Last bit of the backlog - Sunday 2. and Monday 3
Sunday 2. October - Kamakura
Since Sebastian was about to leave back home soon, he had to join an inspection of his room 9 o'clock in the morning before we could leave. He suggested that we could go down to Kamakura, a suburban place southwest of Tokyo with some scenic nature and temples and a beach.
We went via Shinjuku, as Sebastian had some stuff he needed to ship, and the post office there stays open even on Sundays. Quite a lot of train and metros and their respective lines to keep track of in the station area. Luckily Sebastian is quite proficient in Japanese, as he had been here on several occasions, starting with High School. Thus it went rather straight forward to get ourselves daypasses to Kamakura, meaning that we could do unlimited numbers of stops at the stations around Kamakura. On our way we had to change at Fujisawa towards Enoshima.
After approximately an hour and a half, we arrived Hase, being a natural tourist spot, as it has a Buddist temple, a beach and a walking trail to Kamakura. We went to have lunch, and then visited the temple which had an enormous (13.35m) Bronze statue of Daibutsu – the great Buddah. There were lots of tourist, most of them Japanese. After seeing the temple, we started on a 3km walking trail that lead us to Kamakura. In Kamakura there was another Temple. There were also opportunities for people to launder their money (by doing this, you allow wealth and prosper to come). Unfortunately, there is a small catch - in order to carry out the ritual you have to pay a small sum of money. Do I need to mention that we already have our non-religious counterpart - Norsk Tipping. On the train back from Kamakura, we made a new stop at Hase, to have a look at the beach. It was quite windy, so there where plentiful of windsurfers and boardsurfers. The sand was somewhat dark, but really fine grained. Here I saw for my first time ever a group of sun-tanned Japanese people, barbequing and obviously having a good time together.
Later in the evening we went out dining in Ikebukero with some of the other flatmates, Martina, Helena and a German girl, Cathrine from a neighbouring apartment. She also does a law degree, and was here for the same purpose as Sebastian. The restaurant was quite cool, in the middle of the tables there were a propane grill, and you ordered various raw meet and vegetables, which you could “barbeque”.
Before arriving back to the apartment, we met Laurent – the sixth of the inhabitants at Gokokuji 2. A French-Canadian that had been studying Japanese for almost a year here in Tokyo, and about to leave in a few days as well. It’s a pity that at least three of my flatmates are quite Japanese literate, whom two are about to leave shortly. But at least Helena is going to stay, so I have adopted her as my Japanese teacher.
Monday 3 – Kiai! - Chopping some wood
Today I finally managed to get started with my Karate practice. I met up at four, just to be informed that since they had moved the Honbu Office to Ichigeki, they had rescheduled classes as well, starting at five instead.
The etiquette is in general a bit more formal than what I am used to back home. Upon entering and leaving the dojo (practise area), you should leave your stuff on the floor, and bow with an Osu, first to Shinden (kind of an altar in the front of the dojo), and then to the other practicioners. These should in turn reply with an “Osu” (used to greet or confirm) and a bow. If it is a senior person, they should stand up as well before bowing. The training was quite OK, and kind of a calm start, as it was a general class, open for everyone. Despite this, it was seemed somewhat harder due to the pace, and the fact that they did not open the windows until the end of the training, turning the place into a Finnish Sauna. The instructor was French – Fabrice. He had been around for only a month, and could hardly speak any Japanese at all. Every time the instructor commands, the students should reply with an "osu", making quite a few osu’es during the practice.
At the end of the practise after assuming the "seiza" or sitting meditation position, the 7 verse long Koyokushin dojo oath is commanded by the instructor and repeated by the students. In this case, since the instructor could not speak Japanese, it should have been the highest ranking in the class, (me that day), giving the task to the guy next to me who shouted out the verses, with everyone else repeating (gave me a sensation of singing along on a song you really don't know the text of - at least I know the content) . Then a brief meditation is commanded, and a bow to Shinden. After the practise, everybody greet everybody else with a “domo arigato gozaimashta”. Finally the lowest grades gets towels which they offer to the others, and everybody contributes in cleaning the floor.