Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pete's Graduation & Erica's Welcome Party!

Richard here!

Pete & Erica in the front row wearing Shiramizu towels!

Congratulations to Pete being the 8th graduate of the Shiramizu Karate Internship! In addition, a warm welcome to Erica as the 9th intern! We had the Graduation/Welcome Party a week ago at a Taiwanese restaurant.

Some mischievous Shiramizu members remembered to complete the party with the mandatory natto eating contest for all non-Japanese in attendance (ahem).

Myself, Pete (with graduation certificate & Wadokai National's photo 2010) and Arakawa Sensei.

Erica and the honorary alien

The nijikai was the annual gaijin karaoke madness with an honorary alien member as well from Pete's non-karate life.

That's going to look pretty sweet on you-know-who's wall...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Welcome to the latest Karate Intern, Erica Jones!

Erica just after she arrived at Narita Airport - the customary arrival photo

Peter Here!

Shiramizu's latest intern has now arrived! Erica Jones touched down at 4pm Tuesday May 3rd, at Narita Airport. We met at the airport and took the very swanky Keisei Skyliner train service back to Nippori (after all, it was Golden Week and we deserved a little luxury!), before swapping to the local trains and getting her to the intern apartment. We also did a little whirlwind tour of the local supermarket, so she knows where to get her snacks from!

Here's her opening interview!

1. Welcome to Japan! A softball question first, where are you from?

I'm from the United States of America- Dayton, Ohio to be exact. The Midwest has a boring reputation, but Dayton's claim to fame is being the birthplace of the Wright Brothers- inventors of the airplane and therefore, a pretty big reason why I can be in Japan today!

2. Have you been to Japan before and if so, why?

I visited Japan two years ago for about 6 months to study Japanese language, history and culture at Sophia University in Tokyo.

3. How did you find out about the internship and what motivated you about it to apply?

Ever since my college days, I would scour through the local Craigslist to try to find some kind of bargain in the "for sale" section. I guess I'm kind of a weirdo, because after leaving Japan, I continued to occasionally look at the Japanese craigslist postings as well. Looking at the "for sale" section would lead me to casually look through the "jobs" section and I happened to see the internship posted there. I didn't know what to think at first, as Craigslist can sometimes house sketchy things, but I was actually motivated to apply by reading this blog and learning about the fantastic experiences past interns were having. It seemed like such a unique and challenging opportunity that I thought I absolutely had to apply...and I'm glad I did!

4. Being a karate beginner, what are you initial impressions about this 'amazing martial art of ours'? - no pressure, answer freely :)

I'm definitely still developing my thoughts on this, and my answer will be a bit multi-facted, but so far I've found that the people I've interacted with are extremely welcoming and eager to help others to learn, and that Karate itself consists of thoughtful, systematic and controlled movements. Also, when I went with Arakawa Sensei to watch the tournament (第47回東日本大学空手道選手権大会, 47th East Japan University Kumite Championships, May 5th, at the Nippon Budokan), I was surprised at how everyone was much smaller than I imagined "ripped" karate practitioners would be. So my other big impression is that Karate is about making what you've got work for you in a powerful way. As a smaller person, that thought is encouraging to me, and I also feel like it acknowledges the uniqueness of each human body.

5. You've now been Japan a few days, is it different or the same as when you were here before?

So far, I've spent more time in Saitama than Tokyo whereas before I spent most of my time in central Tokyo, so I suppose I can't say for sure. However, the people are just as polite and the trains are just as crowded as two years ago so maybe it's the same! But, while the overall environment has stayed consistent, what I'm doing this time around is radically different, so I feel like I'm experiencing Japan in a different way.

6. Last question, anything you would like to share with us, perhaps some of the non-karate related things you would like to try while you are here?

Well, I'm very excited that I was selected as this year's intern and I look forward to working with everyone. As for non-karate related things I'd like to try, learning calligraphy, and making a trip to Fuji-Q are at the top of my list!