Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Asia Trip 2012: Iaido in Tokyo - Day 6

MON 23-JUL: 6th day in a row!

Today's evening practice was once again held at the Yotsuya Hiroba, and with a whole day to spend out and about, we decided to head to the lively district of Shibuya!

Anyone that's been here will recognize this well known meeting spot.

We spent some time at the Tokyu Hands, a store almost twice the size of the one in Shinjuku. We couldn't stay long as we had a surprise appointment with one of our new Kyudo friends from Okayama! When we said our goodbyes over two weeks ago, hoping to meet next time in Toronto, we would've never thought we'd see each other so soon again. It turns out Watanabe Naoko-san from the Mitsui Kyudojo was in Tokyo for three days on work assignment. These trips, while frequent, only land her in Tokyo 2-3 times a year, so it was an amazing coincidence that we'd still be in town! ^_^ We planned to get together at the Shibuya Hikarie mall for afternoon tea, so we decided to head over early for lunch.

After looking around, we found a Teppanyaki joint that look very interesting. The raw meat was brought on pre-heated stones that have already begun the cooking process. We were told to wait until it's our preferred doneness then wrap the meat in lettuce and other greens, then dip and eat. It was a fantastically, delicious meal!

After lunch, we took a short tour of the building from the 12th floor down to the 2nd basement. Watanabe-san joined us not long after, and we decided to go for coffee and cake at Harbs. Michael and I weren't very satisfied with the portions at lunch so made up for it by getting two slices of cake each. Good thing this was a martial arts training trip, or we'd be gaining weight like there's no tomorrow.

It was great chatting with Naoko again, as our time in Okayama was too short to really get to know anyone. She talked about going to Meiji Jingu to challenge for Renshi two years ago, a place we visited just a few days prior. When I mentioned the look of it in comparison with the Tamano-shi Kyudojo, she said there are actually two at Meiji Jingu. The larger kyudojo has a door system that opens and converts the Kinteki (28m) range into an Enteki (60m) range. Sounds very cool. The door was also manufactured by the company she works for, Mitsui. =P

We spent about an hour enjoying our cakes, drinks, and company before saying our goodbyes again. Hope our next meeting wouldn't be that long away.

Iaido class tonight was at the Yotsuya Hiroba. We made the short walk from our hotel in good time and arrived before anyone had started practicing. The building always seems to be occupied by some administrative staff, and it's not uncommon to see parents bringing their children in for some kind activities.

It was another warm evening like the last time we were here. The mosquitos were out in force, and with most of the students arriving later in the session, they took their hunger out on me and Hanna. I must've gotten at least 4 bites per foot. Only the allergy medicine that we prudently brought lots of was keeping the reaction in check. Still....*itchy* *itchy*

We started our free practice shortly before 6:00pm with a couple other students, and over the next hour, the rest began filing in. Hatakenaka Sensei arrived around 7:15pm. By that time, the space was really getting cramped with 13 people doing their own practice. Everything went as expected until a surprise (at least for us) visitor dropped in for class. Fellow Canadian Jeff Broderick, who also has a Budo related blog here. We'd only met him briefly when he visited Toronto several years back, and never really got a chance to chat.  As a long time fan of his blog, it was cool to finally get to talk to him.

After class, we headed to a coffee shop near our hotel and had some good discussions on Budo and Japanese Culture. It's always nice to talk about these deeper topics of our martial art. It felt just like our MMKDG's back at home. It was also fun to hear about his experiences during the earthquake last year, especially because he, nor anyone he knew was hurt. We compared the international reaction to the situation in Tokyo to the SARS event in Toronto. Interesting how different the first-hand accounts are versus what we hear in the media.

It was a tiring day and practice, and as it was getting late, we bade our second fond farewell of the day and went home to rest.

While not looking anymore Japanese in these past 12 years, some habits are bound to be picked up.

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