Samurai Awards in Japan, December 2020

From Prof. Will Reed

For much of the world 2020 was a year which challenged our basic paradigms. The pandemic forced us to reexamine our core values, and to find ways to carry on despite conditions of lockdown and travel restrictions. Thomas Blake Glover, whose name we celebrate in the Scottish Samurai Awards, inspires us to carry on as Entrepreneurial Samurai in the face of limitations.

This year in Japan the Scottish Samurai Awards Ceremony was held at historic Erinji Temple (founded in 1380) in Yamanashi Prefecture on December 14, 2020, in correspondence to the 109th Anniversary of the passing of Thomas Blake Glover on December 16, 1911. We held the Scottish Samurai Awards Ceremony once before at Erinji in the fall of 2018, which was attended by Lord Charles Bruce, Ronnie Watt, and over a dozen members of the Scottish Samurai Japan Tour from Scotland. This year in 2020 it was presided over by Matsunaga Daisuke, former Consul General to Scotland, who delivered a speech in English and Japanese recognizing the importance of the event, as well as by Kendo Master Yamazaki Kazuo. Words of Congratulations were presented from Ronnie Watt and read by William Reed. The Ceremony included a breathtaking demonstration of the Sword by Mugairyu Master Takeda Hougyoku, a performance of the Japanese Taiko Drum Master Sato Kensaku, and a collaborative performance of calligraphy with William Reed involving Shakuhachi Player Shawn Renzoh Head. Furukawa Shuken, the Zen Master of Erinji Temple, spoke at the Ceremony and graciously opened up the entire temple to our use for the Awards. The event was covered by Yamanashi Broadcasting System’s program Tetete TV, which is viewed throughout the Prefecture.

Four Awards were granted. The Taisho Award was granted to Calligraphy Master William Reed and to Iaido Master Takeda Hougyoku, The Great Shogun Award was granted to Shakuhachi Player Shawn Renzoh Head and to Graphic Novelist Sean Michal Wilson. These awards are granted in recognition of exemplary achievements contributing to a better understanding of the Samurai Spirit in Japanese Culture, and building bridges of friendship and cultural exchange between Scotland and Japan. In 2021 we will grant further recognition with rewards to people in various walks of life who uphold the values of the Order of the Scottish Samurai with contributions that keep the culture vibrant for present and future generations.

The Collaboration Calligraphy painted by William Reed represents the aspirations of the Order of the Scottish Samurai with a Zen Poem.

心月孤円 光呑万象

The Mind is bright like the Moon Illuminating all things in its Light.

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