Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Sports Day and Naginata
Monday this week was a holiday for us.
In Canada it was Thanksgiving weekend, but here it was Sports Day.
In Japan the schools and neighbourhoods held sports days all over. In my area many were canceled or postponed due to the damn rain.
Why a sports day?
TAIIKU NO HI
(sports day) October 10th October 10th was the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics
in 1964. In order to commemorate this first Olympic games held on
Asian soil, October 10th became a National holiday.
The Olympics helped speeding up with Japanese infrastructure. Preparing for this event,
Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka was put into construction four years prior
to the event. It was first serviced on October 1st, 1964.
Traditionally, Japanese schools and business, as well as towns and villages
hold sports day, in fall and spring.
Events such as, big ball relay, tug of war, beanbag toss, three legged race,
running relay races are popular programs.
Not everyone does it on this day, as people cannot be in more than one place at the same time. Basically school sports days are spread out through the entire month as well as some of September. Most neighbourhoods do theirs on this day though.
Well we didn’t do anything sports wise; we rearranged our closets instead. I biked to Seiyu at least three times to buy these cheap plastic bins on wheels to put our summer clothes into. Our closets are breathing again.
I also bought a smaller box with wheels for all of JiXiang’s thousand and one toys. She loves the wheels and pushes the box all over the living room. She actually walks really fast using the box for support.
On one of my trips to Seiyu to buy yet another box, I noticed that the gym, which sits beside it, was being used. At first I thought it was just a sports day but then I noticed some people milling around wearing the dress needed under the Kendo armor.
Now I have wanted to get a picture of someone in Kendo armor for a while. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me but I thought I should check it out just in case there was a perfect opportunity there for lots of pics.
I walked in with an air of belonging. I was a little worried I would be looked at strangely and asked what I was doing there. I didn’t know if this was a private affair or not. Turned out I didn’t have to as there were other foreigners their in their traditional dress thingies.
I stood there fro a bit and was getting very confused watching these people. Kendo dresses are usually two colours: black or blue with a white shirt. These people were wearing all white or all black. Hmm.
Then I got REALLY confused when the group of people that walked out on to the floor were not carrying kendo sticks as I thought, but swords! HUH!
They were doing set movements with these swords. There were other people doing something with longer sword looking things. Not real swords, obviously. They looked wooden or plastic. One looked like it was copper.
From what I could tell this was not a competition but a testing for level up. Usually in a competition there is one or two judges deciding the best performer. Here there was a judge for every person. It got a little boring as I had no idea what was going on and I really needed to return home.
Today I told my student about it and he went
-Ahhhh sounds like Naginata.
-HUH? Never heard of this before.
-It is like a woman’s martial art. It is kind of like dancing. I don’t know much about it.
Well this of course peaked my interest and I had to check it out. I know there were men and woman doing their thing and the swords were really getting to me.
This is what I have found
I now wish I had stayed a bit longer or had at least returned with my damn camera.