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.
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.
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.