Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Armored Samurai Battle Festival


Hashimoto City, in Wakayama Prefecture, is a remote town north of Mt. Koya where the Nankai Koya line intersects the JR Wakayama line along the Kinokawa River.

A group called the "Armored Samurai Battle Association" (日本甲冑合戦之会) held an event called the "Armor Samurai Battle Fest" in the field of the city's school campus (elementary school and pre-school). The word "kacchu" (甲冑) used here is combination of words "armor" (甲) and "helmet" (冑) so it translates to "armored" in English.

The highlight of the festival was a mock battle, based loosely on historical conflicts in the area before the forces of Tokugawa and Sanada, which were the most famous samurai battles of the Kansai area.
The combatents wore a mix of accurate historic replicas and costume pieces made of plastic and cardboard (you can also see modern safety equipment being used). The samurai combatants demonstrated various techniques with swordsmanship, grappling, firearms, spears, battleline formations, defensive barricades and even battlefield signalling.
 Finally the samurai launched a mock battle in which two sides of participants (red for Sanada and black for Tokugawa) fought each other with foam weapons (feigning death after a hit).

The festival had a number of other features such as food vendors, taiko drummers and celebrity participants. The festival included a number of modern martial arts demonstrations including karate, Shoalin Kempo (Shorin Kempo) and aikido.

Below is a photo journal from May 22nd, 2016:

Two combatants demonstrating spear techniques.
Note the man in the red armor using the cross-shaped "jumonji yari" ("letter 10 [十]-shaped spear") which was the signature weapon of Sanada Yukimura.

Representing the samurai, a speaker introduces the event.

Karate kids show off their ability to break boards.

Karateka demonstrating the use of long staves.

Foreigners (French? Belgian?) demonstrating aikido.

Karate kids demonstrating flexibility.

An impressive looking pose is a frame from a tumbling maneuver.

Shaolin Kempo moves.

Taiko drummers.

A serious looking pose.

Posing with a long spear cross shaped (jumonji yari)

Close shot of gunner. Note the rope being held, this is used as burning fuse the can be used to ignite the gun powder.

Note the protective equipment being used to protect participants faces; mesh wire face masks and safety goggles.

Waiting in a crouched position.

Doh! Closing the distance and striking at the torso while avoiding a slash.

Note the pavises, (defensive barriers) that are being used to protect from ranged volleys.

Kids holding spears.
This reminds me of stories about the militant right of Japan was preparing for a WWII invasion by teaching civilians to cut bamboo shoots into spears.

Encroaching offensive lines a halted and dig in plant defensive cover.

Masses of spearmen advance.

Defenders move ahead of defenses to launch a sortie.

Gunners fire from behind the pavise.

Weapons and grappling with strategic support from allies.

Grappling with a finishing blow from a dagger.

Posing for photos with spears.

Group photos with kids.

Signs of battle injuries; note the abrasions on the nose from the goggles and the patterned abrasions on the lip from the mesh mask.

A TV MC wearing a lapel mic.
Note the helmet emblem; the 6-coin emblem (roku mon sen) of the Sanada clan. This emblem signifies the 6 coins that were supposedly used to pay the ferryman to cross the river of death- that is why this actor is wearing a necklace with six coins on a string.

Weapons being gathered at the end of the event.