Tokyobling's Blog

Autumn Leaves Light up – Yasukuni Shrine

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on December 9, 2014

The other week I visited the famous Yasukuni Shrine in the heart of Tokyo to see their beautiful sando, sacred approaching path lined by yellowing ginko trees. The light up was organized at the same time as a sake festival and there lots of stands to get food and drink While plenty of people were taking advantage of this I spent most of my time closer to the shrine to see the views of the closed front gate and the lit yellow leaves of the trees.

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Ritual Archery – Kyudo at Yasukuni Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 12, 2014

More photos of the fabulous archers I saw at the Kyudo ceremony at Yasukuni shrine in the first few days of this year. January was bitterly cold but these steady hands never failed to hit the targets in this form of traditional archery called kyudo or often zen archery in the west. You can read more about the ceremony in my earlier post on the subject here. Enjoy!

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Iaido Performance at Yasukuni Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on March 26, 2014

Last weekend while visiting Yasukuni shrine to see the sakura trees I also spent a while watching the semi-annual iaido performance at the Kagura stage in the shrine grounds. There were iaidoka, practitioners of iaido, of both sexes, from young to old and including at least one foreigner. Iaido is a highly philosophical sport focused on the quick drawing of the sword, a resolute attack and a smooth withdrawal. Because it involves actual weaponry there is not competition aspect to it. There are three kinds of swords, a wooden boken that is used for kata (or set movements) with more than one person, iaito which is a blunt metal sword and a shinken, which is a sharpened sword. There are also kata for more than one swords, extra long swords and sneakier “stealth” kata that involves hidden daggers.

Originally iaido was a real practice for real combat situations but these days it is more like a very fluid form of zen meditation, similar to zen archery, kyudo, and not even remotely similar to the combat sports like kendo or naginata. It takes a lot of time and dedication to become reasonably good at iaido. There is something comforting about a sport where the best practitioners are also usually the oldest!

Despite this performance being free for anyone to watch it is not very well advertised apart from a line or two on a sub-page of the ever elegant and modest Yasukuni shrine official website.

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Nihon Buyo Mime – Yasukuni Shrine

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on February 2, 2014

At Tokyo’s famous Yasukuni Shrine earlier this year I saw a performance of Nihon Buyo, traditional Japanese dances, one of which was a rather funny mime dancer doing a near perfect fisherman routine. I have seen a lot of Nihon Buyo over the years but never something as funny as this. Unfortunately I didn’t get a program for the performance that day.

Few shrines in Tokyo has as great stages as Yasukuni shrine. Most weekends have something interesting being performed and since it is always free to watch it is always worth a visit. It is close to Kudanshita subway station or a not too far walk from Iidabashi train station.

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