Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tobu Taikai Surprise

Louise here,

Last Monday, the 23rd of November, Erica and I competed in the Sainokuni East Friendship Competition, otherwise known as the Tobu Taikai. This competition is organized by Takamasa Arakawa Sensei and Shiramizu, and is a 'friendship' competition because it isn't a selection for another, higher level tournament; it is just a chance to get competition experience. Held at the Kuki City Sports Hall, about 600 children and adults entered.

Competition Programme

I didn't do so well in kumite, losing my first round. I was nervous and didn't fully commit to my attacks, so they were too short and obvious. At the end of the time the points were 2-2, so we went into encho-sen. My opponent and I both punched at the same time, but because she initiated it, she got the point and won the match.

Kuki City Sports Hall set up with eight courts for the competition

There were five women in my kata division (Dan Grade Women). In the first two rounds I did Chinto, and both times managed to mess up the last spin and kick, so you can imagine my surprise when I won those rounds. My opponents and I performed our kata at the same time so I didn't see how they did. In the finals I did Kushanku and, to my even greater surprise, I won again. So for the first time ever I won a gold medal in kata.

Erica won her kumite division as well and she'll be telling you about that soon.

Erica and I with our medals

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Applications for the Sixth intern from 2010 now being accepted!

Spread the news!

For our sixth year in a row, we are now ready to accept applications for the next intern at the Shiramizu Karate Club in Japan. The internship will run from June 1, 2010 to April 15, 2011, with the possibility of a short extension!

Shiramizu is located one hour from central Tokyo in Sugito City, Saitama Prefecture. It is a full-time dojo with over 450 members run by the popular Takamasa Arakawa Sensei. Shiramizu is one of the most active karate dojos in Japan, and it has warmly accepted previous interns who have all had once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

There is a small furnished apartment for the intern near the dojo. The income earned from teaching English covers all basic living expenses. Interns are encouraged in their free time to expand the list of English classes and private lessons for the program. Shiramizu members meet the new intern at Narita Airport and they also see them off there at the end of their stay.

The application deadline for those wishing to be Intern #6 is January 15, 2010, but applications received earlier will be given preference.

While the internship accepts applications from anyone regardless of karate experience or style, JKF Wadokai members will be given preference. In previous years, non-Wadokai members have been chosen.

The main determining factors we are looking for are someone who exudes positive enthusiasm and someone who would like to get involved in as much as possible here in Japan! Plus they must be able to commit to the full internship time period, no exceptions!

Teaching English conversation classes are included as part of the internship so that the intern can make enough money to cover living expenses. Applicants therefore must have a native-English speaker's level.

Minimum requirements:

Age: Between 20-30 years old (the legal adult age in Japan is 20yrs old therefore the internship is set from age 20).

Education: Minimum English-as-the-main-language high school graduate. An applicant with some post-secondary education of any type is preferred with recent university/college graduates being ideal.

English language teacher training is an asset. If an applicant has none, then at least they should be willing to take a short (1-2 days) ESL instructor's course prior to coming to Japan.

Work experience: Experience working with children in some way. Actual English teaching or tutoring experience is a bonus.

Karate experience: Any level of karate experience is ok. As mentioned previously, when two applications are similar, Wadokai members will be given preference.

If the chosen applicant is from another style, they may go to another dojo of the same style in Japan, but they have to commit to going to the Shiramizu dojo to train twice a week to maintain the internship program's interaction with Shiramizu members.

The intern does not have to compete in every available tournament, but they should make an effort to compete as much as possible. There are about 6 main tournaments a year the intern should register for through Shiramizu.

Previously visited Japan: Due to Japan being quite different from other countries, it will be an asset for applicants who have visited or lived in Japan.

Visa: There are two options.

1) If the chosen applicant is from a country in the working holiday program (English-speaking countries are Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland), then that visa will be used. The Shiramizu Director will guide the applicant through the process as the applicant applies by themselves to their nearest Japanese embassy or consulate.

2) If the chosen applicant is not from a country in the working holiday program (for example, the USA or South Africa), then Shiramizu will apply for a cultural visa (bunka katsudo visa) for the new intern and upon receiving a cultural visa letter of eligibility from Japanese immigration, the dojo will mail this document to the applicant to take to their nearest Japanese embassy or consulate. Then the embassy/consulate will make the final determination whether or not to issue the visa, and if everything is ok, it will be stamped into their passport prior to coming to Japan.

Both visas take a few days to process. Upon being stamped into the applicant's passport, the applicant needs to enter Japan within 3 months to activate it or it will expire.

Final application procedure: While highly unlikely, due to the chance the chosen applicant may be denied a visa for some unknown reason, a runner-up for the internship will also be picked. The original chosen applicant must apply for their visa just under the 3 month mark prior to coming to Japan, so that if they are denied, the runner-up can be informed with enough time to prepare to apply for a visa while getting their things in order to come to Japan.

This procedure makes it fair for everyone applying, while also keeping the internship going. There are many responsibilities this internship has, for example the various English teaching commitments, so it is important the internship program itself doesn't fail to keep these commitments going.

Anyone seriously interested in applying to be the next intern can email us a request for the application package which explains everything in detail.

We look forward to hearing from interested applicants soon! The sooner people apply, the sooner interviews and reference checks can be done as early applicants will receive preference.


Richard, Internship Director

email: karateintern at gmail dot com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Richard's new bilingual blog has started! Yikes!

Last week I started my new bilingual blog at!

And within the first week, it has already been added to the blogs profiled by the JKF's own homepage, which gets thousands of hits a day! See the picture below, where my blog is listed in the top row on the far left, with Arakawa Sensei's blog listed on the far right!

Yikes, the pressure is on to be somewhat interesting now. I'm going to try to blog every 2nd day about things mainly related to the karate world I'm swimming around in, along with whatever else I find interesting that others might also, or things that I simply bump into or bump into me.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Satou Steakhouse

Erica here.

Two weekends ago, my parents were in town for a couple days so I spent some time with them (which is why I missed out on Disneyland).

My mom did some research before coming to Japan and found an article on a very popular steakhouse in Kichijoji and that visitors should definitely go and try it if they get the chance. So we took the train from Shinjuku to Kichijoji (6 stops west of Shinjuku on the Rapid Chuo Line) . When we got out of the train station, I realized we had no clue where it was because the article gave no directions! After asking a couple people for directions in my broken Japanese, we finally found it.

The inside of the restaurant was tiny, I estimated about 15 seats in total. The waitress sat us down then proceeds to explain the menu in Japanese, but when we give her a blank look she switched to English ( it happens a lot). She recommended one of the more expensive steaks on the menu telling us that it was "Japan's #1 steak". Now, let me give you an idea of what the prices were for this particular one.

Tokusen Sirloin Steak

180g (6.3oz) 8,400yen ($92US)

270g (9.5oz) 12,500yen ($137US)

360g (12.7oz) 16,800yen ($186US)

I told my parents that I was not going to have a steak that is worth almost 100 Canadian dollars and that I wanted to have the cheaper ones. But they insisted that we all try the recommended one because we came here for the sole purpose of trying these heavenly steaks. My dad then goes into an explanation of how the cows in which the steaks come from are fed vegetables, are massaged every night and get to listen to classical music. I’m not sure if I believe all of that but they talked me into it.

So we had 3 orders of the 180g Tokusen Sirloin and they showed us the steak before it was cooked and let me tell you, I have never seen a piece of steak that was so marbled and even distributed at the same time. Eating it was a different story, yes it melted in mymouth kind of steak, but because there was so much fat in it, it felt very oily to me. Perhaps I wasn’t used to this type of steak and apparently the Japanese thoroughly enjoy them. So I definitely think it’s something you should try...but maybe only once =)

My medium-rare steak.

Friday, November 6, 2009

First Time to Disneyland

Louise here,

On Monday I went with the Arakawa family (Arakawa sensei, his wife Keiko and his two sons, Yusuke and Masatoshi) to Tokyo Disneyland for the first time, hooray! Erica was spending time with her parents who had come over to Japan for a short visit. It was a cold and cloudy day, but that didn't stop what seemed like half of Tokyo also going to Disneyland.

We went on the big rides: Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. I think the best one was Space Mountain, an insane roller coaster ride in the dark. It was scarier not being able to see where we were going.

Before the crowds got bad, Big Thunder Mountain

The main detraction from the experience I found was the crowds. We spent a lot of the day standing in line for rides that'd be only a few minutes long. Also, there were so many things to do that, to do everything with those crowds, we'd have to spend several days there. In other words, I will have to go back again!

In front of Cinderella's castle: l-r Arakawa sensei, Masatoshi, me wearing my newly acquired Monsters Inc. hat

Finally, after indulging my inner child by riding the merry go round, we watched the Electrical Parade Dreamlights. There were many floats with Disney characters outlined in coloured lights, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse (of course), Cinderella, Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc., Nemo, Peter Pan and Pooh.

Just as we were heading home, walking toward the carpark, the clouds burst and it was like someone had turned on a garden hose above us. We ran for the car but still got very wet. The many people still in the park must've been soaked as well. Good thing it happened on the way home.

Half of Captain Hook's ship

New JKF headquarters building!

Richard here!
Here's a picture of the brand new JKF headquarters! It's officially called the Japan Karate Building (nihon karate kaikan 日本空手会館).

The new kaikan is located southeast Tokyo near ShinKiba. To get there, take the
Yurakucho subway east to Tatsumi station, then a 5min walk, so with one change maybe it takes 20min from Tokyo station.

The first floor has an office, conference room, warehouse, and lobby.

The second floor has a medium sized dojo, a master's room (probably a Japanese tatami washitsu room), a training room, locker rooms and showers.

The third floor large dojo.

More news related to the kaikan in the near future related to the internship...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcome, Hans

Louise here,

On Tuesday night, we had a visitor to the Shiramizu dojo. Hans Haering is from Germany, and while visiting Japan he wanted to do some training. Hans is a shodan, and has been learning Wado karate for ten years. Now he trains at Karate PSV Dresden e.V. in Dresden, under Frank Heinze sensei.

When Hans is not training, he is a project engineer for the company Sigmar Mothes Hochdrucktechnik GmbH in Berlin, and a PhD student at the Technical University of Dresden, studying chemical engineering. He was in Japan for a conference at the Tohoku University in Sendai and afterwards spent ten days sightseeing in Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo, fitting in training with Michio Sato sensei at the Sendai Miyagi-ken Budokan, and with Shiramizu.

Hans said that Japan is very easy to travel around, due to the efficiency of the public transport system. He was also impressed by the hospitality of the Japanese people, with many going out of their way to help. Training at Shiramizu however was the highlight of his trip, he said.

After training. (Kneeling l-r: Toshi Okano, Hiroyuki Uehara sensei, Hans Haering, Takamasa Arakawa sensei, Hitoshi Kikuchi sensei)