Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Joma Shinji – Kyudo (Japanese Archery) Exorcism Ritual for New Years

Joma Shinji is a New Year’s Japanese Archery Ritual for driving away evil for the coming year. Six archers dressed in formal samurai kimono known as kariginu shoot two arrows a piece at a large circular target. On the back of the target is painted an upside kanji character for “oni” which means “devil.” Striking the target is believe to expel evil particularly shots which pass through the oni character.

Since ancient times in Japan, arrows have been seen as having the power to banish and destroy evil. Even the twanging of bow strings is thought to ward away evil spirits. During New Year’s, decorative wooden arrows are sold at temples and shrines as good luck charms for the coming year.

Joma Shinji takes place at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura on January 5th. The ritual dates back to a time when Kamakura was the military capital of Japan (1185-1333). The first hereditary shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo, promoted a variety of military type rituals usually involving archery such as Joma Shinji. In his day, the bow was the primary weapon of the samurai, their profession being known as “The Way of the Horse and Bow.”

Yoritomo was keen that his warriors not become soft even in times of peace. He was all too mindful of what had happened with his enemies, the Taira family. The Taira were once the dominate samurai clan of Japan but they became too intoxicated with the luxuries that power can bring and many of them preferred to excel in non-warrior pursuits such as music and poetry.

War broke out between the Taira and Minamoto and eventually the Taira were utterly defeated in 1185. It has often been pointed out that the Taira’s love of luxury and leisurely pursuits were a major factor in their downfall. Yoritomo did not want the same happening to his samurai so he decided to place his shogunate capital in Kamakura far away from the debilitating influence of the aristocratic culture of Kyoto and he encouraged the continual practice of the bow in annual rituals and contests.

Today the Ogasawara Ryu, a school of Japanese Archery, conducts the Joma Shinji Ritual. The Ogasawara school and clan was established in the Kamakura Era by Ogasawara Nagakiyo who became an archery instructor to Yoritomo. The Ogasawara Ryu does a number of archery events throughout the year including Yabusame, mounted archery.

For more photos check here: Joma Shinji Photos

Advertisements

January 22, 2012 Posted by | 2012, Archery, culture, history, japan, japanese archery, japanese culture, japanese history, Japanese martial arts, kyudo, New Years, Shinto, travel, youtube, zen | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sumo: Asashoryu vs Hakuho – Yokozuna (Sumo Champion) Match at an outdoor sumo event

This is a little blast from the past – I was going thru some of my old archive footage and came across footage of an outdoor sumo exhibit from 2009 at Yasukuni Shrine that they do every April. I’ve gone to it a few times but only once got to see the two Yokozuna at that time face off against each other.

Usually you can only see Yokozuna fight each other on the last day of the tournament, a day which it is quite difficult to get tickets for so this was quite a treat. Yokozuna is a difficult position to reach and only a few ever reach it. There has been up to four Yokozuna at one time and there has been times when there has been none.

Asashoryu was Yokozuna from 2003-2010 and Hakuho has been one since 2007 so for only a short period of time could you see two Yokozuna compete since 2003.

For more sumo, check out this link to photos of Day 13 of the January 2012 tournament:

Sumo Photos

January 22, 2012 Posted by | 2009, asashoryu, japan, japanese culture, Sport, sumo, tokyo, yasukuni shrine, yokozuna, youtube | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment