Sunday, May 31, 2009

2009 Omachi Budou Festival

This past weekend, I attended a two-day Budou Festival in Omachi. It was basically two days of seminars featuring different Japanese martial arts: iaido, kendo, naginata, and judo. Budou means the old Japanese martial ways, and strives to perfect unity of mind and technique. When studying budou, discipline is encouraged, technical proficiency is advanced, you become physically stronger, and your mind is perfected.
For me, I felt really fortunate to have had the chance to experience another part of traditional Japanese culture. Many highly experienced sensei (teacher/s) were present at the festival and shared their passion for martials arts with us. Our judo sensei was even 7th dan! Dan is a ranking system used in Japanese martials arts to mark one's level. I believe 10th dan is the highest.
After the first day of the festival, we had a nomikai that night, and ate tons of food and drank tons of beer. Rounds of beer were passed out every fifteen minutes! Several glasses of beers and one Chu-Hi later, someone managed to round up the troops to go on a "lake run." Apparently, the previous year, some drunken people convinced a bunch of people to jump into the freezing cold lake near the youth hostel we were staying at. It was actually Alex and another person, as I found out later. Reluctantly, I joined the rest of the crazy drunkards who were determined to jump into freezing cold waters again. We walked over to the lake, and the boys started removing ALL articles of clothing! They were going in naked! I wasn't about to go that far so I decided that jumping into the lake in my underwear would do. The water actually wasn't too bad. I imagined that it would have been much more colder, but it was alright. After we got out of the lake, a lot of people (mainly the boys) couldn't seem to find their clothes. Someone thought it would be funny to run off with people's dry clothes and hide them. Some people were ready to kill. We searched the entire area, where it was absolutely pitch black, and later found people's clothes tied onto the outside railing of some random person's house.
The second day of the festival started off with a late wake up, thirty minutes before the first seminar, meaning no time for breakfast. I was tired from a bad night's sleep (lots of noise during the morning), sore from the previous day's activities, and slightly hungover. I somehow managed to face judo in my useless state. It turned out to be really fun, and I learned some really cool judo techniques that I could see myself using in self-defense.
The Budou Festival really made me appreciate traditional Japanese martial arts even more. I have a better understanding of their history within Japanese culture, and each martial arts' significance. I know Matsumoto has some dojos in the general area, so sign me up ASAP!