Monday, September 19, 2005

Live at the Budokan

Met up with the club from Sompo Japan this morning at Nippon Budokan. The picture above is of the pre-competition warm-up. An panorama taken with my trusty mobile phone. The comp was the 全日本実業団剣道大会 (All Japan Corporate Kendo Championships). Sompo Japan's team has been strong in the past but its members have been redistributed around the country over the past couple of years so they rarely train together as a complete unit, and some of the team members have not trained since being relocated. Both teams fielded were knocked out in the first round, the first in daihyo-sen and the second two wins to one.

I've uploaded a video of the same warm-up as the above panorama. Unfortunately the quality of the video in my camera isn't all that good. You should get some idea of the mass of activity that was happening on the floor. There were 288 teams of six (including the sub) at the comp, so there may have been in excess of a thousand people practicing. Being there it seemed like a lot anyway. Turn it up loud.
Access the video from the following link
(You'll need Quicktime or another media player that supports AMC media)

Duck and cover

And here's a brief public service announcement to help you sleep at night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I finally got through to the surgeon yesterday to find out that he had infact received my message to the effect that I wanted to go ahead with the surgery as soon as possible. Looks like I am booked in for early next month which is frighteningly close.

I mentioned the surgery to Ozawa-Sensei and he said that there's no need to stop training; I should just do kata and basics without wearing my men for a while. He has a good point. I've also been asked to train at Noma-Dojo starting next month. Noma-Dojo trains every morning from 7 to 8am. I could train and then go to work. Do I really want to train that much?

Hard labour

I was admiring a shinai bag that one of the girls at my club had the other day and she said that it was made by a prisoner in Shizuoka where she now lives. He makes kendo goods as part of his prison activities. She said she has six shinai bags made by the same prisoner. The one she had the other day was really nice. It was blue with a sort of traditional looking white embroidered pattern. I want my own prison made shinai bag. I will have to look into this.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sompo Japan

Training at Sompo Japan went well. The company itself looked much as I had left it eight or so years ago, apart from the lifts which have been refurbished.

I met up with Watanabe-san in the security entrance in the upper basement. I arrived earlier than Watanabe-san and the security guards seemed keen to let me upstairs once they knew I was there for kendo. Carrying kendo gear seems to be a universal security passport in Japan.

I had met Watanabe-san a couple of times before and like almost everyone else I have met since being back eight years seemed to have no effect whatsoever on his appearance. Of the eight people other than myself who turned up for training three (including Watanabe-san) were people I had met before. I had trained with Haga-san once or twice the first time I arrived in Japan the last time i was there but he was transferred to Hokkaido very early in the piece. Tanaka-san was the only person I had trained with regularly. Tanaka-san has moved up in the corporate world and is now a department head.

Of the other people who were there Goto-san was the most senior. The others were all younger than me. There was only one girl. The other members who I used to train with have been redistributed to other parts of the country, but many of them will be back for trianing next week. Training is on Sunday next week ahead of the national Corporate kendo championships on the Monday public holiday.

Training was good. Watanabe-san is the captain and is a natural for the position. Tough guy with a reserved sense of humour. We trained kihon for a little over half an hour, had a ten minute break and then did jigeiko for another half an hour. A few of us went out afterwards for lunch at "Shohei", a Chinese restaurant that was a favourite of the staff of Sompo Japan when it was still Yasuda Kasai. Nothing tastes better than beer after kendo.

Looking forward to more training next week.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Friday night training

Skipping training a on Wednesday turned out to be a good thing because training tonight was really good. There were a couple of times where the instructors told me to do something and I was actually able to do it withing a couple of goes which is rare. Felt really good both times. I've changed the way I use my left let fairly drammatically (again) and it seems to be working. Hikitsuke is working much better and generally balance is better, leading to freer more expansive cuts and more control in ni-dan waza. Maybe it's just an illusion, but for now it feels good.

The usual beer and food after training tonight. Members included Stuart, Kuroda-san, Matsumoto-san, Kodama-san, Akita-san and myself. It was the first time I had met Akita-san despite his having trained in Melbourne for a year or two three years ago. The restaurant was a nice tongue restaurant. Now that's something you don't see to often in Australia.

Training tomorrow with Sompo Japan in Shinjuku from 11am. I will be interested to see how many familiar faces are there. Kimura-san said I will be met by Watanabe-san in the morning. I remember a Watanabe-san from the last time I was here but I'm not sure if it's the same person.


This apartment really is very good. The position is perfect and it's nice and quiet, apart from the odd motorbike rattling by. Last Friday night I had the gang from kendo over for drinks and sushi and it turned out to be quite a night. Hashimoto-sensei came along which was a bit of an event in itself. He brought along a bottle of 12 yo Canadian Club which was empty by the morning along with copious quantities of beer. Hashimoto-sensei on the other hand was still here in the morning, until 7:30 that is when he had to make a dash for the school where he is a PE teacher. Matsumoto-san also slept over which exhausted my futon supply, leaving me to sleep on the carpet. I slept like a baby all the same. Matsumoto-san trained in New York for a while so he might be familiar to some of the US kendo-ka out there.

I've got a few friends visiting over the next couple of months. Need to fit surgery in between visitors sometime in October.


I think I've been lucky with my new manager. I told him about my surgery and he told me to get it done straight away. He said that a week off work is nothing in the long run as the company wants me to be around for a lot longer than that. He also said that in Germany they have a saying that to lose your sight is to lose contact with objects, but to lose hearing is to lose contact with people. I can really relate to that.

Need to get some sleep so I can put in a decent showing with the guys from Sompo Japan tomorrow. I think I am going to an exhibition or something in the evening, and I need to put Sunday aside for rest and study.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I was told that my ADSL connection would be up and running tomorrow, but the modem came today so I thought I would give it a bit of a burl. I think this means I'm connected. Pity I can hardly find the energy to fumble my fingers across the keyboard.

Training with Sompo Japan on Saturday morning. Last night I fell asleep when I got home and when my alarm went off I decided it would be better to have the night off kendo. It felt great to have a rest. Guilty pleasure.

I'm liking the apartment more and more the longer I stay here. Looking forward to payday so I can buy some more stuff to fill it up with. No television so I bought a small radio. Been listening to NHK a fair bit. I found an American station that must exist as retribution for WWII. Horrid.

Will try to do a bit of study before going to bed.