The Tokyo Budokan (not to be confused with the Nippon Budokan) is a sports facility that primarily hosts martial arts exhibitions and competitions. It is located in the Higashi Ayase Metropolitan Park in Tokyo and it is run by the Sport Benefits Corporation. It was recently closed for renovation and its reopening was celebrated with a series of demonstrations from experts in Japanese martial arts including Judo, Kendo, Kyudo, Karatedo, Aikido, Shorinji Kempo, Naginata, Jukendo, and Hojutsu. We were kindly invited by the organizers to cover the event and we were allowed access the official press tribune to film the demonstrations.
The Tokyo Budokan is a sports art hall designed in 1990 by the famous Kijō Rokkaku in order to hold and disseminate Japanese culture by the means of its traditional martial arts. The idea behind the peculiar, angular design of the building covered with cascading diamond shapes is to reflect a human-made mountain that meets the sea and the sky. In fact, a remodeling of the Tokyo Budokan in 1991 won it a Prize from the Architectural Institute of Japan. The notion that is central to the conception of this building is that just as much as they are part of the Japanese cultural heritage, Martial Arts are also Art forms in their own right. Art is also very much present in the surroundings of the Tokyo Budokan with the presence of sculptures commissioned from five renowned Japanese artists.
Front entrance of the Tokyo Budokan
The complex harbors a main, wooden-floored training arena that covers over 1,972 square meters and that can welcome 1,728 seated spectators. A massive main dojo of 289 tatami (520 square meters) is used for events requiring matted areas. In addition to that, a second wooden-floored dojo of 473 square meters usually serves for Kendo and Naginata competitions. A large Kyudo area can welcome over 10 archers, both for close and long range shooting exercises. The building is also equipped with a training room filled with weight and aerobics equipments, a large conference room, and a traditional room used for tea ceremony.
Kyudo shooting range
The structure was damaged during the March 11, 2011 earthquake and its ability to withstand high magnitude tremors was questioned. But more than a sports hall, the Tokyo Budokan was also meant to assume a social function, which it did when it welcomed refugees from the quake- and tsunami-hit areas right after the tragic events of March 2011.
After serving its disaster relief purpose, the Tokyo Budokan was closed to the public in January 2012 and renovation works were undertaken in order to make the building comply better with earthquake safety regulations.
August 11, 2012 marked the official reopening celebration of the Tokyo Budokan and experts from several Japanese Martial Art schools were invited to give demonstrations, followed by a series of competitions in the afternoon. GuillaumeErard.com and BudoExport were invited to join the journalist team that covered the event and we are proud to be able to present all the highlights of this day to you in this article via a series of exclusive videos.
Kyudo - Murakawa Heiji (8 Dan), Nakagawa Tameto (7 Dan), Miyagi Koukichi (7 Dan), and Saito Yukiko (7 dan)
Judo - Takeda Takeshi (6 Dan) and Miyazaki Junichi (6 Dan)
Jukendo - Ishii Hiroei (commentator) and Matsuzaki Yasuhiro (commander)
Karatedo - Arimoto Koji (3 Dan), Sugino Takumi (3 Dan), and Souma Takato (3 Dan)
Iai-Batto - Ekko Masamichi (5 Dan) and Tanaka Kazuhige (4 Dan)
Naginata - Yoshii Kazuyo
Hojutsu - Aoki Takashi, Murakami Tojiro, Ishii Kazumi, Tsunokae Susumu, and Saito Kazuhiro
To finish, a picture of the two reporters for a day!