Last Days: Monday and Tuesday

Well, last day in Japan. Kotomi took the day off work (she didn't ask, she just said "I'm taking the day off."). We left the house at about 2pm (or 3?), Kotomi played a last song on the piano (which I have a video of, but the internet is so slow here I can't upload it) while the taxi was waiting outside.

Kotomi brushing her teeth before we leave... she's so kawaii :)
Trainstation. Lots of luggage. Running up and down stairs to catch the train. Head to Kashiwa and then towards Ueno. Kotomi though she heard the train diver saying the train would stop for 5 minutes and got out to buy a drink... the drain left with me on it... I got out at the next stop with all the luggage and waited. (The train actually stopped here for 5 minutes). The next train came with Kotomi on it, we were laughing so hard. Took a fast and expensive train to Narita. Checked in, luggage was 2 kgs over, but the nice lady at the counter let it through anyway. Shinai were no problem. We went and ate something, bought a little Buddha statue for 600 yen (something I couldn't find anywhere in Japan). Then we sat down and cried lots.

Said our goodbyes, through security, waiting at boarding gate for a while, get on plane, take off, fall asleep, wake up to yucky food, sleep, land, walk around Sydney airport for a short time, take a bus to another terminal, ask if my luggage is on the proper plane, it was, get on plane, take off, watch shitty movie, eat yucky food, land, through customs, bamboo swords are no problem, meet brother, drive to Hamilton, walk around uni for a while, go to kendo.

It was really nice coming back to Waikato dojo. Brings back memories. We did lots of warmup, something which I was totaly not used to. Lots of kakarikeiko, jikeiko, a small competition, more jikeiko (Sam sensei beat me up, man he's fast >.>). Ari broke a tsuba, I broke a shinai. I was pretty amped up because I wanted to get as much practise in as possible. Haha, go go go. Clement did insane kakarikeiko with me, he was almost falling over and then went again and again. It really impressed me. All in all I had a great time. Was even thinking of ways to move back to Hamilton so I could go back to regular training.

My brother had to sit there for 3+ hours, I think he was a bit pissed off because I told him it would only be 1 hour... haha. I have a few short videos he took, but I can't upload them yet because of the internet here. Will do soon. We drove up to Auckland, and then decided to drive home at 12 at night. Arrived home at 3:10am, went to sleep. End.

Last Days: Sunday

Wake up. Breakfast. Bike to Shimpukan to watch Funny sensei's morning class (for high school students). We also got to take some photos of the dojo.

Some older photos which I haven't uploaded before:
Then home again and off to Shinmaikan for my last kendo session. There's happy guy on the right.

Kotomi and Totoro sensei:
Kotomi drinking some cherry juice:
A group photo:
Kotomi and me:We handed out presents at the end. Sensei sensei got framed photos and a tenagui with 'great teaching', Totoro sensei got a stuffed totoro toy (about 20cm high) which we gave to him in private so not to embaress him (he knows we really like totoro, but the others don't), happy guy got a tenagui with 'happiness' and Hirai sensei got a bottle of plum sake (which Kotomi made), a bottle of normal sake and a tenagui with 'noblity' (like noble kendo), he was as cool as ever and showed no emotion. Totoro sensei gave me a really nice cup. We had tea and watermelon on the floor of the dojo, and then we left with lots of goodbye and see you again.

Some other stuff I forgot to mention. Grmpy sensei's son gave me a shinai on the last practise (we gave him a tenagui with 'tradition' and some sake) and we were going to give Book sensei some plum sake and normal sake and a tenagui with 'great kindness', and his wife an expensive box of chocolates, but we didn't see them again, so Kotomi will give it to them next time she sees them.

Last Days: Saturday

Ok, I've been back in NZ for a few days now, got everything sorted, and have time to write the last few entries in this blog.

What happened first? Well, on Saturday the 30th it was my leaving party for Shimpukan. Kimura san set everything up and asked all my favourite sensei to come. Before that we had wrapped all the presents, a bottle of sake and a hand written tenagui. Some examples:

It was raining very hard that night, the roads were flooded and taxies were not running. Kotomi and I decided to walk barefoot (it was really hot still) with our umbrellas, something Japanese people would never do. We actually met a few people on the way to the restaurant who were trapped on the side of the flooded road. Kotomi told them to take their shoes off and walk through, but they said they would rather wait....

We get to the restaurant and find out it's a traditional raw fish joint. Thankfully it didn't smell like fish, but it meant that Kotomi and I couldn't eat anything there. The owners were really nice and let us order a pizza from down the road. Everyone got really drunk. We found out that Yamazaki sensei had always wanted to come to NZ, and he showed us all these old brochures he had saved.

Then the drama started. We had presents for most of the sensei there, but not for two which I didn't really know or like (one of them was the really old guy). Kotomi said that could be a problem, but that I should do what I wanted. We asked Kimura san and she agreed with Kotomi, she said that the people who got presents would feel bad if some others didn't. I was pretty angry at this because we (ok, Kotomi) had worked so hard on these presents, and now we couldn't hand them out because of these two people who I didn't even know.

Tough sensei decided, half drunk, to go to shimpukan to practise and when he came back he said there were only 6 people there >.> He then said he would leave again, so we went out the door with him and gave him his present. I think he was really happy. I told him that when I get better I want to be just like him. His kanji was 'strength'.

A fellow student on the left (he's a high school teacher) and Toyonaga sensei on the right:

Left to right, Tough sensei, Kimura san and Funny sensei:

Well, eventually everything died down, and we all went up the road to a karaoke bar. Possibly the worst experience in Japan for me :( Dark, dingy, full of smoke, some fat woman and an old man singing horribly and dancing together... But actually, Yamasaki sensei was really really good at singing haha.

Anyway, Kotomi and me wanted to leave and we still hadn't given out the presents. So we kept asking Kimura san until she agreed. I think that these tenagui, although not expensive, were probably one of the more personal presents that the sensei had ever gotten. I mean, before handing them out we told them that 'when I first came here I couldn't read your name bags or remember your names, so I invented nicknames based on your personality. Now we have written these in kanji on a tenagui for you.' Imagine someone saying that, and now you had to open it and see how this person saw you. In the end I think they were really really happy.

Yamazaki sensei - Spirit
Tough sensei - Strength
Funny sensei - Joyous life
Kimura san - Friendship
Toyonaga sensei - Great Teaching

When we left someone handed me a traditional Japanese umbrella (which they stole from the fish shop haha) and said it was a presento. Funny sensei invited us to the morning practise the next day.