Saturday, August 25, 2007

Natsu Gashuku!

That's Japanese for "Summer Camp". It's also the name of the summer camp that the Shiramizu dojo put on from Aug 8-10. Not the most original name, I had first thought, until I found out that although gashuku directly translates to summer camp, the kanji also implies the meaning that everyone is working together, training together, and otherwise doing the event as one large family. These subtle multiple meanings are rather difficult to learn but I really grow to appreciate them. I was invited to go and although I had to leave half way through for work before the last day, it was a great chance to see another part of Japan and bond with the people of the dojo; "working together as a whole", as it were. About 80 students attended with another 10 support staff on hand.

Day 1 saw us spend the morning driving to Katsuura City in Chiba prefecture. The camp took place at the Nippon Budokan training facility in Katsuura, which has thus far been the most green, beautiful, and natural part of Japan I've seen. The facility is used for all sorts of budo and we shared the space with a kendo club, a judo club, and another karate club. The afternoon started off with a full 3 hr class in the huge gym at the facility and at night there was a big barbeque, a short lesson on the history of Wado-Ryu and the Shiramizu Dojo, a flag making contest, and a paper airplane flying challenge. All in all, a great way to build team spirit as nearly everything was focused on group involvement.

Day 2 started with a morning run up to a scenic outlook where we could see the ocean. After that, we went back to the dorm, grabbed our dogi's and some breakfast, and headed to the International Budo University which Arakawa Sensei had did his studies. We got the chance to train in their amazing dojo with what I can only assume was very traditional flooring. Unfortunately, sweating profusely makes your dogi wet and then lying on the floor to do sit ups means everyone's dogi eventually turns a slight shade of brown from the wood. How brown it turns depends on how wet your dogi is, so I just consider it a measure of hard work. And it washes out, much to my delight.

Day 2 was also to include more afternoon training but one look at the kids during lunch and you could tell they were pooped......... so we went to the beach!! Of course, the kids didn't look at all tired chasing the waves and building sand castles, but kids are kids and camps are supposed to be fun as well, so it was a great day. They even got to play with firecrackers at night!

Sadly, I missed the fireworks because I had to take a rather confusing 4 hour train ride home so I could work the next day. But hey, I made it without a problem (special thanks to Arakawa Sensei for finding the route for me) and even a day and a half of camp is better than none at all.

Tired? Who's tired? We're at the BEACH!!

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