Official Visit and participation in Commemorative event
October 1998 was the date when a great number of Karateka met and trained together in Japan. Nihon Karate-do Shotokai (NKS) organized ceremonies and events to commemorate the birth of Master Gichin Funakoshi 130 years before together with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the central Shotokai Dojo (Hombu Dojo), the famous Shotokan. These celebrations were attended by representatives of the highest level from all over the world.
Among the important people present at the event were: Master Genshin Hironishi, Masters Takagi, Sugimoto, Shundo, Hiruma, Harada, Yanagizawa, Terui, Kunimitsu, Endo, among many other important personalities.
The Shotokai Karate-do group arrived from two locations, first the representatives from Chile, Humberto Heyden sensei accompanied by Claudio Fariña. The time in Japan previous to the NKS event was used for sightseeing and visits to historical places. After the 13th of October the Chilean-Mexican group travelled together with the representatives of Shotokai from Spain, Italy and Portugal leadered by Master Atsuo Hiruma.
The sightseeing previous to the arrival of the European group included a visit to the Katori Shingu Temple, one of the most important historical martial arts locations in Japan, the place were one of the main sword schools and styles originated. Later a Matsuri event in a close by town called….
After the arrival of the European group, a trip to visit the Hombu Dojo was included. Happily Master Sugimoto was there and was very kind to receive us all and treat us with a training session. Needless to say a training session in the historical Shotokan Hombu Dojo, under the portraits of the honorable Masters Gichin Funakoshi, Giei Funakoshi, Gigo Funakoshi, Shigeru Egami and those alive today, Masters Genshin Hironishi and Takagi, was an unforgettable experience and a great honor.
Even though there was a typhoon warning the group decided to travel to Okinawa. Though only indirectly related to Shotokai practice this trip was interesting due to the fact it involved visiting one of the originating points of Karate-do, the birth place of Master Funakoshi and his sons. Sorrily very little is left of the original culture and the Northamerican domination and invasion imbues everything there with a non-oriental character. Highlights on this trip were some training sessions in Okinawa with well known Karate Masters. These were held with personal friends of Hiruma Sensei, Master Shinzo Chinen, Technical Director of the Jundokan Karate-Do Association, of the Okinawan Gojo-Ryu line and Yoshitaka Taira, of Shorin-Ryu, another Karate line. The stay in Okinawa also included a visit to Master Matsuya Miyahira’s dojo, of the Shorin-Ryu line.
Upon returning to Japan a trip to the tomb of Master Egami was included. Here the Shotokai visitors gave their respects to Master Gichin Funakoshi’s notable successor. There was a class in the Hombu Dojo after this visit, oriented by Sugimoto Sensei, having as assistants martial artists of the highest level. This special session included only the heads of the foreign delegations. After the class there was a dinner, which provided a pleasant opportunity for an exchange of views between the people of different nationalities.
Also included in this trip was a visit to the tomb of Master Gichin Funakoshi at Engaku-ji in Kamakura, a very important part of the visit to Japan to pay respects to the creator of Karate-do and the original president of Shotokai.
The NKS event took place the 18th of October, 1998. Ceremonies started at 10 AM, they included speeches by Master Hironishi, Takagi, among other important Shotokai Masters. After the ceremonies delegations of Karateka from all over Japan and the rest of the world, presented kihon, kata and kumite in front of the illustrious audience and all the representatives there at the event.
The karate demonstrations lasted all through the late morning and early afternoon. After the exhibition a warm, interesting and informal conversation arose between those present at the event. Here our teacher had the opportunity to meet and talk briefly with Master Harada, with Master Tamae, etc., many contacts were established. Slowly the participants retired from the event leaving behind a warm feeling, assuring those within Shotokai that Master Funakoshi and his successors live on within Karate-do Shotokai and their memory and sacrifice are highly valued and well kept in the hands of todays Karateka.