I am currently in the midst of a flurry of emails to friends in Japan as I am extending my 16th WKC trip to Tokyo and adding a week to travel in Kansai. I used to work in Osaka and live in Kobe and I have been back to the area many times. This time however I am going as part of a group. My travelling companions are my wife who also lived in Japan, a kendo friend who briefly spent some time in Tokyo and his partner for whom this will be a first visit.
The challenge will be to create a trip that has something for everyone. My old kendo friends in Osaka have already sent me a schedule which includes keiko every day with the option of staying in a hotel just a short walk from the Shudokan. For the benefit of our two non-kendoka ladies I am opting for a place just a few stations away in Kyobashi and a shorter distance to the rail network for sightseeing trips to Kyoto. This is no hardship for me, as although I have been to Kyoto on numerous occasions, I have still not seen all of the many tourist attractions there.
We are also scheduled to spend some time in Yoshino and Nara City. Although the primary purpose will be sightseeing, there will certainly be some kendo practices while we are there. I have not yet got round to explaining the keiko schedule to the girls, but I am sure they won’t miss us for an hour or so each day. I have also not yet told them that our compact Japanese hotel rooms will be enhanced every night by the fragrance of sweaty hakama and keikogi. If I do have to defend my position, I can always fall back on the “He said I have to do it and he’s an eighth dan” gambit.
Being generally optimistic though, I think it should work out well for all concerned. I and my chum should be able take advantage of some great keiko opportunities, my wife and I will get the chance to catch up with old friends in Kansai and we will have the pleasure of seeing some of the most beautiful parts of Japan through the new eyes of someone who has never seen them before.
As for the daily keiko sessions and the smelly kit, I might hold back on mentioning that until after the first helping of nama beer and takoyaki, unless the Mrs reads my blog.