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Okinawa 2013

3rd June

posted Jun 3, 2013, 10:19 PM by Andrew Glover   [ updated Jun 3, 2013, 10:38 PM ]


A 9 hour flight is not that taxing and just when I was starting to get cabin fever, there was the beautiful Central Coast and Lion Island.  I wish I could have jumped out the plane right there. 

We landed at 10:20 am and cleared immigration and customs without a hitch. I can highly recommended the new "digital chip" passports and the e-checkin, it makes to process so easy.  I am always struck with how friendly and happy the Australian Customs and Immigration officials are.  I think they are unique, I certainly have never experienced such a greeting into a country anywhere else in the world.   

Fortunately Sensei Bob didn't get held up, despite the small armory of kubudo weapons he had with him!  We said our goodbyes and Adam and I headed to the train station, for a little more hanging around.  Just in case we hadn't had enough!  After what seemed like a particularly slow train trip up we were at Woy Woy, home and I was waving Adam goodbye!

With that our fantastic trip was over.  It was without about one of the most fore filling, educational and humbling trips I have ever had.  

A few things I do know for sure are:
  1. For many years I though I was learning real Karate, when it turns out I was learning "schoolboy" junior Karate.

  2. The majority of people in the Western world have absolutely no idea of the true meaning of being respectful and courteous. 

  3. I will most certainly be returning to Okinawa.
Thank you for reading these posts, I certainly hope that you have enjoyed them.

2nd June

posted Jun 3, 2013, 10:18 PM by Andrew Glover   [ updated Jun 3, 2013, 10:20 PM ]


Uechi Sensei came and picked us up at 8 am to take us to the airport.  As we had plenty of time he took us through the back streets instead of the toll road.  It was great to see more of Okinawa.   It seems very odd that the Domestic Terminal is huge and the International Terminal is absolutely tiny.  So small in fact that the flights are written on a white board!  However when I learned that Okinawa gets over 2000 Japanese visitors as day and about a few hundred international visitors a week it starts to make sense.  

Thus began our very long journey home and the first of the hanging around.  The 11 am flight to Taipei was uneventful and is really a "hop", it only takes a little over an hour.  I had thought that we had a 2 hour wait in Taipei.  Turns out is was 12 hours, our flights had changed so we could all fly together. 

Sitting around an airport for 12 hours is BORING!  Luckily they have reclining seats, loads of power points and free wifi.  However there is only so much Facebook, newspaper and YouTube one can take.  We landed up in a restaurant/bar with nice leather sofas and a Taiwan video commercial  on continual loop, which nearly drove us crazy. At least the sound was off. 

By 11 pm I was almost glad to to get on the plane.  Adam and I scored a win again and we both had two seats to ourselves.  I managed to curl up and get a fitful 6 hours doze.  Adam managed about 1 hour, but he did watch a lot of movies!  

1st June

posted Jun 3, 2013, 9:24 PM by Andrew Glover


Uechi Sensei picked us up at 9.30 am to take us to the karate museum, it was a bit of an effort to be up and out but that was my fault! After a shortish drive we were there and Uechi Sensei dropped us off as he had to go back to work.  Most Okinawans work 6 days a week.  The karate museum is in the Dojo of Dr. Hokama Sensei, who is a very lovely man.  He has memorabilia from all over the world and loads of old photos of the Karate Masters of yesteryear.  He has been to South Africa and we had a great chat.  I was most disturbed to hear that people who visited his museum had stolen stuff. How can anyone who calls themselves a Martial Artist do such a thing?  Some total low life had stolen an Isshin Ryu patch! One can be easily bought off the net or even in Gate 2 street! Yet the grub chose to steal a patch that had been given to someone, who is a real gentleman, who is trying to preserve the history of karate for us all!  

After leaving the museum we headed into Naha to go to the World War II caves.  We lucked out with another taxi driver who was clueless!  We told him to take us to Shuri Castle as it was the only land mark that he seemed to know.  This was a win for me as I needed to draw money again.  We were hoping to get an English speaking taxi driver, again no luck, so we got him to drop us off in Naha.  We went for a coffee in Starbucks, not great but better than the coffee I have had so far!  After a bit of questioning we were directed to a tourist Information place, there lovely girl gave us a map to the caves.  We piled into another taxi and this time got to were we wanted. 

The caves were dug out by the Japanese/Okinawans, as three last defence of the Japanese Naval Command.  They were very interesting and it must have been an incredible effort to digging them or.  What happened to the Okinawan people during the American invasion is terrible. They were treated so badly by the Japanese, only to be killed by the Americans who thought they were Japanese!  The amount of munitions that the Americans dropped on Okinawa during the invasion was staggering.  To this day the Americans still occupy 18% of Okinawa.  Which is both a blessing, in that they stimulate the economy, but a curse as the occupy some much of the Island.

We caught a taxi back to the hotel, Adam and I walked down to A&W for lunch and root beer, the place was packed.  We then spent the afternoon packing and relaxing until dinner time, we went to our favourite restaurant one last time.  The waitress was very sad to see us go, but loved the little koala bear Sensei Bob gave here.  The group decision was for one last drink or two at the Karaoke bar, the owners were all smiles to see us, but they fortunatley failed in their attempts to get us to sing!  With many a bow and a few hugs they sent us on our way, they really were quite friendly.

31st May

posted Jun 1, 2013, 8:06 AM by Andrew Glover


Slow start to the day today, Adam was all tuckeres out from last nights training and only woke up and about 11.30am.  I caught up on Admin stuffand when Adam finally woke upi we took a walk down to the Post Office to draw some more money and then went to A&W, which is and American fast food joint. The hamburgers are way better than the chicken burgers. I am not really a fastfood person but the thought of Japanese food for lunch just does not appeal to me, so the alternative is American! Not the best in the world, despite all the hoopla!  

After lunch we went back to the hotel and I watched the video of the class and practised kata to make sure that I had all the corrections in my head.  Adam also went through the things he has learnt with Sensei Bob to make sure he had then down pat.  After that Adam and I worked on trying to synchronise Kusanku and kankudai together. After about 4 runs through the kata we had got the timing pretty much in sync. Then we worked on seisan and hangetsu, they worked very well together, with a little more more we will have it looking quite good. 

Sensei Bob, Jeff and I caught a taxi to Uechi Sensei's dojo for the 6 pm class.  Adam decided not come with us and instead walk down to his training for 7.30 pm.  The class was much more informal, Uechi Sensei took Sensei Bob through all the kata, while I did kata with Sensei Jeff and JC (one of the students).  Sensei Bob had to leave at 7 pm to go join Adam at his training. Uechi Sensei got Saduo (the Black Belt) to take Sensei Bob there.  I continued to work through kata with JC, while Uechi Sensei worked with Sensei Jeff.

Towards the end of the class Uechi Sensei got JC and I to do some bag work, it was really fun and I got do do some things that I had never done before. The basic premise was 5 techniques five time on one hand, swap 5x5 on the other, then swap bag holder. Then 3x5, swap hands, 3x5, swap bag holder. Then 2x5, swap hands, 2x5, swap bag holder. Then 1x5, swap hands, 1x5, swap bag holder.

We started with 5 continuous punches, then back hand block and punch, then back fist, spinning back fist, round kick, knee, round knee, thrust  kick, back kick. Suddenly the class was over and that was the end of training.

Uechi Sensei is a true Gentleman in every sense, if I could be half the man he is I would only then start to consider myself as a true karate-ka.  He is such a wonderful, humble man.  I will certainly miss training with him. 

Saduo very kindly took us back to the hotel.  On the way my bag fell over and my phone fell out in his car.  I didn't notice until I got back to the hotel room.  I was not too fussed as Uechi Sensei had offered to take us to the karate Museum in the morning and I knew I could get Saduo's number from Uechi Sensei and arrange to meet Saduo and pick up my phone.

After a quick shower Sensei Jeff and I caught a taxi down to the other Dojo where Sensei Bob and Adam where training, hoping to catch the end of the class, which was meant to finish at 9.30 pm.  We got there at 8.50 pm and they were finished. I was very disappointed as I wanted to video Adam doing the class.  

Iha Sensei took us all out to dinner, we piled into a taxi, 4 in the back seat, and landed up in this tiny place.  We sat on the floor, around a table and drank beer and ate.  We had this weird seaweed stuff, which I actually enjoyed and a then a pork soba, which was quite nice.  Iha Sensei then decided the night was done, as Sensei Bob was not up to a "pub crawl".  

We caught a taxi back to the hotel and after freshening up went to our favourite restaurant for dinner. After that Sensei Jeff, Adam and I decided to go out for a "night cap".  We decided to try a karaoke bar just down from the hotel that looked OK.  When we walked in the signing was very below par, in fact it was awful!  We sat down only to be told "Japanese ONLY", we must look like Americans!  I was quote happy to leave, due to the very bad signing, but it a long time since I have been racially discriminated against.  Really I don't see what all the fuss is about!  We walked up to a bar that Sensei Jeff had been to before. 

This was another karaoke bar but this time it was not so loud and the patrons could actually sing!  I had a great time despite drinking a bit too much!  It was very odd being able to sing along to the Japanese words, yet not having the vaguest clue what the words ment. The bar maids, who are at least 50+, were a total hoot and very entertaining indeed. 

After a few too many beers and much fun we headed back to the hotel.  When we got back the fellow at the reception handed me my phone and said "Uechi bring".  I felt terrible that I had put Uechi Sensei out, he could have just as easily given it to me in the morning, again tit show, to me, the action of a true karate-ka. I shall be more careful of my posetions in the future!

Once again a fantastic day in Okinawa. 

30th May

posted May 30, 2013, 7:08 PM by Andrew Glover


Today is the 38th anniversary of the passing of Tastuo Shimabuku Sensei, may he rest in peace.

We had a big sleep in this morning, eventually I walk down to the shops and left Adam sleeping. I got back at about 10.30 and work him up, with a croissant and mini pizza!  Sense I Bob and Jeff also slept in.  It was a hard training session last night for all of us.

Sensei Bob and Jeff went to Gate Street to get some more sovereigns and Adam and I walked down to the stamp shop to collect our stamps and do a bit more shopping. KFC for lunch, it was OK. Then in the afternoon we just hangout talking and relaxing.  Adam and I can talk for ages about bunkai and Martial Arts, it is very cool.  We are spending a lot of time refining bunkai and applying stuff that we have learnt.  Fun! 

Was hoping to go to Uechi Sensei's class on one of the army bases, but it would have been too hard. You have to be signed in and vetted and a whole load to admin stuff and Uechi Sensei said it would be better if we just went to his Dojo tomorrow night. 

Sensei Jeff has hurt his foot so he decided to not go out and Sensei Bob and Adam went to their raining. I was going to go, but decided to work on my kata, as I want to have then at least half right for tomorrow night. 

Sensei Jeff and I went to or favorite restaurant and watch some crazy Japanese TV, man they do so weird stuff on TV, it would just not work in the Western World, well maybe on MTV!  Sensei Bob and Adam joined us after their training, Sensei Bob was in a really good mood, the nigth had gone particularly well for them.  Then it was back to the hotel and bed.

A relaxing but great day in Okinawa!

29th May

posted May 30, 2013, 7:00 PM by Andrew Glover


We did not sleep well at all, it did not help that my stupid phone suddenly started playing music at 4 am!  I very nearly threw it against the wall.  Very tired this morning, and we had to be up and at it by 9:30 am again as Tokumura Sensei's taxi driver friend was waiting for us.  

When we arrived at Tokumura Sensei's Dojo he was waiting for us, ready to go.  He took each of us to go through the Eku kata, Adam and I were lets say "A bit rusty", but that is not surprising.  Tokumura Sensei then wanted to teach us a tekko kata, but we explained that the tekko is illegal Australia and there was not much point in us learning it.  We explained what weapons we are not allowed in Australia, he was quite impressed.  As we understood it, weapons are not allowed to be carried in Okinawa. You can have them in the Dojo, or be going to training.  Anyway we did some more of the Eku kata and its bunkai and he explained a few things.  Which would have been much more helpful yesterday!  Still we have it in our heads now. 

Then he piled us and a bunch of weapons into his car and he took us down to the beach were we took heaps of pictures.  It was really really cool.  We got some fantastic pictures that will be work desktop wall photo's for sure!  Once we were done, Tokumura Sensei very kindly drove us back to to the Hotel.  We will not get another chance to train with him this trip as he is busy the next two days with work.

In the afternoon, Sensei Bob and Jeff went to the wake of a Yagi-San who they both knew quite well.  As Adam and I had never met him, we decided that it would be inappropriate to go along. Uechi Sensei took Sensei Bob and Jeff to Tatsuo Shimabuku Sensei's tomb. Unfortunately we didn't know they were going, else I would most definitely gone along.

We were also very tired from lack of sleep, so we sat in the hotel room and caught up on admin stuff, talked and read.  Adam bought a very interesting book on the karate masters and it leads to some very fun conversations. 

We did different classes tonight, Sensei Bob and Adam went to their training from 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm and Sensei Jeff and I went to Uechi Sensei from 6 pm - 8 pm.

Uechi Sensei very kindly came and picked us up at 5.45 pm. All classes are about 2 hours long in Okinawa.  When we got to the Dojo it was just us two, then 2 more students arrived.  Interestingly Uechi Sensei did a full formal bow in with them. Uechi Sensei took me through Kata, I have a lot to work on, there were many corrections! Starting with the very first move of the first Kata.  It was amazing to be taught by him, he is a fantastic teacher, easily one of the best I have ever trained with.  I got up to kunsanku with him, then he went and worked with Sensei Jeff.  The black belt, Sato, came and helped me with kusanku.  He was also very, very good. He has only ever trained with Uechi Sensei and it certainly showed.  He is very sharp and very knowledgeable. He is an American student which made things easier. Thought Uechi Sensei does speak very good  English, there is still the language barrier.  Sato helped me a lot with kusanku, sanshin and we just got started on sunsu when the class ended. 

On thing I have noticed with all the Sensei, when they try to explain in English, they always use English words like "punch" and point to the stomach, when you reply "chudan tsuki" there is a moment of blankness.  Like they can't comprehend you understand the terminology.  Adam and I think it is because none of the Americans bother to learn the Japanese words.  Sometimes the Sensei doesn't know the English word and just shows, again a surprised look when you say the Japaneses word.  Learn you Japanese folks!

Uechi Sensei very much sticks to time and doesn't like to stand around for ages talking after class, which I was grateful for, as I was soaked to the bone. Sato drove us back too the hotel, which was very nice of him.  Two free trips tonight!  After a quick shower, Sensei Jeff and I headed out for a late dinner. We were back in the hotel by the time Sensei Bob and Adam got back, they had walk back again from the other Dojo. They also had a tough class.  Adam and I sat up chatting for a while and then crashed.

Today was a very good day indeed.

28th May

posted May 28, 2013, 11:53 PM by Andrew Glover


I was up early, while Mr Sleepy Head (Adam) had a good sleep.  As he said its not his fault I can't get back to sleep once I wake up.  He enviably can.  So I put all the clothes in the drier. 

At 9:30am the taxi driver friend of Tokumura Sensei was there to pick us up to take us to training.  It was nice to not get lost for a change.  There was a lot less talking this time and we went out side next to what we were later to discover is a World War II memorial to all the Okinawans from Tokumura Sensei's village who were killed.  His Grandmother and Grandfather are in the honour roll, which on reflection made it more special.  

Tokumura Sensei taught us an Eku Kata (not sure of the name).  Sensei Bob and Jeff know it, but it was all new to Adam and I.  It is not a hard kata, but Tokumura Sensei is very picky on how things are done.  I don't think he realised that Adam and I didn't know the kata, let along had never picked up an Eku before.  He seemed mostly happy with us though as we were invited back to train tomorrow.  There were a few things that we struggled with, but we got it mostly right.  It was quite amazing to be training outside under the trees looking over the ocean.  Somehow that is how I had pictured training in Okinawa.  I am glad we got the opportunity.  After about 2 hours of training, we were done.  

Tokumura Sensei dropped us off at the local Katsuren Castle.  It is quite spectacular, Sensei Bob explained that it has been under restoration for a long time and every year they have done a bit more, so alot of it was new to him.  Which was nice for a change.  We walked up to the top and got loads of really great photos and videos.  It will be nice to see how much more they have done next year. 

We got back to the hotel with not very much time to spare before we headed out to Iha Sensei's.  Sensei Jeff obviously didn't come, but I am really keen to try some Shorin Ryu.  When we got there, there was one other student a US Army guy who was a white belt.  He has been training for 4 months, I was relieved that there was another newby there.  Just after the class started 2 teenager 3 Kyus can in, a guy and girl.  It was just as hot as Monday night and within minutes of training I was dripping wet.  I found it really easy to switch from Isshin Ryu, which was nice to know I still can!  

After starting out with fukyu daini, thankfully we remembered it from last night with Uechi Sensei, we did a bunch of line drills, not dissimilar to any other style of karate.  Then we got to do partner work, which was very similar to Isshin Ryu sandan kumite but with a twist at the end.  Adam and I were together to start with, was me defending.  So I got to make all the mistakes!  Then we did a bunch of kubudo stuff that I had no idea about!  Still is was fun.  Then we got to do some conditioning work.  I beat Adam to the makiwara, it was not a very nice one.  It is wall mounted and the foam inside is unevenly worn.  One miss hit and twisted all skew.  It also made a heck of a sound when you hit it.   Which Adam and I did with glee.  It was really good to hit something again!  Before we knew it the class was over and we were soaked to the bone!  We decided to walk home, which was a little more than 2 blocks, it took us over an hour! 

 By the time we got the the restaurant it was gone 11:30pm!  Eating that late is not good, and it was 1:00am by the time we got to bed. 

27th May

posted May 28, 2013, 4:59 PM by Andrew Glover   [ updated May 28, 2013, 11:16 PM ]


Well after doing the tourist thing for a few days, today is the day training starts.  
Tokumura Sensei of Tomonokai was our first visit.  I am very excited indeed.  Our first stop was at an A&W American fast food place.  Sensei Jeff was sensible enough not to have the food.  Sensei Bob and Adam enjoyed their burger, my chicken burger was not the best.  The root beer was OK, but I couldn't drink an American sized mug of it.  

We managed to find another taxi driver who got lost.  I think I figured it out, it seems that there are no street signs and house numbers.  No wonder everyone gets lost.  I guess they go on the assumption, if you are coming to visit me you should know where you are going!  Which does not work to well for us foreigners. We pulled up at White Beach Gate (American base) and there was another taxi there.  The driver was somehow related to Tokumura Sensei and knew where he lived. Sensei Bob had phoned Tokumura Sensei, who arrived with in a few minutes.  We piled into the other taxi and were at his Dojo in a matter of minutes. 

Tokumura Sensei is a really really nice man, most welcoming.  We were at his home Dojo, which was a privilege as he does not often accept visitors to train there.  He told us some amazing history, about Isshin Ryu and Tatsuo Shimabuku.  He has loads of photos up, one which i have seen on the internet of 2 guys sparring with Tatsuo Sensei in the background. He is on of the guys! He showed us loads of old weapons and told us old stories about them. The of which are so cool. He had his original Sai and Bo, which he still uses, they are 53 years old! He had a proper Eku (Oar) that his grandfather used to row his boat. The real Eku is different to the ones they uses for martial arts, the real one had more of a curve in it. He got, i think it was the oar maker, to make one for him for kubudo. Anyway way after more talking, started taking about Sai. I think i was playing with his 53 year old Sai, rolling them around opening and closing them, just playing. I did like a bo strike and he was "no, no, no flicky, flicky". Took the Sai of me "strong" and demonstrated a bo strike "no flick at end, strike strong, stop" and hand me the Sai. "you do!" Geeze, no warm, no gi. So I do a few, ask some questions, which he was happy to answer. He seemed happy. Some more talking and photos. Sensei Bob asked him heaps of questions about the early days.

I am not sure how we got onto it but he got me up to do some blocks and punches, corrected a few things, made me do it again. Till he was happy, which thankfully did not take long. He kinda nodded and "good, good, strong!" Then he spoke about Kata, and gets me up to do some kicks, called Adam up as well and proceeded to get us to do front kick. He corrected us, it seemed he was not happy with Adam at first the suddenly he shouts out at Adam "OH GOOD, VERY GOOD, YOU VERY GOOD, DO AGAIN", Adam kicks again and again, and there were more nods, smiles. He seemed just as happy with my kicks and we asked him about side kick, he explained, we did, he was happy. Then he got Adam to do seiunchin, he was not happy that it was Japanese, but seemed happy with how Adam did it and his focus, speed and power. After some more talking he said we were done, and said he would take us back to the hotel.  
He took the long way back past the beach, it is absolutely magnificent, alot like the Central Coast.  We he dropped us at the Hotel, he said "See you tomorrow, taxi come pick you up 9.30am".  Seems Adam and I had passed the test, well it certainly felt like it too me.  

Uechi Sensei was our evening training.  He is also really, really friendly. The training was great.  We started out with the fundamentals, upper and lower.  There were only a few little things that he cleaned up.  Which was good.  Then he taught us the first 2 standard Okinawan School kata.  He explained that all school in Okinawa now teach 4 kata as part of the Sport Curriculum.  1 From each main style.  

The first on is Shorin- Ryu, not sure what kata it is based on. It is a very nice kata, very easy to learn (well it was for Adam and I).  Then he taught us the 2nd one, which is based on Genkezi dai-ich, which was even easier for us.  After doing those a few times.  Sensei Bob and I then asked Uechi Sensei for clarification on some bits of the kata's.  While we went through those him taught Sensei Jeff and Adam a Sai kata. 

Before I knew it we time was up!  Uechi Sensei very kindly drove us back to the hotel and we went out for a dinner and climbed into bed at about 12am.

26th May

posted May 26, 2013, 6:46 PM by Andrew Glover


Another slow start to the day, a night cap turned out to be more than 1 for Sensei Bob and Jeff.  Adam and I have a major problem, we have run out of cash and there is 1 ATM in town that takes our card (plenty take Japanese Bank and City Bank only) and that is in the Post Office, which is no good on a Sunday. So we are on borrowed money lesson learned, bring cash!

The destination today is the Aquarium, something I am very excited to see.  The largest tank in the world and the only one that holds 3 whale sharks. This time we got a taxi driver who spoke English-ish but was a terrible driver who drove a taxi whose radiator cap needed a new car!  He was also incapable of sitting at one speed on the highway, speed 80kph. He spent the whole time accelerating/decelerating. Every time you could here the drive train slamming in. The shock absorbers were non-existent. Still we got to Aquarium and the taxi driver saved us money by stopping at a shop that sold entry tickets. 

The Aquarium was really worth it. The whale sharks and rays in the main tank were awesome, truly a sight to see.  Then Adam and I were blown away by the Native Okinawan village, despite going the wrong around, it was quite an experience. We did get rained few times, but that only added to the atmosphere. 

We decided to try the bus on the way home but got as far as O-Nishi, which cost just about the same the taxi! So we decided to catch a taxi, another win! This guy had a GPS, spoke English and drove a half decent car! Cool techno geek moment, he typed in the post code and then phone number for the address, cool.  We arrived on time and in budget, win!

Sensei Bob wanted soba, and we landed up in a place called 'isshin',which we thought was pretty cool! I had my first vegetable soba (with bacon), it was really nice. Then as training starts tomorrow we all decided to have the night in and catch up on administration etc.

25th May

posted May 26, 2013, 6:40 PM by Andrew Glover   [ updated Aug 19, 2014, 12:54 AM ]


We broke Adam! And slightly broke Andrew! The head is not too strong today, won't be doing that again soon.  After a somewhat slow start to the day, Sensei Bob lead us on a walking tour of Uruma, which was Agena, which was Chan village and that was where Tatsu Shimabuku Sensei taught. Walked up to Issuing Ryu World Karate Association which is run by Kichiro Shimabuku. He must have been in a hurry or something because when Sensei Bob greeted him he didn't even acknowledge our presence and walked off. Still it was nice to get a brief look at the last surviving son of Tatsuo Shimabuku Sensei.  Maybe next time he won't be in such a hurry.

Sensei Bob gave us more of a history lesson as we walked around.  Sadly the original Dojo has long since been knocked down to make way for a partially built road.  Oddly part of the old Sai  makers house was still standing, not for long by the look of it though.

Eating has been a bit sporadic, but Adam was in need of a pick up so we settled on KFC, my first in about 5 years.  Fortunately there were pictures, my zinger as really nice.  Not oily at all, the portions where a bit small though. It fixed Adam and me too.

Sensei Bob had told us about a stamp makers shop, where they will make up custom kanji, Hiragana and Katakana stamps for us. I actually got excited about stamps! Niki will be so happy but not at the cost, Adam and I spent quite alot more than we planned to. But I think the stamps will be worth it when we get them. I am not sure if they come with an ink pad (which of course must be red), we shall find out on Thursday.

Agena Castle was our next stop and it was well worth the trip. Compared to Shuri Castle it is very run down and dilapidated, but there is very a magical air about the place. They were doing some clean up and if they keep going it will be very impressive indeed. Fun fact, the Castle was placed under-siege 3 times and each time the besiegers won, reason begin there was no well in the Castle! The fund thing was it happened to 3 kings in a row. You would have thought the second guy would a have figured it out (seen as that's how he won the castle) and the third guy, who did the same, well the mind boggles, no wonder he was the last King!

When we got back to the hotel Iha Sensei was there to say hello, which was a little uncomfortable s we were not prepared for him.  Adam and I tried to rush ahead so we could tidy our room before he came up for a drink. He arrived before we could, but it was fun to have a few beers with him in or room. Another surreal moment, 10th Dan founder of Ryukonkai in our hotel room having a laugh drinking beer! He does not speak much English, so we had a very funny iPhone Google translate conversation. Be warned Google has some improvements to do! Adam and I decided to call it a night, but Sensei Bob and Jeff decided to go for a night cap.

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