The pilgrimage : R.I.P. Nogami Sensei
An so I am off . It started out very rainy this morning, still very cloudy, but no rain. I dressed for max foul weather as one does ( should do ) when traveling to parts unknown. I had thought it was kind of appropriate to be rainy and funky when one undertakes a pilgrimage. One does not think of vacation weather when undertaking a pilgrimage. The foul weather adds to the dramatic ambiance of the undertaking. More so when one is not, risking getting eaten by bears, sleeping in the cold, shedding blood from crawling on one’s hands and knees for miles and miles…
Although it was full of people, breathing who knows what from their bodies, riding in a high speed metal object, with open access to any Tom, Dick or Terrorist, a flipped out Knife-wielding saleryman…at least I am not in the states and have to worry about being gun down by some policeman in fear of his life because of my in the case Bow and Arrow…
…sorry I digress.
Meanwhile back in the real world…
I have a two-hour train ride ahead of me ( which turned out to be 2.5 hrs), so I have my trusty old fading-out with age battery iTouch/pod with me. Starting this post whilst on the move. This gives me a little something to do whilst traveling. Very little right now so I will play some computer “GO” whilst on the go after I type a bit. Next stop Banpaku Kyudojo. A little nervous, having not been there in over a year. Aug ‘ 2013 before the passing of Sensei. I am not expecting anyone to remember me except for one Sempai, if she is there. I hope so as I have a group gift and pictures, she can give them to the group. Not that any of that really matters, the remembering me part, as I know the routine for shooting and the like. It is just easier than explaining my history in my poor Japanese. I had written to another Sempai who still trains there from time to time. Alas he is busy elsewhere so can not met me. Perhaps at the first shooting of the year at Osaka Castle, he said.
Anyway part of this being a pilgrimage is, it is my first trip this far in Osaka alone. So far I have changed trains 4 times and have two more to go which are monorail, before walking several blocks to the Dojo. The Dojo is located in a city park, recreation center complex, near the Expo, monorail station. A pretty straight shot ( heheheh) once one clears the complex grounds.
It is done, now on the way home. I got there with no problem with the trains or monorail. However once there walking to the Dojo I missed it, kind of hard to see anyway. Not a big deal I just back tracked some and it was all good. The problem is the street splits a bit and I was on the wrong path. No matter I got there and it only took a few minutes to correct.
So when I arrived the first person I saw at the entrance was the Sempai I wanted to see. Perfect, it was a good sign. She remembered me of course, not that many Americans of color roll through there. She helped me check in and we chatted a bit. It turns out her English is better than I thought. She had spent a year in Mich. I gave her the candy for the group and pictures of Sensei she took care of the rest. A couple of people remembered me, everyone was nice and welcoming. Those that did not know me once Nogami Sensei’s name was said with mine as a student, were also very welcoming.
I first went in the makiwara section to warmup and work on my draw. After a while the Sempai came and asked if I was only going to do Makiwara. I said, after a bit of warmup I will do mato. She said ok, please join us when you are ready.
So after a short while of several ya, I went into the main hall. It was chilly, but there was a couple of heaters going and a heated carpet, nice. The rain had stopped, kind of a bummer, I think it would have been cool to shoot through the rain, watching it fall.
So another older Sempai asks me if I could do Tai Hai with a group of five and what is my Dan. I said yes and gave my rank. She gathered a group to shoot which included a couple of Sensei. It seemed like I was being checked out as a couple of other Sensei took a spot on the “platform” and a couple of other Sempai sat there as well. I noticed that the candy and pictures I brought where also there were Nogami Sensei would sit. It kind of pleased me. Reminded me of offering, leaving out fruit and sake with the picture of Otosan Miyatani. With that there and doing a full Tai Hai with some of the Sensei it was like doing a ceremony for Sensei.
I was asked if second position was ok. No problem I said. We lined up and entered. I made mental notes of all I was supposed to do and had learned. I kind of felt like Sensei was there. I felt his memory strong. It went off without any problems, I even hit both shots, the first dead center the second off to the edge. Still aww yeah, representing! Sensei would have been please, I was! On a couple of levels.
So a few more shots, than I was invited to join everyone for tea and cakes. This is one of the things I enjoy about this Dojo is the group tea time. I do not understand what the conversations are about, but the vibe is good, it reminds me of the Pasadena Kyudo school and at time the Berkeley school. It brought back good memories the whole experience sitting there with Sensei. I noticed several of the students look fondly and a bit sad at the pictures of Sensei I gave them with the candy.
It was a long trip but worth it to my spirit to pay my respects to Sensei’s memory. I will go again next year and spend the day in practice not just for a couple of hours like today. It is comfortable knowing I am still welcome.
Still it was a good worthwhile day trip, I felt Sensei was pleased.
R.I.P. Sensei _/|\_