The window for applying for this years Kyoto Taikai has finished. I have been attending now for over 15 years, taking pictures and cataloguing my experiences here on kenshi 24/7. Unexpectedly, my first experience of actual participation was in the koryu section, not the kendo one… way back in 2009 I think it was.
With the scheduled abdication of the current Japanese Emperor on April the 30th 2019, a new era will begin. Well, not a really a new world-changing epoch or anything so exciting, but a change in the Japanese calendar name that happens along with the succession of a new head to the imperial family. For people outside of Japan the name change has zero impact and, to tell you the truth, apart from filling in forms (which, admittedly, is a favourite pastime of people in this country!) the impact is almost non-existent in Japan as well.
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 event. As mentioned in last years article, the other two prints I had barely seen mention of and knew almost nothing about. That was, until the end of August this year.
Over the last few years I’ve repeatedly mentioned Budo Senmon Gakko (Martial arts vocational school, known as “Busen”) and Tokyo Koto Shihan Gakko (Tokyo Higher Normal school, or “Koshi”) in articles. Their respective kendo head instructors, Naito Takaharu and Takano Sasaburo, have also made appearances all over kenshi 24/7. Despite this I hadn’t really gone into the difference between the two institutions, or talked in detail about how the kendo courses were structured. I know a lot more about Busen, and it is my plan one day in the future (after I am retired or win the lottery) to write …
A few months ago I was sitting down in an izakaya with Yano sensei discussing the upcoming Edinburgh Kendo Seminar. Over food and beer we discussed this and that, including of-course lots of kendo related things. During the conversation, in a rather off-hand manner, Yano sensei asked (because he knows I am a kendo history nerd) had I ever read much about suburi in pre-war kendo books, specifically in relation to the Budo Senmon Gakko (Busen). I had never even thought about that question before but I immediately knew the answer: no.