Category: history

Kendo art – a piece of kendo history 剣道美術品・歴史品

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.

Busen and Koshi 武専・高師

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 …

Suburi: a brief discussion 素振り:炉辺談話

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.

Eikenkai @ Wakayama Butokuden 第二回英剣会武徳際 in 和歌山武徳殿 (英剣会の特別版)

In August of 2015, my fiends and I got together and held one of my Eikenkai sessions at Nara Butokuden. After the main HQ Butokuden was built in Kyoto in 1899, the next to be constructed was this Nara one in 1903. Little did we know, however, that when we visited it in 2015 there was already plans to knock it down: this historical and beautiful dojo is scheduled to be demolished this very summer. The reason? Cost. It costs too much money to maintain and keep it up to anti-earthquake standards of the modern age. Such is the money-centric …

Weekend musha-shugyo and research trip 週末武者修行・研究旅

Last weekend I took some time out of my super busy schedule to visit a kendo friend in Iwate prefecture, in the north of Japan’s main island. I’d been promising to go for years, but with this and that, I’d never managed to quite find the time and make good my promise. Realising I’d probably never have a weekend when I wasn’t busy, I just picked a weekend that was good for my friend, booked my flight and hotel, and went. And I’m glad I did! In theory the weekend was mainly about hanging-out, but I ended up doing three …