Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Buddhist Minister's Welcome Return

This past weekend saw the return of Imamura Sensei to the Los Angeles Koyasan Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo. Imamura Sensei was one of the head ministers at the Koyasan Betsuin from 1972-1986. He will be taking over duties from three time retired Taisen Miyata Sensei to preside over Koyasan Temples in both Los Angeles and North America. We got to talk with him over a few shots of Sake' at a private Temple party  and found him to be warm, generous, and very friendly. While he claims to have forgotten how to speak English after not using it over the last 30 years, he promises to try to learn again. We at American Mishima welcome Imamura Sensei and wish him a successful tenure here in Los Angeles.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Samurai Armor Exhibit

During the fall of 2014 through the weekend of February 1st 2015 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) hosted an exhibition of rare Samurai Armor to the thrill of throngs of visitors. Much of the armor was set in dramatic displays evoking the imagery of Kurosawa Samurai Classic Films yet in truth most of the armor displayed never saw any great battles at all. In fact, most of the armor displayed was made during the Edo Period after the last Siege at Osaka Castle meaning the closest any of these armor got to a battle was likely a parade or re-enactment.
All particulars aside, one could still appreciate the elaborate displays of uniquely crafted armor and helmet crests worn by prominent Samurai or Daimyo giving you a sense of what earlier armor might have looked like at events such as the great Battle at Sekigahara or the epic clashes between the Uesugi and Takeda Clans or that of the Oda Clan.
Behold this finely crafted helmet bearing the Mon of the Tokugawa Clan. This would be not unlike something worn by Ieyasu Tokugawa himself during battle.
While there were few weapons on display, what we could see displayed portrayed a high respect for it's owner. If these swords could talk, what would they tell us?
Note the Matchlock Arquebus on display which the Oda Clan made the most effective use of. With 3000 of these primitive rifles, the Oda Clan destroyed the greatest Cavalry ever seen by firing in cyclical fashion.
Not to be excluded were the presence of archers and their lethal quivers which the Samurai were Masters.
Such elaborate tools of the Samuri's Archery would make any modern day Kyudo master dream.
Note the detail of these helmets. Unfortunately, we were rushed as we took these photos so we could not provide you with details as to their origins. That being said we can tell you these were largely exclusively from the Edo Period of Peace.
 Note to the right face masks. There were more of them but we couldn't get good photos of them.
In this photo we see the Naginata which was more commonly used by foot soldiers or farmers conscripted to serve their lords in times of battle. To the right is a set of boy armor similar to what might have been worn by Katsuyori Takeda or Hidetsugu Toyotomi.
 This one made me think of Takeda Shingen. Kagamusha Anyone?
 Peacetime or not, you would not would have wanted to cross swords with these Samurai.
Who is to say what attachment the wearer and the armor may have had. 
You could not help but feel the presence of these Samurai still at their posts waiting to fight and if necessary die for their Lord.
 I could see one the faces of visiting Nihonjin and Nisei a sense of pride as they looked on and explained this period of their history to their children. Even for a Hakujin, we were awed by the might of the Samurai Display.
We at American Mishima are thankful to both LACMA and the Government of Japan for allowing us to enjoy this awesome display into a window of Japan's Medieval past.
ども ありがとう ございます!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Setsubun 2015

Another year has come bringing a new Setsubun - Hoshimatsuri to Little Tokyo. Commonly known as the bean throwing ceremony, Setsubun is the time to cleanse one of evil spirits coinciding with the Lunar New Years. This year former Sumo Wrestling Champion Yamamotoyama Ryūta and 2015 Nisei Queen Tori Angela Nishinaka-Leon joined the festivities throwing soy beans at the "Oni" demon played by our dear friend and long time Koyasan Temple member & Taiko Drummer Brandon Paris.
Yamamotoyama Ryūta and 2015 Nisei Queen Tori Angela Nishinaka-Leon.
Koyasan Betsuin 2015.