This is going to be my last post on Kyoto Budogu Blog, because from September 3rd I will be back in Europe and someone else will take my place as blogger and store manager (who, you will find out soon! ).
This year in Japan has passed so quickly, that it even feels weird to think that I arrived in Kyoto in September 2013.
It has been a journey of discovery, although I hardly ever left Kyoto (apart from two quick trips to Europe at Christmas and for the European Kendo Championships). I learned a lot about bogu and shinai, but also about Japanese work ethos, about life in the Old Capital and of course about people, being they colleagues or customers.
One additional, very precious knowledge I developed is a good (albeit surely partial) picture of the local Kendo scene.
I have been able to practice fairly regulary with four different groups: Yuubukan, Fucho, Fukei and the Wednesday keikokai at Butokuden. I occasionally practiced in Kumatori at Osaka Taiiku Daigaku and at Nichiyokai in Osaka. The Ladies Keikokai at the Butokuden takes place once a month and I managed to take part, too. Some occasional Taikai offered me the opportunity for shiai and for shinpanning, too. I also visited Myokaku-ji dojo.
It has been very interesting meeting the "normal" kenshi of Japan - meaning not only the professionals or the students. Ordinary people like me, who would train after work whenever they could (it has to be said, mainly one or two times per week, not four or five like me: clear sign of an obsessive personality), for the sheer pleasure of keiko.
I found a welcoming environment, although I am sure some must have been rather puzzled by my presence at the beginning (in spite of all the introductions!). I hope I managed to learn something from all the sensei I met - although the time devoted to kihon practice is always very limited in Japan, as I also discovered.
Some of you may already know that living (and working) in Japan does not automatically mean you can train with all the ease every day. If you end your working day at 18,00, like myself, you only have a hour to reach the dojo, wherever it may be, change and join keiko. For some strange reason, most evening trainings start at 19.00 and they are over by 20.00. Only the weekends are left to tread a bit further away - and that of course if there is some keiko on the weekend!
What I mean to say is that you really MUST WANT to have keiko and you will have a lot of rushing with your bogu on the shoulder to be able to do it. Nothing drops on your lap, to be clear. I considered this as part of the experience, too.
Of course I will be back in Kyoto again and again, so this does not feel so sad at all. I simply have many more places to visit and many more friends to meet.