Saturday, 30 August 2008

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"omedetou" which is "congratulations". And, as usual, changing it to "omedetougozaimasu" makes it all the more polite.

And first off, I'd like to extend a huge congrats to Carl, the current Shiramizu intern for reaching his third round at the Wadokai National Championships this past Aug 23rd. The Nationals are extremely competitive and to make it past two rounds is quite an acheivement. That's Carl in the picture to the right, throwing a kick during his second kumite match.

Oddly, this past Aug 21-23 was also the Wadokai World Championships. And no, you didn't read wrong, the same association held two tournaments in two continents at the same time. Conveniently, the World Championships were being held in Vancouver this year and, equally conveniently, I was home for vacation at the time so I got a chance to compete in it.

It was held at Hollyburn Country Club in West Van and hosted athletes from all over the world. I entered individual kata and team kata. Competing for Canada, of course...

The 21st was all junior divisions, the 22nd was all adult elimination rounds, and the 23rd was all the final rounds.

The 22nd saw me go through 2 rounds which I won, placing me in the finals. Unfortunately, since there were no other teams entered in the team kata division, we were immediately slated for a match against the female kata team from Japan since they also had no other competitors.

The 23rd was judgement day and I was the first match run. I was up against Furuhashi Sensei, a friend of mine I had met in my year in Japan and, more importantly, a 7-time Wadokai National Kata Champion........... piece of cake =P.......

Or rather, no piece of cake as I lost 5-0 but left the ring as the silver medallist.

Then it was a long wait as the team kata event was run second to last. During that time though, there were lots to see including some excellent kumite matches as well as some awesome demos.

Then it was team kata time. Admittedly, my team of Richard, Peter, and myself hadn't gotten together nearly as often as we should but we made the most of what we had. The girls however, did get together often to practice. They actually come from the same dojo that I had been training at for the past year so they're really good friends and I've seen them practice til they dropped...... often at 11:30 at night.

Needless to say, their performance was impeccable. Surprisingly though, because there were no other male kata teams (I mean seriously, it can't be that hard to get three guys together to compete??), they awarded us a gold.

And there you have it. A gold and silver medal from the Wadokai World Championships. I'm particularly proud of my second place finish since, as I said from my result in the Saitama Wadokai tournament, it's nice to see my hard work really paying off. It was especially nice that I got to win it in Vancouver because, ultimately, that is where I'll be to further my and my students' karate, so I got to meet lots of people whom I'll probably be working and training with in the future.

Of course, it wasn't all work and no play. Shiramizu had come with almost 25 kids and I planned a fun day out for them. We rented a bus and went to Science World, Gastown, and Stanley Park, finishing with some shopping on Robson and then dinner.

The kids were pretty tired after 3 days full of karate, but they all had a great time and, despite the drizzle, left with a great impression of Vancouver.

Aside from that, thanks to all the people who made time to see me despite my packing things into 2-hr slots. It was really great seeing everyone and....... y'know..... speaking English again haha.......

And now, I'm back in Japan......... work kicked off this past Saturday with a day full of presentations for a "teacher's training" course. The next karate event will be Sept 15th, which is the Tobu Tournament. This was the first tournament I competed in as the Shiramizu intern so it'll be interesting to see what I can do this time around.....

Til then...

Team Japan (L to R) - Yuki, Kana, Rie

Team Canada (L to R) - Richard, me, Peter

Friday, 22 August 2008

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"daihyo" which means "representative". As in, the current Olympians are their respective country's "diahyo". Or in the case of this year's World Wadokai World Championship, being your country's representative is quite an honour.

And as much as I'd like to tell you how the tournament is going, that's for another post.

Instead, I'd like to mention this...

This is the certificate of completion for the Shiramizu Internship. I was the third person to have been accepted the internship and each of the 1-year interns, up to and including this one, everyone has worked hard to make it better than they arrived.

And so, to recognize the work done, I got a Completion Certificate signed by Arakawa Sensei and Richard (Shiramize Internship manager).

Though I never expected anything specific from someone, it was very nice that people think so highly of what the interns are doing.

But beyond that, I'm part-way through the World Championship so you can hear about the results next time =-P.........

Friday, 15 August 2008

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"okaeri". This is probably something you've heard if you watch anime or followed a Japanese person into their home. It's actually said by the person who's in the house and is precede by "tadaima" by the person entering the house. The word is derived from the verb "kaeru" which is "to return". Adding the polite "o" in front of it essentially means this is a polite way of saying "You've returned" or, for lack of better translation, "welcome back".

It's only been a few days into my time here in Vancouver but it's been nice that everyone's been welcoming me back and especially nice to have some free time after a long and busy July.

Vancouver has changed a lot in some ways and hasn't changed in other ways but it's nice to be in familiar territory. And now I can eavesdrop on people!! haha........ it sounds petty, but after an entire year of flat out not understanding what people say (although that's been changing recently), it's kind of nice to be able to hear what people are saying without thinking so much.

The other thing that's nice?? It's not 35 degrees backed by 90% humidity. People are saying it's hot right now and at times, it still is. But at least it's dry and in the shade it actually cools down.

Of course, things like friends and family and.......... driving haha....... those are all nice too.

But then again, my schedule's filled up rather quickly with meeting friends/family, appointments/errands, training for competition, and planning Shiramizu's day out.

Sure beats sitting around though ;)............ check back soon to see how it all pans out........

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"hikouki" which is "airplane". I find that quite fitting since I am getting on the plane tomorrow to head back to Vancouver.

I also realised that I've missed a week!! I apologize but July has been a hectic month what with tournaments, handing off the internship, the Seiritsu Japan Experience! 2008 program, and moving. But all that's done now so I can sort of relax (I'm mid-unpacking/repacking/packing my stuff) and just have a day (maybe 2 heh) off before I get back into the grind to prep for the tournament and Shiramizu's visit.

Really, there isn't much else to say that can't be said in person soooo....... til then =)

Oh, by the way, we took the students to Ginza on Tuesday and I found this......

If you haven't heard about these square watermelons, there isn't anything particularly special about them aside from having been grown in a box. I was told that since the Japanese love to give cakes as gifts, being able to wrap a watermelon in a square cake-like box is desireable...... as a joke or as a surprise, I don't know....... although not many cakes weigh as much as watermelons.

The other benefit is that the watermelons are really easy to stack and store. They also cost, like, $100CAD....................

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"hikkoshi" which is move (houses). Yes, the reason why this post is so late is because this past week, I've been helping 9 students adjust to Japan after having arrived a week ago. And then, yesterday, I finally moved to my new place, in a place called Takadanobaba (yes, it's as funny to say as it is to read).

The 9 students that came are part of the school's "Japan Experience! 2008" program, which is a two week home stay with a schedule packed with lots of sight seeing and chances to try various Japanese cultural activies. This past week we've done stuff like make chirashi sushi, karate, and shodo (Japanese calligraphy) as well as go to places like Asakusa, the Tokyo city hall (which has a 50F observation deck), and, in the picture on the right, the Studio Ghibli Museum, known for My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke, to name a few.

The students are from all over the world (Hong Kong, Canada, Malaysia, and Germany) and they're all really good kids, which certainly helps keep the work load manageable. But it still took time to manage small things, like making sure they got home to their home stay, so it was always pretty late by the time I got home.

Luckily, however, I've just moved from a 1hr train ride from work to a place that's a 15min train ride from work. My roommates are really cool although two of them will be changing at the end of the month. Either way, I'll be kind of living out of a suitcase for the next weeks since it makes no sense to unpack and repack for Canada.

In the meantime, check the Seiritsu International Department blog for more pics of what the program has been about. Click on "NEWS" in the top left, then "August 2008" or "July 2008". I've been updating it daily so there's lots of pictures! =)