I wouldn't have made much of my trip if I didn't have hundreds of memories of my two years in Japan. And all of these memories I owe to Richard having created the Shiramizu Karate Internship program as well as Arakawa Sensei's Shiramizu Shuyokai Karate Dojo for agreeing to take the interns in.
As I said in my short speech at the "Farewell to Lawrence, Carl, Amy, David, & Ueno-san and Welcome Erica & Louise" party last Saturday (yeah, we killed 7 birds with 1 stone heh), I originally came thinking that I was to train tons of karate and just become generally good enough to go back and show what I've done.
In actual fact, while karate ability is important, I've realised that karate is not magic and everyone can enjoy and succeed in it so long as they work hard. It is creating the environment within which everyone WANTS to work hard that's the challenge. Fostering a positive and encouraging environment is first and foremost in getting students to come, stay, and work hard, karate or otherwise.
This was something I noticed particularly in my second year as I trained less at Shiramizu and more at a variety of dojos around Tokyo, meeting lots of different sensei. While the first year here was crucial in helping my karate improve (which it still needs LOTS of heh), the second year was equally important in terms of developing my... "theory" I suppose, towards all the things that are needed to support a successful dojo.
Anyway, I had tried to think about how to condense two years of Japan into one gift that Arakawa Sensei and everyone at the dojo could enjoy and I came up with this.
It's made with about 1700 pictures I picked out from my two years here (that took nearly two hours to do) but the mosaic itself was, I'm almost ashamed to admit, incredibly easy to make using AndreaMosaic. Best of all, it's free! =P... But printed in A4 size and put into a frame, it looked great!
Anyway, I've got two weeks left in Japan as of this writing. Onwards and upwards! =)