Today we begin the formal training seminar for Goju-Ryu Seiwakai International, and international it is! Yesterday was such a busy day with the majority of karateka arriving, greeting old friends, paying up all the fees for the seminar, the party, the hotels, gradings ... whew!
This little Akita city of Omagari is inundated with a huge international contingent. We spend a lot of money here every year and that is certainly appreciated, but most importantly, it provides a two-way cultural exchange between the citizens and all of us from around the world. It is a beautiful thing really. The people treat us so well, and we on the other hand, are traditional karate practitioners in our Sensei's home town, so we are always polite and respectful. One of the many beautiful things about Japanese culture is the polite and friendly demeaner of almost everyone.
A walking scene in Omagari.
Yesterday I met up with old and new friends from Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Australia, USA, England, and Japan, just to name a few. I'm very proud of our Seiwakai International group. It is truly a family.
Yesterday, Fujiwara Shihan took a bunch of us senior members to meet the mayor and present him with some swag. The meeting with him and a few of his aides was brief -- just as any meeting with politicians should be, in my humble opinion. We also visited our training site in the same huge building. There were a number of senior citizens playing cut-throat table tennis. Probably twenty tables going at once. They were so spry and intent on the competition. No couch potatoes here!
A group of us also walked over to the hospital to visit Takahashi Sensei, the co-vice-president of Seiwakai International, who is recovering from surgery. Takahashi Sensei is a masterful teacher and a darn good man. He is recovering well and his smile and firm handshake show us he will be back teaching soon. It was amusing to see the faces when eight of us big gaijin karateka walked in past the crowded nurses station and into Sensei's room. It was crowded in his room, so Takahashi-san walked us down to the day room, and I'm sure he was very honored by the visit. No doubt also that many people are now aware of his stature. The hospital was amazing, with rooftop gardens and distant views of snow capped mountains to the north, and across the city to other far mountains to the west. The healthcare system, especially for seniors is top notch.
Senior members with Takahashi Sensei -- L-R:
Belgium, India, USA, Japan, Canada, South Africa, USA, South Africa, Australia
View from the hospital Day Room.
I also worked in another hour of yoga and kata yesterday in the honbu dojo. My back seems to be doing well. My mantra this year is "Be mindful!" I'm always such a go-getter and my inclination is to give 110% all the time. Maybe just 100% this year! Ha. Going to be quite warm today and there is an 80% chance of thunderstorms, so it looks like we will have our typical hot and oppressively humid atmosphere. The first day is always hell!