Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kagami biraki

The Kagami-biraki is a Japanese ceremony, performed usually at the beginning of each year. It has become closely related to martial arts, since many dojo's use the celebration as a start of training in the new year.

This year we actually attended two Kagami-biraki events, first Sunday (13/1) at our Aikido dojo and the second on Monday (14/1), which was a national holiday, in the Nippon Budokan.

Kagami-biraki literary means 'opening of the mirror'. However no actual mirror is involved, but the mirror is symbolised by two (big) round rice cakes placed on top op each other. The ceremony involves around the breaking of the rice cakes (not with a knife!) with a big hammer. The cake gets divided and is eaten with sweet red bean (azuki bean) soup: oshiruko.

On Sunday the Aikido hombu dojo was packed with people visiting for the kagami-biraki! When we arrived the 3rd and 4rth floor were already full of people, and we were seated at the 2nd floor. From there we could watch on a big projection screen what was happening at the 3rd floor. The ceremony started with several speeches, followed by a demonstration (because of the amount of people, performed on a very small place!), and the grading ceremony. Then, the tables would be set, drinks and snacks would come and we would all together eat the oshiruko soup. The mochi in the soup was actually freshly made by various sensei of hombu. It was our first time eating it and it was actually quite nice.

On Monday, the day of the Kagami-biraki at the Nippon Budokan, it snowed all day! We arrived early when the Budokan was starting the turn white from the snow. This Kagami-biraki was a combined ceremony of different martial arts. Next to aikido there were people from Judo, Karate, Kendo, Kempo, Niginata, Kyudo.
Start of opening ceremony

After the opening ceremony, there were demonstrations from all these martial arts. Very interesting to watch, since we did not have the opportunity to see all these martial arts in real life before. After the demonstration followed a combined training session, representing the first training of the new year. In the Budokan all present budo had there own training, and we participated in the Aikido training. Very fun and impressive to train in the budokan, although it was a little crowded (and loud!) being surrounded by all these other martial artists. The day ended again with some oshiruko soup and drinks, and a return back home through what had become a very big amount of snow!

Nippon Budokan covered in snow

Gate towards the Budokan

Lane towards the Budokan

1 comment:

  1. Very cool, is this a yearly event? I found very little information regarding this event, thanks for posting.