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

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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

2012 New Years Eve Celebrations in Tokyo

Rang in another year in Tokyo. Went to Yasukuni Shrine for the turning of the new year. They beat a drum in the shrine as people make their prayers. From there I took a quick jaunt into Roppongi then onto Tokyo Decadance Bar. Afterwards a number of us went to nearby local shrine.

2012 is the Year of the Dragon and it seems to be off to an auspicious start. Got woken up out of my stupor from a sizable earthquake. Hope there won’t be any repeats like last year!

Happy New Years!

January 11, 2012 Posted by | 2011, 2012, cosplay, culture, japan, japanese culture, New Year's Eve, New Years, tokyo, tokyo decadance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ganbaremasu Japan! Support for Japan in the wake of the 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami

This is a video I made in support of Japan after the earthquake and devastating tsunami which caused much damage and loss of life in northeastern Japan in the Tohoku region.

Over a couple of days I got Japanese and foreign-residents to show their support and togetherness in dealing with the aftermath. I included footage of various Japanese festivals to showcase Japanese spirit and strength. Many of the festival clips were taken at events in the Tohoku area. The singing is from the World Cup celebrations this past summer.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | 2011, culture, earthquake, festival, japan, Japan Earthquake, japanese culture, Japanese festival, tohoku, tokyo, video, vlog | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Years 2011 From Tokyo!

Happy New Years from Tokyo! Here are a few scenes of me celebrating the new year in a couple of places from one of my old watering holes when I used to live in Otsuka the Black Sheep in Ikebukuro where I did the countdown. Then I moved on to Shinjuku to Decadance Bar which is like a mini-Tokyo Decadance event every weekend.

At the end of the night I ended up in Roppongi fairly hammered before stumbling back home and missing my connection stop. All in all, a good time! Happy New Years!

From some other New Years Activities in the past:

New Years Eve at Zojo-ji Temple in Hamamatsucho

New Years Day Activities at Yasukuni Shrine

January 2, 2011 Posted by | 2010, 2011, culture, drinking, japan, japanese culture, New Year's Eve, New Years, party, tokyo, tokyo decadance, travel, video, vlog, yasakuni shrine, youtube, zojo-ji | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2010 Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri

2010 Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri

Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri is a Japanese festival in the small town of Kuroishi in the Aomori prefecture in the northern Japanese region called Tohoku. For the festival, the people of Kuroishi make floats of washi – japanese paper – and paint them with scenes from Japanese and Chinese history and legends. The floats are illuminated from within so it makes for some beautiful artwork.

December 31, 2010 Posted by | culture, festival, japan, japanese culture, Japanese festival, matsuri, neputa, Only in Japan, tohoku, travel, video, vlog | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bean-Throwing Geisha Celebrate Setsubun in Kyoto

February 2nd, while Americans watch groundhogs and their shadows, Japanese, or at least those in Kyoto, watch Geisha perform the Japanese version of Groundhog Day known as Setsubun. Setsubun is a sp…
February 2nd, while Americans watch groundhogs and their shdows, Japanese, or at least those in Kyoto, watch Geisha perform the Japanese version of Groundhog Day known as Setsubun. Setsubun is a spring ritual in which Japanese throw beans to ward off invisible evils and hasten the end of winter. At many temples and shrines they do a bean throwing ceremony known as mami-maki.

At Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto some of the bean throwers are geisha or rather maiko – geisha apprentices. Geisha are known as geiko in the Kansai dialect.

I got a packet of beans and ate them (also a Setsubun tradtion) washed down with Kirin Beer (a Samurai Dave tradition)

February 3, 2010 Posted by | culture, dance, Geiko, geisha, Geisha Dance, japan, japanese culture, Kyoto, Setsubun, travel, video, vlog | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gokaicho: 7-year festival at Zenko-ji Temple in Nagano, Japan

Every seven years, at the temple of Zenko-ji in Nagano City they reveal a statue that is normally kept hidden. The statue is a 13th Century replica of a Buddhist statue which supposedly was the first Buddhist statue to officially come to Japan in the 6th Century.

This first introduction of Buddhism set off a religious war which was more about political power than anything else between the Soga clan and the Mononobe and Nakotomi clans. The statue got tossed into the river but was later fished out and ended up at Zenko-ji in Nagano. A replica was made during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) and that one is revealed to the public every 7 years.

The 7 year festival occurred this year and the last time to see it was the end of May so I went there during May to get a glimpse of the statue and a glimpse at Japan’s history.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | buddhism, culture, festival, Gokaicho, japan, japanese culture, japanese history, nagano, travel, video, Zenkoji | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teatime with Geisha in Kyoto

In Kyoto, one can have tea with Geisha. One way is to pay a lot of money and get an invite from an establishment in order to have this privilege or go when the public Geisha dances are held.

I took the second option and had tea prepared by a geisha in a room with about 50 other people. The public dances cost about $30-$40 plus $5 for the tea ceremony. The tea ceremonies are a montage from 3 events – the Miyako Odori, the biggest and most famous production held every April, the Kyo Odori also held in April, and the Gion Odori held in November.

You can keep the saucer that the accompanying sweet comes on. I have about 6 of them now.

The music in the background is from street performers in Germany.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | culture, Geiko, geisha, japan, japanese culture, Japanese Tea Ceremony, Kyoto, travel, video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to Tokyo Design Festa!

This is a montage of the last Design Festa vol 29.

Design Festa is one wild weird weeked of an eclectic gathering of artistic chaos of artists, musicians, craftsmen, performance artists.

September 26, 2009 Posted by | art, avant-garde, culture, dance, design festa, drums, japan, music, musicians, risque, sexy, taiko, tokyo, Tokyo Design Festa, video, weird, WTF | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nishimonai Bon Odori – Japanese Dance for the Dead Video

In the small town of Nishimonai in the northern prefecture of Akita, the locals perform a Bon Odori – a special dance for Obon which is a time for honoring the ancestors.

The Nishimonai Bon Odori is unique in that some of the dancers were a black hood to represents the spirits of the deceased. Other dancers wear a patchwork kimono of silk fabric known as hanui and a woven straw hat called a amigasa.

You can’t see the faces of the dancers which gives the whole dance a kind of surreal quality.

For those practicing Japanese, take the challenge in seeing if you can comprehend the Akita-ben (dialect) of the singers.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Akita, Bon Odori, culture, dance, festival, japan, japanese culture, Nishimonai, Nishimonai Bon Odori, Obon, tohoku, tradition, travel, video, vlog, youtube | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment