Kendo Day?

Well, last month I took some pics of K's niece, Asami, in her "coming of age day" kimono and promised more when the official day came.

The day came on January 7th and we went to Kashima Jingu in the late morning. The Coming of Age Ceremony was held at the Kashima-Shi Kinrou Bunka Kaikan - Kashima City Labor Culture Hall - and we expected the participants to show up at the shrine soon after. We were wrong. Two or three kids showed up around noonish, but Asami wasn't among them. Most others decided to wait until after lunch I guess, and it turned out Asami had skipped the shrine in order to get to a class reunion party.

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A number of kenshi (swordsmen) offer prayers before demonstrating their skills

Meanwhile, as a very long line of people waited to offer prayers at the Haiden, a priest and a couple of assistants came out and cleared people off a portion of the courtyard as several Kendo (the martial art of Japanese swordsmanship) practitioners lined up.

Kashima Jingu is dedicated to the kami (god) "Takamikazuchi no Mikoto" who is one of the two most important kami of martial arts. The other is Futsunushi no Kami at Katori Jingu, which is located on the other side of the Tone River in Chiba Prefecture. There is a dojo (school hall) on the grounds here in which Kendo and other martial arts are practiced. It is not unusual for martial artists to come from afar to visit the shrine. There are about 7 million people in Japan who practice Kendo, and perhaps another million in other countries.

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Two opponents face off.

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Some moves were slow, others very quick. The open mouth was silent with the slower moves, other times there came a shout as one person swung their sword or lunged at their opponent.

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Barefoot on the gravel - ouch. Much of the time, they slid their feet rather than take a step. Notice the marks in the gravel.

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This could hurt.

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The man on the right made some quick moves and his opponent had to quickly circle around to defend himself.

Though they had a Kendo club at the Hongwanji temple in Kahului, Maui, this was the first demonstration of the art I had seen. It was very interesting to watch and made the trip well worthwhile.


ladybug said...

This is also a very informative post. Something new to add to my places to visit!

Yes, I have a new "logo"-I just updated my profile and decided to add a pic.

Pandabonium said...

Thanks. It was nice surprise to have these guys show up. A group of Americans from Maryland came here in 2005 for kendo classes at Kashima - I didn't see them, but I read about it in an interesting article one of them wrote:
The “Kashima Jingu Gasshuku” Experience

bonnie said...

Oooh! No 'haole feet' there!

Another good post.

Pandabonium said...

Thanks Bonnie.

jessica said...

Great post. I've been reading a lot about Kendo lately. I just saw this great video on it too. Check it out if you have a chance! : http://travelistic.com/video/show/2747

Pandabonium said...

Jessica - That's an interesting video clip. Thanks for sharing that link.