Wednesday, 27 November 2013

"Tadaima..!"

The view towards Tomari Port from the roof of my lodgings
When I visit Okinawa these days, it's a bit like coming home. I stay in the same room in the same lodgings in Tomari run by Ohama-san and his wife, and have done so since 2005. My room is six-tatami, plus my own small bathroom and toilet; it has air-conditioning too, and that proved very welcome on this recent trip. Over the years I've introduced a number of students and friends to my home away from home and, in a very small way, contributed too the well being of my friends: the Ohama's.

Just outside my room on the fourth floor I have access to the open flat roof where I often use the space to practise my karate, especially junbi-undo and sanchin kata. I know many people who have never been to Okinawa harbour an image of the island as a tropical paradise, and it is...in places, just not in and around Naha. Today, it is impossible to distinguish between Naha, Tomari, and Shuri, as all three towns have been swallowed up by the urban sprawl.

My first evening in Okinawa was something I'd been looking forward to for some time. I'd arranged to meet with a karateka from England whose blog I follow with great interest. Glyn Jones sensei would be leaving for home early the following day after two weeks of training with his teacher Senaha Shigetoshi sensei at the Ryusyokai hombu dojo. Sorry I don't have a photo of our meeting to go here, but you know the story with me and my camera...right? I have therefore taken the liberty of "borrowing", with Glyn's permission, a photo from his blog.

Glyn receiving instruction from his sensei, Shigetoshi Senaha
Along with Andy, a friend of mine from Australia, Glyn and I had dinner together, my first meal on the island for this trip and his last before he left for home. Over a couple of cold beers and some lovely food we talked and found we had much in common. It wasn't only our interest in Goju-ryu that we shared, we also had similar opinions on the role of karate today and where it fits in a person's life; that Glyn had recently moved to the same little coastal town in England, Ilfracombe, where I lived before relocating to Australia twenty-six years ago, only added to the things we shared.

For me, it was a great way to begin my stay on Okinawa, and I'm grateful to Glyn for making the time to meet with me. When I asked him how his trip had been he replied "Interesting", we then speculated on the impression I would have of my visit two weeks hence; as it turned out....I thought my experience on the island this time around was "Interesting" too: for all sorts of reasons.