The camp itself is run every year, usually in August, taking place at the Nippon Budokan training centre in Chiba, near the International Budo University. It's also usually three days, two nights. This time, however, it was in July and only two days one night, simply because there's another, even bigger event in August- the Wadokai World Cup in Vancouver. And seeing as the majority of the 25 competitors headed to Vancouver are also in the camp, it was cut to two days just to keep from wearing them out. Also different was that this time around, I was signed on as staff, so I helped take care of the kids and teach during the training sessions and such.
But we still managed a lot in those two days. At 7am on Saturday, 100 of us from the dojo left for Chiba which is the prefecture to the east of Tokyo. After stopping for lunch at the Kamogawa Ocean Park (it's more like a water park with picnic areas), we arrived at the training centre at 1:30. After a bit of unpacking, 2:30 saw the start of our 3-hr training sessions for the day.
After that, the fun began. We had a huge BBQ (no, really, HUGE) and fireworks (mostly sparklers). At night, all the staff gathered in a room and we had ice cream and hung out. The next day, we went for a run/walk/me-racing/chasing-the-kids up to a look out point and we had a 5 minute practice looking out onto the Pacific Ocean. That was followed with breakfast and yet another practice.
At 11am, we left for Kamogawa Sea World which is a huge sea-side aquarium. I didn't know what to expect but it's quite surprising how much stuff was there. From giant crabs to this absolutely HUGE sunfish to killer whales, belugas, and dolphin shows. It was really rather impressive........... dare I say more so than the Vancouver Aquarium??....... hmm....... =)
The orca was desperate to get into the picture...
But the coolest site, for me anyway, was the chance to go through the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line. The bay is rather massive and while there is a ferry across is, the only other way across it is to drive the 100km shoreline from Tokyo to Chiba.
What interests me the most about the Aqua-Line is that it's a bridge-tunnel, where the Tokyo half of the road is under the water while the Chiba end is a bridge. At the cross-over point is "Umihotaru" (Sea firefly), a man-made island that serves as the cross-over, a rest-stop, and contains intricate on- and off-ramps that allow you to legally drive to Umihotaru, go to the restaurants or take in the view there, and then return the way you came.
If any of you watch Top Gear, July 13th's episode where they race a Nissan GTR against a bullet train across Japan, there's a great aerial shot of the GTR blasting out of the tunnel on its way to Chiba.
Why does it interest me?? I guess I'm just a sucker for feats of engineering...... the entire route is 14km long and its 9.6km tunnel is the world's longest underwater car tunnel in the world. It also took 31 years (!!) to complete at a cost of $11.7 billion USD when it opened in 1997. Hence why the toll to cross the thing is $30.........
But the camp was great fun. I think I had even more fun this time around because I knew everyone better there and I was better able to communicate with the kids. And now it's a few days off while I finished prepping for the school's home stay. We'll have 9 students from all over the world (mostly Canadians, both from Canada and by-way of Hong Kong) come stay for two weeks so I'll be helping them through all the activities we've planned for them....... fun!