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24th May

posted May 26, 2013, 6:39 PM by Andrew Glover   [ updated May 26, 2013, 6:42 PM ]

After a good long sleep we woke late, around 9am to a grey and overcast 28C day. Due to the prospect of rain we decided to head back to Naha for the day, with a stock on the way at Gushikawa, which is a big shopping district that has sprung up around the Army base. This begin Sensei Bob's 14 trip here he knows the area well, so he took us into a few shops. Adam went shopping crazy and bough just about every t-shirt he saw and a few other things as well! I was somewhat more restrained, my wallet thanks me I am sure. I did buy a very "American" peak, oh well!

Our first Okinawa food was......tacos! After a bit more walking around it was time to head to Naha. Sensei Bob was sure that the mono-rail ran to Naha. Putting my very limited Japanese to the test I discover 1. Yes it is extremely limited (but better than anyone's else's in the group) 2.There is no mono-rail in Gushikawa! So we tried the taxi thing again to Shureido shop in Naha. This time the guy had a GPS and still got lost! After more hurried calls and radio conversations Sensei Bob landed up ringing Shureido and handing over the phone! More frenzied discussion, a few wrong turns, unscheduled stops and we arrived!

Shureido was amazing! I asked for Yoshei, who does all the overseas orders, but she was out. Adam when t-shirt crazy again and Sensei Bob sorted out an order, I wondered around with a stupid smile on my face!

Then in walk a lovely young Japanese lady, as soon as she saw Sensei Bob, she gave this huge smile and just about gave him a hug! Very un-Japanese, it was Yoshei. She nearly danced with excitement when I introduced myself. She must have 1000s of overseas customers, yet knew my name. She is absolutely lovely!  Sensei Jeff and Bob went shopping crazy and bought heaps of stuff, all to be shipped back home. I confirmed a sai order, for Adrian, and got measured up for gi size. 

After friendly good byes, we headed off to Shuri Castle. Sensei Bob said order "It's only too blocks, lets go!" and stride off. After 20 blocks, the odd wrong turn, switch back and cutting across, Sensei Jeff flagged down a taxi, we where still a 10 minute drive away! Still it was nice to see the see back streets on Naha! 

Shuri Castle! Wow, wow, WOW! Adam and I could barely contain ourselves. Both Sensei Bob and Jeff had been there before, a number of times, so they sat in the warmth of the coffee shop, while Adam and I strolled about in the rain, looking like kids in a candy store. It is quite magnificent. For anyone studying Karate-do, Shuri Castle is a must.

After a good long time, we found the Senseis and it was time forth Dojo Bar.  What a place! James the owner was really friendly and a all round great bloke indeed. There were a number of karate people there, and we had a great time, drank WAY too much but did not make total fools of ourselves, I hope! I had two surreal experiences that I must share.

I am sitting at the bar talking with Adam and I feel this is weighty, solid  hand land on my shoulder.  What the.....I look at the hand, knuckles all calloused and bulging. Uh oh, what did I do?  Then I look at the owner of the hand, more uh oh! He gives me the nod, pulls himself onto the seat beside me, wraps an arm around my shoulders, it felt like a python! "You karate?", "Hai!", "Who Teacher?", "Robert Slywa Sensei" I said pointing to Sensei Bob. If I unknowingly committed some social blunder, I might need some help here, I thought. The guy calls out to Sensei Bob "Who Teacher", Sensei Bob saying Angi Uezi Sensei, Tsyotsu Uechi Sensei, pulls out his phone, starts showing pictures of him with various Sensei over the years. "Ahhh, Angi, hai, Hai, good, good, you OK!" Then turns to me "Ok!" and a we had a great old chat. Turns out he is the President of the Okinawa Rope pulling competition and quite senior in some style. Top bloke indeed.  seems who your Sensei is, is rather important around here!

Then on the TV behind the bar, which till then had been showing great Martial Arts films, comes on this spoof Indiana Jones movie, Adam and look at each other, what the....? Then I look too my side as Adam does too. What! Beside me is the spoof Indiana Jones. We do a double take, try to be surreptitious. Hip, its the dude! After some questioning, he is an English teacher at the local high school and make the film as an English introduction to explain why learning English is important. What a top idea! James the Owner is in it too.

So at who knows what time, after way too many beers, we chanced our luck with the taxi. This time we only got slightly lost, we had to very sternly with him. Seems our hotel is in a devilishly hard place to find.