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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Kendo-Bu (剣道部)

I realised that while I've mentioned kendo quite a few times (normally as a reason for why I don't post as often as I should), I've never formally, introduced the club to you. So basically, for this year at least (I plan to join kendo next year too!), I've joined the Kendo-Bu (Kendo Club)

Basically, in university, there are 部活(Bukatsu), which to everyone in Singapore is called CCA (Co-Curricula Activities). There are actually a lot of them in TUFS (although no golf, which was what I was thinking of joining at first). So after going for a bunch of introduction parties and attending the introduction/open sessions, Simone, Rena and I decided to join Kendo. And we have no regrets!

Kendo is actually a fairly very intense activity. It's four times a week (yes, I heard you gasp), which means it's every other day, except for Monday and Tuesday, which would make it consecutive. This is how I can actually have kendo-related activities for four days in a row (3 days of practice and 1 day of supporting 先輩/senpai's at  the 大会/taikai)

You'd think we'd be bored, but no, we're actually having a lot of fun. And in my opinion, if you're studying in Japan, you definitely need to join a club. Apart from being able to make more friends and practice Japanese, it's not fun to constantly study (like what I did in my first 2 weeks here).

Since we're starting as complete beginners (I did nothing similar in Singapore), we've been practicing basics a lot. And in an ironic twist, we're told to be happy when we get blisters, because it means that we've been praticing correctly. So, here's some good news, I've got blisters on my feet! Which means that I've finally got the footsteps somewhat right. I'd probably never be as good as the senpai's, but it's so fun just to learn.
Well, I could go on and on about how fun it is and how nice my senpai's are (no really, they are way nice. It's why Rena choose Kendo over _____ -name withheld-). But I'll just end of with something I learnt about the Senpai/Kohai (senior/junior) relationship:

Always listen to your senpais. Unless you have a very good reason, but still expect about 5 minutes of argument/teaching.

You see, it's normal for the senpai's to pay for their kohai's meals. So one day during Golden Week (I've mentioned this before), I had to treat everyone to lunch. After all, I don't get a brand-new cousin everyday. So even though I mentioned it only after practice, almost everyone made it, and we had a really really good curry lunch (Another of life's ironies is that I only started eating curry after I arrive in Japan). And with my years of watching/ninja-training, I manage to make it to the cash register first and pay.

And make mistake number one: Mentioning how much the meal cost.

Followed in succession with mistake number two: Not taking the money. It took about 5 minutes, sitting on my hands, and having to write the words (me not having the adequate vocabulary to explain by talking) 孝心 (filial piety) before a consensus is reached that the already collected money goes into the club funds. I felt really bad. But if I let them pay, I'd have felt worse. So, back to mistake number one: letting them know how much it cost.
So, please don't learn from me. Be good kohai's and listen to your senpais (unless of course, they ask you to do something illegal, in which case you should seriously question your choice of activities).

So to summarise this long confusing story (I'M SORRY): I paid, but at the expense of (temporarily) angering my senpai's. 

And instead of merely showing you a photo of kendo, I'd just show you a video of a failed attempt to take a group shot using my camera phone which was really my fault (although apparently, my phone can take videos and photos at the same time). If you're bored, skip to 1:00 and 1:35 for your photos. Sorry, I've tried uploading three times and it's not working (probably a bandwidth problem on my end). So instead, here's a really nice group photo:

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