Category Archives: Japan


Japan Trip – Week 3

I returned to Ireland last Sunday and having had some time to reflect on my visit to Japan here is a short piece on the last part (for now) of my travels in Japan

I spent the last part of my trip in Tokyo! I stayed in a capsule hostel in the Chou district, a quieter part of Tokyo with easy access of the rest of the city via the metro. Stayed in a capsule was a surprisingly comfortable experience, not as tight as I would have thought, clean and well ventilated.

My main reason for wanting to visit Tokyo was to visit the Dojo of Onoha Itto Ryu. I spent a weekend training there. The Reigakudō is headed by Sasamori Takemi the 17th Soke of the school. I had meet Sasamori Sensei last year at a seminar in Italy and have wanted to learn more of this system since. It is a deeply fascinating Art, one that requires a great deal of focus to perform even the most basic of movements. The atmosphere at this Dojo needs to be experienced to be understood. It is both a very friendly, warm open environment and at the same time intense and serious. I was able to train with each person there and had a slightly different feeling of the Kata each time. As I am new to this School I was working on the first 5 Kata. These are quite short compared to Kata of other school. Each seems to focus on a specific principle requiring a lot of repetition to have any level of understanding. I am very grateful to Sasamori Soke for being permitted to train in his Dojo. Domo Arigato. Also thanks very much to his students there for their patience when training with me. Very much appreciated.

About my experince of Onoha Itto Ryu training in Italy last Year –

The rest of my stay in Tokyo was just 3 days. I had few plans for this time as I mostly just wanted to get a feel for the place. I toured around the city a bit, spent some time sitting in cafes and bars, just watching people go by, met up with an Argentinian friend ‘Nahuel’ for a day. Visited the Aikikai Hombu Dojo for a few classes and had a lovely night out with a couple of people I met there! Ate some strange, tasty food and sampled the local Drink!



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Muden Juku Sapporo

Japan Trip- Week 2

2011-01-13 18.52.37

View from top of Mount Maruyama

I arrived in Tokyo on Friday after a wonderful week in Sapporo, training with Iida Sensei and his students of the Muden Juku.
On the Saturday there was an Embu. A demonstration organised by the Muden Juku and also included an Aikido demo and a sword group which seemed to incorporate Iai with a traditional dance. I participated in the Embu by showing 3 techniques from Seiza. What normally could have been a nerve wrecking experience was made quite relaxed by the attitude of the group, everyone showed some techniques with Iida Sensei showing the more complex waza. There was also a shakahachi performance.

On the Sunday we had a seminar with about 10 people in attendance. We studied a lot of waza, but the most interesting aspects would have to be the training method, the subtle differences from person to person and Iida Sensei’s explanations some of which a couple of students were nice enough to translate for me! The attention to detail is remarkable, with each person working at their own level and improving bit by bit. The most difficult thing for me about studying Daito Ryu would have to be that there is so much to focus on and at the same time it must be relaxed and clear headed!

On Monday evening was the regular class! We took a closer close at some techniques from the day course and the Embu. For me Iida Sensei adviced taking a lot more Ukeki which is how I spent that class. A fairly intense experience! He also adviced on staying more in line. As the techniques of Daito Ryu are mostly direct this is something essential to work on!

On Wednesday I trained in the Dojo of Katano Miwako. Normally her class is for Women so I was honoured to be invited. She was an exceptional understanding of Aiki, and is well enabled to pass on the most subtle aspects of the school.

The rest of my time in Sapporo was spent exploring the city and its surrounding hills, from where you can see the city, a beautiful place and some truly amazing people. Thank You Sapporo!

hokkaido shrine

hokkaido shrine



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Shōganji Zen

Japan Trip- Week 1

For the last week I have been staying at Shōganji Zen Temple the home of Zen Monk Jiho Kongo and his Mother in the beautiful coastal village of Ojuki about a half hour from the city of Oita.

The day begin at 5.30 with a half hour of chanting before an hour of Zazen meditation. At 8 some tea and from 9 till 10 with Pierre who is currently living there for a half year. Lunch is at half 11 and was consistency amazing. The range is food is just wonderful. It was great to have a week of such tasty and heathy food. The rest of the day differs. There is some chores and small jobs around the temple and garden. A few days we went off as a group and the rest of the afternoons I spent mostly on my own, walking through the local villages, forests and along the coast.

The meditation I found quite difficult in the beginning but the second day was already easier. However the ease or not of it, it still is a great way to start your day. I found going early and listening to some of the chanting to be quite helpful. Pierre made the point though that the quality of meditation is not as important as just doing it. I found myself starting to fell asleep, just waking up as I leaned forward enough to disturb my balance. I asked Jiho about this and he said its fine just go with it. Which is quite reassuring. This is definitely a practice I will continue with.

My stay here has been a wonderful experience. A quiet and relaxed time, exactly what I needed.


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