Kyoto-All Japan Tai Kai
It was touch-n-go if I was going to attend this function. I wanted to attend last year, but could not. This year I thought I had to work, then did not, then did. It is held Golden Week, a big holiday and in Japan. Also that week are big Shinsas at the same location, for Renshi, and upper dans. Several of my dojo mates were entered for the Shinsa. It was interesting to see them at the dojo practicing for this, including the Kaicho.
So it worked out that I could attend on Sunday the final day of the TaiKai. I wanted to see the Hanshi compete, but that was on Saturday, my work day. LZ got me a train one day train round trip pass that was cheaper than me going to Kobe…cool. So off I went on my one day Kyudo adventure.
At the train station I encountered my Shakuhachi sensei, we rode together and chatted until his station and my train change. From there I was on my own. I was not concerned. I had a map, my smartphone and basic directions.
I got to the next train change and got a bit lost. Wrong words I misread and ended up at the wrong train platform. Feeling something was not right ( the Zen sense thing) I asked. I was set on the right path, sort of. Walking around where I thought I was suppose to be, looking for signs, a local asked me in English if I needed help, what was I looking for. He sent me in the right direction. I asked again to double check as I got to the next platform and got on the right train.
Next stop and change I was not completely sure, so thought I would check with the service person at the ticket counter. He was the first unpleasant person, not rude, but for sure not pleasant I encountered since being here asking for directions. I continued on and made it to my next platform. My last train and the longest ride. Whilst figuring out where to stand another woman, Japanese also was trying to figure out what was what. We figured out at the same time where to go. We ended up sitting together on the train and chatting for the ride. Her English was fair. She did not get much chance to practice ( un-said, reason for talking to me 🙂 ) She said she only studied in school and never has been outside of Japan. She was heading to an art gallery in Kyoto, sort of a business trip. We had a nice chat and parted at the same stop.
Now I took assessment of where I was and headed in what I thought was the right direction. At one point I asked a guy making handcrafts, he said, I was going right. A little further I rechecked with another person on a bike. Yup he said go to the next corner and turn. I did so, there I started spotting people with Yumis. One more quick check with one of them and I was good. I made it. Yatta!
It was a big modern building. I thought it would be an outside Dojo, at some old shrine, but it was held inside a huge gym. I walked around getting my bearings and checking out stuff. I went to the vendors section and looked around. I ended up making a couple of small purchases for a couple I items I had been wanting. Also checking out some Ya sets for the future.
Once all that was done I went up stairs again to watch the shooting. There were three sections of shooters. The one I choose was the high level dans. I saw a couple of people I recognized from last week’s TaiKai in Suita.
Along with someone from my Dojo and then also one of my Sensei. Some of the people were what I thought were rude, just to step in front of me as I was trying to see. One person did have manners enough to ask if she could stand in the spot in front of me, others, just pushed through. I was controlled and did not push back. a couple of the interesting items were, one guy broke his string on his shot and still hit center!! Another had the shakes, I have seen it before with another Sensei, at the Sakai Shinsas some type of nerve illness, still he hit! Sugoi!
I watch the shooting for a while then walked around more, then found a seat as my knees and feet were hurting.
I was starting to get tired and was considering calling it a wrap. I figured on one more visit up stairs. I found my Sensei preparing to shoot again, I went and spoke to him.
Afterward I went back to the line and saw another of my sensei. I spoke he was surprised to see me. He gave me a quick rundown on who was shooting. I thought the Hanshi were the day before, but he said one of the people that was currently up was a Hanshi and also the national champ. I watch closer, paying attention to his form.
I also found my other Sensei was in the finals so I hung around. Now it was becoming more interesting. My Sensei with me introduced me to another Sensei, we three talked for a bit. She said she looked forward to seeing me compete next year. She knew my old Sensei Nogami.
Meanwhile, a sensei I did not know but looked familiar was walking over to the area I was in. He looked at me very closely, but did not say anything. I thought he was coming over but he walked by. My Sensei and I chatted more, before he and his friend left. I am alone again now. I am near ready to leave, my Sensei competing did not make the final final. The Sensei that was checking me out now came over and asked where I was from etc etc. when I told him America, he had a lot to say. None of which I understood. However I did get the idea he was not that pleased with some aspects of American Kyudo. I listen to him for a while, I said a few things when I understood the idea of his topic of discussion. I gave him my card before leaving, he said thank you. We spoke a bit about Yin and Yang and then I was off to the trek home. On the way back to the train station I found where the Samurai are in Kyoto, they are still around.
It was a interesting day and a worthwhile visit to Kyoto. Next year, when I am Yondan ( ganbaru), I will enter just for kicks and the experience.