Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Visit to Chiba Budogu

Last week my Naginata club went to Himeji to watch the 5th INF World Naginata Championships.  Some of the other members only took a day trip, but I decided to travel a bit on Honshu while I was there.  I went to Tokyo for a couple days, and from there I took the train 1.5 hours to Katsura and visited Chiba Budogu.  Although the trip was a little long, I'm very glad I went!

Somewhere online I read that an incredible number of people (well over half) quit practicing Kendo once they start wearing bogu (armor).  And the main reason why people don't like bogu is because it can be uncomfortable.  I imagine the same must be true for Naginata, so I was determined to get well-fitting bogu.  Chiba Budogu orders bogu from a manufacturer and then modifies it to provide a custom fit.

I've never worn bogu before, so I was pretty nervous about ordering it.  Everything I read online raved about the quality of Chiba Budogu's work, so although I wanted to see the bogu in person, the main reason why I went to the shop was for a fitting.  I could've just emailed my measurements, but I was afraid I might make a mistake.  I'm glad I went, because apparently my head is an unusual shape!  I was also able to try on a few doh (breastplates) and we determined that that a doh that is a special shape for women[1] would be best for me.

A number of English speakers work at Chiba Budogu; I emailed beforehand and they made sure one was there when I visited.  Baptise was very nice and knowledgeable; he went to the International Budo University to study Naginata.

I originally had my eye on this set, but based on Baptise's recommendation I upgraded the kote (gauntlets) to these.  Apparently the clarino kote that comes with the set usually wear out after 2.5 years of the intense daily training that they do at the university.[2]

I could easily bend the plastic doh that comes with the basic set (which isn't a big deal because one rarely gets struck in the stomach when doing Naginata), but fiber and bamboo doh are much stronger. I was extremely lucky because the shop has a stock of fiber and bamboo doh that were cosmetically damaged (minor scuffing) when then the tsunami hit the factory[3] in March.  Because I went to the shop they were willing to cut me a deal and gave me one of the slightly scuffed fiber dohs for the same price as a plastic one!  To put how awesome this is in perspective, a pristine fiber doh costs about three times as much as a plastic one.

After my visit (which took about an hour), Baptise went above and beyond the call of duty and gave me a ride so I could get to an ATM[4] in my bank's network in the limited amount of time I had before the next train back to Tokyo!

I'm really happy that I went and incredibly excited about receiving my bogu in approximately six weeks!


[1] The doh for women is shorter so it rests above the hips and it's also straighter at the top to accommodate breasts.

[2] I don't think I'll ever be that hardcore, but considering how much bogu costs I hope mine will last until at least the next INF World Naginata Championships, which will be in four years!

[3] The manufacturer's factory, not Chiba Budogu.

[4] I needed cash for an unrelated reason.  After I returned home I paid for my bogu via furikomi (bank transfer).


  1. Thanks a lot for adding world naginata championship's video!! I wanted to watch so bad these match!

  2. you're welcome! i'll hopefully have the time to embed them into a post tomorrow. :)

  3. I was the amusing part :)

    nice blog ;)