Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the
world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to
over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a
wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history,
humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.
If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced
features available, you will need to register first. Registration is
absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!
Thursday I joined back up with the family near Yokohama and we went to visit some other very good friends who relocated back to Japan from the UK last year, before returning to Kobe in the evening. Not the cheapest of round trips at around 350 quid ($700), but sometimes necessary.
We`d arranged a quick visit Tokyo to meet up with various friends, a trip which involved us splitting up at Yokohama to go in differnt directions for a day, me staying with Sugiura sensei and my wife and son staying with some other friends that had recently transferred back to Japan from the UK. I was still a little sore from the "hernia, not hernia, maybe hernia" so I reluctantly left my keiko gi behind, which in a way was a blessing not having to lug it all around as I wondered around Shinjuku for the afternoon, but was a shame as I wouldn`t be practicing with Nojima Sensei.
I`d taken the decision that I would attempt at least one practice in Japan, but if I was only going to get one half chance, it would have to be with Nakao Sensei. Still I went to Keiko at the Honcho dojo, a few surprised faces, and good to watch, if not frustrating not being able to partake. It`s always interesting to watch from the sidelines, seeing how people have changed, but I just wanted to get on join in .
After keiko it was back to Sugiura Sensei`s house for a slap up feast of shabu shabu. "We mustn`t leave anything" he said, as he was off on his annual business trip to Germany two days later, the very same trip that he was going to visit us in England, but unfortunately, we double booked our respective trips and today was the onl;y chance we had to meet, still, the fridge was stocked with beer and the glasses were in the freezer............ "kampai, mata rai nen".
The Hotel bus drove us back to Himeji and dropped us off at the castle. The weather was surprisingly warm having been quite chilly since we got here. I`d forgotten how cold and damp Japanese houses feel in the winter, every night climbing into bed the sheets were ice cold and felt damp, I keep thinking I`m going to wake up with bronchitus. Still, walking through the gates of Himeji castle made up for it with all the cherry blossoms starting to bloom, the views across the castle grounds were fabulous. This was my fourth visit to Himeji jo, my youngest son was really looking forward to this, he`d seen the castle on the way past and recognised it from various series of Power Rangers, Ninja Storm in particular.
We strolled up and round the castle climbing right up to the top floor, navigating through some seriously steep and narrow flights of stairs that were made even more dangerous by the constant polishing they get from the thousands of visitors each year. Not to mention the fact that the roof/ floor as you go up and down is only about three foot above the stairs, so us tall westerners are made to struggle hard..... still, it`s an interesting place to visit and should be on anyone`s sightseeing list coming to Japan.
As we left the castle my wife asked our son if he would like to live there, "no" he shot back, "why not, it`s the Ninja Storm castle?". "There are two ghosts in there behind the door" he said, "I don`t want to stay here".........
My inlaws had arranged for us all to go visit an onsen for a couple of days. It`s only taken me ten years to get used to this, but I`m finally warmingto it in all senses of the word.
I was taken to an onsen on my first trip here, and even when living here had many opportunities, but..........I just struggled sitting in bloody hot water, and I mean bloody hot, scalding hot in fact. Ever since the first time, I`ve just had better things to do than sit in 112 degree water on a hot summers day.........like take a cold shower.
Still, it`s a national past time, and over the past couple of years, I have started to adapt, as long as wego in the spring, not summer. So it was off to Himeji for a couple of days. Going to an onsen is an interesting experience, how many times can you take a bath in a single afternoon? We arrived in Himeji at noon and had a two hour wait for the bus, which we spent wandering around looking for somewhere to take lunch. Not the best, but we settled for the open diner under the tracks where you can choose from tako yaki (Octopus balls), yaki soba (fried noodles), Jumbo gyoza and a few others. I plumbed for the tako yaki, my favourite and the wife went for the gyoza, unfortunately, the tako yaki wasn`t exactly th ebest in town and was rather soft and undercooked......... The jumbo gyoza however were surprisingly good.
Finally caught the bus and rode up past mount Shosha (where they filmed parts of The Last Samurai and where I had an interestingstr
It`s been 6 months since I was last in Japan. That time I was on a business trip with a bit of time on my hands, as you can see from previous entries. This time I`m on vacation with the family, and although my wife gave me the green light to do as much training as I wanted (she hasn`t been home for 2 years and will be catching up with family and friends), I have been here for 5 days and haven`t trained once. It doesn`t help that 2 weeks before we left, something went "twang" during training and I was diagnosed with a hernia . From then, the trip took on a bit of a downer. I`d arranged a whole heap of keiko, mainly with Nakao sensei, my mentor here in Kobe, but also at my old dojo in Tokyo and a potentially interesting day down at Peter Rehse`s dojo in Himeji where I`d convinced Michael "Stumpy" Steumpel to also come and play, along with the possibility of Peter Goldsbury joining us too. On top of that, Peter R`s shihan had arranged for one of his top deshi and some "hot" randori students to come play too, it is all set for an interesting day next weekend.
After arriving at the inlaws, the first port of call was aisatsu with Nakao sensei. We packed a bag of omiyagi and headed off to his restaurant where we knew he`d be preparing for the evening. "oki ni" he says (a traditional Kansai greeting at restaurants) as we open the door, "Bryan keiko dekiru?" he asks as I enter "onaka dechau yo!" he laughs - "Can you practice Bryan, you`ve got a fat belly". OK, let`s put that int
lunch time, being taken to a BBQ to meet the man! Dixies BBQ in Bellevue is apparently a very famous eatery, although you wouldn't think at first glance. It's a run down old garage converted into a ................well.........garage, that just happens to have a counter and a few tables inside. Having said that, the queue was out of the door. We were greeted by the "crazy eyed" owner, who asked us where we were from and made us stick pins in one of the many maps hanging on the wall.
Took about 10 mins to get to the front of the queue during which time I was informed that the owner wasn't in fact "the man", I got the strange feeling I was being set up......... I plumbed for the very large pork sandwich and once ensconced in our seats, old crazy eyes came round.
"he needs to meet the man" my colleague says to crazy eyes. He goes out the back and returns witha bowl of orange/ black sauce. "two or three" he asks In a voice that was way to squeaky and grating for his size. "small I say" as I make space in the side of the carton for the sauce he has been spooning on my colleagues plates. "this aint goin' on no paper" he squeaks, "it goes on the meat or you don't get none!"....... He places about half a small teaspoon full onto my sandwich, I take a little taste...................................one of my colleagues starts choking and coughing up, steam pouring from his ears as his face gets redder and redder, he's a veteran and knew what he was getting into! Me, my mouth,
A bizarre moment on Friday evening found Stumpy and me both working in the same building at the same time, 1 floor apart in downtown Tokyo. How weird is that?
After a bite to eat, he dragged me kicking and screaming (honest, he did ) back to Geronimo's Shot Bar. Where, despite some very persuasive attempts to get me to drink more alcohol I managed to survive a second Friday evening with him. I think my saving grace was his attempt to get me to drink a "Canadian Caesar", it was just so repulsive that it put me off ingesting anything else for the rest of the night. Honestly, I can't think of the appropriate words to describe how bad it tasted, nor print the few inappropriate words that I can think of, sorry Michael, but urrrghhhhhh.......(shudders)
After that, it was water all night!
We had another good old chin wag about Aikido, and he told me a top secret bit of info regarding the senshusei course, but has threatened to come to England and burn me out if I reveal the details here.................................... so if you really want to know, go to www.senhuseisecret.com where some anonymous person has posted the details ................................................................................ ...nuh huh, you didn't really think I'd do that did you?
I eventually forced myself to leave the bar around 11:30PM. Standing on the platform at Roppongi, I had a second bizarre moment for that day. Waiting for the train to come (that Oedo line is bloody slow!
Well the blogs up to date, eventually..... It`s my last day in the office here, flying out tomorrow, what can I do tonight?
Ummmmmmmm, I know, how about a farewell drink with that friendly Yoshinkan chappie down in Roppongi . Have arranged to meet up with Stumpy again for a farewell drink after work tonight, although I have promised that I will only be having a "half"............ Am I stupid or what (again, I didn`t ask for comments from the peanut gallery thank you)?
Honestly, no, really, I`m travelling tomorrow, I can`afford to get messed up like last week!! (that`s why I`m writing it here up front before I go, so if I do get drunk, not that Mike would do that to me again, would he? , he`s got nowhere to hide and everyone will know who`s fault it is..............hahahahahahaaaaaaaa ).
Before I leave, one comment on the very cool menu system at the izakaya I went to the other night (a different one). Most Japanese izakaya have a very extensive picture based menu. This one was no different, except that it was all on a touch screen. All you did was look at the pics, touch the one you want and add it to the list, once your list is complete you press send and wait. Food starts arriving shortly after. When we arrived at the izakaya, my colleague ordered a coke without ice through a real live waitress, when we ordered a second drink through the automated menu, it also turned up without ice. How cool is that, it must have recorded my voice when I placed the initi
My last training session in Japan this trip, Going to Nakano dojo tonight, the hombu of our association (within the Aikikai). Sugiura Sensei, Nojima Sensei and Kaicho will all be there. Sad that it`s the last one, but kind of glad, it`s costing me a fortune in laundry bills at the hotel to get my keiko gi washed, 2000 yen each time (10 quid or $20) same price as one of their $B!H(Byummy$B!I(B breakfasts which am now avoiding as the local Starbucks is 75% cheaper and far more appetizing.
Work drags, well, I`ve got to write up these blog updates haven`t I? I`m late, gotta dash back to the hotel, pick up my freshly cleaned, and pressed keiko gi, yep, they do at least press my gi when they launder it (suppose that makes it worth 2000 yen then), and then get over to Nakano................
I get there just in time, Matsumoto Sensei doesn`t remember me, but then why should he? $B!H(BOh,......... BRYAN!!$B!I(B, he remembers, or at least makes it look like he does . Class begins and .............................. everything just turns to the proverbial brown stuff. I thought after 14 years of practice I`d at least be able to offer a passable attempt at doing this stuff, but no, not tonight............
Before long, $B!H(BBryan!$B!I(B, Matsumoto Sensei calls me up, $B!H(BIt`s been a while$B!I(B he tells the class, $B!H(BBryan`s from England$B!I(B. $B!H(BTsuki$B!D!D(B.migi!$B!I(B he says, I step and punch and hit the floor like a ton of bricks.......
Missing training at Honcho dojo tonight, here on a business trip so must make a vague attempt at doing some work............
Have to give two presentations to the local office today, on two of our new products. One presentation I did for the techies yesterday, have to give it to Sales today, but they`re not interested are they, it`s a bloody technical presentation!!
I begin, two slides in the President does his best to conceal his continued yawning and at least tries to make it look like he`s interested, the sales guy is not so tactful, he`s already asleep with his head tilted back snoring. If I didn`t know any better, I`d think that I was a lousy presenter.................(no comments from the peanut gallery please).
No, it`s a known fact here in Japan, people only go to presentations and meetings in order to catch up on sleep. I`ve been to too many where more than half the attendees are asleep within seconds of sitting down..............So why DO they work these stupid hours?
I start skipping slides, ignoring the technical content and focusing on basic feature content, blimey, 100 slides finished in 20 mins, took me five times longer than this dicussing with the techies yesterday!!!
After lunch I have to run the second presentation, this one I`m running cold. I didn`t write it, and hadn`t had a chance to preview it before giving it (don`t ya just love it), so it came as no surprise that the whole thing was just..................well,(insert expletive here)!