Hey everyone, did you enjoy camp? I just now have time to sit down and tell you about our trip to Japan. I imagine a just few of you might be interested in a first hand account. Sorry it took so long, at first I had to process all the pictures we took, then help mom, then the Gathering and Conclave - whew! Didn't those pictures Jim, Jason and I took turn out great? Especially the scrolls, they are so beautiful. I really wish I knew what they said. Now, we tried to document everything we saw with pictures for you guys and will try to add the commentary to each one as things calm down here in the Home Office.
We started off with a 17 hour plane ride to Tokyo in which we practiced our broken Japanese skills with other passengers on the plane. Needless to say, it started us on a path of understanding that would serve us well throughout our trip.
When we arrived in Tokyo we got to experience something unique - they lost our luggage. It actually came on a different plane from LA when we flew out of NJ, but the airport officials handled everything efficiently. Once the other plane landed, we were on our way to the heart of Tokyo. Found out the Taxi rides cost around $80, so we decided on alternate means of transportation to our hotel.
Once there, the jet lag hit us and we were out until the next morning, when Bushi Jim(now Yoshi - congrats!) and myself caught a train to pay our respects to soke Hatsumi. We followed the map that the Bujinken members had given to the Dojo, but found out after much walking that the station we needed was one more stop down the line. With some help from some neighbors, and a pair of Europeans walking across the tracks, we discovered that Hatsumi-san now teaches every Tuesday at the public sports complex in a section of Tokyo. Once again we hopped on the train - we got to see lots of great scenery and I think it is just fun to ride on them. I wish we had more of them in the states, because it is a great way to travel.
Finally we arrived where we needed to be, to deliver the present we had carried from the states to show respect for Hatsumi sensei. We saw students and black belts from every what seemed like every country of the world and even a couple Japanese who are all paying £30 per two hour class. Luckily, they allowed us to watch while we waited to be presented to Hatsumi-san. It is always very enlightening watching the techniques of other styles.
Hatsumi san went over some basic techniques while different people translated not only what he said, but what they experienced when he did the techniques on them. I guess not everyone understood what their sensei was trying to convey as I saw some impossible techniques and movement sequences. A lot were giving courtesy drops it appeared, because they would drop in a different direction than the joint/bone manipulation would be sending them them. It seemed as if Hatsumi sensei had noticed it also.
As he walked around the room, he could only get so far before he seemed compelled to jump in and add something new for everyone to try. Each of the few times he saw a student performing good technique would invariably lead to another lesson. I met a quite few good people while observing, and if I ever make it to their part of the world I will definitely stop in to see them. After all the goodbye's, we finally got a chance to be introduced to soke Hatsumi by one of his students. He helped translate what Yoshi Jim is unable, which it not too much. Hatsumi-san really liked the gift we brought, the Jack Daniels for which Tennessee is famous. We told him that our teacher had respect for him and in honor of the respect our teacher had conveyed, we brought this gift over from America. He asked who our teacher was, and we informed him - he asked, Koga? No, Konigun. At this point his student and he conversed quite a bit after which he had some interesting advice, "All ninjutsu comes through him."
I considered this confusing as I thought, What about the Koga? We will find out when we ask them at our next stop! To be continued...