November 3rd - Culture Day in Japan - has come and gone, and I was at Meiji Shrine in the morning for a few hours of Kobudo Watching. I enjoyed it, but there are a few things I didn't enjoy, particularly the rude behaviour of some of the audience.
I could understand if the rudeness was just from random people wandering by the event and coming to see what was going on. But most of it was coming either from the demonstrators themselves, or their students, or their friends. I expect better manners from martial artists, I guess.
I had gotten there early (for once!) to secure a good spot. I then sat down on the grass and waited. While I was shooting, any number of people bumped into me without apologizing. Other people let cell phones ring and ring for minutes without answering them or putting them on silent mode. Other people just chatted loudly. After a couple hours, I couldn't sit any longer (my knee was killing me) so I got up. A very tall Scandinavian guy practically bowled me over in his haste to take my spot. He then proceeded to film from a kneeling position. Now when I say this guy was tall, I mean it, and even kneeling he was taller than many of the standing people he was kneeling in front of. Another Japanese guy in the front row was standing the entire time while shooting video on a tripod, making it impossible for people behind him (i.e., ME!) to get any good shots.
There is a rule that should be obvious to anyone with any common sense, and that is: if you are in the front row, you sit. If you are in the next row, you kneel or sit on a folding chair. If you are behind them, you stand. Everybody can see, and everybody is happy.
Another thing that made me bite my tongue was the appearance on the scene of a 60-something British man with his wife in tow. During the demonstration of Ono-Ha Itto Ryu kenjutsu, he loudly explained to his wife, "Oh yes, that is kendo. Yes. Only they're not really doing it right..." During the bo kata of one of the jujutsu ryuha: "Yes, that's jodo. I've done that before. Only the jo is a little bit long ..." During the Yagyu Shingan Ryu demonstration, where one of the partners is armed with a kama (sickle): "Oh, that chap has a kusari-gama, only it is supposed to have a chain, you see? It's probably too dangerous so they left it at home." And then, during the Araki-ryu demonstration of (finally!) kusari-gama, "Oh yes ... Yes! ... You see? ... Yes, that's exactly what you should do with a kusari gama ..."
I only mention this so you will know what kind of hell I have to go through to get these pictures.
After the Kobudo, it was off to the Budokan for an afternoon of ... All-Japan Kendo Championships!