The next day Yoshimura sensei picked me up at my hotel. Before practice we went to Minowa sensei’s Ohaka to pay our respects. We burnt insense and said a brief prayer. It’s always hard emotionally for me visiting Minowa sensei’s resting place but it’s even harder on Yoshimura sensei who was his student for 20 years. As we drove to the dojo Yoshimura sensei commented, “even though I live in Amami, I don’t visit sensei as often as I should…” I don’t feel comfortable posting photos of Minowa sensei’s Ohaka; it just doesn’t feel dignified.
Saturday I was at Kagoshima airport, slightly hung-over from the night before (or was it this morning?) waiting for my flight to Amami. I texted Yoshinura sensei that I was on my way and would see him that evening for practice at the dojo. The flight to Amami was uneventful which is a good thing as I hate flying. It also gave me time to relax and reflect on my trip so far. I was halfway through it and though it had been exhausting (I’m still not 100% after this summers misadventure) it had also been rewarding. I was able to reconnect with my teachers, have my technique critiqued, receive corrections and even learn a few new things to boot. I suppose you could say things had gone swimmingly.
Friday I was back in Kagoshima to train with Miyagi sensei at the Ryushinkaikan. This time round I made sure to leave earlier from my hotel and take a taxi that had GPS in order to make it to the dojo by 6:30. Even with GPS the driver still had trouble finding the dojo! Luckily I had left early enough to make it to the dojo before Miyagi sensei. About 10 minutes later he arrived, dogi in hand and a smile on his face.
On Thursday I was back in Fukuoka to meet my friend Quint; a long time resident of Japan and Goju-ryu student under Kanari sensei and Shorin-ryu student under Murakami sensei. I met him at the Starbucks in front of Hakkata station were we chatted for a bit before heading out for some lunch.
Wednesday I was back in Beppu to train with Ikeda sensei in Touon-ryu. At 6:00 pm he swung by my hotel and by 6:30 we were at the dojo ready for practice. Compared to Sunday practices the Wednesday practice is much more open with each student working on whatever material he wants to focus on. For me that meant practicing kihon gata san (AKA Kowa kata) for most of the evening. From time to time Ikeda sensei would take a break from what he was practicing and comment or make corrections. I struggled with some of the segments but Ikeda sensei would patiently walk me through it.
On Tuesday I arrived in Kagoshima to train with Miyagi sensei. It had been almost three years since I’d last seen him. After checking in at my hotel I contacted Miyagi sensei to tell him I’d arrived (1). Although Tuesday is not a regular practice day at the dojo, Miyagi sensei still took the time to meet and teach me. He’s always been generous with his time.
Today I had the chance to catchup with Morishima san who was my dohai in the dojo of Minowa sensei and Yoshimura sensei. Morishima san lives in Aira, Kagoshima and has a lovely, newly opened dojo. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to practice with him as he has had a few health issues lately.
It’s been about three years since I last traveled to Japan. On that occasion it was for the 25th anniversary celebration of Kanzaki sensei’s becoming the soke of Tou’on-ryu. In total Kanzaki sensei has been involved in Tou’on-ryu for over sixty years, that’s longer than I’ve been alive on this planet. It was a wonderful experience, but at the same time I was a little burnt out after that trip because I had traveled to Japan two other times in 2010, so in the span of about 18 months I had been there three times. Read More