Pair to pick a fight for festival fun
They might look like a nice couple but you wouldn’t want to get into a fight with Rayon and Azusa Mackenzie.
Rayon and Azusa are experts at the Japanese swordfighting martial art of Kendo, the name of which translates to ‘‘way of the sword’’.
The couple, who founded Nelson’s Shoshin Kendo Club, are expected to provide some of the highlights of the Nelson Cherry Blossom Festival at Miyazu Garden on Sunday, September 23.
Rayon and Azusa spar at least three times a week but told The Leader they never think about the fact they are hitting their husband or wife with bamboo swords.
‘‘I don’t feel anything for anyone. It’s all about doing it for yourself,’’ Rayon said.
Kendo fighters wear elaborate armour but that doesn’t stop them from getting hurt.
Azusa, who is the South Island women’s kendo champion, said that when she and Rayon fight, they often suffer minor injuries.
‘‘Sometimes he gets funny scars on his arms,’’ she said.
Azusa said she enjoyed losing herself in kendo and forgetting her daily cares.
‘‘You just concentrate in the moment. I really like it,’’ she said.
Rayon said for him a big part of kendo’s appeal was that it was an ‘‘honourable’’ way to fight.
‘‘I don’t care about winning or losing. It’s about doing it properly,’’ he said.
This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival will be the 11th held at Miyazu Garden. Organised by the Miyazu Sister City Association and the Nelson Japanese Society, it will celebrate 36 years of sister city friendship and 60 years of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Japan.
The free festival will open at 11.30am with a performance by Nelson’s Raijin Taiko drummers. At noon there will be a puppetry performance by Akiko Miyamoto that will include the famous Shi shi (lion) dance.
At 12.30pm the Shoshin Kendo Club will be doing a demonstration followed by the Nelson Judo Club at 1pm.
At 1.15pm the Raijin drummers will return with a musician from Okinawa playing a traditional samisen three-stringed instrument.
Nelson’s Seido Karate Club will be performing from 2pm and at 2.30pm all eyes will be on a big brush calligraphy demonstration by master calligrapher Akiko Crowther.
Throughout the festival there will be tea ceremonies being held by people in kimono, origami demonstrations and the opportunity to have your name or favourite word written in calligraphy.
Also on offer will be something called Yo Yo fishing and food stalls selling all sorts of traditional Japanese and Western dishes, along with a coffee cart.
Flossie the Balloon Lady will also be in attendance and there will be a fishing game for the under-7s.
For more information about The Shoshin Kendo Club email Rayon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 021 063 2982.