Shinto

Cultural Day November 3rd

Cultural Day is actually the birthday of emperor Meji and is also celebrated on this day. Last years Culture Day experience was joining my Aikido club for their annual potato dig followed by a BBQ, no ordinary fare of sangas and chops! This year we went Meji jingu (shrine and park surrounds) and got a flavour of what the Meji birthday celebrations are. There were many sporting demonstrations, martial arts, yabusame, etc though with significant emphasis on rituals to cleanse the grounds. At the shrine there were some other ceremonies with the receiving of offerings from the Imperial envoy - in the past the Emperor was considered a god. We particularly enjoyed seeing the traditional dress or the young boys and girls that often go to the shrine on this day.
Young boy watching sporting demonstrationsYoung boy watching sporting demonstrations
Yabusame rider in the pre event ritualYabusame rider in the pre event ritual
Young girl at Meji shrineYoung girl at Meji shrine

Yabusame without the crowds

Simon has become somewhat of a yabusame fan, so we took a daytrip to Mishima (out as far west as Mt Fuji) to see an event. Last time he saw it, in Tokyo, the crowds were thick. But here we could relax and freely move around and get great positions. There are three targets that the rider must attempt to hit, set at an even spacing along the flat, straight course. While riding at a flat out gallop, they msut retrieve each arrow, and get positioned again in time for the next target.
In flightIn flight Post event ceremonyPost event ceremony Receiving sakeReceiving sake
RiderRider Red bridge to tiny island shrineRed bridge to tiny island shrine

Azalas, Weddings and Noh

We found some fantastic places for viewing azaleas, the only problems was we visited them about a week too late!
We also went to Meji-jingu to see the festive activities, particularly the Noh performance which to our un-training eyes was a slow and labourious performance. We were greatly indebted to a visiting Assistant Professor (a chance meeting) who explained more of the Noh style and later sent us a copy of the play script.
A traditional wedding procession, often seen at the shrine.

Sumo January Tournament

This's now the second tournament we've attended and this time Caleb was alot more interested and even started to copy their leg lifting and body slapping ceremony!
It is very useful to have the English commentary radio and hear about the history between each pair of fighters that meets. During a tournament they battle for 15days straight, each day the bouts start at 10am and finish at 6pm, so in many ways it is a long drawn out event. Although on one day each fighter will only have one fight and that is a once only attempt to force their opponent to touch the ground (with any other part of their body other than their feet) or to step outside the rope ring. Generally it is over in 10 seconds!

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