Tokyo Kendo Lions Club

Tokyo Kendo Lions Club
By Michael Ishimatsu-Prime

I am sure that most of you have heard of the Lions Club International. They are a charitable organisation that does community service in 209 countries around the world. In Japan in recent times, its volunteers have helped people who have been affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. However, it is not just this type of charitable work that the Tokyo Lions Club undertakes – there is also a kendo division.

Tokyo Kendo Lions Club
Tokyo Kendo Lions Club

At one of the local kendo clubs that I visit, two of its members are also in the Tokyo Kendo Lions Club. Around twice a year, this club holds big keiko-kai in Tokyo with up to 100 participants who are 4-dan and over instructors or Lions Club members. At these keiko-kai there are sometimes up to 20 8-dan teachers in attendance!

On Sunday September 14, 2014, the Tokyo Kendo Lions Club crossed the Tama River and paid a visit to Nishi Mita Kendo Club in Tama-ku, Kawasaki from 10am to 12pm. It was a much smaller event than those mentioned above and this time the focus was to teach the 20-plus children of that club. There were two 8-dan sensei that attended, K8-dan Nakamura-sensei of the Tokyo Shudokan Club and K8-dan Ito Tomoharu-sensei of Tokyo Police and who is also a K8-dan in iaido. They were supported by about 15 other members of the Tokyo Kendo Lions Club. All the members of Nishi Mita Kendo Club attended as well as several people from local clubs.

The first hour of training was led by Nakamura-sensei. The children lined up against the motodachi and practised basic men, kote and do strikes, and then kote-men and kote-do before finishing up with kakari-geiko. Then for the second hour the 8-dan and 7-dan members lined up as motodachi for the adult participants.

The children doing kakari-geiko.
The children doing kakari-geiko.
Nakamura-sensei explaining how to show zanshin after striking do.
Nakamura-sensei explaining how to show zanshin after striking do.

A kendo function is never complete without a trip to the second dojo and so from 1.30pm until about 4pm we adjourned to a local izakaya for some great beer, food and conversation. The was even a procession from a local shrine that went past the izakaya.

It was a great practice with great people. If you ever get the chance to attend one of their functions, I would highly recommend it.

A local shrine's mikoshi being carried through the neighbourhood.
A local shrine’s mikoshi being carried through the neighbourhood.
Shrine procession.
Shrine procession.