Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Louise here,

On Saturday I went mountain climbing with one of my adult English students, Setsuko Kimura, and two of her friends, Mr Tachikawa and Mr Taniyama. We climbed Jimba-san, an 857 m high mountain that is 40 minutes by bus from Takao station on the Keio Line.

At the bottom (L-R: Setsuko, moi, Mr Tachikawa, Mr Taniyama)

We climbed through a plantation cedar forest for two hours, trading Japanese and English sayings, like “I'm sweating a lot” and “It's slippery.”

On the way up

At the top we found an interesting statue of a horse (representing Jimba-san the mountain), a cafe selling noodles and ice desserts, many picnic tables, many people dressed in expensive hiking gear and an elusive view of Mt Fuji.

At the top

It's still civilisation if there's somewhere to buy dessert

We took a shorter way down and spent the time composing haiku and trading names for the wildlife we saw and heard, like 'higurashi cicada,' 'killer whale' (we didn't see that one) and 'SNAKE!'

On the way down (before the snake)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Exam week!

Erica here!

This week has been exam week at the Shiramizu dojo for all coloured belts. Everyone from the little kindergartners to the older high school kids and adults were subjected to grading.

The structure of all the exams is the same. Four or five students would go up at a time to do basics such as punching and kicking (tachi kihon & ido kihon). The cycle would repeat until everyone had gone up and the same would happen for kata.

It was interesting to see the difference in attitudes within the different ages. The little ones, although knowing they had to be more behaved than normal, were generally just having fun and running around in during breaks while the older kids were very serious, practiced during breaks and looked quite anxious.

Many of the kindergartners passed the exam, but the older the participants got, the number of passes decreased. But it is not too discouraging because exams occur every 3 months. So those who did not pass have this time to train harder and hopefully pass the next one =)

The kindergartners warming up before their exam.

Waiting quietly for their turn

(left to right) Suzuki Sensei, Arakawa Sensei, Uehara Sensei and Kikuchi Sensei lost in thought.

Taking a stretching break

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Saitama Wado-Kai Technical Seminar

Louise here,

On Sunday the 5th of July, Erica, Lawrence and I attended the Saitama Prefecture Wado-Kai technical seminar and skill exchange meeting. It was held at the Asukaru Satte City Cultural Hall from 9.00am to 3.00pm. This was organised by the Shiramizu Shuyoukai dojo and Takamasa Arakawa Sensei, and instructors and students from Wado clubs all over Saitama Prefecture attended. After a mass warm-up and basic kihon training, the adults went into a separate hall for in-depth training with Takagi Sensei and Sonoda Sensei. We practiced more kihon then seisan, chinto, niseishi and kihon kumite.

Takagi Sensei expounding

Unfortunately, I didn't understand most of what Sonoda Sensei and Takagi Sensei explained in Japanese. By concentrating hard and watching their demonstrations closely I tried to get the gist of what they were teaching, but I know I missed a lot. It was very helpful when Takagi Sensei came round and gave us suggestions individually, because then he used English and if we still didn't understand then he hit us in ways that made us understand.

The universal language of demonstration