Chicago Shimpo

Ginkenshibu Introduced in Chicago: Poetry Recital and Sword Dance

• To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Nippon Ginkenshibu Foundation invited American people to a workshop and a concert in Chicago on July 28 and 29.
• Ginkenshibu is a collective term for “gin-ei”, reciting Chinese classical poems and Japanese waka poems with melodies; “ken-bu”, dancing with a sword; and “shi-bu”, dancing with a fan. Both dances come with gin-ei.
• The purpose of The Nippon Ginkenshibu Foundation has been promoting ginkenshibu, which is a type of Japanese traditional way of art, not only in Japan but also to the world.

• According to Hideharu Hirowatari, Executive Director and Secretary General of the Foundation, it has about 100,000 memberships which originate from many different local schools. Another 100,000 people are practicing and performing the old form of arts outside of the foundation in Japan.
• This time, 75 members including 61 performers came to Chicago to hold a workshop and a concert.


• A workshop took place at the Japan Information Center of the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago. The members from the Super Team demonstrated ginkenshibu and gave lessons to the visitors. The Super Team members were winners or runners up in local competitions, then national competitions and their performances were highly sophisticated due to a longtime, strict practice in their own schools.

• First, gin-ei singers introduced a well-known piece of a Chinese poem that admonishes people not to waste any moment easily because learning is hard, and boys and girls grow old easily…
• The visitors together sang the poem with the singers. Singing from the bottom of your belly makes you feel good.

• Next, dancers performed shi-bu and taught how to handle a fan with elegance. It looked easy, but you need to manipulate your fingers in a complicated way. The visitors, who challenged it, received a beautiful fan as a gift from the performers.

• The last lesson was ken-bu, a dance with sword. The basics of the dance were drawn from iaido, a way of martial art of drawing one's sword, cutting down one's opponent and sheathing the sword, all in one moment.

The 50th Commemorative Concert

• The 50th anniversary commemorative concert was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in collaboration with Tsukasa Taiko. All the seats were offered at free admission and reserved very quickly through online. Some people gave up on the concert; however, a good number of seats were available because people who made reservations didn’t show up.

• The concert began with gin-ei and dances describing the beauty of Japan such as cherry blossom, Mt. Fuji, Sumida river in Tokyo, old castles and more.
• Next came the world of samurai warriors, with battles between Heishi family and Genji family, Takeda and Uesugi, newly born Meiji government and surviving samurai of Shinsen gumi.
• The finale was a song of Ginkenshibu Federation. The performers’ proud faces impressed the audience.

• After the concert, Michio Sugawara, Chairman of the Nippon Ginkenshibu Foundation, said, “We want to pass our arts on to the next generation, so we have been fostering young performers.”
• According Sugawara, the foundation has held many events for the 50th anniversary, and the Chicago performances were one of them. It had prelude performances at the Anderson Gardens and the Japan Information Center last year, so it could get help from the Consulate office, JCCC and other organizations. “We had a good week in Chicago and would like to come back here again,” he said.
• The foundation has held overseas performances in Beijing, Egypt and Brazil in a recent decade.

Performer Interviews

• Kasei Morita, beautiful gin-ei singer with a furisode kimono, started gin-ei when she was three years old because she was born in gin-ei family of the Gindo Tosei Ryu in Kagoshima Prefecture.
• Yuryo Mukoyama, who sang duo with Morita, was also born in a gin-ei family of the Gindo Seigin Ryu in Kumamoto. He started singing when he was 2 and a half years old.

• A beautiful shi-bu dancer was Hiromi Suzuki. She is a nurse chief in a cancer center in Nagoya city.
• She said that she was fascinated by ken-bu at a festival when she was little and asked her parents to find a dance teacher. She became a student of the Tenshin Shinyo Ryu School when she was about seven. She has continued practice for a quarter century and has a professional name of Shuyo Suzuki. She also studied Japanese classical dance at Uchida Ryu School and was given a professional name of Misuzu Uchida.
• “I’ve enjoyed practicing dance very much rather than having hard times. Students range from little kids to 90 years old, and we practice dancing together. It’s very fun!” she said.

• Rikan Masui danced thrilling ken-bu with Risen Hayabuchi. Masui started ken-bu when he was about five, but quit it later. He returned to it when he became a middle school student because his uncle was head of the Hayabuchi Ryu Kenshibu Do. His uncle, Risho Hayabuchi, is also the 16th generation of the Araki Mujinsai Ryu Iaido.

• Risho Hayabuchi has been teaching young performers and foreign students. He has a dojo class in Phoenix, Arizona, and his two students attended the workshop. When he returns to Kobe, Japan, he is going to visit the U.K., France and Poland to teach ken-bu and iaido. “I have been teaching foreign students for more than 30 years, so a top student can teach younger students in each dojo,” he said.

• Koukoushi Yatsushiro is a gin-ei singer and teacher in Miyazaki Prefecture. She has about 100 students, but the Tansoden Korei Ryu School, where she belongs, has several thousand students.
• She said, “A good part of gin-ei is to make a big voice. That’s makes you free from stress and is good for your health. The meaning of each poem is difficult to comprehend, but it helps enrich your emotion.

• Saifu Wada is also a gin-ei singer and teacher in Kariya City in Aichi Prefecture. She had hoarse voice and couldn’t speak much. She has published CDs for gin-ei and choreography for ken-bu and shi-bu.

Shibu dance

Gin-ei singers teach how to sing a well-known piece at a workshop.

The visitors try to handle a sword at a workshop.

Risho Hayabuchi performs ken-bu dance.

Rikan Masui (L) dances thrilling ken-bu with Risen Hayabuchi.