Kōdōkan Taishijō 弘道館対試場

Koōdōkan taishijō 弘道館対試場

Koōdōkan taishijō 弘道館対試場

While not properly speaking a dōjō, the last post briefly mentioned a space known as a taishijō (対試場). Often seen in chanbara (Japanese swordplay) films, this is an outdoor area for budō demonstration and competition. They were part of a feudal lord’s mansion or palace placed next to a viewing room. Kōdōkan, one of the many hankō (藩校) in feudal era Japan, taught the bugei (samurai) class both academic subjects as well as budō. This ended with education reforms during the Meiji Period. Three dōjō previously existed as part of Kōdōkan. Today however, these are gone and only the taishijō is left as a spatial reminder of budō training at this institution.

Koōdōkan 弘道館

Koōdōkan 弘道館

The taishijō is adjacent to a viewing room of the main building from where the lord of the house and other high ranked persons and guests would view the contest. On the other three sides are the wall enclosures of the grounds plus a bit of open space. The area itself is of fine pebble and demarcated by slightly raised earth. Kōdōkan’s main building is orientated at an angle relative to north. The viewing room faces out roughly 30 degrees west of south.

The term taishijō is composed of three kanji with the following meanings:
対 tai – versus, oppose
試 shi – test, examine, trial, try, attempt
場 jō – place

The term is therefore similar to the modern term shiaijō (試合場) with its emphasis as a place for competition.

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