Happy New Year!

明けましておめでとうございます!(Happy New Year – pronounced Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu).

Fireworks in Japan

Sobukan is officially into its second year, with first training (初稽古) being held at Glenelg beach tomorrow morning at 10am! If free, please come along for some fun, training, and to share your new year’s resolutions. This will not be a formal class and adults, children and family are all welcome. If you dont want to train in the heat, please simply enjoy the water.


When: 10am Monday 2nd January 2012
Where: Meet at the Kiosk at the end of Pier St Glenelg, then head down to the beach.
Bring: Plenty of water, and the whole slip, slop, slap set. No gi required. Tents are a great idea.

In Japan, the first training of the year is called Kagami Biraki (opening the mirror) and is a good time for reflection. Traditional Japanese martial art dojo often celebrate Kagami Biraki. The 300 year old tradition is an opportunity to renew your dedication to your training. It is often held on 11 January, but who can wait that long?!  

Kagami Biraki is often celebrated by opening a cask of sake and eating mochi, but consuming alcohol in the hot morning sun is not a great idea, and I am assuming some will still be getting over their new year’s celebrations, so let’s have fun by beating each other up instead!  

New Years is the most celebrated event on the Japanese calendar and there are plenty of important customs still observed to this day. We can discuss these further on Monday, as we have Umehara-san, Sobukan’s own expert on Japanese history and culture, attending.



Hikawa jinja at New Years 2011

Some examples are:

l  Attending and praying at a shrine (hatsumode)

l  Buying a ceremonial arrow, and returning the one you bought the previous year

l  Buying omamori ‘luck charms’

l  Eating toshi-koshi soba noodles at midnight, then special ozoni, osechi and mochi foods in the following days

l  Temples ring their bells 108 times to rid the 108 sins

l  Send nengajo postcards

l  Give otoshidama money pouches to children

l  Write poetry or kanji characters to symbolize a goal or theme for the year (kakizome)  

For 2012, I have selected the characters 初心for my kakizome, which are pronounced shoshin and symbolise a return to the beginning.


According to Wikipedia, Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.

Sobukan has the following goals for 2012:

  1.   Help students become healthier, happier and safer;
  2.   Establish programs for students in wheelchairs and with visual impairments;
  3.   Initiate more classes to suit student’s needs;
  4.   Increase student membership to a level to support dedicated premises

 What are your goals?

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