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Adventures in Golden Week

May 7, 2008

For those of you not living in Japan this past weekend was Golden Week. Or Golden-four-days.

So instead of training, I left my island Kyushu home for road trip travels in Honshu. More precisely – Miyajima, Iwakuni and Tsuwano (which are places in Honshu). But fear not. I got some workouts in while having fun and managed to see an actual place directly related to Jiu-jitsu.

An island off the coast of Japan near the prefecture of Hiroshima, Miyajima sports a lovely bright orange-red and huge tori gate that stands in the water (it’s low tide in the picture).

The area is host to lots of deer (that love to eat maps), a 500 year old temple and a really large rice scooper.

The famous foods are momiji manjyu (a tasty snack in the shape of a five point leaf) and anago donburi (eel rice bowl).

I decided to practice (goof off) holding guard by hanging on to one of the 500 year old posts for as long as possible. I held it for ten seconds or so as the picture was being taken. I think it was harder keeping that silly look on my face than holding on to the actual post.

I got up at 6:30, 7:00, and finally got out of bed at 7:30. And after a full day of walking over bridges…

…looking at white snakes…

…getting lost and finding a really short castle (didn’t post up the pic of the short castle cause who wants to look at a short castle?), I did a short workout routine back at my hotel room.

15 3-and-1.5 pylo push ups (3 sec down, go halfway up, go back down and explode back up)
30 hindu squats
20 burpees
10 handstand push ups

Dubbed the “little Kyoto” by it’s townspeople, Tsuwano is a very tiny town with several claims to fame. One is that it has steam engine trains that still travel to the town over the weekends and holidays. Another is a local famous artist who turned his old elementary school into a museum that, of course, holds his works.

The last Tsuwano claim to fame is that the town still retains walls and homes and buildings that are over 100 years old. One of these buildings was a school dorm complete with a turn-of-the-last-century Jujutsu training hall.

That’s crazy! 100 years ago Jujutsu was being taught in the very same building I stood in front of and now write about it!

100 years ago, Mitsuyo Maeda was traveling the world spreading the effectiveness of Jujutsu (while taking names and choking people out), and it was being taught in public schools by this time. One could argue that it was Kodokan Judo and not Jujutsu that was being taught but it was during this that that the terms Judo and Jujutsu were easily interchangable.

We say Judo now and clearly we think of the olympic sport Judo. The Jujutsu that was being taught in that training hall 100 years ago was a martial art that more resembled Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or Kosen Judo than Kodokan Judo.

Who would have thought that I would have a connection with an empty dusty hall? Separated only by time, the techniques and the concepts that I know now were by all accounts the same techniques and concepts that were once practiced there 100 years ago.

All this from a little road trip during Golden Week. Or Golden-four-days.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2008 6:00 am

    What an amazing place you live!

    I’m so jealous. To be able to take a small road trip to a monument of the warrior spirit and bask in it’s glory would be something indeed!

    Great pictures and thanks for sharing your experiences. Now I too have a connection with that small dusty room where warriors once trained.

  2. July 12, 2008 11:37 am

    Thanks Jonathan,

    I had no idea that the training hall was there. Found it on sheer luck. Of course my girlfriend spotted it immediately. It was a great surprise. And Japan’s kinda like that, surprises around every hidden corner.

    Keep on training!

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