A day trip -2014 1st Tai Kai Osaka Castle Kyudojo

I received a notice from from one sempai about the First New Year Tai Kai at Osaka Castle Kyudojo. I wanted to go, and since it was just a few blocks from the Hospital where Oka-san is at it worked out fine. I could do two things for the train cost of one.

It was a cold winter’s day, however the sun was shining so it made it bearable. Winter does not seems so bad when you can get some sun shine. So it was a good day to bundle up and be out. 
I walked over to the train station and the adventure began.
When I first got on the train it was not crowded. A small bit more than usual when I ride , but I was able to grab a seat. It was it in the priority section. Meaning if someone pregnant, on crunches, etc needed a seat they got first choice. I have read other people of color blog’s in Japan and usually at some point they speak of how rude Japanese can be with sitting next to them. I have not found that yet, well except a possible one time which may have just been in my mind. So there I was on the train seated reading my book. The seats in that area are arranged so that four people sit facing each other. There were three seats open after one person left, I took their seat. Now there are two. One next to me next to the window, and one across from me next to the aisle. Two older women got on and came over to the seats. One of them had a cane. Stood planning to let them both have the seat next to me, and my seat. The woman with the cane took the seat next to the window and said sorry , and thank you. Twice. The other woman sat in the other seat the empty one across from where I was. Leaving my seat still open. There fore I sat again. The woman next to me again said sorry for the trouble. I said no problem. At the next stop the other seat next to her friend became open. Once the train started moving the two women said something to each other after the one across from me move across from her friend, then the woman switch back and the woman next to me move next to her friend. Again, smiling and saying excuse me sorry. I did not get a single bad vibe from either of them. Shortly later another older woman with a cane came on, she stood next to the seats, I gave her mine. She too smile and expressed gratitude, I then stood next to her. Maybe people are nicer on small towns trains than in the city…
Next up Osakajo, Kyudojo.
I found the Dojo rather easy. It is not located at the castle as I thought, but a fair distance away in the park in it’s own building. I entered and asked where to sit to watch. The girl at the counter looked through a bunch a papers for some reason, I thought I had something to fill out, but no. After a bit she took me outside and around to the side to the seating area. Right off I saw a couple of my Dojo-mates from Kaishiwada. It was kind of nice seeing familiar faces. 
I sat near by and watched.
I was told by the couple from Kishiwada that their son was shooting and up next. They pointed him out. I asked what Dan he was as he was in a Kimono. I was told Nidan. Ehhhhhh I thought. Hmmm ok maybe for these special event Tai Kai anyone can wear a kimono, or unlike in the States where only people of some higher rank, yon-dan and up wear Kimono. At least at Renmei functions. I will ask someone about what the proper etiquette here in Japan on Kyudo Kimono wear. I see only the upper ranks wearing them at a general Tai Kai and the lower ranks in standard Gi’s. There is a sign at Kishiwada stating about the first Tai Kai ceremony for year , next week that said wear a Kimono if you have one. Yeah, I need to get the 411 on the custom. Everything in Japan has rules of etiquette to follow. 
So after a while of watching and taking a few shots. Yamashita Sensei came over and sat with me. I thanked him for the info on Nogami Sensei and we spoke a bit. He said he had been traveling on Kyudo business to New Zealand and Australia. I am thinking he must be up there in the importance range, I felt honored to have him greet me. I will be making a point later this year to visit the Dojo when he is there for some feedback on my shooting. Not that the Sensei’s I am working with are lacking, but it never hurts to get more guidance from other masters. Everyone has a little different way of seeing and explaining things, and he is my contact from Nogami Sensei.
So lunch time rolls around. Many took off for lunch. I had no plans, so figured i would walk around and scout the area. I had plans on visiting my Mother-in-law at the rehab hospital which was nearby. So I could check out the route at least. So I started on my park walk. As the day was pleasant other than the cool air there were at lot of people out and about. It was interesting, watching and snapping a few shots.
I made my way to the main street leading to the hospital route, then upon looking back I spotted Osaka castle in the distance. Not a great view but I could see the upper floors. I had been there before so it was nothing I needed to make the trek that distance for….at least at this time.
I stopped in a convenience store for a little something to eat and picked up a rice ball. I was going to head back to the Dojo, however opted to head over to the hospital now. I went back inside the Convenience store to confirm the location. I asked one woman behind the counter she told me. Then a guy also behind the counter stepped in to help. He had me follow him to the door. There he gave me directions in English. I think he wanted to practice. I never mind that and thanked him and left.
After I stopped to eat I continued to the Hospital. Once in front of what I thought was the right place. I asked a couple of ladies coming down the walk who just came of of the building. One of them spoke to me in English which surprised me. A few questions and the both of them took me inside and up to Okasan’s room after seeing that I was properly checked in. One of them, the English speaker said her mother was also on that floor.
After a short visit with Oka-san, I checked out with all the eyes at the nurses station watching in amazement. I smiled and bowed, then headed back to the Dojo. I arrived in time for a couple of special Sharai’s. Also came across my Sempai from Banpaku Kyudojo who told me about the Tai Kai. We spoke for a while before he had to go back to for the final round of Tai Kai shots. He said next year I should join the ceremony. I had not thought of it, but it would be good. I later asked my other Sempai from Kishiwada why she was not in the ceremony. She gave me a long answer which i did not understand, but i think it had to do with her not being ready and it was her day off so she was resting from the pressure…or something like that. She also said next year should join. I will be quite busy next year with more official involvement, hopefully, prepping for my shot at being Yon-dan …yosh!
The last round of shooting had different targets. small gold disk and fans. I have seen the disk before but not the fans. Once the disk was hit in a round it was taken away. Each group only had one shot, not several, guessing because it was the finals.
It was a good day trip and mini adventure. I am getting the hang of the train transport. Fairly simple once you figure out the map and the lines.
…and so ended the day trip’n, and I was back in the Hood. Mission accomplished.

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