Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13, 2009

Carolyn translates as Sensei visits with children, parents and teachers from the Eastern Sun Academy. Sensei sports heavy sunglasses after recent successful cataract eye surgery.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shinkobusai Ceremony at Dechen Chöling

Sensei conducted the Shinbokusai, the annual kami tree blessing at Dechen Chöling, before leaving for London. Here's what it looked like as the residents of DCL burned the old ropes and boards, installed new ones, and made offerings.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dechen Chöling 2009 Open Program

Following the advanced program at Dechen Chöling, near Limoges, France, Shibata Sensei presided over an open program attended by beginning and experienced students. He also offered teachings to Sun Camp and Family Camp participants. Here's a visual overview of the sights and events:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Advanced Program at Dechen Chöling, July 2009

This summer, Sensei traveled to Dechen Chöling Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Centre, near Limoges, France, to teach an advanced kyudo program, and an open program for beginning and intermediate students.

After nearly 24 hours of travel, Sensei and party arrived on July 9, and the advanced program ran from July 10 through 17. The following slideshow should give you a flavor of the place, the participants, and Sensei's presence. Stay tuned for photos from the open program, still in progress.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More International Gathering Photos

The photos below were taken by Tom Quinn Kumpf, professional photographer and Zenko Kyudojo regular. Kindly contact Tom for copies or prints.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Some International Gathering photos

Friday May 29, 2009:

Saturday May 30, 2009:

Sunday May 31, 2009:
Check back for more photos. Tom Quinn Kump was present Sunday and will share photos after he returns from travels.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Shibata Sensei and Zenko Kyudojo students are slowly preparing the ground for the upcoming International Gathering starting Thursday, May 28 and ending Sunday May 31. We welcome the presence and generous help of early arrivals Stephanie Miller and Chris Begnoche.

This Sunday Sensei spoke of the history of Zenko Kyudojo, expressing his gratitude for the gift from Trungpa Rinpoche of this property where Sensei resides and where they established their first kyudo practice hall together.

He also spoke at length about "shin wa" or "the peace of the Kami". He told a bit of the story of Amaterasu Omi Kami and how the aggressive activities of her brother drove her to turn her back on the world, until she was lured from her hiding place by a beautiful dancer.

At the end of this story, he emphasized how couples traditionally do not enter the Ise shrine together. The woman goes in a little way behind the man. It is said that for couples to enter together makes the Kami jealous. Sensei questioned this a bit and said it was really more a matter of "shin wa."

He also spoke at length about World War II and some of his own history during that time, including being wounded by airplane shrapnel in China. After this, he said, "Excuse me. This sort of thing is not the speech of the kami."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thank you gentlemen!

Thank you to Matt Zimmer, Steve McQueen Wiseman, Brian White and Austin Linn for repair work to the platform. Your work greatly improves conditions. The new surfaces are very much appreciated and will be enjoyed for a long time to come! (Sorry if I misspelled names.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Light drizzle

Zenko Kyudojo weather report: grey skies, cool temperatures and very light drizzle - a nice day to practice.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Exciting gathering info from Alex

Dear friends,

I am happy to say that Sensei's son, Shibata XXI, will be attending both the International Gathering and the Shambhala Mountain Center Intensive in May and June. While at SMC, he will do a two day yumi-making demonstration. He will also discuss the care and repair of yumi and other equipment.

In addition, he is able to take orders for yumi to be delivered at Boulder during the Gathering. If you are interested in acquiring a yumi, you may order them by e-mail through me. There are two grades available - class yumi quality at around $600; and personal yumi quality at around $1200. More expensive yumi can also be special ordered. I strongly recommend that for a personal yumi, you should purchase the higher quality. If you need a yumi that is more than 14 kg in strength, you really should not consider the lower cost as an option.

In order to process an order, we will need the following information from you:

1. Strength (current strength and/or preference)
2. Proper ya length for the individual using it.
3. height of the person (with ya length and/or height will decide the length of yumi, either nami-sun, nisun-nobi, or yonsun-nobi)
4. kake size (or trace of the hand) to determine the size and width of the grip.
5. Which quality of yumi
6. any other request for the specification, types and color of bamboo, etc.
7. contact e-mail address.

In addition, we will require a 25% deposit. Yumi will be shipped from Japan about a week ahead of the program. Therefore, we must receive your order absolutely no later than May first.

You should plan on receiving your yumi directly from Shibata XXI in Boulder or at SMC. This is very important and will also give you the opportunity to learn how to break it in and care for it.

Yours, Alex.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More practice

Another quiet day of practice amid melting bright white snow. Sensei and Carolyn leave for Californial tomorrow and will return at the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Sunday, March 22 was a day of simple, quiet practice.

Travelers from afar are starting to confirm plans to attend the International gathering of Shibata Sensei's kyudo students here May 28- 31, with some staying for the kyudo intensive at Shambhala Mountain Center as well (Advanced Intensive: May 31-June 2 and All Levels Retreat June 2 - 6). It looks like we will have a good number of rooms/beds/tents etc. to offer with local kyudo-practitioners during the Boulder portion of the activities.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pearl Olson's passing - a message from Carolyn

Dear Kyudo family,

As you may know by now, Pearl Olson (my mother) died Friday, March 13th at 10:55a.m., at her home here in Boulder. Shibata Sensei and I were present, along with two members of her remarkably large and caring circle of friends who have seen her through the last few months. She passed from ovarian cancer.

As per her request, her ceremony was held at Zenko Kyudojo, where she added kyudo to her various dharma practices at the age of 70. The ceremony took place Sunday at 10:55a.m. to align with the time of her death.

Pearl very much wanted an international announcement to be made upon her death that, in lieu of any gifts or flowers, people send contributions to:

Zenko International
4220 19th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80304

She greatly wished to support Shibata Sensei’s work for the benefit of sentient beings (and really abhorred the idea of expensive funeral flowers).

She was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She received her Buddhist refuge name from Trungpa Rinpoche: Fearless Dharma Cloud.

Pearl was long time student and practitioner of the Shambhala sangha, served as Academic Provost at Naropa University, helped start the Brattleboro, Vermont Shambhala Center and was an all-around willing and able helper in whatever form presented itself to her. She never balked at “lowly” tasks or particularly sought confirmation in positions and titles. The magnitude of her care circle these last number of months was a tribute to her willingness to give to others whenever she saw an opportunity to do so. She will be missed by many people, including me, her son Charles, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter.

Thank you all for your practice and kindness to her throughout her life and death.

Carolyn Kanjuro

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Today Level 3 Shambhala training students visited the dojo. They heard Alex Halpern give a brief explanation of kyudo and watched Carolyn Kanjuro demonstrate. This was followed by a question and answer gathering (pictured above).

One question was: "Sensei, what is the hardest part of teaching kyudo to Westerners?" Sensei: "Meditation heart. People so quickly give up when the weather changes. True meditation is based on perseverance, regardless of outer circumstances."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Calligraphy books ready!

After months of detailed work on Carolyn's part, Sensei's calligraphy books will be soon ready to ship! Above, Sensei signs the first copy. Below are a few more photos of the work that went into finishing the handmade books. To see more photos, see the post in this blog from December 24, 2008.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stringing a yumi

On February 15, Sensei demonstrated the use of the dojo's newly installed wood block for stringing yumi. Thank you to Vajra Rich for designing, constructing and installing it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eastern Sun Academy visit

Students, parents and teachers from the Eastern Sun Academy visited the dojo today. Shibata Sensei gave them a lesson in Japanese history, including some graphic descriptions of the 47 samurai who committed seppuku -- a strong diet for 8-year-olds, but it held everyone's attention. He described kyudo as completely different from sports or fighting forms. In kyudo one isn't working to perfect something (like getting a 100% on a test) or to beat someone else. Instead, it is a conversation with one's own heart. Through kyudo practice, we look into a mirror, but it's not like an ordinary mirror where we merely see our faces or fix our hair. It's something much deeper, a way to see not only our front selves, but what is behind and within. In practice, we can check ourselves to see whether we are on a clear path or if we are holding some tricky or mistaken ideas.

He told the children that loyalty is very important and one aspect of loyalty is to love your country. Only if you love your country can you offer help. Now, he said, America is experiencing a great economic downturn. The way to real recovery is through this conversation with our hearts and becoming strong from that clarity. He added that we are fortunate now to have someone in power in this country, Obama, who has a bit of the feeling of Abraham Lincoln (Sensei's all time favorite US president).

Vajra Rich and Bryant Lord (pictured above) provided demonstrations for the visitors who in turn expressed appreciation and gratitude after the warm gathering.

[From Carolyn Kanjuro]

Sunday, February 1, 2009

For 2009

Today Shibata Sensei was full of energy, and the day was clear and bright. His message to us was:

"We have a new slogan for 2009: Do not forget your beginner's heart! Also, do not think about quickly becoming good in your practice or trying to get good at hitting the target. In Kendo, Judo, or various budo forms, you have some kind of ambition for improvement in the form. In Kyudo, you are simply having a conversation with your own heart. That is the point of the practice. Kyudo is a long road, a long practice. My great hope is that you all will not forget your beginners' hearts!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Split ya

Amid unseasonably warm temperatures at our practice session Sunday January 18th, Sensei offered his usual generous instruction to all who would ask.

One lesson related to the retirement of a ya whose bamboo had a split in the middle. Sensei explained that the weakness could fail if the ya were drawn under the tension of a strong yumi. In the worst case, a practitioner could be injured in the face, arm or hand by the explosion of bamboo splinters. Clearly it was time to retire this particular ya. Instead of simply discarding it, Sensei instructed that the end and tip be removed and saved for future use and the ya itself be set aside to become a flagpost for an upcoming ceremony.

We ended practice a bit early to stack wood and gather kindling. We burn through a fair amount of wood since Sensei likes the warmth, and the cinder block structure of the dojo (aka "the ice box") often maintains a colder temperature inside than out!

First Shot of the year

On January 1, Zenko Kyudojo opened the New Year with a first shot ceremony. Wearing their Kyudo finest, participants prepared to shoot at a variety of festive targets ("go ko mono" - i.e. five small targets). The shooting once again reflected our tremendous dedication to non-emphasis on targets as many shots flew and our crowd of guests watched with Sensei and waited for a hit. When the first hit finally came (thank you, Scott), it was clean and clear and Sensei called it a wrap! Following the shooting, we all gathered in the dojo where Sensei sang the famous, haunting Goose Song accompanied by Yoko Hiraoka on koto, and we drank sake and ate dried squid to toast a fresh start for the New Year.

[From Carolyn Kanjuro]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shibata Sensei's birthday celebration

On December 28th, we each offered a last shot for 2008 and then joined friends and family of Shibata Sensei in the dojo to toast his his 88th birthday. (That is to say, he is entering his 88th year in 2009. By western counting, he will turn 88 in December 2009.) It is considered an auspicious year in Japan, his "rice year." Sensei says being in the West has given him strong power!

[From Carolyn Kanjuro, photo by Yoshie Koester]