Friday, March 31, 2017

Kendo in Kansai

Kendo in Kansai
関西剣道

There are individual dojo pages and federation pages that provide information and locations (usually in Japanese). I am trying to create a map of kendo dojos and shops in the Kansai area, to help users find places in terms of geographic proximity.

There are a few dojos that are open to visitors and those are marked with red stars. Usually these places charge a small one time fee for joining a practice (about 500 yen at Shudokan or Yoseikai).

You should note that many kendo venues are in schools and sports centers, so you usually need to get special clearance to use the facilities; such as membership and insurance. It helps if you are a member of the Osaka Kendo Federation. In any case you should try to speak with the dojo management before you expect to practice there. Initially, I will try to add the website information to map points, later I will try to add phone numbers.

The shopping cart icons on this map represent shops where you can purchase kendo goods (these shops often sell other martial arts goods).

Some of the marks represent special events, rather than regular/weekly practices. I highly recommend events such as the Kyoto Embu Taikai (perfect for spectators) or the World Kendo Network (for meeting international kendoka, networking and exchanging kendo information in many languages).

There are a few information marks for places that may be interesting, although they are not for kendo. Such as kenjutsu, sojutsu, spochan or others that may be  interesting and informative for martial artists.

I am especially interested in places that are open to visitors / degeiko, so please leave comments if you know of any such places.


Kyoto Butokuden

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Higashiyama Hanatouro- Kyoto Lantern Festival

Higashiyama Hanatouro- The Lantern Festival of Kyoto
東山花灯路

This fesetival is an artistic event on the edge of Gion, in Kyoto. The dai-hanatouro are large wire-frame paper lanterns in creative shapes, similar to those seen at the famous Nabuta festival in Aomori.
There are also performances by maiko and street performers. There are many vendors at the shrine selling food and tourist goods.
In addition to the lanterns there are also displays of lighted sculptures and floral arrangements.
During the festival you can see a the festive portrayal of a fox wedding from Gion Yasaka shrine the proceeds down Nene-no-michi.
This event is held every year around the middle of March.

2014
A bird-like winged tengu.
White foxes are associated with the famous Fushimi shrine in Kyoto.
The Higashiyama Hanatouro Festival is also famous for the fox wedding ceremonies.
There were many traditional Japanese yokkai (monsters and ghosts) represented in the form of dai-hanatouro.
The kaguraden, ceremonial dance stage, is lit by several tiers of lanterns.
Also called a maidono.
A lantern of a white snake.
 Perhaps the hydra-like monster, Yamato-no-Orochi, which had eight heads and a sword tail.
Hitotsume-kozo, the one-eyed apprentice monk.
In many stories and artistic representations, the monster has a long tongue and is known to lick people and/or frighten people out of consciousness.
Every year there are lighted artistic displays.
Bamboo lanterns placed in a stream produce a pleasant ambiance.
Flower arrangements are placed around Higashiyama and lit up at night.
The pathways are lit up and decorated with flower arrangements and art installations.
The Gion district at night time.
Shoren-in temple decorated a courtyard with LED lights and illuminated the courtyard walls to look like a starry sky.
Shoren-in also has a beautiful Japanese garden. The entry fee is about 700 yen.



2017
The blue-oni (ogre/devil) and his bride, from the story of the red and blue oni.
Ads for the Higashiyama Hanatouro at Keihan Kyobashi station in Osaka.
The pond at Maruyama Park, lit up at night.
Bamboo lanterns and brightly lit floral art.
Vishnu?
Ebisu, the of god wealth, prosperity and fishermen.
The Gionkaku tower of Daiun-inTemple.
The stone streets around Higashiyama with illuminated artwork.
A Japanese stone lantern, or ishi-douro.
Twice a day during the Higashiyama Hanatouro there is a parade for a fox wedding.
This is seen as a fortuitous occasion.
There are many folk-tales about foxes that shapeshift, often into human form.
In Japan (and also some other cultures) a burst of rain on a sunny day, is called a "fox wedding." (kitsune no yomeiri)
Japan has little graffiti, but if you look closely at this wall you will see that it is covered with names and initials.
This is a popular spot for lovers; you will often see the umbrella mark with  two names (or initials).
This street is called "Nene-no-michi" after the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. This is why the street is associated with lovers and is the setting for the fox wedding.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Magoichi Festival; the gun daimyo

The Magoichi Festival
孫市祭

Saika Magoichi- The Daimyo of Guns 

Magoichi was a hero of Japan's Warring States Period (Sengoku jidai). The Saika clan was known for its force of matchlock wielding gunmen known as the Saika-shu, or Saika Renegades. The Saika were located  in what was the Kii province, now called Wakayama. The group participated in a number of conflicts, notably to the aid of the Honganji rioters. The Saika-shu soldiers were reported to number around 5,000.

The Hongaji temple was a powerful and wealthy religious group with a large number of warrior monks who presided over Osaka at a time when most of the country was divided among military daimyo. The Honganji had a fortified temple (Ishiyama Honganji) on what is now the site of Osaka Castle, you can still see a stone monument to the temple next to the Osaka Castle plum grove.

Honganji Saginomori Betsuin Temple
Dressed as one of the Honganji warrior monks of the 16th century.
The identity of Saika Magoichi is disputable, some people think of Magoichi a single person others believe that it was a title given to various leaders of the the Saika-shu. This had led to Saika Magoichi becoming a larger than life, Robin Hood type folk-hero.

In late March, Wakayama City hosts a festival in honor of Saika Magoichi at the Honganji Saginomori Betsuin Temple, near Wakayama Castle.

The festival hosts stage shows with singers, dancers, taiko drummers, yuru-kyara (local characters/mascots), cosplayers and historical re-enactors. The highlight of the festival is the demonstration of the matchlock rifles which the Saika-shu were famous for.

A demonstration of matchlock guns on the balcony of a Honganji temple.
Visitors can pose for photos with replicas of samurai arms and armor.

Cosplayers; getting ready to joust on a jazzy?
Dancers, musicians, historical re-enactors and local characters (yuru-kyara) at the festival.

The festival is timed to coincide with the beginning of cherry blossom season. Unfortunately late March is also a very rainy time of the year; 2015,  and 2017 were too rainy to enjoy the festival.

The photos below show the views of Wakayama Castle and the surrounding cherry trees at the time of the Magoichi Festival.
Wakayama Castle
Wakayama Castle lit-up at night.
A weeping cherry tree
Inside the winding corridors that lead to the main keep of Wakayama Castle.
The inner courtyard of Wakayama Castle

Photos from 3/31/2014

Monday, March 27, 2017

State of the blog


State of the Blog Address

Graph of Blogger page views
There has been quite the spike in readership recently.

The number of views for this blog has more than doubled in just the last three weeks: from 1600 to nearly 3600.

Thanks to Geoff Morris and Kevin O'Shea for recommending Kansai Culture on their websites.

I am planning some more posts about kendo, so I am looking forward to connecting with more kendoka.

I would like to write a few book reviews and recommendations for anime, apps, websites, games, podcasts etc.

The original purpose of Kansai Culture remains cultural events and festivals. In that spirit I am working on some more photographic projects for events and also updating the map of festivals.

I am also working on some more map projects for festivals, kendo, castles and hanami.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

La Festa Primavera - Vintage Road Rally Across Japan
[ 2016 ]

Based on the Italian "Mille Miglia" race, which has been held every May since 1927. The Japanese event is only other event connected to the prestigious Mille Miglia and the honorary president of the Mille Miglia is Princess Akiko, of Japan's imperial family.

The event website can be found at- http://www.lafesta-primavera.com/2017/index_e.html
The group also has a Facebook page at- https://www.facebook.com/La-Festa-Primavera-278295515536259/

The event starts in Nagoya and travels and winding course to Kyoto covering 1,100 kilometers and three days. The event has a number of stamp rally points where the cars stop, including Ise and Osaka. Each day of the rally ends in Kyoto, with the next circuit involving a trip in a new direction and a return to Kyoto. This course pattern resembles a four-leaf clover on a map, thus the emblem of the race is a clover design.


Nagoya, in Aichi prefecture is an important hub for Japan's car culture, as nearby Toyota-city is the home of the Toyota Motor Company.

Many of the owner/operators of these cars are older men, so you have to admire their ability to handle these cars without power-steering for prolonged periods of time, even with a driving partner.

In addition to the costs of owning these vintage cars, which is surely not cheap, participants must pay a 500,000 yen ($5,000) fee to enter, making more than a casual hobby. There are usually about 35 cars that complete the rally, 2016 had 56 cars that entered the event; some of the cars retire or fail to check in during the rally.

For 2017, the race will start on April 14th in Nagoya and finish on April 17th in Kyoto.


These photos are from April, 18 2016- At the Kyoto City Hall - the winner was a 1928 Bugatti.
You can also see the 2014 album in the previous post.


1955 Austin Healy 100BN2
1951 Bandini 750S Siluro.
Notice how low to the ground the car is compared to the drivers.
1939 Fiat 6C
1933 Fiat 508S
1936 Lagonda LG45 Type T7 Rapide
1959 Stanguellini Formula Junior
1949 Healey Silverstone
1937 Delahaye 135
1947 Stanguellini  S 1100
1936 Bentley Derby

La Festa Primavera

La Festa Primavera - Vintage Road Rally Across Japan
[ 2014 ]

Based on the Italian "Mille Miglia" race, which has been held every May since 1927. The Japanese event is only other event connected to the prestigious Mille Miglia and the honorary president of the Mille Miglia is Princess Akiko, of Japan's imperial family.

The event website can be found at- http://www.lafesta-primavera.com/2017/index_e.html
The group also has a Facebook page at- https://www.facebook.com/La-Festa-Primavera-278295515536259/

The event starts in Nagoya and travels and winding course to Kyoto covering 1,100 kilometers and three days. The event has a number of stamp rally points where the cars stop, including Ise and Osaka. Each day of the rally ends in Kyoto, with the next circuit involving a trip in a new direction and a return to Kyoto. This course pattern resembles a four-leaf clover on a map, thus the emblem of the race is a clover design.


Nagoya, in Aichi prefecture is an important hub for Japan's car culture, as nearby Toyota-city is the home of the Toyota Motor Company.

Many of the owner/operators of these cars are older men, so you have to admire their ability to handle these cars without power-steering for prolonged periods of time, even with a driving partner.

In addition to the costs of owning these vintage cars, which is surely not cheap, participants must pay a 500,000 yen ($5,000) fee to enter, making more than a casual hobby. There are usually about 35 cars that complete the rally, 2016 had 56 cars that entered the event; some of the cars retire or fail to check in during the rally.

For 2017, the race will start on April 14th in Nagoya and finish on April 17th in Kyoto.


These photos are from April, 21 2014- At the Imperial Hotel in Osaka:
1955 Lotus MK5
1953 Jaguar XK120 OTS
1955 Lotus MK5
1955 Jagaur XK140 SE OTS
1926 Bugatti 35A
1935 Bentley 3.5L
1951 Giaur Taraschi 750 Sport
1926 Bentley 3L (#6, center)
1957 Alfa Romero Guilietta Spider (#54, left)
1964 Mercedes Benz 230SL (#50, right)
1952 Stanguellini 750S




The next blog installment will cover April 18th, 2016 at Kyoto City Hall... (to be continued)