Nade Ushi; rubbing cow to ease your pains


Shinto shrines often have these statues of a cow, lying down. These statues are usually made of bronze and you can usually see spots on the statue where the patina has been worn off to reveal the shiny metal.

These statues are called “nade ushi ” (撫牛) meaning “rubbing cows.” If shrine visitors have some sort of ailment, then they rub the corresponding part of the cow’s body to pass their pains on thr statue. 

So if you feet are sore, you rub the ushinade’s feet. If you back aches, rub the cow’s back. This is the concept.

Cultural Statistics

Some Australian students visited the Japanese high school where I work, so I made a class activity comparing some national statistics between Japan, Australia and the USA. I would provide a stat for two of the countries and students would guess if the third country was higher, lower or in between and guess a number. Of the 10 categories the interesting reactions were from the homicide and obesity rates. In annual homicides per 100,000 Japan had 0.29 and the US had 4.0 which was higher than the students expected but they laughed with an “oh, of course” reaction. The Japanese obesity rate is 5%, Australia 27% and the US 33%- the students were predicting that America would be about 50% obese; I was surprised that they would have that image, but the stats kind of back them up.

Kendo tips; small things I have from kendo in Japan

Equipment handling

  • Don’t push your baggage around with your feet. Just as you should be careful to not step over someone else’s shinai and show respect for your own equipemnt during a match, you are expected to display a serious attitude with a high degree respect for your own equipment. If you want to press you baggage back against a wall, you should bend down and use your hands.

Dressing for success

  • New uniform for tests. Let the judges see that the test is a serious priority for you. Remember that proper attire is important for kendo and don’t get demerits for formality.
  • A zekken to match your dojo(s). If you are practicing at several places, a secondary dojo may ask you to conform with the rest of the practice group. This is not as obvious as getting a zekken for competitions.

Carbon shinai; don’t use them when…

  • you take a test. Strict senseis may object to them, so don’t take the risk. Use a nice, new bamboo shinai.
  • when you partner has a fancy dou. The polymer coating on a carbon shinai could rub off and leave a faint streak against a dou. Sometimes, dou with fancy (expensive) designs, materials and colors are given as gifts and prizes to kendoka, so those people would prefer to see you using a normal, bamboo shinai.

Men himo length

  • If your men himo is too long you may need to change the style in which it is tied. Tying men himo in the “Kansai Style” requires a longer set of himo.