They seem to be flying, with their long flowing pants, as they launch, screaming, towards their opponents. Blows hit masks repeatedly. A player retreats, does powerful jumps and administers a final, precise blow. Shouting, slide, silence.
In every corner of the room, new attacks begin and end. These men are police officers of the Kanagawa prefecture, southeast of Tokyo. Dressed in black outfits reminiscent of the ones ancient Shogun warriors wore, they train every day in kendo, a martial art that enhances both physical readiness and mental control.
In a one-on-one bout, three elements must be executed perfectly in order to gain a point: Posture, shouting and hitting. Every warrior is judged on these elements by three referees standing outside the perimeter. Each referee carries one red and one white flag, raising the appropriate one when they feel the red or the white player has scored a point.
You might ask: With so little crime in Japan, why such intense training? The police chief smiles. His unspoken answer: tradition.
During the Tokyo-Chiba convention, that tradition will be on thrilling display with kendo demonstrations at the Japan culture fair
. Don’t miss this extraordinary performance of strength and art.