Yesterday, I ran into Canadians and South Africans. There are a number of Seiwakai folks down in Tokyo that also came in early but opted to do some sightseeing in the bigger city first. I find it better for me to get to Omagari first and quietly recharge before the training starts. I sight-see afterwards.
The time is currently 0730 and I've been up since 0500 after a good night's sleep. I was going to go out with a few friends last night, but opted out at the last minute after realizing how tired I still was from the travel. Glad I did, as I heard them coming in at 0330. Of course, they are still asleep, but I cannot sleep when the sun comes up so early here in the summer.
I'm at my writing table with the window open. There isn't a cloud in the sky so I know it will be a really warm day. As usual, the temp starts climbing right about the time we get here for our gasshuku (training), along with the humidity, so the days are a sweat bath. The first day always has me questioning my stamina and my common sense about being here. Always.
The old iconic Omagari Budokan was torn down last year and the new one is not complete, so we will be training in two places this year -- both are large gymnasiums, which means our feet will suffer because of the urethane floor finish. The feet stick more, so the skin is more easily torn off. Ouch! Prudent to have lots of athletic tape in your dojo bag.
Our training doesn't formally begin until Wednesday, but I will be trying to spend self-practice time trying to work out the stiffness. I've been doing physical therapy for a lumbar problem that is also causing sciatica, and it wasn't until two days before I was scheduled to leave for Japan that the pain subsided enough to give me confidence. But the travel and sleeping on the floor futon and sitting at this table without a chair, has me feeling it again, albeit not as badly, but still concerning. I'm doing a lot of stretching and yoga.
Had a great breakfast here at the ryokan. The food is terrific! Afterwards, I did manage to get yen from the post office ATM machine and paid for my 12 days of room and board. Although paying for 12 days at once seems like a hit, the cost is reasonable, to say the least. I would actually pay more for the dinner (if I could find as good in Austin) than I do for the entire daily rate, which also includes breakfast and dinner. I tell people that the most expensive thing about Japan is the getting here. After you're here, it is reasonable. . . provided you aren't eating in the best restaurants in Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto.
I saw Sensei had the dojo door open and asked if I could self-practice -- do a shake-down test for my back. There's a real power to the place, which, although small, has a lot of energy -- shakti, as we call it in yoga practice. I did over 1.5 hours of kata and stretching and I'm happy to report I feel good. Yay! So I celebrated by buying a beer at the Grand Mart and doing laundry at the corner coin-op. Success is measured differently by different people, right?
Tonight, we are going back to Mariko's new restaurant for dinner. All of us gaijin (literally "Barbarians") from around the world have signed Good Luck envelopes for dear Mariko for her business success, and placed a bill of our own country's currency inside for luck.
I hope you are getting a feel for the place. You'll also get a feel for the training when we start.
Over and out from Omagari, Akita, Japan.