Cutting Edge Issue 2 - Page 27

JOCK HOPSON SENSEI and some evening work at a language school in Todoroki run by a wonderfully disorganised lady who was so frequently “tired and emotional” that we were often paid twice, in used notes, and at the end of each working day. With so much excess cash-in-hand, a new bogu each was a priority and we once again made contact with Fukumoto Shigehiko Sensei – who had kept the British team supplied with shinai and other goodies during the First World Kendo Championships. Relaxing with Omura Sensei, his wife and Deb Shigehiko Sensei who ran a small budo equipment shop on the far side of Ueno Park. The squad then transferred to Osaka, where we took part in a mass kendo demonstration at the Osaka Expo, in what was billed as the Osaka Individual Taikai, where Deb and Mike Finn (an ex-Shinto Ryu member who was then living in Japan) joined the UK representation. Within a packed few days I took part in the Meiji Mura Red/White match in Nagoya, the Osaka Expo Kendo Exhibition and the First World Kendo Kojin Senshuken Taikai where I was spectacularly unimpressive, losing to a constantly smiling, extremely whippety chap from Taiwan. After the Championships I took Deb to meet Dr Omura, and he and his wife liked her so much that he kindly offered to act as legal sponsors for us if we wanted to return to Japan for further kendo study. Following the collapse of the furniture design company, I went to work at Wilson’s Grammar School in Camberwell. Like other schools I have worked at, craft teachers weren’t made too welcome in the staffroom. We had to ride in the back of the bus, had separate drinking fountains and so forth, and so I was pretty desperate to leave. We had already got our Cultural Visas for Japan and so as soon as Deb finished her course at Camberwell School of Art in August 1971 we took the long, long journey by train across Europe and Siberia to Khabarovsk and Nahodka where we boarded the boat to Yokohama for the final part of the journey. Safely installed in Dr Ohmura’s house in the western suburbs of Tokyo, Deb enrolled in the Joshibi Art School, bought a small motorbike to get to college, and I signed up for a Japanese Language course at Waseda University. This was at the time of the riots caused by the Japanese Government’s forcible purchase of farming land on which to build Narita Airport. The classes at Waseda were frequently drowned out by the sound of megaphones and when the riot police actually came onto the campus a pitched battle broke out with the students using scaffold poles, iai-to etc, and the police bringing the edges of their riot shields down smartly on the student’s trainers, followed by a swift clip round the head with their batons. By this time we had both picked up several private language students In April 1973 I was invited by Oura Sensei to the Sixth Kokusai Shakaijin (International World Citizens) Taikai which was being held in Fukuoka that year. With my flashy new bogu I flew down to Kyushu but, sorry to say, the armour didn’t really have the magic qualities I had been promised, and I was back to Tokyo on the first plane with my tare between my legs. Fukumoto Sensei kindly introduced us to a machi-dojo in down-town Tokyo, run for the benefit of local kids and blue collar workers. The dojo was run by Konishi Shiro Sensei who, as I remember, repaired blowlamps for a living (surely the niche market to end all niche markets). The dojo was warmly supported by lots of local parents who sent their kids along to learn good manners and discipline. The dojo was strict but the teachers were patient and enthusiastic. One drawback was the changing room which was the size of a large wardrobe. The parents frequently bought along crates of beer and gallons of sake for the teachers CUTTING EDGE | 25