Kendo Places #3: Disposable – The End of Noma

“The night bus to Tokyo: a nine hour hell ride in a muggy sardine can, with an interior that is all too reminiscent of a cheap airport hotel, and a smell to match. This is the chariot of thrifty foreign travelers, poor university students, and gassy old men who snore throughout the night. After an evening of being folded up in a tiny bus seat, breathing in re-circulated air you emerge from the bus greasy and disorientated. You are displaced. It feels like have you just stepped out of the bar to be greeted by the morning sun coming up over the …

Showa no kensei (昭和の剣聖)

This small article intriduces the “Showa no kensei (昭和の剣聖)” or “The Sword Saints of the Showa period.” All of these kenshi are widely known within the Japanese kendo community, and abroad as well, but I thought a quick article in here would serve as a useful reference. I hope to expand on this and write longer and more in-depth articles about various kenshi from by-gone years (and not limited to just kendo or renowned personages). In particular, I feel that Takano Sasaburo’s impact on kendo is not fully understood by many modern practitioners, myself included. Doing research for these articles …

Kamidana Statistics

Kenpō Nagasaki is a bimonthly kendo publication available to subscribers in Nagasaki prefecture. Each issue features shiai and seminar reports and articles by sensei on various topics. Recently the magazine featured statistics about dojo in Nagasaki prefecture, including a survey on how many dojo have kamidana or Japanese flags at their shōmen. I have translated the statistics from this section of the survey here: Area No. of dojo Kamidana only National Flag only Neither Both No Answer Nagasaki City 34 4 10 16 4 0 Seihi Area 4 0 3 1 0 0 Isahaya City 17 2 13 1 1 …

The Student-Teacher Relationship, Seitei and "Traditional" Iai

Like many, my first step into the world of iai and traditional Japanese sword arts was through the Zen Ken seitei-gata and for several years my experiences there strongly colored how I viewed iai, koryu arts and budo in general. Now anyone who has spent any amount of time on online forums or interacting with senior practitioners in various iai and sword related arts, both in Japan and abroad, will know that the seitei-gata “system” (for lack of a better word) can be and is controversial in some circles. The usual arguments typically being along the lines of the kata, …

Womens kendo in Japan: a survey

The following is a very brief synopsis of questionnaire results that were featured in an article by Kendo Nippon (Dec 2008) entitled “女性剣士の現状と「これから」” (The present condition of womens kendo and its future). I will list the questions and there results but will leave you to draw your own conclusions from there or to discuss in the comments. If you want to find out more then please buy the magazine! Q1. Do you feel its necessary to have a “female quality” in kendo? (剣道において、「女性らしさ」の必要性を感じるか?) Feel that it is: 66% Feel that it isn’t: 22% Other: 12% Q2. Are there times when …