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aikido_diver 03-03-2006 11:13 PM

Planning trip to Japan
 
Ok I'm planning my trip to Japan at the end of the year and will be there for two months. I have been there before, and stayed for just under a month. However this time I will be immersing myself totally in the culture, as this year I'm studying Japanese and by the end I should have completed level 3 Japanese profeciency Exam.

These are the following things I want to do, and basically I'm asking people how I should go about. I'm wanting to train with the following people/places:
1. Seiseki Abe - not only train but also learn some calligraphy there with him.
2. Train with Miyako Fujitani - did that the first time - but wondering how I can get in touch with her as I've tried her email with no success.
3. Train with Saito Sensei - go and meet with him and explore the iwama area.
4. Isoyama Sensei at the Aikishrine.
5. And train with Anno Sensei of Hikitsuchi Sensei's disciple. Something which I've wanted to do for a very long time..

However not only train with these Sensei's but also become friendly with them if that makes sense. I'm aware of the cultural aspects of relationships with sensei and student, but was wondering what you guys thought. Wondering if anyone could get me contact details for the above sensei, either email or fax so that I could possibly let them know before I arrive. I will also be taking a recommendation letter which goes without saying.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.

nekobaka 03-04-2006 08:22 AM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Quote:

I'm studying Japanese and by the end I should have completed level 3 Japanese profeciency Exam.
that's good, don't forget to brush up on aikido Japanese too. get as much speaking practice in as you can.

Quote:

Train with Saito Sensei - go and meet with him and explore the iwama area.
Uh, I'm sorry, but he died in 2002. probably lots of his students left. :sorry:


Quote:

However not only train with these Sensei's but also become friendly with them if that makes sense. I'm aware of the cultural aspects of relationships with sensei and student, but was wondering what you guys thought.
I think it really depends on the person. there are a good few senseis out there that are really down to earth and are up for a good laugh and beer after practice. Just try to be aware of the atmosphere of the dojo and go with what every one else does. I'm in Osaka, and the atmosphere is really laid back. I know that's probably not true for all of japan though. I have heard some of my senseis say that they don't like how high and mighty Japanese senseis have gotten outside of japan. remember there is a difference between being very polite and treating someone like a god, polite is the way to go.

Abe sensei's page:
http://www.page.sannet.ne.jp/shun-q/
it's in English too. I live nearby, but I've never been. maybe I should go.

how long will you be staying?

grondahl 03-04-2006 08:38 AM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Altough lots of people still travel to Iwama to train with Hitohiro Saito sensei.

aikido_diver 03-04-2006 09:35 AM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Thanks heaps for your posts guys, yeh im aware of his death, I meant his son, whom I've seen and quite enjoy his aikido... I train in Aikikai style hopefully shouldnt be a problem.

Ill be in Japan for as long as possible but as short as 2 months.

Misogi-no-Gyo 03-04-2006 08:04 PM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Quote:

Todd Allen wrote:
Ok I'm planning my trip to Japan at the end of the year and will be there for two months. I have been there before, and stayed for just under a month. However this time I will be immersing myself totally in the culture, as this year I'm studying Japanese and by the end I should have completed level 3 Japanese profeciency Exam.

These are the following things I want to do, and basically I'm asking people how I should go about. I'm wanting to train with the following people/places:
1. Seiseki Abe - not only train but also learn some calligraphy there with him.
2. Train with Miyako Fujitani - did that the first time - but wondering how I can get in touch with her as I've tried her email with no success.
3. Train with Saito Sensei - go and meet with him and explore the iwama area.
4. Isoyama Sensei at the Aikishrine.
5. And train with Anno Sensei of Hikitsuchi Sensei's disciple. Something which I've wanted to do for a very long time..

What is it about these teachers, or what is it from these teachers about which you care to learn?
Quote:

Todd Allen wrote:
However not only train with these Sensei's but also become friendly with them if that makes sense. I'm aware of the cultural aspects of relationships with sensei and student, but was wondering what you guys thought. Thank you.

The first sentence and the second are contradictory in nature, and from my little bit of experience, especially so in Japan. If you want to endear yourself my recommendation is to train hard, be polite, keep your head low, your eyes open and your mouth... well you know.
Quote:

Todd Allen wrote:
Any advice would be appreciated.

Sure, and feel free to take em or leave em as you see fit...

1. It is always better to have an introduction than not. This means that when at all possible, get to know someone at the dojo who can invite you in and introduce you to the teacher with whom you seek to train. This would be something you do before you drop in.

2. Spend whatever time you have getting to know the senior students rather than the Sensei. You're apt to learn more, be invited back and be seen less as an outsider, which you will more than likely always be.

3. If invited out, pouring someone's beer, and if appropriate offering to buy a round of beer is a good way to touch the heart of other sincere (beer-loving) practitioners. (i.e. keep lots of yen in your pocket at all times!)

4. Let the Dojo-Cho know in advance not only when you will be training, but how long you will train at the dojo.

5. You might want to keep to yourself the idea that you are going to visit other particular dojo in the area. Of course, it could be to your benefit if someone at one dojo can introduce you to someone at one of the another dojo you are intending to visit. You simply have to feel this one out on your own.

6. When class is over, run (don't walk) to where the brooms are kept so that you help to sweep the mats.

7. Arrive early on your first day of training so that you have time to observe the silent protocol and culture of the dojo.

8. As you know from having already been to Japan, you are always being watched and observed at all times to see if you act like the foreigner that you are.

9. With regards to #8, above; Be yourself, because you will eventually be found out, sooner more probably than later.

10. When and if appropriate, ask as many questions as you find yourself formulating. It is not rude to ask questions, especially when asked if you have any questions... It is moments such as these that the Sensei will have an opportunity to provide answers to all of his Japanese students who might feel less comfortable asking such a question while still on the mat.


Like I said, "take em or leave em as you see fit..."




.

Jory Boling 03-04-2006 10:37 PM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Good list, Shaun. I've recently moved to Japan and have had to go through those things, both in the dojo and on the street. Most of it seems like common sense but it's good to see it listed.

During one dojo visit, two guys (gaijin) kept coming up to ask the sensei if they can test for there shodan yet. Three times he told them later. I couldn't believe it. I'm not sure how the sensei felt. They have both trained there for a few years. I've learned most of my dojo etiquette from old samurai movies (before getting to learn in a dojo). Surely, as middle-aged men interested in martial arts, they've seen at least one old Kurosawa film.

David Racho 08-07-2006 11:31 PM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
For a complete newbie learning the Japanese Language, try Simon and Shuster's Pimsleur Japanese programs. I've already listened to two or three lessons and find it quite good. The reviews on Amazon say a lot more about it. Of course, nothing like taking formal lessons and practicing with a native speaker.

Ethan Weisgard 08-15-2006 02:49 AM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
The Iwama Dojo - now officially called Ibaraki Shibu Dojo - takes uchi deshi also. Please refer to the dojo homepage: http://www13.big.or.jp/~aikikai/index.html

Isoyama Sensei is the Ibaraki Shibu Dojo Daiko (acting dojo cho). Inagaki Sensei is the General Manager. He also takes care of the website. You have the opportunity to train under these two Sensei, who both have had extensive training directly with O-Sensei, as well as people such as Hirosawa Sensei, who also has had a very close relationship with O-Sensei in his final years.


Nemoto Sensei, one of Saito Morihiro Sensei's closest Japanese students also has his own uchi deshi program in Iwama. You are welcome to contact me if you wish more information regarding these possibilities.

On my own homepage www.aiki-shuren-dojo.com I have compiled information regarding being an uchi deshi. Although this information is based on my experience as uchi deshi under Saito Morihiro Sensei, and also with Nemoto Sensei, I believe it also will serve to give some advice for going to other places, too. There is quite a bit of information regarding etiquette which is good to know.

The information given by Shaun was very good. I would also like to point out that traditionally one is expected to be a deshi of one given Sensei. Shopping around between many Sensei is sometimes not taken too positively. As was mentioned in Shaun's text - feel the waters before speaking of your plans to move around.

Gambatte kudasai!

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

Upyu 08-15-2006 07:23 PM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Personally speaking, I've found you can do it one of two ways.

Either you can try and roleplay the whole polite BS to try and fit in with the group.

Or, you can take advantage of your gaijin status and not deal with it.
Personally I prefer the latter since it allows me to cut through a lot of red tape when dealing with elders. If they get pissed, blame it on your foreigness.
Above all, I wouldn't hesitate to shop around for teachers.
So what if you piss some people off?
If something that minor is going to keep them from teaching you, would you really want to be their student?
In that case you should ask yourself, do they really have something worth teaching?

Japanese people are like any other people. Many of them like to take advantage of the fact that foreigners feel the need to be excessively polite around them, especially if they hold any sort of rank or status, even if they don't have the skill to back it up.

I've found the best and most skilled teachers in any culture are the ones that choose not to provide a clear seperation between the trappings of culture and what they teach.

FWIW ;)

/rant off

Ibaraki Bryan 09-04-2006 10:32 PM

Re: Planning trip to Japan
 
Well now that you've been and gotten back (one would hope you made it back anyway) -- how was it?


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