After a year of training using Zoom, the three of us who are in Sydney were finally able to get together in the dojo.
I was very sceptical about training online, but for “the basics”, I found it useful – especially because we have regular sessions with the Soke and our Shihan,Yamamoto-Sensei. It also allows people who aren’t in Sydney or Yatsushiro to join.
But anyway, today we were able practice kata again.
On the evening of the 23d of October, Yamamoto-sensei invited Adrian and Glen and I to come with him to Kanren-ji temple in Hitoyoshi so the two new monjin could have the chance to be there and receive their bokken after it being blessed.
All bokken issued to Hyoho Taisha-ryu monjin are handmade in Hitoyoshi of local Oak and are blessed at the Kanren-ji temple by the Soke or Shihan before being issued to the monjin, only a few of whom including Wynton, who is another member of our Sydney group have had the experience of actually being there in the temple when it was done.
In October 2018, the Soke and Yamamoto-sensei accepted Glen and Adrian, two new members from Australia into the Hyoho Taisha-ryu. They are both now official monjin (members) of our ryu – a process that has taken two years since they first expressed interest. They were inducted at the Ryu Sen Kan dojo in Yatsuhiro and had the rare honour of being present at Hitoyoshi’s Kanrenji temple when Yamamoto-sensei ceremoniously blessed their issued Taisha-ryu bokken over lit candle. Training consisted of four days of five hours sessions of what Yamamoto-sensei calls Intensive Training at the Ryu Sen Kan dojo and at the Kagami Budokan in Yatsushiro.
On my last day in Kumamoto we were invited to come to the home and dojo of the soke of the Unkou-ryu to practice tameshigiri or test-cutting. Yamamoto-sensei and Uehara-soke took me, Sakaguchi-san, Mori-san and Tazoe-kun to the house where we had lunch with the soke and a top disciple, Ms. Nakamura. After lunch we went to the outdoor dojo where we practiced tameshigiri.
Last enbu of the trip at the Nishiki-Machi Matsuri (festival). – October 29, 2016.
The founder of the Taisha-ryu, Marume Kurando, retired to farm in Nishiki, a hamlet in Hitoyoshi when he retired from service with the ruling Sagara han and died there in 1629. His memory is still revered so Taisha-ryu is honoured to demonstrate for the local government every year at the annual festival and at other events.
On October 17, the city of Hitoyoshi held a benefit to help victims of the Kumamoto earthquake which struck six months earlier. It was a showcase of traditional Japanese arts including the Martial Art of the Taisha-ryu which was founded in the area nearly 450 years ago. Happily, my only job on the day was to take photos. Here are a few them both backstage and from the audience.