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 world we live in today.
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 keiko sessions over two days, and got in some good research about kendo-related places as well. There was also plenty of dai-ni-dojo time!
What follows is a brief rundown of kendo-related experiences that weekend. If you are interested in doing kendo in Iwate, please keep reading to the bottom. Cheers!
I’m glad to announce that a project that I worked on with the Japanese kendo magazine “Kendo Jidai” has finally made it to daylight. This is their first ever product aimed specifically at the non-Japanese market, and if everything goes well (i.e. good sales) then hopefully they will go on to produce more English language products (DVDs and hopefully books) in the future.
For perhaps the fifth year (or maybe it’s the sixth) I find myself going through ramadan. Well, not exactly ramadan, as I am an atheist (though not irreligious), but I co-opt the month to do my own sort of spiritual and physical discipline (for the same reason I have tried Lent before). During this period I fast during daylight hours, allowing myself only a banana and a piece of chocolate before 6am if I have asageiko on that day, otherwise I eat no food until 7pm-ish, or around about whatever time the sun sets. If I have keiko in the evening it means I may not sit down to eat until after 9pm. As I may do anything from one to three keiko sessions some of these days, I do allow myself to drink water or maybe a cup of black coffee. Even though it’s not ramadan proper, I do believe it still serves as a spiritual exercise meant to better me as a person. This is, to me, an important part of my personal shugyo, of which budo is a part.
After much convincing, cajoling, and arm-twisting from friends, I’ve set-up a Patreon page for kenshi 24/7. You may have already noticed the link in the sidebar, or after each post. Apart from those two links and this post you are reading now, I won’t particularly be doing much promotion, so if you are not interested please don’t worry, I won’t interrupt the usual posts with any hardcore sales pitch!
I started kenshi 24/7 started way back in 2008 (almost 10 years ago!), and since then we’ve posted hundreds of kendo/kendo-related articles as well as a number of publications. The site itself has been run – and will continue to always be – free. Book sales have kept the site running over the past while, but I do want to spend a bit more on the site, particularly to do the following:
- Improve the website (e.g. better hosting, more security, etc);
- Allow the site to be self-sustaining;
- Fund research (e.g. source material, go on fact-finding excursions, etc).
If I amazingly get a million supporters then any left-over support will go to helping my expensive shinai habit… !!
Anyway, long term readers know the score with kenshi 24/7, so I don’t want to go into any long spiel here. If you are interested, please check out the Patreon page and consider supporting the site.