Japan was excellent.

Posted on 16.05.2011

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I didn’t know what to expect leading up to my trip to Japan and the Kunoichi seminar, on all fronts. I didn’t know what kind of weather, landscape, town to expect. I couldn’t even really imagine what we were going to train, as until now all we’ve really trained was history and tactical elements. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the people coming and our living situation. In that confusion, I think I was actually pretty right on.

Japan is not what I expected, but it’s also, somehow, exactly what I expected. There’s no pretense here in Noda. All of Sensei’s students that we’ve trained with have been amazing, and it’s been great to train every day (or on one day) with them.

So, as a short rundown, here are my somewhat scattered thoughts on Japan, in no particular order:

May is the beginning of the rainy season, and definitely the LAST month I could visit and still train hard before the summer hits.

There is far too much packaging on everything.

I can’t totally wrap my head around their recycling practices, but I’m almost there.

Everything is beautiful, even the sewer covers.

The people here are really as nice and polite as they seem, which is to say, much nicer than anything we westerners are used to. Especially when you’ve been living in Germany.

Everyone rides their bikes or walks everywhere (while holding umbrellas when it rains), which is pretty badass.

I need to live near a Shinto shrine. The shrines are effing amazing and have such a great energy.

It’s amazing how little food you need when you’re training every day. It’s amazing how appetizing rice is when it’s made right.

The idea of carrying your own hanky around is pretty novel.

Figuring out that I can train in the heat as long as I have a fan and a bowl of ice water for my ‘training hanky’ to wear around my neck.

I’m sure that next time I come back, I will be more comfortable with the Japanese-style public toilets.

The mental math of converting Yen to Dollars is a bit easier than Yen to Euros, thank goodness I can do both.

Instead of wheat fields, the area we were in was full of rice fields.

Small earthquakes are really not that bad. In fact, they are kind of nice. We were woken up every morning by a small earthquake around 6am. It was like clockwork. And here I thought Cali was bad.

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I just can’t get over how effing amazing the trip was. Everything was perfect. The company, the training, the energy. Sure, the weather could have been better, and sure, I’ll never get into a traditional Onsen because of my tattoos, but whatever. Sushi and rice every day? Tempura everywhere? AbsolUTELY!

I think I’m still having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the trip, even though it definitely happened, because it always seemed to me that Japan was one of those places that although I’ve always wanted to visit it, I was sure I’d never make it to. When I was younger, the first landscapes I fell in love with were Japanese Edo Period scrolls of travlers in the mountains. I spent years trying to emulate them, wishing I could see them in person. I’ve always wanted to go, always been interested in the language and the culture, but it just never really felt like I’d actually get there.

And while I didn’t get to see too much of Tokyo, that can happen on another trip, as I’m sure it’s not going anywhere. I know I’ll go back, I know there’s a reason I’ve loved the country for so long, and I’m glad to know that there are plenty of ways/reasons for me (us) to get over there. And next time, I’ll speak the language better:)

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Posted in: budo, life, travel