Author: George

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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 travel was done by foot or horse, I can easily imagine kenshi of yore walking between these shrines as part of their musha shugyo. From the aptly titled article “A bit of Background” please refer to this quote from Meik Skoss to understand the relationship …

Fujimoto Kaoru 藤本薫

(Edit: originally published October 2009, updated in July 2015) So, Fujimoto Kaoru… have you heard his name before? Probably not. I hadn’t until quite recently. But like myself, almost everyone reading this website has seen his picture (above). So who was he and – if he was was strong enough to fight in front of the Emperor – why isn’t he more widely known today (in Japanese kendo circles at least) ? Fujimoto took part in the second of three Tenran shiai (competition held before the Emperor) in 1934 as a Kagawa prefecture representative. In the final he fought – …

Kendo places#6: Tobukan 水戸東武館

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 city, Ibaraki prefecture, and learn more about this influential dojo. Tobukan was founded on the 1st of January 1874, just three years after the abolition of the domain system in Japan and creation of the modern prefectural system. Mito-han had been an extremely influential domain …

Is there anything you feel that is lacking in kendo today?

This was a question that was asked in an interview with Iho Kiyotsugu hanshi in 1993. Iho hanshi held various kendo teaching posts during his lifetime (Police Academy, Kokushikan university, Chukyo university, etc), had a successful shiai career (All Japan high school championships 1st place 3 times, 9th All Japans 1st place, Nippon Budokan 15th Anniversary hanshi 8dan shiai 1st place, once defeated 26 opponents in the tozai-taiko, etc), and is the author of numerous kendo books. He is said to have been of the most influential figures in the kendo scene during the kendo-boom in the late 60s and …

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 in its dissolution. During the turbulent years leading up to civil war and the Emperors restoration, the domain school that produced these young intellectuals was Kodokan. The following introductory text is taken from the English leaflet called “Kodokan” (I have slightly reworded sections of it). …