I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the 62nd All Nippon Kyudo Taikai and test in Kyoto Japan this year, 2011. The weather was nice, and there were many participants with applications being slightly over 2000 people.
Lately I have noticed a difference in the location, they no longer use the sinenkandojo but they created a beautiful indoor five shago event facility which was remarkable and impressive and I have much respect for making such an effort to make a martial art facility because in America I have to make a gymnasium dojo just to practice kyudo.
The other new thing I noticed is the blazers worn by the officials. I noticed that more officials were wearing a blue sports jacket with the ANKF emblem instead of montsuky and hakama which I used to see and which I now miss seeing. All the participants used to go and see such a prestigious tournament and test (chuoshina) and the judges wore very formal attire. Some years ago the judges at the chuoshinsa used to wear five mon hoaori the most formal gentlemen’s attire. With so many people wearing the blue sports jackets now you cannot easily distinguish between a test official and test judges and tournament judges.
The Japanese kyohon, page 128 , “The Spririt Of Ceremonial Shooting” says that in the olden periods the archers wore clothing appropriate to the period of the time. In my understanding the Kyoto Taikai and especially the Chuoshina are the most formal ANKF events of the year. Therefore the attire of archers and judges should reflect this.
In the budokuden next door there was kendo and iado being performed. A few teachers there even had monsky and haori which is the most formal kimono attire they could wear. My understanding of formal events is that both the participants and the judges should wear their formal attire. This attitude reflects off each person present and contributes to the formality of the event. It marks the event as something special and generates a shared spirit of the event.
I am reminded of a legendry story. Chibatanetsugu (head of the Ogasawara school) at Tokyo teiiki chuoshnsa who said the daiichi kaizoe should wear silk hakama. The daiichi kaizoe was wearing a wool hakama at the time. The woolen hakama was not appropriate for the highest, most prestigious kyudo event.
Kyudo has been known as the most prestigious martial art which is always performed ahead of the other arts when demonstrations are given. So why cannot the judges wear formal attire for such an event such as a taikai and a test. Especially during the the CHUOSHINSA (the promotional test).
In the American seminar three judges have always worn formal monsky and hakama for tests. And also at local tests in Japan judges wear formal monsky and hakama. To see a decent kimono worn by hanshi is a good example that overseas students can study which is part of mitorgeiko (look and learn practice). Such an opportunity was taken away at the Kyoto taikai and I miss it.
Sensesi who wear formal monsky and hakama change to a blazer and pants for events such as receptions and the sensesi are wearing a uniform but this looks appropriate for the time and place of the occasion. Such a nice looking suit and emblem appears like a high quality uniform but does not look like formal attire for a prestigious kyudo event.
I would like to note that this is not just my attitude. At Kyoto I met many friends and in speaking about kyudo with people who had traveled a long distance for such prestigious event from all over Japan and from overseas this opinion was expressed to me so I know that I am not the only person who feels this way.