Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Time to Remember...

The plaque on my sensei's tomb does little to describe the man
 Next Wednesday (the 11th), will be the anniversary of my sensei's death. To the Western way of counting years he died fourteen years ago, but for the Okinawans, fifteen years have past; that's because we count from the last day of each year whereas the Okinawans count from the first.

The day before the memorial training began on my recent visit to Okinawa the shibucho (branch heads), met at the dojo before climbing on board a bus to make the short trip to Tomigusuku, the location of Miyazato sensei's tomb. His internment there is due to the Miyazato families association with the area that dates back many years.

About twenty or so made the trip from Asato to Tohashina, left the bus and took the short walk up the hill to the tomb. I've been here many times but never with such a large group of people. I placed myself well to the back of the crowd, this was the first time at the tomb for many of those present and I didn't want to get in their way.

The tomb was cleaned and the name plaque washed and polished, then Miyazato sensei's son and family paid their respects, after which the senior shibucho of each country took it in turn to light a senko (incense stick) and place it in front of the tomb. I deliberately kept out of sight at this point, allowing for another Australian shibucho to represent our country.

An earlier visit to pay my respects, c 2011
After everybody placed their senko and issued a silent prayer, people took the opportunity to take photographs and reminisce. Some of those present had personal memories of Miyazato sensei, and stories were shared that highlighted the many ways he passed on his karate to those of us fortunate enough to have trained under him.

When next Wednesday arrives, I'll make a special effort to remember the man who taught me things about karate that I'm still trying to learn; but my training won't be tinged with sadness, instead, I'll be smiling at the extraordinary good fortune I had to have spent time in the company of my sensei: Eiichi Miyazato.