Monday, May 31, 2010

Shiramizu Timetable 2010

Louise here,

This is the new Shiramizu timetable for this year starting in April. For those who don't read Japanese, I'll give a bit of an explanation.

The kanji characters in the blue boxes down the left-hand side are the days of the week, Monday to Saturday. The light orange line on each day shows the classes at the main dojo, while the white lines show the classes at the branch dojos.

The teachers for each class are indicated by the single kanji in the small boxes on each class period. These kanji are the first characters of each instructor's name, the key for which is at the top of the timetable. There, from left to right, is Takamasa Arakawa sensei 荒川先生, Hiroyuki Uehara sensei 上原先生, Bunmei Suzuki sensei 鈴木先生, Hitoshi Kikuchi sensei 菊地先生, Takamasa Iwasaki sensei 岩崎先生, Yukiko Yamazaki sensei 山崎先生, Noriko Yoshihara sensei 吉原先生 and the karate intern 研修生. (I help with a Friday class from 6 to 7:30 pm, and Pete will take this over when he comes.)

L classes are for grades 1-3 of elementary school; M classes are for grades 3-5 of elementary school; H classes are for grades 4-6 of elementary school; the J class is for grade 6 of elementary school and junior high school students; and A classes are for junior high school students to adults.

High performance classes are on Friday (A class, from 7:30 pm) and Saturday (B class, from 10:30 am). The A class is for 3rd Kyu and above of 5th grade elementary school to senior high school students. The B class is for 6th Kyu and above of grades 1-4 of elementary school. High performance students train eight times a month in normal classes plus 2-3 times a month in the high performance classes.

The morning adults' class has actually been moved to Wednesday morning, as it was last year. Note also that on Monday morning there is an aerobics class, on Tuesday morning a yoga circle, and on Thursday (now in the morning), a hula dance circle that also use the main dojo.

While there are only three adult classes per week this year, we can also join the junior high school classes for more training, and I also go to train at Guseikai in Tokyo with Takagi sensei on Tuesday and Sunday nights.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Takeuchi Ryu Jujutsu

Louise here,

At the International Budo Seminar we attended in April, I met Anthony Abry, who does Takeuchi Ryu jujutsu. On Saturday morning, he invited me to Nakano in Tokyo, to one of the dojos he trains at, to see what they do.

It seems to me that they do everything. Takeuchi Ryu is one of the oldest koyru martial arts in Japan, founded in 1532 by Takenouchi Hisamori. I suggest you read the Wikipedia article about Takenouchi Ryu, where it is explained better than I can, especially the story about the beginnings of the art. That story explains why the basis of Takeuchi Ryu is the use of a knife or dagger, called kogusoku. It is also meant to be carried out in armour, so the target areas are mostly the weak points like the armpit and joints.

At the training practice, we did ukemi (breakfalls and rolls), some joint-locking two-person kata, then practice with long bo. It was the first time I've practiced with a bo, so I had to concentrate very hard. It was fun finding new muscles too: my arms remembered the bo for two or three days afterward. During free practice after class, I also saw people practicing naginata, iaijutsu, shorter bo, and grappling on the floor. Anthony explained that Takeuchi Ryu is a complete art, including both weaponless techniques and many kinds of weapons. I only wish I'd taken some photos!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nihon jin?

Hello Kyoto!

Erica here.

Sorry for the large gap between now and our last post. Golden Week has come and gone and with only a month left we've been running around trying to cram as much fun in as possible before we leave!

During my time off in Golden Week, my friend Stephanie came to visit and travel Japan with me. Many foreigners living in Japan have said that sometimes they receive quite a bit attention unwanted attention such as being stared at on the train. I have never had this experience because I look Japanese and just blend right in. Things only get awkward when random strangers come up to me to ask for directions, which interestingly occurs quite often. I can usually understand what they are saying to me and on rare occasions I even manage to point them in the right direction, but most of the time I resort to saying, "Ano..gomenasai. Wakarimasen. Nihongo wa chotto..." which translations to "Umm..sorry. I don't know. My Japanese is a little..." At which point you see the shock register on their face.

But during Golden Week, I got a taste of what being stared at because I'm a foreigner feels like and here's how it happened. My friend Stephanie, like me is Chinese - Canadian so while we were on our adventures, we looked like 2 Japanese girls on vacation. This held up until we started talking to each other and whether we were on the train, in a restaurant or on the street people would blatantly stare at us. Some even had their mouth hanging open. I kid you not. I won't say everyone had this kind of reaction, some glanced at us curiously a couple times as if trying to confirm we were speaking English. I suppose it is a strange sight to see 2 people you thought were Japanese, in Japan, speaking English rapidly with each other. You don't really expect that to happen and when it does I suppose it is quite shocking and you can't help, but stare. It was interesting to see these reactions, although by the end of our trip we were feeling a little tired of being stared at every time we spoke with each other. But now that my friend has left, I can go back to blending in on the train everyday. That is until someone asks me for directions =_='

Some pictures from our adventures!

Stephanie and I at Kinkakuji

Osaka Castle!