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A training camp is called a gasshuku in Japanese. I remember one summer camp that was like an intense high school sports club summer camp. The training was outside on the grass (and the grass and earth stains were impossible to get out of our keikogi later). We had to clear all the pebbles from the grass before we started. Then after the training the black belts threw the white belts a hundred times. It was in the middle of the hot and humid Japanese summer. On the first day when we had a break in the middle of training a woman brought out a tray of cloudy white drinks. It was Calpis, a sweet fermented milk drink you dilute with water. It was the first time I had tasted it. On that hot day it tasted wonderful - like liquid silver. Ever since that day every time I drink it I remember that summer.
At one summer camp there were some university aikido clubs training at the same place. Some of the students knew me from Arikawa Sensei's class at the hombu dojo and they all came over and bowed politely to me. They trained very hard all day and they partied hard late into the night. On the way home from that camp all the trains were stopped because of a typhoon. We were lucky - it was only for a few hours. A week earlier they had stopped for two days.
The largest summer camp I've been to was at La Colle-sur-Loup in the south of France - not far from Nice. The teachers were Tamura Sensei and Yamada Sensei. It was in 1986. I know that because Tamura Sensei signed and dated his newly-published book in Japanese for me. It was just called Aikido. It's a magnificent heavy book. It's in French. It has some interesting historical information and photos but its best point is that it is full of photographs from cover to cover of clear, detailed sequences of techniques. I think it was published privately by some of Tamura Sensei's senior students. It is easily the best technical book ever published about aikido. Unfortunately it is out of print and almost impossible to find. I have seen copies on the internet for hundreds of dollars.
Tamura Sensei and Yamada Sensei knew my teacher Kinjo Asoh Sensei and they were very kind to me. That summer I was the only aikidoka who came to the camp from Japan and also the only British aikidoka so they asked me to teach a class. I was so sorry to hear of Tamura Sensei's death. His aikido was extremely impressive and he was a pivotal figure in the development of aikido in Europe.