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Kawaraban No. 16


by Kamata Shigeo

At New Year Kamidana (Shinto house shrine) and alcove are swamped with Kagamimochi (rice cake with orange taste). Sharing of Kagamimochi and serving of clear soup (sumashi jiro) and sweat red bean soup (shiruko) are part of the Kagamibiraki festivities. Formerly the celebrations were on January 20th, but for some time they take place on January 11th. It is said that on this day the New Year’s celebrations with serving of Kagamimochi end, and there is the meaning that people should start a new work. The events of the day, on which the work of the New Year begins, is called ‘Kurabiraki’ by traders, ‘Gusokubiraki’ (armor) by the Samurai and ‘Kuwahajime’ (plough, hatchet) among the farmers. At the Gusokubiraki of the Samurai (or Buke) the Gusokumochi, which were sacrifices for armor and helmet, were smashed (it was called ‘smashed’, because they wanted to avoid the word ‘cut’) by hand or with a hammer and eaten, and at ‘Hatsuka’ (hutasuka = 20th day and fading sound) congratulations were exchanged. Mochi of this period are called Kagamimochi.

Associated to the Gusokubiraki of the Samurai in the Budo Dojos the Kagamibiraki developed. The meaning of the Kagamibiraki is the start of the training in the New Year. Therefore the Dojo is cleaned, Kagamimochi and wine sacrifices are arranged in the Kamidana (Shinto shrine), the training starts with fresh spirit, and this is called the Kagamibiraki of Budo.

As well among all events of the whole year this Kagamibiraki became a holy event from the beginning, and at this very day people had to participate for the cleaning of body and mind. It was the occasion to swear to make an effort during practice with new determination, because it particularly was the begin of a new year.

In case of Budo and the arts the beginner’s mind is important. In a chapter of the ‘Kakyo’ from the ‘Zeami’ we find the words “we should not forget beginner’s mind”. That means that we always have to keep beginner’s mind, even though we already continue with practice for so many years, so many decades.

In Tendoryuthe Kagamibiraki takes place every year in January, too, and at this Kagamibiraki every single student states his decisions for the beginning of the New Year. I hope, all students will participate in this event, as by this we all show our respect for the head of the Dojo, Shihan Shimizu, as our master, and we take this occasion to congratulate the Tendokan Dojo for its excellent development.

© translated by Peter Nawrot, August 2006