Today was supposed to be a pretty uneventful day for me... Nicky had been invited to practice at a kendo dojo, so I was going to bring her bogu (armor) from Sugamo to Nakano and then watch the practice. I had planned to stop in Ikebukuro to get us some Krispy Kreme donuts for lunch, but when I got there, there was a line of about thirty people, so I gave up. Who knew it was so popular?!
Anyway, Nicky’s bogu was pretty cumbersome, so I didn’t try to get anything else before meeting her. At the station we met Mihori-san, who led us to the dojo. Mihori-san is a super nice guy, and really outgoing, so I didn’t feel the usual nervousness when meeting a new person at all. Everyone at the dojo was exactly the same way. The head instructor was really welcoming, and even though I felt like I was encroaching on the dojo’s routines at first, I quickly relaxed and was able to enjoy myself.
The practice itself was only about an hour long, with thirty minutes of warmup and thirty minutes of one on one. Nicky took part in the practice and not the one-on-ones, but I think with all the humidity and the length of time its been since she’s practiced, she did great. I was proud of her anyway, haha. Afterward, the dojo members invited me to have tea with them, and while I was sitting there, the head instructor looked at me and said “You should practice with her, on Monday.” Even though until that moment, I had never really considered kendo something I would want to take part in, the energy of this dojo had really put me at ease, so I agreed to try it. Almost instantly I had three people offering me gear... I felt happy, to be so welcomed. So, Monday I’m going to try kendo out... we’ll see how it goes!
After everyone had cooled down and showered, the head instructor invited us all out to go drinking. I explained to Mihori-san that I don’t really drink, ever, but he said it was fine and to come along anyway. Admittedly, I was pretty nervous about it since my first drinking experience in Japan didn’t go over so well, but there were more people going this time so Nicky and I decided to join them.
It was so fun!!!! We went to a traditional style izakaya, which is pretty much a place to eat and drink cheaply. However, this izakaya was really pretty, with sliding doors separating the rooms and cushions to sit on at the table. There was also a piece of wood between one side and the other side underneath, so there was no danger of hitting anyone else’s legs. Nicky and I both had two drinks each, when suddenly plate after plate of food started arriving at our table.... it started with edamame, and then came mackerel... and then came a beef and pork cutlet... and then $40USD worth of sashimi~! It was nuts!!! Delicious as it was, I was expecting to have to drop $30 after the meal since Mihiro-san said that we all were going to split the bill... but after dinner, the head instructor paid for everyone! I couldn’t believe it! And, Mihiro-san’s fiance is going to give me her hakama... It was a very generous night, and I was saying “waza waza arigatou gozaimasu” quite a bit. (Literally translated as ‘thank you for going out of your way/for doing so much when you didn’t have to.’) It was such a nice group, and I look forward to showing them my appreciation in practice.
This all only happened about an hour ago, so I am still very stuffed and very very happy. For the last three days I’ve felt very content for all the good fortune that has come Nicky and I’s way, and I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me out. So... thank you!