Tuesday started off a little bit busy as I had morning Kendo training. This is a bit of a double edged sword; Kendo is fun and all but I have to get up early (it's a tough life, I know) and jump between trains all so I can sit around for a good half an hour cos I'm early. But then it picks up! We put on our Kendo clothes which are always freezing cold with the previous training's sweat. If that isn't cool enough, we wear these big pants which are really wide, so our legs are well ventilated with the cold morning air. It's not all bad though, we soon gear up and get moving so we warm up pretty quick.
I had a bit of a dumb moment on Tuesday's training, we were doing this new routine, (it was new only to me, everyone else has already done it a good few hundred times) so I flinched and looked down at just the wrong time and received a pretty nice hit to the head. I thought about it for a wee while, the head gear we wear is pretty strong at the front, with its metal rim and mask. But the back is literally just soft material. Its like folding your shirt and wearing it on your head; it doesn't protect anything.
The bamboo swords we use are pretty hard, they are designed to be smashed against the metal of the helmet and the hardened material of the body armour with a fair bit of power. So when I put my head down and got smacked, it was like just standing there and letting the other guy have a free hit. You get this ringing in your ears and a ripper of a headache. It is not at all pleasant. All you can really do is swear a lot and not do it next time. I did just that.
Training finished and I went home to relax. It was a nice day!
Wednesday was a bit confused. I stayed in bed until about lunch time because I was keen to catch up on some sleep but I was awoken with the offer to go out for lunch. I couldn't of gotten out of bed quicker! We went out and had udon, Japanese noodles. Delicious! Sorry, no photos because I was a disorganised mess jumping out of bed and into the car. No time for a camera, I was pretty pleased to have got pants on. After lunch it was back home for not much. I wrote a bit of a speech that is to delivered on Monday, I am still practicing it now.
Thursday was much the same, I didn't have Kendo so I dedicated some time to sleep. Then I hacked away at that speech for a wee while. But then it was time for karate! Oh how I was excited to get out and have a kick about after a day of nothing.
I did just that and whilst I didn't get beat up this week, I managed to make a pretty gruesome mess. You may remember from a while ago, my feet and their poor condition. They are still a bit dry and I thought all of the cuts had healed. Well I was wrong.
I was fighting away as you do, adrenaline pumping, not a single care in the world about the feeling in my big toe. Why would I even consider thinking about something so insignificant? The bout ended and I noticed a spot of blood on this fella's dogi. It turns out the wee cut on my big toe had opened. I took a moment to tape up my toe. I did a pretty shoddy job but I was too keen to get back in the fight. "She'll be fine." Yeah right.
After another 2 minutes of high energy, hard hitting fun, there was blood everywhere, it was a mess. This guy was just painted with my blood and the floor had got a good coating too. The taping was nowhere to be seen and my toe was dripping with dark red fluid. It was actually pretty grotesque.
We had to get on all fours with cloths and wipe down the whole dojo! What a fun night it was, definitely got the fight out of my system for the day.
I got to take some photos on Friday so the blog will brighten up in just a moment.
My host Dad and I went on a bit of a spontaneous outing. "Lets go shopping." He said. I was keen to get out and about so off we went. We went to a town called Kakamigahara, and did a bit of window shopping. Didn't actually buy anything but it was cool to be out. We had ramen for lunch and it was great.
|Ramen, I don't even know what to say, I don't want to take away from the beauty of the meal|
|Just being around these trees makes you feel happy, it's quite nice|
|Once again, this happy feeling, it's surreal|
|Looking a bit dumb, will get the smile right in the next one!|
|Nah, botched that one up too.|
|The word for bridge in Japanese is: Hashi|
The word for chopsticks in Japanese is: Hashi
|Can't see in photo but there are big carp swimming about in the water|
|Photos can't really do justice; these flowers are just so nice|
|I didn't really need a hand with this photo...|
|The weather picked up|
|Such a fresh feeling; the sun, the breeze and nature|
Saturday was a good day. I got to sleep in for a good while and I had a nice risotto for lunch/breakfast. I relaxed for a bit, read my speech a couple of times and got ready for the night's festivities. Every town has its on festival where they carry a shrine about on their shoulders.
I wasn't too sure of what to expect, I was however told to watch out for drunk old men giving out Sake and to try and avoid the drunks because fights are not unheard of. "Sounds exciting!" I thought.
So there were actually quite a few shrines to carry around and it was pretty hectic. We grouped up and picked up these incredibly heavy wooden constructions with all sorts of decorations stuck to them and literally marched them through the streets. For every few metres we covered we would stop and do a full 360 and then get back to walking. It was highly inefficient but it was pretty fun.
Whilst we were walking and carrying these things we were all chanting: "Oisa!" It was loud and every team was competing to be the loudest. There were big drums adding noise to the already overpowering atmosphere. At times I could literally feel the bass vibrate through the ground and make my feet feel weird.
I thought that we were just marching about but the chaos stepped up when we got to an intersection big enough for all of the shrines to move about freely. Oh shit it was crazy. There was drums and cymbals crashing about whilst every team was screaming at the top their lungs and whats more, it turned into a ramming battle.
We would run about carrying this mammoth shrine and run into other teams. It wasn't safe at all but it was incredible. It was dark now but each shrine had a bunch of fairy lights on them and the street lights added to the festive feel.
I couldn't take photos but luckily I had family who took photos for me!
The night was not without its dangers though. Before the festivities I was almost force fed alcohol, but a stern "No thanks." averted that crisis. Later on in the night I was almost knocked over by a drunk old man who came in for a very forceful hug. I few loud words got rid of him though. None of these situations were really bad, just a bit uncomfortable.
|Host sister, soon to be (host?) niece|
Traditional festival wear
|Hectic, smashing into each other|
|Massive and very heavy|
I'm somewhere in the above team
|Crazy, loud and great fun|
Once again, I'm in with this crew
|My mate from school, Taisei|
|It was so much different underneath the lights and amongst the noise, an experience I will never forget|
No problem though, back to the carrying. My shoulder was hurting like crazy and I could barely speak because I was so hoarse but we kept going. For three hours we moved about and shouted with this thing. I got home and iced my shoulder because it was bruised and I had karate the next day. I went to bed, ready for a 5:00 am wake up.
That sleep was far too short. I had breakfast in the car on the way to some other dojo that was far away from here. We got there and warmed up, ready for a hard session of sweat!
And it was just that! We worked hard in the heat and soon enough it was like I had just left a sauna. At the end of training I was swarmed by a bunch of kids who bombarded me with questions, as is expected when I'm the only foreigner amongst a good 40 people.
I had to laugh though, everyone's belt has their name written on it except for mine because mines borrowed. Mine has some Japanese name on it and of course everyone can read that. Anyway, this kid comes up to me and says: "What's your real name?" with a suspicious tone and the expression to match.
We went out for lunch after training to some Chinese place. It was run by Chinese people and once again, I had a bit of a chuckle at my Sensei's reaction to them. Normally when you go to a restaurant in Japan, they give you warm, damp towels for you to clean your hands with. Often they are given on a small plate but this lady had them in a plastic bag and literally up-ended the bag and dropped the towels on the table with no comment.
Sensei said something like "F***ing Chinese" and I just about choked on the water I was drinking. Lunch was great though, more noodles and rice. We returned home and here I am, writing my blog, practicing my speech and sharing my photos with my family.
I have to give the speech tomorrow (Monday) and I'm slightly nervous. Back to school on Tuesday and I will become a 2nd year high school student. (I'm repeating year 12) But that's just fine.
That's all for now, thanks for reading! Until next time!