Wednesday, May 30, 2012

神道の合気道, Rare Look at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

The video featured here is of the Kannagara Aikido Aiki Taisai, filmed by Alex Williams on April 27-29 2012 with Rev. Koichi Barish at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America in Granite Falls, Washington. As a one time member of the Shinkendo Honbu, I have had the distinct pleasure of being a guest of the Aikido group and Barraish Sensei up there. The Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America has to be one of the most awesome places to train in martial arts I have ever experienced. The spiritual side to Bushido can not be understated particularly in regards to Aikido whose founder 植芝 盛平, Ueshiba Morihei himself was a devout Shinto practitioner. We at American Mishima love to feature this shrine for it has special meaning for us. The beauty and power of the place is both unmistakable and quite awe inspiring for the site itself was chosen by the direction of the Kami. The river ceremony depicted here is the Shinto morning purification rite known as Misogi. Traditionally performed in Japan under a waterfall, it is done there in the Pilchuck River. Yours truly has participated in this purification at this very Shrine during the summer of 2010. Much like Shinto itself, photographs can only show you so much. Video on the other hand gives you the next closest thing to being there. However, it's better experienced than explained. If you have an interest in Shinto or Aikido, we highly reccomend a visit to The Grand Tsubaki Shrine of America. You'll be glad you did.

For more information about Kannagara Aikido, please contact This year Kannagara celebrates it's 20th year.

Friday, May 18, 2012

三島, 英語を話す Rare English Interview with Yukio Mishima

The legendary Japanese author & playwright Yukio Mishima is featured here on American Mishima in a rare english interview where he speaks on a variety of subjects including his thoughts on Bushido, Kendo, Hagakure, Noh, Kabuki, his own private army, and Death itself. It is a fascinating look in this snapshot of time back to 1970 and the state of mind of the celibrated and most controversial author. It should be noted that his peculiar accent stems from the post war era where American English supplanted if not replaced Kings English of the prewar era. This combination of the two schools are evident in his voice. It should also be noted that in this interview he spoke of dying like the author of the Hagakure in a state of old age on some tatami mat. It's most ironic given that the Hagakure and Mishima himself espoused ideals of how a Samurai should end his life that he himself envisioned living to old age. But ultimately, this would not be how Mishima would end. With his four most trusted members of his own private army, he would stage an elaborate stunt if you will that would gurantee him no other option than to commit Seppeku on the world stage, an event that 42 years later is still a subject of controversy and with some of the baby boomer generation a delicate subject to this day. In that quest to shock and awaken the ways of old Yukio Mishima had succeeded.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrive at London's Heathrow Airport for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. It should be noted that the Emperor was present for Queen Elizabeth's coronation establishing many good years of friendship between the two monarchies. While it is common knowledge that English monarch is technically the head of the Church of England, most people outside of Japan are unaware that the Japanese Emperor is also the head of Shinto (The native religion religion of Japan). As to his specific duties in that role is not clear to the public particularly to people outside Japan, it is likely more symbolic in nature much like Queen Elizabeth's role as head of the CofE. In any case we at American Mishima love featuring the Heisei Emperor mostly because he is always cheerful in public. Yet during times of crisis his words are profund particularly during last years Tohoku disasters, his words to a wounded nation resonated far beyond the shores of Japan and we are most thankful for that. We at American Mishima wish for his continued reign and continued happiness in the rising sun.