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Thread: Trip to Japan!!!

  1. #1
    foxy ladies Guest

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    Hi there. We are three kenshi who are based in Southampton and will be going to Japan for a month in September. We have been studying shorinji kempo for two years and will be training at hombu for summer camp followed by two weeks travelling around the country. Any advice, or info or anyone who is going to be there at the same time, we would love to here from you.

  2. #2
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    Hi Foxy Ladies, and welcome to E-budo. Please note the forum rules, which require you to post your real name on all postings. The easiest way to do this is to make it part of your signature, that way it posts automatically.

    For suggestions about traveling to Japan for purposes of MA training, please visit the koryu and gendai general threads, as there have been some discussions of just that subject over the past few weeks. Meanwhile, armchair travelers might be interested in visiting http://www.thevalkyrie.com/stories/sagas/index.htm ; try, for example, "Valkyrie at Sea" and "The Way of a Warrior." Earl and Mark F., note that some of the stories can be heard read in Yiddish, so my interest in suggesting this is purely educational.

  3. #3
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    Assuming that this is your first time visiting Hombu and traveling in Japan, so I'll offer some general advice based on my experiences there, for whatever it is worth. Keep in mind that my visits to Hombu have been short (a couple of weeks at a time) over a long period of time (my first visit was 16 years ago). Others, who have lived in Japan or spent more time at Hombu, may have better advice.

    First, I think it is great that you are going to Hombu during one of the Japanese training seminars, rather than during an International Taikai. The atmosphere at the international seminars at Hombu can be pretty chaotic. Once I started to understand the routine, I enjoyed the Japanese seminar more and I think I learned more. My main advice is pay attention to what everyone else is doing (it is unlikely that there will be anyone translating a lot for you) and participate fully - including activities such as samu (cleaning).

    Take the time to try to make friends with some of the other Kenshi there. It is really easy to spend all your time with each other because communicating with other Kenshi can be difficult. But if you do, you will miss out on some interesting experiences. It is likely that the other participants will be mostly college students - I attended some memorable parties during my visits.

    Also, try to talk to the Busen students (students spending 2 years at Hombu - they help out during the classes). I learned a lot asking them for help.

    I don't know if this is still an option, but during my first visit to Hombu, I was urged to attend evening classes (after practicing all day) at the Hombu Doin - the local Branch in Tadotsu. If you have the energy, ask if you can go. It was my first experience in a real Japanese Branch and it gave me a strong sense of the early history of Shorinji Kempo in Japan. Besides, at that time, the Branch Master was Yamasaki Sensei and several of the junior staff members at Hombu assisted him, so the classes were great.

    Two things to do outside of practice in the Tadotsu area:

    Go out and have okonomiyaki, a tasty regional specialty. Ask someone at Hombu for advice on a good place to get it.

    On the weekend, take a side trip to Kotohira, a short train ride to the south. There is a famous Shinto shrine there that stretches for hundreds of steps up a mountainside. From the fascinating tacky souvenir shops at the bottom, past the Japanese tourists on the way up, to the serenity (and anticlimax - it's pretty tiny) of the innermost shrine at the very top, it is a great way to spend a day.

    Are you planning to visit any Branches while taveling elsewhere in Japan? I would strongly recommend it if you can. It is a great way to experience different styles of practice, to make friends, and to find out more about the place you are visiting. It helps to have some kind of connection - ask other Kenshi in your Branch who have been to Japan before if they can recommend any Branches to visit. And, of course, be very polite during your visit.

    Bring along some gifts - often people go far out of their way to help you and it is nice to be able to thank them with more than just words.

    Finally, two tourist tips:
    - bring along a good guidebook. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are both very thorough and include a lot of interesting places not on the normal tourism list for foreigners.
    - get a railpass. It will likely start to pay for itself if you do any travel at all beyond the trip from Tokyo to Tadotsu. You can get a railway timetable, including fares, from the Japan Travel Bureau office in Britain - check to see how much your tickets would cost without it. You have to buy the railpasses before you arrive in Japan.

    Enjoy your trip!
    Gary Dolce
    Ann Arbor Branch
    WSKO
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    http://www.shorinjikempo.com

  4. #4
    foxy ladies Guest

    Default Japan trip!!!

    Thanks for the advice!! Got the lonely planet guide, and getting even more excited!

    Can you recommend any good beaches? We are on holiday for some of it after all!

    And by the way, what is okonomiyaki ?? Rings a bell, but can't place the name.

    Any other specialities we should know about - including alcohol wise or good karaoke bars?
    Obviously we are going there primarily to train.....but girls need to have fun outside the dojo occasionally!

    Thanks for your help. Keep it coming!

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    Okonomiyaki is like a pancake, usually made at the table, and filled with any number of ingredients - usually some vegetable (often cabbage), sometimes with other items such as shrimp or pork. It tends to be cheap and it goes well with beer - so it meets the criteria for a staple food.

    I have never even thought about going to a beach in Japan - too many other good things to do. Anyone else have any recommendations? An alternative would be to go to an onsen (hot springs resort).

    Bars can be a bit tricky in Japan. Many of them cater to businessmen on expense accounts and charge incredible prices. On my last trip, three of us went into a bar and after one beer each and a plate of cheese we didn't ask for, we got a bill for $75. And I have heard worse stories. But I have had the opposite experience too - drinking much of the night and never being allowed to pay.

    As for other food specialties, my motto is try everything. You can't go wrong with a bowl of noodles in all their forms (soba, udon, ramen) - I have subsisted for long periods on noodles. The box lunches (bento) you can buy in train stations and in parks can be very interesting. I also really like "Korean barbeque" restaurants (you grill meat on a small burner at your table). I have had some really interesting and unusual foods by just asking people I meet what the local specialty is. In general, I do tend to avoid western-style restaurants - it kind of defeats the purpose of going halfway around the world.
    Gary Dolce
    Ann Arbor Branch
    WSKO
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    http://www.shorinjikempo.com

  6. #6
    Alex Miller Guest

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    Foxy Ladies! The best beaches are down in Okinawa, but it's a little expensive to get down there - I'll ask some Japanese friends what they reckon is worthwhile considering the time available...

    I hope to see you there myself (!), as I'm going out to Japan for a year in August as part of studying Japanese at university.... and I'm hoping to be at Honbu at the same time...!

    As for entertainment - there's no better way to avoid extortionate prices than by going out with Japanese friends (ie ...Kenshi!) - when are you all going, and what's the general plan?!

    Yours sincerely,

    Alex


  7. #7
    Kris Guest

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    Hello Ladies,
    I am moving to Shikoku (Kagawa Pref, Marugame) on a permanent basis in August. If you have any questions regarding restaurants (I happen to know a good Okonomiyaki [or as my mother-in-law says "Japanese Pizza" place] or sites in the area, please feel free to email me. MAKE SURE YOU EAT UDON!! It is the local specialty and you will find the restaurants everywhere. Very affordable and very filling.

    I would suggest staying away from the beaches in the area. Unfortunately, due to heavy industry, most are fairly polluted.

    Also, as was mentioned above, try and visit Kotohira (Kompita-san).It is a nice trek up the mountain and a damn good work out! Other places of interest are Ritsurin-Koen and Zentsuji.

    Once again, feel free to email if you have any questions.

  8. #8
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    For all of you spending time here in Japan in the next few months: Please contact me if you will be in the Tokyo area. I am stationed at Camp Zama, Kanagawa-ken, Honshu. It is at the Sobudai-mae stop on the Odakyu line coming from Shinjuku near Tokyo. If you are looking to find some local spots, let me know.

    You can email me privately at wolfden68@hotmail.com or wolfden@zma.attmil.ne.jp (my home email).

    Good luck and have a safe trip! I hope to meet you!

    Matt Stone

  9. #9
    Alex Miller Guest

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    Like Matt below, I'm going to be in Japan for a while, from August - and in Tokyo from October until February - so it would be great to meet up ... do please e-mail!

    Alex

  10. #10
    foxy ladies Guest

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    Thanks for all the replies, any help is always appreciated. We would really like to meet up with those that will be there. We only have a rough plan as yet. We would like some advice on cheap accomadation, and the different types of rail passes available. We have heard about rail passes for different regions, and we wondered if this is true, and if it is a cheaper option.


    Alex, which camps are you training at, and where are you staying? We are in Hombu for the second and third camps. (30th Aug. - 2nd Sept. and 6th Sept - 9th Sept.) We are planning to travel for a total of two weeks after the third camp, going around the island, and then go to Tokyo before working our way back to Osaka.

    Are any of you planning on going to Paris International Taikai next April? If so, hope to see you there.

  11. #11
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    Hello foxie ladies.

    I hope you will have a nice time in Japan.
    I was in Japan myself this years May and stayed about ten days in Hombu and another ten days in Kyoto and I always like to go there. The instructor and other Hombu staff are always very nice and helpful, so I'm sure you will like Hombu.

    When in Tadotsu you should try out the Okonomiyaki shop called "Yokota". It is a small "Shorinji Kempo place" a lot SK business cards all over the walls etc.
    You find it if you go down from Hombu and take to the left, walk through the tunnel, after the tunnel the road turns slightly to the right and you will go over a bridge over a small river. About 100 meters after the bridge it is located on the left side.

    The food is good and the owners are very nice people, you should, a part from the Okonomiyaki, definitively try their chicken.

    As for your travelling around in Japan after your stay in Hombu I recommend you to visit Kyoto. It is a very nice city, got enough of bars and nightlife and definitively has a lot of nice "tourist" places to visit. A lot of very famous temples are located in Kyoto. A very nice way to go around in Kyoto is to rent a bicycle. It is quite easy to find your way around Kyoto by bike, just buy a map that has English text (you can find that in most convenient stores).
    You can find some shops for renting a bike at Kawabata dori (the street just east of Kamogawa river) between Nijo and Sanjo.


    And I for one will definitively go to next years International Taikai in Paris.


    Anders
    <A href=http://www.shorinji-kempo.org/>www.shorinji-kempo.org</A>


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