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history

kendo places #12: Ganryu-jima

400 years ago today, on April the 13th 1612, the most famous duel in the history of Japanese swordsmanship took place between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro*. Its so well-known that there is no point in adding any information here, as every single kendo, iaido, or probably practitioner of any Japanese budo knows the story! […]

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kendo

kendo places #11: Musashi no sato

Nestled in the hills in the north of Okayama prefecture close to the border with Tottori prefecture is the small town of Mimasaka. It is here, around 1584, that the Miyamoto Musashi was said to have been born. From there Musashi embarked on his study of swordsmanship, with a narrative well known to all students […]

Categories
history

Kendo places #8 and #9: Kashima and Katori jingu

As part of my summer Musha Shugyo this year I visited the spiritual and historical center of budo in Japan: Kashima and Katori shrines, located in Ibaragi and Chiba prefectures respectively. Their proximity to each other is very close, about 15 mins by train. Although 400 years ago there were no trains nor cars and […]

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dojo history

Kendo places#6: Tobukan

Of the three great private dojo in Japan (日本の3大私塾道場) – Honma Dojo (Chiba), Shubukan (Hyogo), and Tobukan (Ibaraki) – two remain extant at the time of writing this article: Shubukan and Tobukan. Having been to Shubukan, I decided to take sometime out of my schedule and go to practise at the legendary Tobukan in Mito […]

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history

Kendo places #5: Kodokan (弘道館)

Background The Mito-han was a highly influential domain during the entire Edo-period. As a senior branch of the Tokugawa clan their prestige was immense. Mito-han became one of the leading intellectual centers in Japan, and its daimyo and scholars became more and more vocal in challenging the central authority of the shogunate, eventually being instrumental […]

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dojo history

Kendo Places #4: Butokuden

Founding of the Butokuden in 1895 on the 1,100 year anniversary of the transferring of the Japanese capitol to Kyoto (Heian-kyo), and as part of the building of Heian-jingu, the Butokuden construction began. It was originally meant as a demonstration platform for the Butokukai. It was completed in 1899 on the north-west side of the […]

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dojo history kendo

Kendo Places #3: Disposable – The End of Noma

(The following is a guest post by Leiv Harstad from 2009.) “The night bus to Tokyo: a nine hour hell ride in a muggy sardine can, with an interior that is all too reminiscent of a cheap airport hotel, and a smell to match. This is the chariot of thrifty foreign travelers, poor university students, and gassy […]

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history kendo kenshi

Kendo Places #1: Reigando

I’d like to start the first in a series of short articles entitled “Kendo Places” by writing about a place that all kendo enthusiasts should visit at least once in their life and that is connected with one of the most famous swordsmen in Japanese history: REIGANDO. Reigando (霊巌洞) is basically a small cave in […]

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history kendo kenshi media

Kendo art – a piece of kendo history

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote an article about a wonderful gift I received: a Ukiyo-e print of the first Gekken Kogyo event, held in Asakusa, Tokyo, in April 1873. Here’s a reminder of what it looks like: This was one of three woodblock prints by Utagawa Kunitera the 2nd commissioned to commemorate the […]

Categories
kendo theory

Conceptual kendo shield

Many many moons ago, straight after graduating university, I uprooted and moved to America. I had started kendo only a couple of years earlier and, after taking some time to settle down, I eventually joined Ken-Zen dojo in NYC. There I found myself in great environment with awesome teachers and – for the first time […]