Make Flowers, Use A Katana, and Shoot Japanese Archery at Ozu Town
Make Flowers, Use A Katana, and Shoot Japanese Archery at Ozu Town

Make Flowers, Use A Katana, and Shoot Japanese Archery at Ozu Town

Feel The Spirit Of Bushido

Visiting Ozu Town the first time wasn't enough for us to enjoy all of its beauty. That's why we decided to go back and explore more. This time around we experienced three different types of activities that focused on our creativity, strength, and patience ( In that order).

  • by Giovanni Perez

  • I have been traveling all around Tohoku for about 5 years, taking photos and connecting with the locals. My next adventure is to learn about how to become a samurai in Kyushu!

Table of Contents

  1. Flower Making
  2. 10min Walk
  3. Iaido Katana Training
  4. 10min Car
  5. Japanese Archery
  6. 10min Car

Artificial Flower Making

Creating Beautiful Flowers

Samurai’s are not all hard work and no play, they also find time to relax and explore their creative side. We took a rest stop in Ozu town’s cultural preservation center. We were greeted by two fine ladies who have being creating magic with their hands for over 30+ years. An exclusive practice of making flowers by hand which is special to Ozu town.

Making flowers takes serious concentration and patience, two important skills that samurais need on their road to becoming a warrior. After a quick explanation about the history of flower making, we quickly started making the flower stems.

Make sure you give your fingers a good stretching because you will use muscles you have never used before. After making the stems we made the pedals out of paper. We use a pedal template to cut out about 10 pedals, which makes for one flower. We then used a small green contraption which holds the stem in place. We line up the pedals side by side with glue.

Lastly we took a real branch that has been colored in green. We choose a place to put our first stem by creating a whole with our small pick. Make sure to not poke yourself with the sharp needle, or else you will end up poking a hole through your finger. Which I guess you could still potentially put a flower in.

Not a creative person? This is a perfect activity for you then. The teachers are experts at what they do and what may seem like a mistake will actually be a piece of art . The best part of all is that it makes for a great gift to take back home with you !

Attraction Higoozu Tourism Association
Location 1890-2 Ozu, Ozu-cho, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-1233
Operating Hours 9:00 - 18:00
Closed Tuesdays
Phone 096-294-2878
URL http://higoozu-kankou.jp/

The Art of Drawing A Sword

Iaido

Ever been cut by an unexpected katana to your face? Iaido is just that. The art of drawing your sword to strike a foe has its own exclusive training dojo. We were fortunate to have Takeda Hougyoku, a real Iaido master, teach us how to be aware of our surroundings and also strike our opponent faster than a cheetah.

Hougyoku spoke some English and was also a charismatic teacher. After he showed us what he can do with a real katana sword, we all knew that he wasn’t playing around. Iaido focuses on the way you draw your katana to attack your opponent first, or else, risk your life. It felt like training day with all the neat practices we did.

We learned the proper way to sit, hold a katana, draw your sword, and practiced various striking techniques. One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was the way Hougyoku would throw random little quizzes to test us our understanding. There was a specific activity where he asked us to raise our hand if we saw him draw his sword by a flick of his thumb. It was extremely difficult to tell the difference so I think I wouldn’t have lived too long in the Samurai world.

The training ended with a cardboard dummy target set up for us to strike using all of the techniques we learned. What was especially fun about this part was that Hougyoku-Sensei let us do the whole attacking sequence freely. It was awesome being able to cut through the dummy on the first try.

A lot more focus is put on the process leading up to attacking with the katana, so much so that a big portion of the training was spent practicing how to stand up without using our hands and also learning to draw your sword quickly for your opponent not to notice.
The best part of it all was when we finished our training, we were able to take the dummy’s head home as a souvenir.

Attraction Higoozu Tourism Association
Location 1890-2 Ozu, Ozu-cho, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-1233
Operating Hours 9:00 - 18:00
Closed Tuesdays
Phone 096-294-2878
URL http://higoozu-kankou.jp/

Kyudo in Ozu

Japanese Archery

Being able to draw a sword means nothing if you don’t know how to wield a Japanese bow and arrow. Japanese Kyudo is completely different to the classic archery we know. Unlike the typical archery sizes, the common length of a Japanese bow (Yumi) is about 50cm + the user’s height.

In Kyushu, kyudo is practiced by many students so you might see them walking around with large bows.We wore traditional Japanese archery clothing (hakama) from head to toe. I was worried they weren’t going to find my size, but after a few different tries I was able to put on everything without any issues. Just to put on the clothing takes skill but don’t worry, because the teachers will help.

There were a total of 5 teachers, all with years of experience in Kyudo, perfect for a one on one training. The practice started with a presentation from the teachers. The way they were all in sync with firing the arrows was definitely a marvelous sight to see. The level of concentration was apparent on their faces. Not even the strong gusts of wind seemed to have bothered them.

We used a bow like stick that had a thick rubber string attached for learning the correct way to hold a bow. We also learned the correct sequence for firing a bow. Your body and spirit need to be on the same level from when you stand up to after the arrow is released. I have to be honest, I was slightly off in holding the bow correctly with my left hand that I would accidentally smack my hand with the string. The main things to remember when you are doing kyudo, is to breath, relax, and try maintain the proper form.

Before finishing our training session we were fortunate enough to practice shooting at real targets, placed about 31 yards away. I wasn’t able to hit the target this time but I can’t wait to try Kyudo again.

Attraction Higoozu Tourism Association
Location 1890-2 Ozu, Ozu-cho, Kikuchi-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-1233
Operating Hours 9:00 - 18:00
Closed Tuesdays
Phone 096-294-2878
URL http://higoozu-kankou.jp/

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