Saturday, March 07, 2009

Nihon Kobudo Taikai, or Buy Me a New Camera

Last month I went to the Nihon Kobudo Taikai at the Nippon Budokan. (This example illustrates the sometimes-confusing nature of Japanese; the modern name of Japan is "Nihon" but traditional things still retain the old-fashioned sounding "Nippon".) I took a lot of pictures and video with my now rather outdated camera, and it really struggled to get any good shots at high levels of zoom indoors. So, most of my pictures are a bit blurry, or have terrible white-balance. I suppose I could have tried to fix them but ... well, by now I think most people who read this thing know how lazy I am. If you want, you can always donate to the "Buy Jeff a New Camera Fund". Anyone?

A report, much better pictures, and (we hope) video will appear on Kendo World soon. If you enjoy seeing this sort of thing, you should subscribe to the magazine to support the ongoing effort to bring you free content like this. What follows are my own not-very-good pictures, and some thoughts.

Everyone lined up at the beginning. It is amazing to think of the combined hours of practice standing in that acre of real estate. On the left is Namitome Shigenori Sensei of Shinto Muso Ryu jodo; on the right is Iwami Toshio Sensei of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu kenjutsu. Both have been kind and generous enough with their time to visit us in Canada.

The demonstrators are split up into groups by weapon - archery, kenjutsu, jujutsu, iaijutsu, and so on, and within each group, each ryuha goes by age. Oldest ryuha go first. Ogasawara Ryu kyubajutsu (mounted archery) is just about the oldest continuous martial art in Japan (after sumo, perhaps) so they go first every year. If you ever think that iaido or kendo is an expensive hobby, I shudder to think how much those kimono and handmade bows cost.

This is a pretty bad photo technically, but I kind of like it anyway. Kyoso Sensei doing Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu iaijutsu.

Ono-ha Itto Ryu with its distinctive "oni gote" or large padded gauntlets. They really smack those things.

Iwami Sensei demonstrating the Nito Seiho of Niten Ichi Ryu.

This was amazing. Kobayashi Sensei of Shin Gyo To Ryu is 95 and unable to walk very well, and so came in a wheelchair. He demonstrated seated techniques with his son.

Takenouchi Ryu

Suio Ryu

Katsuse Sensei of Suio ryu shows Masaki Ryu kusarigama-jutsu

Iai in full armour: Shojitsu Kenri Takaichi Ryu

Hozoin Ryu Takada Ha Sojutsu (spear)

Saburi Ryu

Owari Kan Ryu spear ...

... and Kenjutsu; in the background with fukuro shinai and in the foreground with an o-dachi. The first third of the blade seems to be wrapped with paper to allow the user to grip it there.

Yoshin Ryu; definitely the best-looking demonstrators of the day.

Arai Sensei is on the receiving end of Ukan here. A demonstration of Shinto Muso Ryu.
Furukawa Sensei was supposed to demonstrate but didn't. Next practice, I asked him why he didn't demonstrate; was he sick? He said a word in Japanese that I didn't know. I stared blankly. He said it again; I asked him "What does that word mean?" He barked in English, "My - muzza - dead!" And that's how I learned another word for "funeral".

Yagyu Shingan Ryu. It is hard to categorize as it is fighting in armour but they wrestle, use swords, knives, and sometimes even their helmet to clobber the other guy.

I've never seen gunnery before, so this was great. Seki Ryu Hojutsu. Do I need to explain how loud it was? Note the guys crouching in the background with fire extinguishers, just in case something goes very wrong somehow. I heard an anecdote that, a few years ago, all the black powder smoke set off the sprinkler systems in Himeji. Oops.


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