Friday, April 27, 2012

Spokane Japan Week 2012

Photo by C. Parsons

Last weekend was the opening ceremony of our annual Japan Week here in Spokane.  All week there are fun things going on all over town for people to participate in and learn more about all things Japanese.  This year our dojo shook things up a bit by hosting a dinner at our dojo the night before the opening ceremony, as a kind of "grand opening" of our new location.

The fun with dinner kicked off a week prior, when we were told that there were about sixty people signed up for dinner (not including kendo members).  We were all pretty happy hearing that, but in a couple of days that number doubled to around 120, and then finally when the day came we were sitting at 200 people and counting!  I think we exceeded any goals that we had for dinner.  We had planned not only a dinner but various martial arts and taiko demonstrations during the time, as well as some other fun things such as door prizes and a movie afterward for anyone that wanted to stay.

My biggest concern was how we were going to fit that many people into our dojo and still have floor room enough to do the demos, but when I arrived on Friday to help out I saw that Sensei already had that taken care of with the tables and the layout.  I would have to say that even though this was our first attempt at something like this, and despite a few minor hiccups, everything came together pretty smoothly.  Dinner was catered by one of our local sushi restaurants and was delicious, and taiko drumming and flute playing carried on throughout dinner.  Spokane Taiko performed wonderfully and set the tone for the rest of the evening, which included demos for karate (Doshinkan), iaido, and kendo.

We took our turn on the floor last, and after kata and a few drills to show the basic strikes and some more advanced drills we broke up for jigeiko.  I had the pleasure of fighting against a nito kenshi and did my best to put on the best show I could for the crowd.  I got hit a lot, it felt like, but I also landed a couple of great strikes, including a do strike early on.  We finished up, bowed out, and changed to help with clean-up.  Again, I believe that our dinner went off pretty smoothly and I look forward to hopefully doing it again next year!

Saturday brought with it the opening ceremony for Japan Week, at the mall.  This year I was part of the walk-in, which included people from all of the various events that would be going on.  Afterward I had a chance to sit back and watch the other demonstrations, which included more taiko, karate, dancing, iaido, and probably a few others that are slipping my mind at the moment.  When it was our time we stepped into the circle and went over pretty much the same format as we did the night before, with a few subtle changes.  This time we had more people, including some friends from Mukogawa, and some people that weren't in armor.  I think that we had a good mix of younger and older, male and female in our group this year and from what I saw things went pretty smoothly.  We all did our best and I hope that the crowd enjoyed our kendo.  I know that I made some new friends, saw some old friends, and put my best kendo on display for all to see, and I look forward to being able to come back next year!

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