Volume 32, number 1/2/3
* 4/8: 2018 AUSKF Jr. Nationals, Sun, Marina High School, Huntington Beach, California. The gym will
be open the day before(April 7) for preparation.
* 4/14: UW Taikai, Sat, 10am, Intramural Activities Building (IMA), Montlake Boulevard NE.
* 4/14-15: AUSKF Board meeting and Kodansha shinsa, Sat-Sun, SCKO venue TBD.
* 4/21: PNKF Shinpan Seminar, Sat, 1-6pm, Highland Park Community Center, 14224 Bel-Red Road,
* 4/22: Cherry Blossom demo, Sun, 11:30am-12:00noon, Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center. Participants please be there by 11:00am. Coordinator is Alick Law, firstname.lastname@example.org.
* 5/5: PNKF Board meeting, 9-11am, Sat, Kent Commons Recreational Center, 525 4th Avenue N. (corner
of 4th and James), Kent.
* 5/19: Bellevue Junior Taikai, Sat, 9:30am-3pm, Highland Park Community Center, 14224 Bel-Red Road,
* 5/26: 52nd Vancouver Kendo Tournament, Sat, 10am-6pm, Byrne Creek Secondary School, 7777 18th
* 5/26-27: Georgia Kendo Association Shinsa (Sat), banquet (Sat), and 8th Annual Taikai (Sun).
Shinsa: Sat, 4:30-6:30pm, with Godo keiko 6:30-7:30pm at Lifetime Fitness Center, Johns Creek, 11555
Johns Creek Parkway, Johns Creek, Georgia.
Banquet: Sat, 8pm, Hong Kong Cafe, 10820 Abbotts Bridge Road, Ste 110, Johns Creek, Georgia.
Taikai: Sun, 8:30am, South Forsyth High School, 585 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, Georgia.
Deadline to apply: May 11. For info write: email@example.com
* 5/31-6/4: AUSKF Iaido Seminar, Salt Lake City.
* 5/31-6/4: AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp and Jodo Seminar, Thu-Mon, with Iaido Hanshi 8th Dan Teruo
Mitani and Iaido Kyoshi 8th Dan Atsumi Hatakenaka, Eccles Student Life Center, University
of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.
• Thursday (May 31, 2018) – Iaido Seminar (9:00 AM – 4:45 PM)
• Friday (June 1, 2018) – Iaido Seminar (9:00 AM – 4:30 PM)
• Saturday (June 2, 2018) – AUSKF Iaido Championships (9:00 AM – 4:30 PM)
• Sunday (June 3, 2018) – Iaido Shinsa (9:00 AM – 11:45 AM), Jodo Seminar (1:00 PM – 4:00 PM), Jodo Shinsa (4:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
• Monday (June 4, 2018) – Jodo Seminar (9:00 AM – 11:30 AM)
* 6/9: Rose City Taikai, Sat, doors open at 8am, opening ceremonies at 9am, PCC Sylvania Campus Gym -2nd floor west end of the Health Technology building – (Room 266), 12000 SW 49th Avenue, Portland, OR 97219
* 6/14-17: 11th Annual US Nito Kendo Camp, Seminar, and Shinsa, Thu-Sun, with Ryoichi FUJII, Yamaguchi, Kyoshi
8 dan, Yoshihiro UGAJIN, Tokyo, Kyoshi 7 dan,Futoshi SATO, Chiba, Kyoshi 7 dan, Mitsuyoshi WADA, Tokyo,
Kyoshi 7 dan, Taichi KISA, Osaka, Kyoshi 7 dan, and Ako FUJII, Yamaguchi, Renshi 6 dan, College of Idaho,
J.A. Albertson Activities Center, Caldwell, Idaho.
* Thursday, (June 14, 2018) – 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Welcome Keiko
* Friday, (June 15, 2018) – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Seminar
* Saturday (June 16, 2018) – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Seminar (Banquet 6:30 pm)
* Sunday, (June 17, 2018) – 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, Shinsa and Taikai
* 7/21: PNKF Board meeting, 9-11am, Sat, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 1610 S. King Street, Seattle.
* 8/11: PNKF Kendo Shinsa, Sat, 12noon-4pm, open keiko 4-5pm, Kent Commons Recreation Center,
525 4th Avenue N. (corner of 4th and James), Kent.
* 9/8: PNKF Senior Kendo Seminar, Sat, 8:30am-4pm, Bitterlake Community Center Annex, Thompson Broadview.
Elementary, 13052 Greenwood Avenue N., Seattle.
Tentative agenda: doors open 8:30am; 9-10:30am, injury prevention; 10:30am-12noon, Competition;
12noon-1pm lunch; 1-1:30pm warm up; 1:30-3pm shinsa; 3-4pm open keiko.
* 9/14-16: 17WKC, Fri/Sat/Sun, Seoul, Korea.
* 9/15: PNKF Board meeting, 9-11am, Sat, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 1610 S. King Street, Seattle.
* 9/28-9/30: PNKF Iaido Seminar, Tournament, and Shinsa, Fri, Sat, Sun, Rain City Fencing, 1776 136th Place NE, Bellevue.
Teachers: Iaido Kyoshi 8th Dan Hideo Noguchi; and Iaido Kyoshi 7th Dan Shigehiro Aoki and Kaoru Suzuki.
Tentative Schedule: Fri, 7-9pm Jodo/Iaido; Sat, 9am-5pm Iaido; Sun
9am-12noon Iaido Tournament; 1-5pm PNKF Iaido Shinsa.
* 10/6: PNKF Shinpan Seminar, Sat, 12noon-5pm, Kent Commons Recreation Center, 525 4th Avenue N. (corner of 4th and James), Kent.
* 10/20: Tacoma Taikai, Sat, 9:30am Opening Ceremonies (doors open at 8:30am), Curtis High School, 8425 40th Street West, University Place, WA 98466 (tentative).
* 11/3: PNKF Taikai, Sat, Kent Commons Recreation Center, 525 4th Avenue N. (corner of 4th and James St.)
* 11/10: AUSKF Board meeting, Sat, venue TBD.
* 11/11: Kodansha Shinsa, Sun, venue TBD.
* 11/17: PNKF Board meeting, 9-11am, Sat, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 1610 S. King Street, Seattle.
* 12/1: Kent Taikai, Sat, Kent Commons Recreational Center, 525 4th Avenue N. (corner of 4th and James St.)
* 12/9: PNKF Jodo Shinsa.
Three legendary kenshi recently passed away.
John Kazuo Yamamoto Junior, Kendo 4th Dan, died on January 31, 2018, at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California. He had been born in the same hospital on March 22, 1939 to John Kazuo Yamamoto Senior and Sue Tsuyako Nakasuji. In 1942 at age eleven he and his family were taken into the Santa Anita assembly center and relocated to Granada, also known as Camp Amache, in Colorado, returning to Chula Vista in 1945. In 1957 he graduated from Chula Vista high school, and in 1959 he was drafted into the US Army. He was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and then at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he met his future wife, Amy Emiko Ann Sanbo, who was attending the University of Washington. Yamamoto Sensei was fond of recounting how he had stolen away the love of his life from a young philosophy student from Hong Kong, Bruce Lee. After the Army, he again returned to Chula Vista, and attended San Diego (now City College). He and Amy married December 31, 1964. Yamamoto Sensei transferred to San Diego State University, and was subsequently accepted to dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon graduation, Doctor Yamamoto once again went back to Chula Vista where he went on to practice dentistry for 44 years. In 1974 he was involved in helping rehabilitate young Japanese American drug parolees, and heard that Shigeo Yamanishi Sensei was starting a new Kendo Club, supported by Maki Miyahara Sensei, so he brought ten of them to the Dojo to learn about their Japanese heritage. That’s when Kendo turned into his way of life. At this San Diego Kendo Bu the head instructor was Yamanishi Sensei, and Yamamoto Sensei spent a lot of time with Kikuo Uyeji Sensei, and after Yamanishi Sensei tragically died early on a diving accident, they led the practices. Other members of the club included his brother Carl Yamamoto, and his brother-in-law Kichi Hayashi. Yamamoto Sensei was also on the University of California San Diego Kendo Team at Nationals. In addition to Kendo, Yamamoto Sensei was active in many other arts, including karate, ballet, music, Little League baseball, technical rock climbing, fly fishing, and kayaking. A genuine renaissance man, he carried it all with a light, deft spirit of fun, humor, deep affection, and infectious enthusiasm. Services were February 10 at Greenwood Mortuary. Our deepest condolences to his dear wife Amy, his children Lisa and David (who are Kendo yudansha), and all his many friends and students.
Kenneth Yuji Ogami, Kendo 4th Dan, died on January 31, 2018, while attending a conference in Vancouver, B.C. Born March 10, 1957 in Fukuoka, Japan, to Benjamin Keiji Ogami and Reiko Nishi, Ken joked that he was an Issei/Sansei, since his father was a native of California. After graduating from South Pasadena Senior High in 1974, he entered a special joint college program, and in 1979 had earned a BA with Honors in Physics and Math from Occidental College, and a BS in Engineering from California Institute of Technology. He said the two best teachers he ever had were Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics, and Linus Pauling, double Nobel Laureate, in Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize. Coming to Seattle in the summer of 1979, he worked full time in the defense side at Boeing, while simultaneously earning an MS in Electrical Engineering, which was awarded in 1982 from the University of Washington. He had begun Kendo at about the age of six, at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple Kendo Club under Kendo and Iaido Kyoshi 7th Dan Pat Yoshitsugu Murosako Sensei, and Kendo Hanshi 8th Dan Bob Akio Hara Sensei. Around that time Murosako Sensei’s son Kendo 5th Dan Jim was also beginning Kendo there, and Jim and Ken became inseparable lifelong friends. Another person in that Dojo with them was Kendo Renshi 6th Dan and Iaido 4th Dan Jean Kodama, who flew to Seattle to take part in Murosako Sensei’s memorial service July 24, 2016. Meantime he had met Dori Kobayashi through an extra ticket to the Rose Bowl, and the two of them first showed up at Kendo Club at UW practice in the HUB Ballroom on January 23, 1980, and from then on became deeply involved in the Club. They married June 28, 1980. Ogami Sensei has been a major contributor and inspiration to the WSKF (the earlier name of the PNKF). In November 1982 he joined the WSKF Board, and was elected Secretary of Internal Affairs, an office which in those days entailed many heavy responsibilities, most notably organizing the shinsa. In November 1986 and again in November 1987 he was elected WSKF President. Dori became a huge asset in the leadership of the UW Club and rose to Kendo 1st Dan prior to becoming pregnant. On July 17, 1988, Ogami Sensei resigned from the WSKF Board and Presidency, and the Vice President, Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan Jeff Marsten Sensei, assumed the Presidency. With first son Kyle having been born in January 1988, by July he said he needed a leave of absence and couldn’t come to Kendo for a while, because he just wanted to spend every possible moment looking at his beautiful baby. Shortly after that, he expressed his realization that looking at his son had made him understand the enormity of designing potentially catastrophic nuclear weapons delivery systems, and he simply could not morally or spiritually do it any longer. Actually, this awakening was entirely in keeping with his lifelong orientation to enlightenment, and his many words over the decades about enlightenment. That’s when he moved to Spacelabs to put his energy and talent into peaceful applications from then on. Korwin (Korry) and Kendo 3rd Kyu Midori followed in 1989 and 1992. He has subsequently worked for Intermec, Cypress Semiconductor, Apollo Video, and Bluetooth SIG, all of whom sent eulogizers to the celebration of life March 3, 2018 at Seattle Betsuin. He never really came back to Kendo, but rather in the spirit of Kendo went on to become very supportive of his children in Scouting, soccer, and calligraphy. Throughout his life Ken Ogami Sensei always showed the deep cheerfulness of enlightenment. We miss him intensely, and offer our deepest condolences to his beloved wife, children, and many devoted friends.
Mozart Haruhisa Ishizuka, Kendo Renshi 6th Dan, died March 5, 2018 age 88. He was born December 8, 1929 in Pasadena, California. During the 1950s he attended Pasadena College, Los Angeles State College, and the University of California Santa Barbara. On September 6, 1958 he married Ayako Osawa in Los Angeles. In the 1990s they moved to New York, where he established a distinguished legal practice, and was deeply involved in the local Kendo scene. In 1974, he formed a Kendo Dojo in Mount Kisco, New York, and in 1977 founded the Hartsdale Kendo Club, now known as the Scarsdale Dojo. Ishizuka Sensei was the Founder and President of the Eastern United States Kendo Federation. He and Ayako’s children include the noted Kendo 5th Dan Akiko Ishizuka Kato Sensei, wife of Kendo Kyoshi 8th Dan and Iaido Kyoshi 7th Dan Shozo Kato Sensei, and mother of 4th Dan Taishi and 3rd Dan Mirei Kato. For decades he was a faithful reader of the PNKF Kenyu, and a loyal friend of the editor. Our deepest condolences to all of the great Ishizuka Sensei’s family, friends, and students.
PNKF BOARD NEWS
At their November 18, 2017 meeting, the new 2017/2018 Board was seated, and Officers were elected.
President – CJ Chaney (Sno-King), Vice-President – Doug Imanishi (Seattle), Treasurer – Mary DeJong (Highline), Secretary – Tom Bolling (Bellevue). UW Advisor – CJ Chaney.
Other Board members are: Sean Blechschmidt (Bellevue), Cougar Capoeman (Tacoma), Frederic Fourie (AiShinKai), Mark Frederick (Northwest), Noelle Grimes (Sno-King), Mart Hughes (Obukan), Taryn Imanishi (Cascade), Michael Mabale (Seattle), Curtis Marsten (Elizabeth Marsten (Highline), Vicki Marsten (Federal Way), Tiarnan Marsten (Kent), Edward Olson (Tonbo), Chris Ruiz (Spokane), Russ Sinclair (Spokane), Robert Stroud (Idaho), Val Vulfson (Northwest), Francis Walsh (UW), and David Yotsuuye (Bellevue).
14th ANNUAL PACIFIC INTERCOLLEGIATE TOURNAMENT – January 27, 2018, University of Victoria
Non-Bogu 1st Dan and Below
1st place - Sonia Kung, Langara 1st place - Anthony Yorita, UW
2nd place - Anthony Lee, Langara 2nd place - Leo Gao, UW
3rd place - J. Bartels, UBC 3rd place - Jason Nguyen, UW
3rd place - Jessica Sun, UBC 3rd place - Minh Dao, U Vic
2nd Dan and Above
1st place - Tiarnan Marsten, UW
2nd place - Andrew Chen, UBC
3rd place - Jane Higa, UW
3rd place -
Consolation - Tiffany Huang, U Vic
1st place - U Vic A
2nd place - U Vic B
1st place - UW (Jane Higa, Abby Tan, Elysia Midorikawa)
56th ANNUAL STEVESTON KENDO TOURNAMENT – February 10, 2018, McMath High School
10 Years and Under 11 to 13 Years 14 to 15 Years
1st place - N. Son, Renbu 1st place - T. Ariga, Butokuden 1st place - R. Kim, Renbu
2nd place - I. Hwang, Renbu 2nd place - R. Homma, Renbu 2nd place - A. Shimizu, Tozenji
3rd place - I. Lancelot, NCKF 3rd place - C. Robillard, Steveston 3rd place - M. Fukuoka, Tozenji
3rd place - F. Benson, Youshinkan 3rd place - D. Chui, Steveston 3rd place - J. Kim, Federal Way
0-4 Kyu 1-3 Kyu Women 1 Dan and Under
1st place - T. Miyamoto, Northwest 1st place - K. Fukuda, Cascade 1st place - B. Park, Bellevue
2nd place - S. Lu, Steveston 2nd place - K. Underhill, Cascade 2nd place - A. Kojima, Bellevue
3rd place - M. Miyamoto, Northwest 3rd place - A. Yorita, UW 3rd place - J. An, Tozenji
3rd place - F. Lancelot, NCKF 3rd place - J. Nguyen, UW 3rd place - N. Harris, Highline
Women 2 Dan and Over 1-2 Dan 3 Dan
1st place - A. Fukushima, Vancouver 1st place - K. Muramatsu, Renfrew 1st place - I. Miki, Steveston
2nd place - K. Darbyshire, Vancouver 2nd place - E. Lee, Renbu 2nd place - T. Marsten, Kent
3rd place - E. Marsten, Highline 3rd place - E. Chui, Steveston 3rd place - T. Adachi, UVic
3rd place - K. McManus, Kent 3rd place - S. O’Sullivan, Steveston 3rd place - T. Okitsu, Tozenji
4 Dan and Above
1st place - R. Asato, Vancouver
2nd place - Y. Tsuchikawa, Youshinkan
3rd place - G. Suzaka, Seattle
3rd place - M. Rose, Renfrew
Junior Team Senior Team
1st place - Renbu A (H.Homma,A.Son, 1st place - Vancouver (K.Darbyshire,G.Gao,
2nd place - Steveston A (J.Hung,C.Robillard, 2nd place - Youshinkan (J.Jeong,Y.Tsuchikawa,
3rd place - Renbu B (N.Son,I.Son, 3rd place - Tozenji (G.Kitamura,J.An,
3rd place - Steveston B (E.Chui,D.Chui, 3rd place - Steveston A (S.O’Sullivan,D.Yao,
Sportsmanship Pledge - Tenny Chui
42nd ANNIVERSARY HIGHLINE MUDANSHA CHALLENGE CUP – March 17, 2018, White Center
1st place – B. Park, Bellevue 1st place – K. Fukuda, Cascade
2nd place – B. Liao, Bellevue 2nd place – V. Blancarte, Sno-King
3rd place – C. Capoeman, Tacoma 3rd place – L. Gao, UW
3rd place – A. Yuen, Seattle 3rd place – T. Miyamoto, Northwest
1st place - Bellevue, 35 points 2nd place – UW, 31 points Northwest - 16 points
Shinpan Cho - Elizabeth Marsten, Highline
Sportsmanship Pledge – Laura Ohata, Highline
2018 INTERNATIONAL CITY KENDO COMPETITION, March 18, 2018, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women’s Division Men’s Individual Group A
1st place – Aki Kitamura 1st place – Guohui Qiu
2nd place - Keiko Ikata 2nd place - Curtis Marsten
3rd place - Yoko Nikono 3rd place - Noboru Kataoka
3rd place - Kayoko Otani 3rd place - Akio Mukoe
Men’s Individual Group B Team Competition
1st place – Kenji Isobe 1st place - Kyuseikan
2nd place – Jialun Cai 2nd place - Taiwan Kendokan
3rd place – Guancheng Liu 3rd place - Niigata Shoshikan A
3rd place – Chengkun Shen 3rd place - Taiwan Dragon Society A
PNKF IAIDO SHINSA, January 7 2018, Boise State University, Kinesiology Gym, Boise, Idaho
3RD KYU: Andy Webster (RMKIF). 1ST KYU: Rhett Atagi (Idaho), Jared Bowler (RMKIF), Philip Sevin (RMKIF). 2ND DAN: Ryan Atagi (Idaho), Sangki Lee (SWKIF), Ashley Moore (SWKIF), Sean Zhu (SWKIF). 3RD DAN: Edwin Muranaka (Hawaii).
PNKF IAIDO SHINSA, February 24th, 2018, Tyee Educational Complex, SeaTac, Washington
3RD KYU: Jennifer Erichsen (Tonbo) 2ND KYU: Abigail Benoit (Tonbo) 1ST KYU: Nikhil Varma (Seattle), Nicodemus Edwin Widjonarko (Obukan) 1ST DAN: Mikako Barlow (Musokai), Khoi Duong (Kent), Sean Horita (Musokai), Hiroyuki Maeda (Idaho), Robert Neff (Tonbo) 2ND DAN: Frank Hauser (Alaska).
PNKF KENDO SHINSA, February 24th, 2018, Tyee Educational Complex, SeaTac, Washington
6TH KYU: Kaito Ayers (Sno-King), Conrad Steelman (Bellevue), Mia Grove (Northwest), Zane Laupati (Kent) 5TH KYU: Kenjiro Maxfield-Matsumoto (Highline), Issei DeBlieck (Sno-King), Kai Kubal-Komoto (Federal Way), Seohee Jeon (Bellevue), Christine Son (Federal Way) 4TH KYU: Dan Terao (Cascade), Aneurin Mabale (Seattle), Daniel Shilov (Highline), Masazo Ayers (Sno-King), Thabit Ahmed (Edmonds), Jeremy Chu (Bellevue), Aaron Fung (Seattle), Ashley Garr (Cascade), Krysta Hart (OSU) 3RD KYU: Daniel Kao (Tacoma), Ian McAbee (Meadowbrook), Seira Kojima (Bellevue), Matheus (Kai) Bandur (Honda) (Cascade), Téo Dage (Bellevue), Taiki Miyamoto (Northwest), Esther Law (UW), Zhengnan Liu (OSU), Suepapone Vanasouk (UW), Yuning Gao (OSU), Jennifer Wong (Bellevue), Nathan Westlund (Spokane), Timothy Blaydon (Spokane), Gen Li (OSU), Yue Chen (Seattle), Krystal McIntosh (Federal Way), Emilio Peralta (Obukan), Haoran Su (Bellevue), Brandon Yorker (Kent), Scott Moon (Spokane), Matt Miyamoto (Northwest), Justin Davis (Northwest), Dan Rosanova (Seattle) 2ND KYU: Ffion Mabale (Seattle), Isabella Lee (Federal Way), Nagato Orita (Seattle), Timaeus Ting (Northwest), Kyle Hale (Seattle), Kassidy Ting (Northwest), Alex Rossi (Spokane), Noah Larson (Federal Way), Leo Gao (UW), Khang Le (UW), Aidan Chervin (Portland), Anthony Yorita (UW), Jacob Weese (UW), Michael Ciesielski (Spokane), Helen Fukuda (Cascade), Michele Soleimani (Portland), Tom Fukuda (Cascade), Bruce Alter (Portland) 1ST KYU: Joshua Paik (Tacoma), Josh Kim (Federal Way), Kiana (Ai) Fukuda (Cascade), Leonardo Ohata (Bellevue), Simon Lee (Federal Way), Shota Wetlesen (Obukan), Kengo Underhill (Northwest), Kamia Acoba (Everett), Kasey Kitchel (Sno-King), Kyle Fukuda (Cascade), Blake Sprenger (Obukan), Jason Nguyen (UW), Elijah Lam (Kent), Francis Walsh (UW), Timothy Okamura (Bellevue), Athena Epilepsia (Bellevue), Nicodemus Edwin Widjonarko (Obukan), Victor Blancarte (Sno-King), Jin Ho Jeon (Bellevue), Ann Rubin (Tacoma), James Faulkner (Edmonds), Poul Nichols (Edmonds), Sandra Mizuno (Seattle) 1ST DAN: Shun Wetlesen (Obukan), Hien Katayama (Edmonds), Edward Park (Sno-King), Young-ki Paik (Tacoma), Victor Whitman (Seattle) 2ND DAN: Gregory Vielhaber (Portland), Alick Law (Sno-King), Betty Park (Bellevue), Allison Kojima (Bellevue), Brian Liao (Bellevue), Kenshin Higo (Kent), Cougar Capoeman (Tacoma) 3RD DAN: Daniel Anzai (Obukan), Tomoko Iwanaga (Obukan), Ayumi Kojima (Northwest), Marek Nelson (Spokane), Mary DeJong (Highline), Dean Yamada (Seattle) 4TH DAN: Justin Lamb (Spokane), Chris Ruiz (Spokane).
THE LAST WORD
I longed to return to Hawaii, but early the next morning, I left Kyoto and traveled to my paternal grandfather’s house in Hayashiyama (now Miharashi-Cho) in Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture. Although I was born in Wahiawa, Hawaii, in the Koseki Tohon, the official Japanese Family Register, I am registered in Hiroshima-ken, Kure-shi. Therefore, I had to depart for the military from Kure. My trip to Kure was not for family good-by parties or last farewells. In fact, I had never met my grandfather before that day. I walked to the farm in the early afternoon, and my grandfather, Omoto Umenosuke, fondly called Omoto No Ojii-chan (Grandpa Omoto) by his neighbors, was working in the rice paddy by the sea. He looked up, slowly walked toward me across the terraced vegetable patches, wearing straw sandals, his shoulders slightly stooped, his head covered by a straw hat. We bowed, and he said, “Nobuto?” He seemed to know me, but whether he was expecting me or not, I don’t know. Most of the neighbors were my father’s brothers and sisters. I recognized them because they looked like my father, so maybe I looked like my father and that is how my grandfather recognized me. He led me to his one hundred-year-old two-room house with no running water, a Japanese deep bath-tub, an attached outhouse, and one dangling electric light that lacked a light bulb. He nodded toward a corner for me to deposit my pack. He then made tea and we drank together, quietly. He knew why I was there and he was a man of few words. Then he returned to the rice paddy. I followed and worked beside him until sundown. We returned, and he gave me rice with bits of fish. The fishermen in the village threw few small fish on the beach, knowing he would gather them for his meal. He never bought anything but sake, which we drank together before sleeping. He lit a lantern, chanted the Shoshinge, the chant of True Faith of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, before the butsudan, and we slept. At dawn the next morning, after he chanted Shoshinge, we boiled water drawn from the cistern to cook the rice and make tea. After breakfast, he returned to the fields, and I walked to town to register with the army. The next day I left for Hiroshima for basic training. Japanese boot camp was tough. It is designed to turn a man into a fighting machine, to make him tough. Soldiers were run until they dropped, and then told to run more. There was no sympathy; for there is no sympathy in war nor excuses or escapes. If a man fell, he was pushed up and received a “binta” or hard smack as punishment and often extra physical tasks. In addition, trainees were harassed; even if futon was laid out perfectly, an officer might throw it apart and require it to be redone. Men who complained were taunted as being “monkus” meaning whiners. To get used to punishment, soldiers were punished. Orders need to be followed without question, no matter how seemingly absurd or inhumane. We practiced against straw enemies consisting of bodies without faces, or paper targets with demonic faces. If a soldier hesitates before attacking can mean life or death. The Budo philosophy focuses training equally on mental strength so that actual physical contact becomes unnecessary. But the physical and mental pressures are similar. Because of my physical training at Busen, the mental pressure of trying to learn and write the Japanese and doing household tasks for Ogawa Sensei’s children, for me, Japanese boot camp was easy. In fact, I had to learn to be tough even on the Seiho High School Kendo team. Even when we won, our instructor, Tanaka Tomoharu Tomokazu “Chiichi” Sensei, would shout, “That’s not the way to win!” and whack us on the rear end with chunks of firewood. Chiichi Sensei had formerly served in the Japanese army, as had other instructors at Busen, and brought military discipline to the team. “Urusai na! Gamanshiro!” “Shut up! Take the pain!“ Strength is not only in giving a punch but also in taking a punch. Boot camp trained soldiers in the use of weaponry. I had learned this at Busen. I was especially good at juken jutsu, bayonet. The Principal of Busen was General Hayashi Senjuro. As in any school, he administered all the departments, but was especially enthusiastic for juken jutsu, and those of us in the Kendo and Judo sections of Busen were offered the training. “Offer” and “volunteer” at Busen, however, were generally considered commands, especially for the Kendo students who enjoyed higher status. I think we all learned it as a practical military skill taught by one of the General’s sergeants. During boot camp, I beat everyone, even the instructors, with the bayonet. Between deployments, I also enjoyed bayonet and sword “play” practice at the base in Hiroshima. The waza of Kendo training were not only applicable but assured success against opponents. The samurai sword was modified for the army, a “gunto” which was used for ritual and saluting. We also trained with guns and rifles. Nevertheless, I was not put in a cadet group, where all the other college students were placed. After basic training, all the other cadets were sent to Tokyo for officer training. After their training, they returned as “Minarai Shikan” (apprentice officer) and I was only a sergeant and had to salute them, even though I could whip them at bayonet practice. I was angry when I had to salute those less talented; nonetheless, I followed military training and saluted. But after apprenticeship when they were ranked Second Lieutenant, they were all sent to combat. Few returned. I was the only one stationed in Hiroshima and in the Transportation Corps, certainly not considered a prestigious assignment. Combat is always the way of advancement in the military, not motor pool. This was my home base for three years, and I never experienced combat. I was assigned to the Transportation Corps, the “Shicho Tai” base located about a thousand yards from the atomic bomb ground zero.
–Rod Nobuto Omoto, Autobiography, edited by Charlotte Omoto, 2014, p. 32-34. Available as free download at lulu.com.
Kenyu – Monthly Newsletter of the Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation PLEASE NOTE: Kenyu Online IS THE EDITION OF RECORD FOR THIS NEWSLETTER – http://www.pnkf.org/ Tom Bolling, Editor – 7318 23rd Avenue N.E., Seattle, WA 98115