View Full Version : Kagami Biraki
Long Island Asian Studies Center
Classes: Aiki Budo/Chi Gong/Tai Chi, Author of: Searching For O'Sensei
12-17-2002, 10:09 PM
I'm searching for some of the significance of certain symbols in this ceremony. Being new to aikido, traditions always facinate me. Our club has the traditional "Kagami Biraki" ceremony at the beginning of each year. This being my second year in aikido, I'm trying to learn as much as possible.
The alter or table set up for "Kagami Biraki" is to be covered in white cloth, representing purity; it is accompanied by or decorated with the following items, each symbolizing an important aspect of learning aikido.
Kadomatsu, Kagami mochi, Sake, Dai Dai(this has been replaced with a tangerine), Yama imo, Kombu, Moroba, an image of the "golden hammer god", and Ebisu.
If anyone could help me by explaining what these symbols stand for I would greatly appreciate it. I have information on the first 5 symbols that I have listed but I'd like to learn more on the others.
12-18-2002, 08:15 AM
Would you tell us what you have learned about the first five symbols?
12-18-2002, 01:52 PM
Here's what I've found out so far.
Kagami Biraki is held at the beginning of the New Year.
"Kadomatsu" is an arrangement of 3 slant-cut lengths of bamboo tied together with hemp or manila cord and decorated with pine sprigs. The bamboo symbolizes strength and flexibility, while the pine sprigs stand for things everlasting. The cord replaces shinto sacred ropeand symbolizes the bonds that hold aikidoka together in pursuit of O Sensei's goal. All together, the "kadomatsu" stands for morality, virtue and constancy.
"Kagami mochi" are the rice cakes that represent the sun and the moon: there are 2 for increased fortune, and each is rounded to represent smoothness and harmony. The way that mochi is made by pounding the many rice grains that are brought together to make mochi, aikido students train together in the dojo, "pounding" each other on the mat to become unified in comprehension of aikido and eventually "one in harmony with the universe".
"Sake", the rice wine, symbolizes fertility. The god of the new year bears responsibility for the rice crop among other things, and this offering is appropriate for the season. Drinking of sake lifts the spirits to meet the descending gods; it is said that when mortals and gods drink together, they become bonded in celebration.
The "dai dai"(bigarde, or bitter lemon)has been replaced with the tangerine to sybolize new life from seeds. The pronunciation of "dai dai" is identical to the a Japanese expression meaning "generation after generation". The many seeds of the tangerine representing many future generations are like the students of aikido holding potential to start new generations of aikidoka.
"Yam imo" or the mountain yam is a simple tuber that provides tremendous sustenance; therefore it represents the value of simplicity in life, and of being humble and well rooted in the earth.
"Kombu" is seaweed flattened into a sheet. "Moroba" is flat green fern leaf tied in pairs at the stem. What these symbolize I don't know. The image of "the hammer-god" printed on paper represents good fortune for the dojo, as everything this god strikes turn to gold; the paper is traditionally burned after the ceremony to "return to the gods".
Finally "Ebisu" a genial deity of good fortuneis usually shown holding a fishing rod over one shoulder and a big red "tai", or fish, under one arm; the name "tai" is also the last symbol of the word omedetai meaning "festive'or "happy".
This is about all the info I have on this ceremony. I would like to know if any of you have any more information on this.
12-19-2002, 06:45 AM
12-19-2002, 06:53 AM
I found this website yesterday on fightingarts.com (http://www.fightingarts.com) . Hope it helps.
Kagami Biraki: Renewing the Spirit (http://www.fightingarts.com/content01/kagami_biraki.shtml)
:triangle: :circle: :square:
12-19-2002, 05:51 PM
Domo Arigato Ghost Fox. I really appreciate your help. Now I can go back to my sempai and let them know what I've found. It was a challenge from them.
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