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
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
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
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
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.-