Time: June, 2022
Place: Kamakura Bushi Taiken Dokoro Fukasawa no Toride
(Japanese text only, See the pictures.)
Participants: 5 KSGG Training Group members
Kamakura used to be the ancient capital of the Kamakura Bakufu Government1 founded by bushi (samurai warriors) about 820 years ago. In this Kamakura, there is a place named Kamaraku Bushi Taiken Dokoro, where you can learn the history and culture of Kamakura and cosplay the bushi at that time with rental costumes. It is located near Shonan-Fukasawa Station on the Shonan Monorail (in five minutes from Ofuna Station, which is connected with JR Ofuna Station, or in nine minutes from Shonan Enoshima Station).
We five KSGG members visited there and experienced the cosplay of bushi.
The visitors of Kamakura Bushi Taiken Dokoro (cosplay place) can choose any costume among those of generals, adjutant generals, armed priests, shirabyoshi (female entertainers)2 and girl travelers. All the costumes are hand-made and re-created authentically.
I was surprised to know the fact that a suit of armor had not been made of iron. In the Kamakura period, a suit of armor was made of leather. It weighed about 5 kilograms, with Japanese lacquer coated on it. It was more lightweight than we had thought. I thought it should be when I was explained that bushi had to move easily in a suit of armor in the battlefield.
What impressed me most was the generals’ suits of armor. Among various suits of armor, there are copies of the suits of armor named Hachiryo no Yoroi3, a national treasure. The visitors can choose any one they like.
Our cosplays of feudal lords were as below. At the very beginning, the five of us were put on the kimonos of feudal lord; then each of us put on an armor and a helmet on the kimono. It was exciting to see ourselves changing into the feudal lords in suits of armor. We began to act a swordplay scene as if we had been real feudal lords.
The visitors in cosplay can walk around Kamakura and experience Japanese archery. Cosplayers can also experience yabusame (shooting arrows on horseback) outside.
As we were embarrassed to get on a train to go outside in that bushi cosplay, the five of us experienced Japanese art of archery inside the cosplay place.
I really want to introduce the joyful cosplay to the foreigners living in Japan and foreign tourists.
1Kamakura Bakufu Government or the Kamakura period (1185-1333)
2 Shirabyoshi were female entertainers in the Heian period (794-1185) and the Kamakura period. They sang songs and performed dances, dressing like men, for the nobility. The best-known shirabyoshi in the Kamakura period is Shizuka Gozen. She was a lover of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first Shogun of the Kamakura Bakufu Government.
3There is a legend that eight kinds of suits of armor were inherited in the Genji Clan. (Genji means the Minamoto Clan.)