Village, Kii Province (present Wasa, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture) in 1663. His father Sanenobu was a kyujutsu (archery) disciple of Kichizen SATAKE from Chikurin line of Heki school. Norito also learned kyujutsu under Noritake YOSHIMI (posthumous Buddhist name: Junsei) from Kishu-chikurin line, and he was given the lesson fee by the domain because his skills were excellent.

In November 1685, his father caused trouble by debt and his stipend was taken away, but Norito was forgiven.

Tenkaichi

On June 17, 1686, he tried Toshiya at Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto, when he made 8,133 hit out of 13,053 arrows and became Tenkaichi. This record never broke since then.

Due to Norito's achievement of the record, his enfeoffment was increased to 300 koku (approximately 45000 kgs. of rice). Later in 1688, he became the archer for Tsunanori, and 200 more koku (approximately 30000 kgs. of rice) was added.

In 1695, he became Kashirayakunami (the corresponding post of a chief). During this time, in April 1689, he received Inka (certification) from his master Junsei YOSHIMI.

Downfall

On April 22, 1709, he was placed with Nobutake ANDO, and confined in Tanabe-jo Castle (Kii Province).
It is said that the reason of his downfall was 'because he sent a love letter to the wife of his colleague Kojiro TORII' or 'because of his younger brother Hanroku's problems with women.'

On April 18, 1713, he fell sick and died hopelessly in Nagakura (長ヶ蔵) in Tanabe-jo Castle. Died at the age of 51. His oldest son Sadatsune WASA inherited his property. After that, the Wasa family still continued as a grand master of archery of the domain for generations.

Two Japanese bows Norito used habitually were kept in Joon-ji Temple. One of them was placed by Norito's son in 1718. The other was placed by his descendant to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Norito's death, which is said to have been used for the Toshiya at Sanjusangendo Temple.

Anecdote

He started the Toshiya event at Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto from six in the evening of the day before June 17, 1686, but the next morning he became out of condition and made fewer hit. Then Shigenori HOSHINO, the record holder of Tenkaichi of the day appeared, and he cut Norito's left hand by a short sword to cure congestion, which made Norito regain his performance.