You Don’t Even Need The Fists – Aikido’s Kneeling WalkNagoya, Academic Year 2009-2010
Having an unexpected lunch with some old friends and new faces on campus, I found my self short on time and rushed over to the computer lab. On April 14th all of the foreign students studying Japanese at Nanzan did an event involving the Japanese students on class. The majority of Japanese participants seemed to have been first years, and it was funny running through the crowd of students while trying to figure out my room. A strange twist on language class: Japanese students present as the teacher pulled drills on us. Divided into groups of two we waited for a Japanese to join and then talked for about 20 minutes per group. The focus was on our countries and colleges, but the talks went all over the place. Following this a couple groups of the Japanese and foreign students formed outside the building. The sun was a few hours from setting but we tried to use it’s light to compensate for the chilly breeze. I headed off with a crowd, going in and out of buildings, meeting new people and parting ways. Eventually we were reduced to three as we set off on a journey to find the tea ceremony club. I had wanted to visit it after talking with some of the members during freshmen’s orientation week and, since a new friend also wanted to find it, decided I could put my random knowledge of all sadou locations on campus to use. But we still got a little mixed up before realizing it was the first place we visited, a replica of a traditional tea house mostly surrounded by woods and met with a construction wall on the other side. I had wandered around this area before, last semester before the construction began and some earlier this semester, but this was the first time I’d ever seen anyone enter the building. Our shadows cast on the paper door and entered before us as someone peaked outside and finally slid it all the way open for us. We entered the main room and there was another to our right that was already full. The place was crowded but and certainly not to the point of discomfort; good company was plentiful. Moreover the evening sun was generous to us. Looked at some pictures, learned those in attendance were not limited to our campus, and startled some people between my use of Japanese and knowledge of the tea ceremony. Earlier this semester I made an attempt at creating the sweets used to balance the matcha tea, but blotched that. However, since I’m taking a tea ceremony class I was able to enjoy the atmosphere with what I knew and spend it with new company. From there, though surrounded by trees, the evening sun was still quite generous to us.
I’ve done kenpo a few times, though the title kung fu sounds more familiar to most Americans. I always manage to bang up my hands in strange ways, but learning how to throw other people seems useful. One day I went with a friend but, because we got there too early, we thought we’d blundered on the day. We walked around the building, past the kendo and table tennis, to watch in the room where aikido and soseido were practicing. I drew some pictures of people stretching, aikido people creepily walking as they kneeled, and a lot of throw downs. Afterwards we did get to practice and talk with the kenpo group, so all ended well.
I’ve visited some clubs during lunch like the art club, but have been eating more lunches with the video club lately. Our room in the club house is long but small and covered from floor to ceiling with posters (though the ceiling is still taking additions). the group has a few freshmen but some other people from last semester are usually there. Ate a strange omiyage (souvineer, though this one happened to be a strange carmel-looking snack) from Thailand today and watched a slideshow from one of the students who just got back from there. Went to Kyoto on Saturday the 17th with probably 4 other Americans and about 40 Japanese students/Asian exchange students from the Nagoya and Seto campuses of Nanzan (how two different campuses can be one college I’m not quite sure). It was my third time visiting so for the things I had wanted to do, like eat in the outdoor restaurant overlooking a forest of green and with a very famous shrine within walking distance. Our group stuck together a lot more than the last time I went. The Japanese are a culture that has put great emphasis on souvineer shopping. Usually this ends up in the form of some kind of food. As I entered one store I was handed a cup of amazing green tea and went about leisurely between the samples. Afterwards, when time had drawn short and we were hurrying back to the bus, a friend and I dropped into a shop cattering to fan clubs. I was on the hunt for a souvineer for a friend. I waivered lost in that amazingly packed fan-based paradise but it didn’t take long for store worker to spot me out. On our IES trip to Kyoto last semester a few of my friends and I had entered the same store. Now where some Japanese guys were browsing my friends and I had spent a considerable amount of time looking at pins and pictures. Course my new purchase set the fanclub that had formed on our bus roaring with excitement.
With no shortage of activities, things have remained just as busy as they were during the week of club showcases. But the farewell orientation set me back to remember my first recollections on campus, when days had been warmer and our view of campus was limited to the B building and its lecture-size rooms. Listened to the Japanese only explanations of very important information, knowing the forms stated roughly the same details but actually following along a little easier. Took mandatory AED training and then went to the Coffee Hour’s farewell party for the exchange students. After much talking I started up a small dance party to the background music, which ended in moonwalk lessons. Said my goodbyes and passed through a large group that had formed outside that building on my way to meet up with one of my Japanese friends to go exploring. We ended up running around nearby Nagoya College, a famous public school with a small exchange student base and a lot of club activity, though that’s not so rare here in Japan. The existence of campus club houses at most campuses here contributes more to leisurely hanging out at all times. Some warm feeling of closeness associated with those cinderblock buildings packed with all kinds of clubs, whose member bases are so great they can’t even fit into their club rooms.
In half an hour starts the dorm decorating for tomorrow’s big dance party. Haven’t had dinner and I plan to make some omrice, and so I must depart with haste.
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