Monday, November 29, 2010

Full Day Ahead: Aikido, Gardens and Odaiba

Peter Here,

One of the many things I wanted to do while I was in Japan was to try another martial art, preferably a traditional one. Despite Oinuma-san's suggestion that I try sumo (I'm NOT fat!!), my friend Makiko is a 1st Kyu in Aikikai Aikido. As her dojo was in Kasukabe, she suggested that I come along for a session and see what I think. Aikikai Aikido is run by Haruyoshi Horikoshi (堀越春芳) Sensei, 7th dan, who has travelled to countries such as USA, Brazil and Australia teaching Aikido. We had a wonderful conversation prior to training, and his english, although a bit limited comparing to Arakawa Sensei, was eloquent, friendly and very polite. The website for the dojo is here (japanese only).

I had a great time, and it was enlightening to see how different and similar the principles are. Aiumi-ashi is used, as is Irimi, but other steps are introduced too, controlling your opponent by seizing their grab and turning your body to give you the more powerful position. They also practised Jo and Bokken Kihon, which was a first for me.

I also went there with a view to seeing what I could use for my karate practice; the slower pace meant I can be more aware of how my body is moving, so that I may speed that up for the more explosive karate movements. Center-line, balance and natural movement are all central concepts of both styles so I can see a happy marriage between the two.

Horikoshi Sensei was very welcoming, and I managed to introduce myself to everyone properly and have a little conversation too. I look forward to going there again!

After class, Makiko and I went on a sightseeing spree. After not seeing much of the Hamarikyu gardens last week with Oinuma-san I wanted to go back there again and explore it more. I was very glad I did, it is a splendid garden and incredibly beautiful; all the pictures in my camera couldn't do it justice.

After wandering around the gardens for two hours, we then headed for Odaiba. Odaiba, once a man-made fort island made in the Edo era, is a fantastic shopping and entertainment district. Heavily westernised, the view and buildings would not look out of place in America. Indeed, there is even a minature Statue of Liberty there!

However, the peace and quiet, and the walk along the man-made beach always contains the uniquely Japanese sense of safety in the city. More information on Odaiba can be found here:

We took in the sights (including a Christmas aquarium!), took a lot of pictures then headed back home on the Spacia train from Asakusa (an express train more like the type in England but better run and more relaxing, which you pay an additional fee to board on top of the distance fare). After all that walking we thought we deserved a little comfort!

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