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Kyoto Taikai 2016

This year was my 13th or 14th straight year of attendance at the Kyoto taikai. I’ve written about it and shared photos and videos of the event many many times over the years (2015, 2014, 2011, 2009, 2008) as well as posted lots of information about the Butokuden as well, so if you want to find out more about the event please search through the archives on this site or go through the posts on the kenshi 24/7 facebook page.

Information about the Kyoto taikai in English was pretty much non-existent when I first attended, and it was rare to see another non-Japanese person there to either watch or take part in the embu itself, so it was awesome again this year to see so many people from all different countries hanging around the Butokuden and taking part in one way or another.

Before I share a bunch of pictures from this years event, I’ll add it a wee bit of bonus information just for fun!

Bonus information

Everybody that comes to the event is immediately – rightly so – attracted to the Butokuden itself, a beautiful building that was completed in 1899. After WWII it kind of had a rocky patch, but now it’s a designated cultural asset of Kyoto city so we can be sure it will be here for a long time.

FYI, the other (larger) dojo that was on the grounds (built in the 30s) and the actually Budo Senmon Gakko (Busen) school buildings were knocked down by the occupying American forces. The Butokuden spared that fate because the military used it for something or other.

The Butokuden
The Butokuden

Anyway, what I want to draw your attention today is the often overlooked gate to the south of the Butokuden, which was the main entrance to Busen. This was originally one of the gates on the personal residence of the security administrator for Kyoto in the Edo period. In 1867 that public office was disbanded due to the volatile political situation and eventually the residence dismantled. At that time (I assume in 1898/9) the gate was moved to it’s current location.

The gate does not only have an interesting history, but it is at least multiple decades (or even more?) older that the Butokuden itself. Unfortunately it’s always kept closed now, and the area in front of it is used as a bus parking area. Next time you visit the Butokuden, please go and check it out!

The entrance to the butokuden
The entrance to the butokuden



The kendo tachiai are from days two through four (day one is for koryu, iaido, and jodo), and always fall on the “golden week” national holidays of May 3rd-5th (why it’s called golden “week” is a mystery). This is the “main event” of the Kyoto Taikai.

Here are a handful of pictures from those three days.

Free practise in the budo centre

The modern Budo Centre building next door (built in 1986) is thrown open for free use on April the 4th every year. Both large groups and small bunches of friends organise meet-ups on the day and do some keiko in the spacious hall. It’s 100% open, so anybody can just bring their bogu, suit-up, and find a partner to do kendo with.

That’s it for now! I have some video to edit but I’m not sure when I will get around to it. In the meantime, sleep…. !

EDIT: I put together some clips and uploaded them on to YouTube. I neither have the patience nor the inspiration to make serious video, so please don’t expect too much !!

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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