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New York Seibukan

Japan Revisited  2000

  On Monday, December the 4th, seven members of the New York Seibukan left for a two-week journey to Okinawa and Fukuoka, Japan. On the trip were Dennis Fink Sensei, Bob Freitag Sensei, Cheryl Accardi, Joe DeLuca, Steven Kao, Joseph (Little Joe) A. DeLuca, and Kenny Fink, who lives in Florida. Some of us would reunite with old friends, while others were going to meet people for the first time. The flight lasted for 14 and a half hours. We arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday, Dec. 5th and traveled by taxi from one side of Tokyo to the other. From there we flew to Okinawa. We arrived in Okinawa, almost 24 hours after leaving New York, Uechi Sensei and his students, Isaac Rodriguez and Kenyu Yagi greeted us at the airport. They then took us to our hotel for a well-deserved night's sleep.

   Wednesday, Dec. 6th, we met up with Uechi Sensei and Mr. Yagi. They would be our tour guides while we were in Okinawa. First we went to Zakimi Castle, which also housed a museum. In the afternoon, after a lunch of soba (Japanese noodles), we visited a glass shop and Moon Beach in Nago. Later on, we stopped off at the Bankoku Shindyokan Bugena, a hotel and convention center where President Clinton attended the G-8 summit.

   On Thursday, Dec. 7th, Uechi Sensei, his wife, Ayako, and Mr. Yagi took us to Nakijin Castle. From there we visited Pineapple Park, where we took a tour around the park and got to sample a number of different products (candy, cake, wine) made with pineapples. When we finished there, we went over to the Orion Brewery for a beer tasting and a tour of the brewery. That evening we went to Camp Foster Marine Corps Base to train with Uechi Sensei and his students.

   Friday, Dec. 8th, we started the day out by cruising the coast. We visited two islands, Miyagi and Hamahiga. We visited a shrine on Hamahiga, and went to Mrs. Uechi's family's home on Miyagi Island. En route to and from the islands we went to Katsuren Castle and Nakagusuku Castle.

   Saturday, Dec. 9th we were back at Camp Foster to train with Uechi Sensei and his students. Later that afternoon we ventured over to the Enkaku-ji Temple. From there we visited the Okinawa Prefectural Museum, where we took a group tour. Afterwards we traveled to Shuri Castle, where we went on another tour. Later that day while a couple of us went into the caves at Habu Park, the rest of the group stopped at Ichiro Nakahodo Sensei's house, as he had invited the group to visit. Nakahodo Sensei is a 7th Dan in Isshin-ryu Karate-do and an esteemed calligrapher.

   On Sunday, Dec. 1Oth, Mr. Yagi invited all of us to his house for lunch, which his wife, who works in a restaurant, cooked for us. After lunch, Uechi Sensei and Mr. Yagi took us to watch traditional Okinawan bullfighting, a weekly event. Mr. Yagi introduced us to his brother-in-law, who owns two fighting bulls. He invited us to his home to see the bulls up close. Later that afternoon, Master Angi Uezu took us to Master Tatsuo Shimabuku's (founder of Isshin-ryu Karate-do) grave to pay our respect.

  Monday, Dec. 1st , we left Okinawa after a farewell breakfast with all of our friends and flew to Fukuoka. Takaki Sensei and some of his and Shitama Sensei's students from the Sekiryukan greeted us at the airport. Joining us in Fukuoka were Brett Diamond and Steve Edwards from the New York Seibukan as well as Les Freeman and Stefan Brown, two students of Randy Cantonwine, who live in Washington State. That evening we trained at the Sekiryukan. After the class, Shitama Sensei welcomed us officially with a party. After the party we all split up to go with our respective hosts to their homes.

   Tuesday, Dec. 12th, we spent the day sightseeing, going to the Canal City Mall and walked around Fukuoka the rest of the day. That night we trained once again at the Sekiryukan.

   On Wednesday, Dec 13th, during the day we had a little R&R and later took our own separate routes walking around Fukuoka again. That afternoon a number of students arrived from Australia with their sensei’s, Pat Harrington Sensei and Betty Huxley Sensei. After training, we had a party at the Sekiryukan to welcome them to Fukuoka.

   Thursday Dec. 14th we went to the Fukuoka Police Academy (Budokan) to train. Shitama Sensei conducted the class. Students from the USA, Australia, amd Japan training at the Fukuoka Police Academy (Budokan). We also practiced for the demonstration we were to give the following day. Later in the afternoon we were guests of the Lieutenant Governor of the Fukuoka Prefecture.

   Friday Dec. 15th we were all invited to Takaki Sensei's doio (Minami Onojo Judo Club) in Onojo City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Students from the USA, Australia, and Japan demonstrated techniques and kata for the mayor and members of the dojo. Afterwards, they hosted a wonderful party and entertained us with traditional Japanese dance performances.

   Saturday Dec. 16th was our last full day in Fukuoka. Some spent the day recovering from the demonstration and party, while others participated in a bus tour of the area, with a stop at the beautiful Daizafu Shrine. That night we had our farewell party at the Sekiryukan.

   On Sunday, Dec 17th , we left Fukuoka for New York. To our surprise, many of Shitama Sensei and Takaki Sensei's students and their families came to the airport to wish us a safe trip home. We said our goodbyes and got on the plane for the long trip home. We arrived in New York at about 7 PM on Dec. 16th, after more than 16 hours of traveling.

  Although most of us were glad to be home, we will miss our friends in Okinawa and Fukuoka who treated us so kindly and made our visit fun, rich, and rewarding.-