Saturday, May 5, 2018

Kids' Kendo at Shimogamo Shrine


As part of Aoi Matsuri, a festival that collects a number of traditional activities in Kyoto, Shimogamo Shrine holds a day of martial arts on Kids' Day (Kodomo-no-hi). This includes kyudo and naginata demonstrations but the final event is a kids kendo tournament (which starts at 14:00 and ended at about 16:00). The tournament involves elementary school students (who all seem to be from the local area).
This small kendo tournament is interesting in it's connection to shrine ceremonies and the fact that it is hosted at such a historic shrine as Shimogamo (near the palace, this shrine played an important role in imperial life when Kyoto was the capital of Japan). The kendo here is interesting in that it is performed on a gravel surface with shoes (rather than barefoot on a wooden dojo floor) which adds extra difficult with momentum control and footing.
This festival is held at the same time as the major Embu Taikai which is nearby at the Kyoto Budo Center.

Note that the kids are wearing shoes and socks as they do kendo.

The shimpan remark the starting lines every time there is a stop in the action.
Here a boy makes a long lunge for a men strike.

A rare chance to shoot kendo photos outdoors; using a snowcross filter for the sparkle effects.


Breaking from chudan and deciding to strike or defend.

Changing directions and repositioning their stances.

Kids anxiously wait for closing ceremonies.

Early May has great weather but it was already a bit hot to be doing kendo outside in strong sunlight.

As a holiday there were a lot of tourist passing by as the kendo is underway.

Slipping and sliding on the gravel leads to a lose of balance.

They both tried to strike dou.

Airborne, like the Michael Jordan of kendo.

Kendo in the courtyard surrounded by buildings that are registered as important cultural properties. 
Stepping into position for a dou strike.

Striking men. Everyone seems to be off center here with the defender moving their head to the side.

After a dou strike.

Sonkyo. The stage (Maidou) in the center of the courtyard is registered as an important cultural property and is used for ceremonial performances but it is much too small for kendo.

A nice image of tsubazeria.

Dou! A nice shot of both sides in motion.

Moving in for dou. Note how far back the shinai is drawn before hitting dou.

Balloon Kendo

The kids have balloons taped to their men and they are paired for a 1 minute match.

It can be hard to make solid contact with the balloons.

Small kids are not strong enough to pop the balloons; their shinai repeatedly bounce off after direct contact.

Shinai otoshi!