Re: Advice on Hombu dojo etiquette
There are probably a ton of people on this list that train at Hombu much more than I did....but a couple of other tips....
1. They do not speak a lot of english at hombu dojo. So, be prepared, if you go, like myself, without a translator....you'll need to check in to your right, as you walk in the door. They will show you, via calculator, how much to pay. Leave your membership card/book, and claim it on the way out.
2. They train with the same partner for the whole class (I know that some schools do that here in the US, as well....but none that I've been part of). I met a really nice girl (who spoke english) in the dressing room, and she made an arrangement for my training 'date'. (She was already previously engaged....but we later made a plan to meet and train later in the week).
3. As Mike said, be prepared to sweat - especially if you are there in August, as I was. Tokyo is extremely humid (and I'm from Florida, originally!). The 3rd floor dojo has low windows, but there is not much air movement. Make sure you are well hydrated!
4. Mike mentioned picking the correct door....also, I noticed that they bow both at the shomen and to the other students when entering the hall. Since we typically only bow at the shomen, I had to remind myself to do both bows.
5. Have fun! My experience is that Doshu is jovial during his 6:30am class. He walks around, talks and laughs with people.....and there are some very high level shihans on the mat! I also enjoyed Osawa's classes.....I was proud of myself that I found my way there...through two train changes, and only got lost once (a little old man with a little dog walked me to the dojo....I'm sure I looked like a lost american with aikido written on my forehead!). Anyway....it is fun!