On Monday I had the day off, again. This time it was a national holiday. Apparently Japan ranks among the top when it comes to number of national holidays. I’ve been told it’s a way of forcing people to take time off. Being a lazy European, I would never hesitate to take time off…

This time, though, I felt like I deserved it, given that I just came back from a two and a half day work trip to Fukushima.

I was thinking about doing something touristy, but had not decided exactly what. And, knowing my self, I more or less knew I would end up spending the day in front of the computer watching TV-shows on Netflix, reading all posts on Facebook, and refreshing my inbox every second minute i.e. basically wasting the whole day…

Now, when Lech (a friend from the office whom I got to know during my previous visits), on the train back from Fukushima, asked me if I’d like to join him going to the National Japanese Championship in Kendo I was a bit hesitant. Mainly since I was not too happy about going somewhere since I was tired from the trip and the idea of wasting the whole of Monday on above mentioned “activities” was really appealing. On the other hand, I also knew I would really feel like I’d wasted the day if I did not do anything. So, after getting home and checking the travel plan, realising I didn’t have to leave home until 10:20 am to make it to the meeting place in time, I decided to tag along.

I did not know much about Kendo, still don’t… But I have been practising fencing for several year so I do have some sense of duelling. For those of you who don’t know what kendo is, it’s basically people dressing up in black clothes and hitting each other with swords made of bamboo.

The arena, Nippon Budokan, was built for the 1964 Olympics and is, apparently, to Judo what Wimbledon is to Tennis. I’ve heard the phrase that the Olympic Judo championship “is coming home” in 2020. This place can take over 14 000 spectators and even if it wasn’t full when I had to leave, it probably was filled to the rim when the Kendo final game was fought on Monday. The arena is located just north of the Imperial Palace.

As you can see in the pictures there were a lot of people watching. Until the quarter finals there were two games going on simultaneously, and from the quarter final only one game at the time.

I won’t say that I now have a understanding of Kendo, but luckily Lech had the patience to both explain and answer my questions during the day. I now know much more about Kendo than I did before, though still just scratched the surface.

I’m very happy I decided to go, even though I had to leave just as the good games were about to start. I felt like I’ve experienced something truly Japanese.