Saturday, November 12, 2011

Of Martial Arts and Matsuri Arts

Continuing on from the Matsuri on Mobara theme again... the day was a strange in the way that Spring days can some times be. It was slightly overcast but warm - indeed, verging on hot. The air was quite thick, and I'm sure that it was a hard day for some of the participants.

Especially the martial artists... one of the more visually impressive being the practitioners of Iaido - or the art of drawing the sword.

And of course - we can't forget that the sword-drawing was in only part of the equation. Cutting in clean, efficient and determined way was very much an exercise in concentration and skill. And this is where I do a little poetic licence with photoshop...(not my normal thing).

And of course - it's not all sword-work.

I'm quite fond of the principles and methods used in Aikido - though a relatively recent martial art (coming from the 1920s). It's emphasis on defensive redirection of your opponents force in combination with throws, and joint-locking holds is a much less aggressive form of self-defence.

Indeed, one of it's fundamental tenets is defence whilst also reducing the harm to your attacker. Now that's an unusual twist for a martial art... although perhaps in the same way, Aikido is often criticised for it's lack of realism.

Aikido also has it's roots in a more fundamental religious core, being based on a form of Shinto found in pre-war Japan of the 20's... it became not so much a martial art as a means of finding transcendence of the soul. Of course - at Mobara Matsuri, these were replaced with some very interesting kata demonstrations of the various techniques. Lots of fun.

 Of course the day isn't only about the martial arts of Japan... it's a day of all sorts of cultural and family enjoyments. And a good reason to get dressed in traditional clothes.

Of all sorts and styles.

  It's also a good day to sample some Japanese cuisine. Though don't expect the best of the best of Japanese food at any sort of outdoor festival. It's pretty basic "food court" sort of stuff.

And don't forget to grab some Ramune... one of the classic Japanese soft-drinks. It's a throwback to decades ago, and was for a time very difficult to get in Japan (or at least unpopular to drink). I suspect it's having somewhat of a minor resurgence - and it seems to be growing slightly in popularity here. Perhaps most of all for the unique ball-based sealing mechanism.

And it wouldn't be a Japanese festival without a tea-ceremony

 It's a art-form that is as much about the process as the end-product (and infact perhaps more so).

 And there's nothing like a nice relaxing drink of tea to ease your worries. Ok... beer might also be acceptable....

And lets not forget the beautiful washi, or japanese paper... hand made cards (hmmm for $4... not sure if that was a bargain).

And whilst we're talking about paper. You could have a go at some shūji, or Japanese calligraphy. The idea is to write (japanese of course) with direct and unhesitating style - flowing and elegant. Of course - you could get someone else to do it for you. 

 A classic Japanese ningyō or dolls - especially the geisha variety - are widespread in popularity. An icon of Japanese culture (and tourist shops).

Another less traditional icon of course is Sonic... who was losing his head in the heat of the day.

Still it was all in a good cause. The children loved the characters (even when they were doing mock battles up on the stage).

And thus we come to the end of my quick photographic review of the day. It's a great day out - even if you don't have any direct relationship with Japan. But if you do have one, it's a perfect occasion to grab the family and reconnect with the community. 

It is after all still very much a family day. Enjoy!

See you all at Matsuri on Mobara 2012... it'll be here sooner than you think!


  1. Some great pictures and looks like it was a fun day. I love the summer festivals in Japan and always look forward to sampling the festival food like Yakisoba and Takoyaki and drinking some Ramune.

    Japan Australia

  2. Have you learned photography, Ben? The photos are very well taken.

    By the way, I like the Ramune part. Introduction of those small details would be very fun and interesting (and could be important).

  3. Hi J_A.... it's always good to enjoy a summer festival - even ones that are in spring. Still, there was a good festive vibe to the whole day.

    Muravej, no I have to admit that I've never taken any lessons... and actually, I'm not the photographer of the family. Still, I enjoy taking photos; and hopefully improving a little at a time.

    As for details, I guess I'm not much of a story-teller, but I think it's nice to find some points that are not so widely written about... or are from my or T-chan's background. As for whether any of it's important - I hope only that it's just a little interesting.