Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reconnecting with Old Friends

One of the best things about this trip was that we were able to visit with some of Ted’s old friends. Ted was able to reconnect with people he hadn’t seen in over 15 years and I was able to meet some of the people I had heard so much about.
One of his friends was an Aikido buddy from Osaka University of Foreign Studies, where they were both students and just starting to study Aikido in 1989 when they met. His friend, Tatsumi Satoshi, had long hair at the time and was in a rock and roll band, which was the opposite of most Aikido students. After Ted moved to another place in Japan they kept in touch, visiting each other and traveling to other places by hitch hiking together. Ted also knew his girl friend back then, who is now his wife. They have two daughters and his friend is now an elementary school teacher.  He no longer practices Aikido, but he and his wife are Indian Dancers, teaching and performing in Japan and studying in India. You can see them on You Tube - .   They both speak English very well.

Some of you may know Kazu, who spent two years in Raleigh as a visiting scholar at NCSU.  Ted and Kaz first met in about 1990 at Tokyo Gakugei University.  Kaz was a graduate student in outdoor recreation back then and the two of them were involved in many outdoor activities and camps. He is now a professor at a Keio University in Japan which has a reputation like Duke has in the US.  After returning from the US last year, Kaz and Yoh San were married and moved into a very modern energy efficient home. It is like a house of the future.

One of the things Ted did while on this trip was speak at Tokyo Gakugei University about Outdoor Education in the United States. He was able to meet several old friends from his study there in 1990-1991.

His lecture was in English, translated into Japanese, but many of the audience members also spoke English and asked some very good questions after the lecture. The whole thing was videotaped and may be available for viewing at some time.  I know how smart and talented Ted is, but it was very nice for me to see other people thinking the same thing.

After the lecture, a group (some who had been at the lecture, but many who had not) gathered at a restaurant to see Ted and meet me. Ted was very happy to get to see and talk with the Tsukahara Sensei, who is now retired. Everyone at the party was glad to see this man, who mentored hundreds of students.

Another party for Ted was held at a café called Deine Bar in Tokyo, owned by a friend who was a former neighbor of Ted’s in Kawasaki (across the river from Tokyo). Terao San kind of adopted Ted and helped with adapting to the Japanese culture. He’s an artist of sorts, and has been successful at many things he has been involved in. His English is good and he likes the outdoors and is a very good cook, which led him to his current position running a café in a trendy area near Shibuya, Tokyo.  He was the only one of this group of friends who still has enough hair to make a pony tail.

Another friend, who was a roommate of the café owner for a time in Kawasaki, is originally from the UK and also lived in the US. His girl friend back then is now his wife and Ted was glad to see both of them. His Japanese is fluent and his wife’s English is very good. Anthony and Noriko San have two cute dogs who were surprised to meet us.

Shudo San was one of the former Tokyo Gakugei University students at the party after the lecture.  He invited us to meet him for lunch on the 38th floor of his work place, so we could talk more. He is the unit chief of the International Education Division in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan.  He apologized for the rainy weather and the poor visibility in what is normally a beautiful view from the 38th floor.

The National Diet Building  is the place where
both houses of the Diet of Japan meet. It is located at 1-chome,
Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo.

We were very happy to see all of these people and very grateful for all the help they gave us on this trip. We wouldn’t have been able to see or do near as much without them. It was fun to finally meet people I’d heard much about and to hear them all talk about the times they had when Ted lived in Japan before. Ted has been really good about staying in touch with the people who have been important to him and have influenced him.

So, that tells you a little about who we spent time with on our trip.  Come back tomorrow to find out what we did with them.

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