kendo kyototaikai

Kyoto taikai (extended)

Ok, so everyone knows about thelegendary Kyoto (Embu) Taikai. Founded way-back-when, this year was the 104th time. The embukai takes place in the Butokuden, which was completed in 1899 in Kyoto (next to Heian Jingu) and it served as the hombu dojo for the now defunct Butokukai (a new organisation exists with the same name however).

Anyway, the embukai goes over 4 days: the first day is koryu embu from various schools, followed by loads of naginata, some jodo, and an unbelievable amount of iaido. The second->fifth days are for kendo only, with people demonstrating from lowest grade/youngest age to highest grade/oldest age. The minimum requirement is 6 dan renshi, which makes the youngest possible age of around 32. The most senior people are often in their 90s, and the odd 9dan makes an appearance.

The format is a 2 point match over 3 minutes. If undecided its hikiwake. There is no competition perse, just your 3 minutes.

I called this post Kyoto Taikai EXTENDED for a reason. While the Kyoto Taikai is on (2nd-5th of May every year) this are other budo-related events happening in Kyoto on-and-around the same time: All Japan Iaido federations own embukai, 2 different koryu embukais (one at Shimogamo-jinja), plus Yabusame demonstrations. There is also the kendo-iaido-jodo 8 dan gradings, plus a morning kendo practise each day as well.

i.e. for the discerning budo tourist there is an unbelievable amount you can see in a week. There is also a healthy amount of supply-getting-chances as well, but thats another post….

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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