Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Happy New Years 2013 From Tokyo!!!

Scenes from New Years Eve celebrations in Tokyo from the traditional at Zojo-ji Temple to avant garde cosplay at Tokyo Decadance in Shinjuku.

Happy New Years!

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January 2, 2013 Posted by | travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Dezuiri 2012 – Yokozuna (Sumo Champion) New Year Ring-Entering Ceremony at Meiji Shrine

Every year on January 6th, to celebrate the coming year, the current sumo champion(s), Yokozuna, come to Meiji Shrine and perform a Dohyo-iri or ring-entering ceremony. For Yokozuna there are two styles – Unryu the more common is seen as a defensive stance and Shiranui is a more offensive stance. They are named after Yokozuna by those names – though there is debate that there was a mix up and that each wrestler actually performed the other’s style.

Anyway, Hakuho performs the less common Shiranui style dohyo-iri and wears a Shiranui style rope which has two loops in the bow. I read somewhere there is a superstition that Shiranui has brought bad luck to previous Yokozuna who performed that style. It remains to be seen if Hakuho will escape such a fate.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | 2012, japan, japanese culture, japanese history, Japanese martial arts, martial arts, meiji shrine, sumo, tokyo, video, yokozuna | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2012 Emperor of Japan’s New Year Address

On January 2 the Japanese Emperor makes 5 appearances with members of the Imperial Household to give a short (emphasis on short) speech welcoming the New Year.

Although the Japanese Imperial system goes back well over a millenia, the tradition of making public addresses to gathered crowds only dates back to after WWII.

I’ve been to the New Years Address about 4-5 times now. The interview footage is from the 2009 and 2010 speeches.

This year however was different than previous years and the Emperor made direct mention to the Earthquake of March 11th and the continual suffering of those directly affected by it.

January 10, 2012 Posted by | akihito, blog, Blogroll, japan, Japan Earthquake, Japan Vlogger, japanese culture, japanese emperor, japanese imperial palace, New Years, tokyo, tokyo imperial palace, 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

Some New Years Activities at Yasukuni Shrine

Over the New Years holiday, I visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for some of their New Years activities that they had over 3 days. Martial arts, shamisen, dance, archery, sword-making, and head biting lion dogs Yasukuni had it going on.

January 6, 2010 Posted by | japan, japanese archery, japanese culture, Japanese martial arts, New Years, tokyo, travel, video, yasakuni shrine | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy News Years!!! Welcome 2010!!!

Just a quick Happy New Years message from yours truly, Samurai Dave! Let’s hope the next decade is better than the last one! Happy New Years!!!

January 2, 2010 Posted by | 2010, japan, New Year's Eve, New Years, tokyo, travel, video | , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering the Millenniums (2000&2001)

The first decade of the 21st Century is drawing to a close. 10 years ago the world waited with anticipation for the year 2000. Some with hope, some with dread. Many thought the world would end either by God’s doing or by faulty computers. Remember Y2K? Anyway 2000 came and went as did 2001 for those crusty pedantic people who maintain 2001 was the real first year of the millennium – though all the big soiree were scheduled on New Year’s Eve 1999 (as Prince would have wanted it).

Where were you when the new Millennium dawned? Were you partying it up like there would be no tomorrow as some prophesied or were you at home cleaning the guns waiting for the Apocalypse of civilization?

I was at a New Age Concert thrown at the Pyramids of Giza.
Millennium at the Pyramids

For the 2001 New Years, I was working at a country&western club in Austin, Texas getting my lip chewed on by some tasty fillies.

Post your comments or video responses on your memories of what you were doing when the Millennium(s) dawned.

An account of my 2001 New Years’ experience and my disappointment of not having a hover car.

I threw a bone up into the air, and it still came down a bone

Well the New Year has dawned and still no Apocalypse.
Damn, I was so looking forward to rioting and looting!
I finally had to cancel my subscription to the “Y2K
Survival” Magazine. 

It’s 2001. Where the hell is my hovercar? Wow, hey,
guess all those past predictions about this year have
become pretty disappointing. No moon bases, hover
cars, ray guns, alien invaders, flashy futuristic jump
suits, black monoliths, or world peace (ha! we were so
naive back then). 

[NOTE: I had no idea how bad things were going to get 9 months down the road that year]

I worked security at Dallas, a country/western club
my uncle manages in Austin, TX. I wore a white tux
shirt with a black bow tie, cowboy boots and a black
cowboy hat (and trousers of course). I looked more
like a stripper at Chippendale’s than club security.

It was my job to check IDs and walk around breaking up
any fights. As these Texans tend to be rather big and
my karate a bit rusty, my plan was if a fight broke
out let them beat each other senseless then go over
and kick them in the balls. Granted, it wasn’t much of
a plan but at least I had one.

I drank too many cheap champagne toasts when the New
Year struck so I was buzzing when they put me back on
the door. I tried hiding this but it was hard when new
arrivals showed up and I greeted them with a “What the
hell do you want?” instead of “Hi! Welcome to Dallas
etc…”

Some inebriated young filly gave me a New Year’s kiss
that practically turned into a New Year’s mauling. She
damn near chewed my bottom lip off then tried to
convinced me that I liked it. She couldn’t possibly
have known that I had given S&M up as my New Year’s
Resolution.

She later staggered out of the club with the
assistance of her friends and to assure us at the door
everything was under control she said: “It’s ok, I’m
the designated driver.” Ah, my lips still bleed when I
think of her!

I left Austin Jan 4 heading back to Tennessee. The
miles clicked slowly past as the gene pool drew
steadily shallower while I drove through Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Alabama. Near the Alabama/Mississippi
border around 2 am, I came to the conclusion that
admiring deer while driving was hazardous especially
when they are standing in the middle of the freeway
and you’re doing 75 miles per hour. In trying to avoid
God’s simple yet stupid creature, my car swerved left
and right then completely around. (A Hovercar would
have been helpful at this point) I was now continuing
on my journey which was fine except I was going
backwards at 70-75 m.p.h. In this harrowing near death
experience the only lofty soul-searching thought that
ran through my head at the time was: “Well, this isn’t
good.”

My car must have had the same thought because it went
off the road and crashed into the woods. I actually
was able to drive off minutes later. My driver’s side
mirror had been sheared off but the rest of the car
was fine except for the mashed up front end but that
was from an earlier encounter with an inbred that
couldn’t read Stop signs.

Damn flea-ridden beast! To think I once cried when
they shot Bambi’s mother. Now I wish I had pulled the
trigger myself!

As no one was around when it happened, had I been
forced to shuffle off this mortal coil no one would
have ever known what had happened. If ever I do pass
the way of all flesh in a similar manner you know the
deer are behind my vehicular demise and I hope some of
you will wreck unholy vengeance upon their misbegotten
tasty hides in my name.

At least I lived to tell the tale. For a bit I was
wondering if perhaps I was dead living out some
bizarre Jacob Ladder-like pre-Afterlife until I pulled
over at a truck stop at the next exit. The singing
fish display, the bumper stickers that said “My other
car is also a piece of shit”, and the mud flaps with
naked women silhouettes reassured me I was still in
the land of the living. No self-respecting Afterlife
Limbo dimension would display such vulgar items and
even Hell wouldn’t be so tacky.

I hope no one else had such a close shave from the
Reaper’s scythe.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | 2000, 2001, blog, Blogroll, egypt, great pyramid, humor, Middle East, Millennium, New Year's Eve, New Years, travel, video, vlog | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2009 New Years at Zojo-ji, A Japanese Temple in Tokyo

With the New Year coming up, I thought I’d dredge up some of my unused footage from this year and show how and where I rang in 2009. For those of you in Tokyo this New Years, Zojo-ji Temple in Hamamatsucho is worth a visit as they have lots of activities going on from Buddhist priests chanting, mochi-making, hatsumode (New Years Prayer), hot sake drinking, burning old New Year charms, ringing the huge bell, and selling charms and food.

December 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009, buddhism, japan, japanese culture, New Year's Eve, New Years, tokyo, Tokyo Tower, travel, video, vlog, zojo-ji | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment