Thread: Nanaii
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:04 PM   #1
iwamaki's Avatar
Dojo: Westlake Village Aikido
Location: Pahrump, NV
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 24

Morihiro Saito-sensei was well known not only for his awesome skill and strength, but also for his great kindness. He took us foreign students to some very interesting places, including the shrines at Nikko and Kashima and the pottery town of Mashiko, and when we got there he bought us lunch. He even took several of us to visit a master sword maker in Iwama who was designated as a living national treasure.
One winter I packed my family into our minivan and drove them to my wife's family home in Fukushima for a visit of several weeks. The weather was fine on the way there, but as soon as I headed back to Iwama the next morning it started to snow very hard. The route included the steep downhill mountain pass leading into Kasama.
As soon as I entered the pass I saw that it was covered in deep snow, and there were dozens of cars and trucks abandoned on the slope. It would have been easy to go down, but with essentially no traction I would have almost certainly hit one of the vehicles. That was not an option.
By a good stroke of fortune, although I had no traction going down, the little van had traction in reverse. I was able to back up the hill to the main road and make it to a small town called Nanaii that had a train station. I parked the car and got on a train for Iwama.
The next morning the sun came out and the snow was all melting. I started walking to Iwama station to catch a train to Nanaii to pick up my car. The route took me past Saito-sensei's house. He happened to be standing outside and asked where I was going. I told him, and he said "wait here".
He pulled up in his car and told me to get in. He drove me all the way to Nanaii, where I retrieved my car and we drove back to Iwama together. Upon arrival he invited me to his house for lunch and liquid refreshment.
How many Sensei would do something like that for a student, especially a gaijin? I always thought of Saito-sensei as not only my mentor and teacher, but also as my friend which he really was. I cannot express in words how much I miss him.
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