Golden Week 2014

Golden Week is a collection of national holidays that occur in late April and early May in Japan.  Since they occur so close together, many people have vacations during this period.  Mugenjuku closes for a week, and the kenshusei get a rest after their first, intense month of training.  At the end of the week, the dojo participates in the budo embu that takes place at Shiramine Shrine on May 5th for Boys’ Day.

Last year, I think I spent most of the week in bed hugging a bottle of whiskey.

This year, Scott and Jotaro left town, and Alex, Herve, and Kitamura had a relaxing week in Kyoto.

The week started with cleaning the demonstration pavilion at Shiramine.  Called kagura-den, the pavilion is used at most Shinto shrines for dances and musical performances to please the gods.  But at Shiramine, the performances are budo demonstrations because of the shrine’s unique history and the Shrine’s kami, which include 2 Emperors and the samurai Minamoto no Tametomo and his father.

Since the kagura-den is not used very often, it had to be cleaned the week before the embu.  Here’s Alex with a bucket and rag:

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Last Friday, Nick and Reg Sakamoto took Herve and Alex to the Butokuden near Heian Shrine for the annual spring budo demonstration.  (This is much bigger than Shiramine’s and goes on all day with demonstrations by many koryu, or ancient schools of traditional arts.)  The Butokuden is a fantastic old building that was built for the purpose of hosting martial arts.

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Later in the day, Payet-sensei joined them, and we all went for lunch.

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That night, Naomi came to the kenshusei apartment to give Alex and Herve a lesson in making traditional Japanese rice balls, called onigiri.  Also, there was beer!!

Naomi makes onigiri with a combination of white rice and genmai rice.  She also has a secret recipe for the filling.  It includes umeboshi plums, ginger, and homemade miso.   Well, I guess it’s not really a secret recipe, but it’s delicious!  Anyhow, now the kenshusei can make their own onigiri to take for lunch during training.

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The next day, Saturday, May 3, I went to Yabusame at Shimogamo Shrine.  Nick and I went last year with Reg Sakamoto and his wife and the Horita family from the dojo.  But this year I had to go alone : (   But I had a much better view than last year ; )

Yabusame is ceremonial mounted archery.  The archers shoot at 3 targets from a galloping horse.  I stood between the beginning of the racecourse and the first target.

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