Monday, October 31, 2005

A Samurai in Shimabara

A Samurai in Shimabara. That is what I was for the last weekend, sort of……… actually I attended an action packed, nail biting, tear jerking Kendo tournament weekend with my Kendo club, let me tell you more.

Saturday afternoon we assembled outside our Dojo (training complex) ready at attention to hear words from our all wise, all powerful Sensei (basically just our Kendo teacher). We listened, we bowed (a lot!!) and we loaded our mini-bus to head to our destination, Shimabara.

We crammed into the bus, me bubbling with energy, enthusiasm and an expectation of some fantastic bonding time with my Kendo buddies. What do they all do?? SLEEP!!!!!
Not even 10 minutes into the trip and they are all asleep! So what is Jesse to do? Stare out the window (quietly) for 2 hours!!! Though I was amused along the way by a “wannabe gansta” wearing a t-shirt that said “Dog Ass” I mean really the t-shirts here are fantastic. I saw one lady wearing a t-shirt that said “Emergency evacuation centre emergency exit”….. Please show me some logic in this madness.

After a slow 2 hours (oh believe me they slept the whole way) we arrived at Shimabara high to help setup the Kendo tournament we would be co-hosting the next day. Of course a Kendo tournament setup is never complete without a good round of head whacking practice. Both teams were happy to oblige each other by jumping into our Kendo gear and smacking each other with bamboo swords for about half an hour.

In due time we headed off to our hotel, I think one lesson we come to learn in this life is that the hotel your school puts you up in overnight is far from plush (not a nice lesson for a sybarite like me). Lol you really have to create a mental image of this hotel. Picture a hotel that was built in the early 70’s, which then decided in the 80’s it was time to refurbish the décor, but only managed to get half way by the time 2005 rolled around. The hotel was made even funnier by its wedding advertisements on the walls for a “dream wedding”. Pictures of Brides and Grooms from the hotels better days when it was actually clean enough to host a wedding. Don’t get me wrong the hotel was clean but in the 80’s there wasn’t a million stains in the carpet or on the walls (and in the 80’s neon blue carpet was the hottest thing since Duran Duran that you could have at your wedding). Anyway the room was decent, the food was decent and that is all that matters.

The night went off went off without a hitch, actually there was one thing. We had curry and rice for dinner (it already sounds bad). Some of the guys thought it would be funny to serve my best friend enough rice for oh about, 5 people!!!(would you like some curry with your rice?).Now my best friend also happens to be small, even for a Japanese person. So then the waitress thought it would be even funnier to make him eat it all!! She kept using the threat “if you don’t eat it now, you eat it for breakfast”. Poor guy, it was like watching the restaurant scene from Monty Python “I couldn’t eat another bite!” .He finished the rice, but he had to lie on his stomach for half an hour (and 2 people had needed to help him down to our room)

Sunday was long day, so I am going to shorten it for you. We lost the boys competitions, came second in the girls team competition and won the girls singles. Highlights of the day included; watching my friend Naomi kick butt with a sword (do not put a sword in her hand or she will nail you!!), watching some nail biting matches and Naomi’s mother asking me to please marry Naomi (really this woman does not give up! She has asked me 5 times already!!)

All in all a fantastic weekend, new bonds were formed with my friends and this philosophical view was formed by me- when it comes down to it the art and sport of Kendo is a question “I’m going to hit you in the head with a stick. But can you hit me first?”



P.S. Photos to come

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


It has been, and always will be 3 months

Thats right, it has been about 3 months since I last updated my blog. (In fact let us no longer call it a blog, it sounds too much like bog- which is not a good thing. Let us now refer to it as.... I don't actually know. Email me with your ideas) and sadly, I now only have 3 months left in Japan.

Now onto business. Why have I not updated my .... (it will be called .... until someone gives it a good name) in 3 months? There are lots of miniscule, insignificant reasons I could give. So to keep things simple and far from abnormal I won't make any excuses (as Lou Dobbs of CNN puts it "No excuses, no tears"). But you can thank the people who have been constantly telling me to hurry up over the last 3 months, for finally making me hurry up.

The last 3 months have really been a blur and melded together in my memory (I guess that is what happens when you stop writing). Though they do hold a notorious reputation for having been some of the best 3 months of my life (can the age of 17 be classified as "life"?). "what have you been doing?" I hear you scream. Well dear reader let me reveal all.

Since arriving in Japan physical activity has become one of the main tiers of my life. This is mainly associated with the fact that I ride a bike to school-7km's each way, I am a member of one of the hardest training Kendo clubs in the Island of Kyushyu and I thought it was about time I got fit. The magical results of all this hard work is 11kg's of weight loss, more muscle and a very healthy me. Also a side note, after 7 months of training in Kendo, my teacher has asked me to take the 1st dan black belt test.

Most Sundays I day trip up to Fukuoka city. Fukuoka city is about 2 hours by highway bus from my residence and is colourful, vibrant and definitely classifies as my number 1 spot in Japan. Transport here is outrageously expensive, a return trip to Fukuoka costs about $40 AUD. Fukuoka is overflowing with Coffee shops (mainly Starbucks, show me a big city that isn't filled with Starbucks), Cake shops, Restaurants, any form of shopping you can think of and oh, it even has a bagel shop which happens to be one of my favourite hangs. The city buzzes with people moving from place to place and is a really good place to go fashion spotting. Mostly I spend the sundays with the youth group from my church Coffee shop/ Cafe hopping. Lol maybe I should start doing write ups on each of the Coffee shops I visit? I will add another website to the Jesses Japan empire and call it "jesses japan cocoa review".

Included in this entry are some photos from over the last 3 months. Keep your eyes out for "jesses japan cocoa review" and more updates from me.

Keep rocking,