Thursday, January 28, 2010

鏡開き式・武道始め (KAGAMI BIRAKI)

Erica here!

Earlier this month, on the 11th, Louise and I attended the Kagami Biraki Festival at the Nippon Budokan. What is Kagami Biraki? I will explain by quoting from the program because its description is far more elegant than mine.

“Kagami Biraki is a festival which literally means ‘unveiling of a round-shaped mirror” has its origin in a ceremony that was widely practiced by the samurai in the 15th century. Every New Year’s day, the warrior would honour and purify their personal armour and weapons by offering two layers of small round-shaped mochi cakes made from glutinous rice to the gods. Later, at the end of the holiday season, sometime between then 11 and 20 of January, they would share these mochi cakes with their families and with members of their clans.

Beyond its spiritual significance, their festival helped strengthen family ties and friendship among warriors of the same clan.”

The first half of this festival at the Budokan was very interesting. There was a sort of play where many people dressed as ancient samurai warriors were seated in formation, food and wine was brought to the leader and a huge double layered mochi cake was broken after. Following the skit, there were demonstrations of 9 Budo arts including kyodo, aikido, kendo, judo, shorinji kempo, jukendo, karatedo, naginata and sumo.

After the demonstrations, everyone from these forms of Budo went down onto the floor for Budo Hajime (we all trained simultaneously for about 30min). Other than having a difficult time hearing Sensei’s instruction because everyone else was kiai-ing, it was a fantastic experience!!

When this finished, we all got a bowl of Shiruko (sweet red bean soup with a piece of mochi). Some of the kids from Shiramizu loved it so much that they went back for seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths and the most I heard one of the kids had was six helpings!! That’s when the Sensei’s told them they weren’t allowed to have anymore =p

At the end, we all got to take home an ema (a wooden plaque with a drawing of the year's zodiac). On the back, you're supposed to write something equivalent to a New Year's resolution.

The Budo Hajime can be viewed here (that's Kempo closest to the camera, with the karate group being beyond it in the center).

The leader of this samurai clan being served wine.

Mochi being broken.

Kyodo demonstration.

Louise and I with Samurai san!!

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