May-July 2007 Activity Report
July 4th-9th, 2007
Homma Kancho visited the Islamic Republic of Iran this past
July to meet with local Aikido leaders and discuss current and
future AHAN project development in the region. In the capitol
city of Tehran, Homma Kancho met with Ahmad Ali Aghsaghloo Sensei
(Ali Sensei), Chief Instructor of Iran Aikido (Ali dojo) at his
headquarter dojo in Tehran (www.iranaikido.com). There he instructed
class for Ali Sensei’s attending students. Homma Kancho
was also asked to teach at another dojo in Tehran located in
the former American Embassy and in the city of Rasht near the
Caspian Sea. In total, about 500 students practiced with Homma
Kancho on this very special visit to Iran.
Please link here to Homma Kancho’s reflective article about his experiences in Iran, “The Teapot I Found in Iran”.and photo album.
May 16-21, 2007
From left Alberto Sensei, Fernando Sensei, Yoon Sensei, Homma Kancho, Miae Sensei and Rebecca Sensei at the Cuautla dojo.
After IISA Instructor Ikam Yoon Sensei’s seminar in Denver came to an end, Yoon Sensei, his wife Miae, Homma Kancho and Nippon Kan assisting staff left for Mexico City, Mexico. The IISA tour was met by host Fernando Roman Sensei, Chief Instructor of Mexico Aikido, Take Musu Aiki and AHAN Mexico and AHAN Central America Coordinator. (www.mexicoaikido.com.mx ).
Classes held at Mexico Aikido Dojo in Mexico City were separated
by rank to accommodate the number of students. Yoon Sensei and
Homma Kancho took turns teaching classes to approximately 150
students over two full days.
Alberto Sensei’s students in Cuautla.
Fernando Sensei’s students in Mexico City. (right): Rocio Sensei
Fernando Sensei and his wife Rocio Aguero Sensei are currently the most active instructors in Mexico, and keep very busy with seminars and AHAN activities of their own in Mexico and Central America. They are both very successful leaders in their communities through AHAN and as Aikido Instructors, and their efforts should be commended.
The IISA tour left Mexico City behind and headed for the city of Cuautla, about two hours outside of Mexico’s capitol city. While there, Alberto Manzano Sensei and his wife Rebecca of Aikido Cuautla hosted a seminar. It was a festive event with classes taught by Yoon Sensei, Miae Sensei, Fernando Sensei, Alberto Sensei and Rebecca Sensei. Aikido Cuautla dojo is a favorite gathering place for the local community and this visit had a family feel to it. Last year on the AHAN IISA 2006 Instructor Training Tour, Homma Kancho and Ali Uludag Sensei of Istanbul, Turkey visited Cuautla as well.
Between seminars there was a little time for fun, so the IISA
tour group climbed the Tepoztlan-Tlayacapan pyramid near Cuautla
City in one breathless afternoon.
Everyone made it to the top…all 2,750 steps!
All senseis in front of local ruins.
Interesting local flavor!
Children in Cuautla gather around the globe, a present from Homma Kancho.
Miae Sensei teaching the children in Cuautla.
Homma Kancho was assisted on this tour by Nippon Kan Instructor Michael Barrera and Nippon Kan Special team member Rose Bernal, who did a fantastic job at simultaneous translation. Michael Barerra served as Yoon Sensei’s uke which turned out to be a very rigorous job. Michael survived however and is happy to report that he now can fasten his belt two holes tighter than when left for Mexico! Both Michael and Rose were officially sponsored by Nippon Kan to assist on this stage of the AHAN 2007 IISA Instructor Training Tour. Thank you both very much for your assistance!
Fernando Roman Sensei
AHAN Mexico & Central America Coordinator
Commemoration of the Hungarian Translation of “Aikido for Life”.
June 21st-25th, 2007
Homma Kancho with Budapest Butokukan students.
Over the years, Homma Kancho’s first book “Aikido for Life” has been translated into seven different languages. It was the recent publication of “Aikido for Life” into Hungarian brought him to Budapest, Hungary to commemorate the event. We took Homma Kancho to a lovely hotel in downtown Budapest and then to our Butokukan dojo, which is housed in an old stone church in a historical section of the city. The six-story church building recently was completely restored, utilizing the open six story high interior dome in the center as a focal point. The new multi-level interior has space for six dojos—large and small—multiple-use hall, museum, reception area, nursery with indoor playground, restaurant, snack bar and locker rooms fitted with saunas, Jacuzzi and massage services. The new facility now houses 3,000 square meters of usable space and cost over $5.6 million. I think it is safe to say that there is no other facility like this in all of Europe, and maybe in the world.
The owner is an Israeli-Hungarian young entrepreneur who practices
Karate under the director of the Butokukan facility: Attila Miskoczi
Sensei. Their dream of a martial art and cultural event center
for the Hungarian people became a reality when the center opened
in Budapest in October of 2006.
With Director Miskoczi Sensei
in the Butokukan entry.
Aikido at the new center is instructed by Szalai Balazs Sensei who is 30 years old. Balazs Sensei has practiced Aikido for 14 years but still holds the rank of Aikikai Shodan. Currently Balazs Sensei is an independent Aikidoka, which allows him to practice or study any style of Aikido he likes. There are many instructors like Balazs Sensei in former communist block countries that either have not had the opportunity for promotion through Aikikai or simply cannot afford it. Even without formal recognition of his accomplishments, Balazs Sensei has about 100 students practicing with him at a very high technical level.
Hungary gained its independence from Russia in 1989. Even before its official independence, strict laws under Gorbachev’s rule had relaxed somewhat in the satellite countries, allowing for the growing popularity of martial art practice. Still, at that time the martial arts were mostly practiced underground, in secret, from second-hand books on martial art techniques.
In 1987, Tamura Shihan came to visit Hungary from France. This
was Hungary’s first major exposure to Aikido, but it took
many years after this initial visit for the popularity of Aikido
to take hold. Now there are about 40 different dojos and practice
locations in Budapest alone; yet interestingly, there are not
any high-ranking Aikikai instructors living in Hungary.
Szalai Balazs Sensei and Homma Kancho.
Practice at the Butokukan.
High-ranking instructors from Hombu dojo in Japan come to Hungary on occasion, but of course cannot stay. Each shihan has their own groups of students, but since they are all from different organizations it is difficult to unite all of them together into one official government-recognized Hungarian coalition.
There are many Aikidoka in Hungary that do not like the splintering of the Aikido taught in Budapest. We ask:“Where is the harmony in our Aikido practice in Hungary?” High ranking shihan come to Budapest every few years to hold weekend seminars, but usually their purpose is to collect examination fees rather than teach creatively. What we truly wish for is more consistent instruction. That is what is truly in our hearts.
The only students in Hungary that receive promotions are those with extra time and a lot of money to pay for them. Belt advancement in Hungary is based on the ability to pay, not on leadership or technical proficiency. The same certification issued in Japan through Aikikai costs about three times as much in Hungary. It is one thing to give a large donation in appreciation of receiving a new rank, but this is not the way it is in Hungary. Here the prices are preset very high. At certain dojos in Budapest, instructors charge up to $1,000.US to test for the Aikikai rank of shodan. I wonder if the high-ranking instructors who come to visit Hungary every few years are aware of these pricing practices in their absence. After testing, many of the students able to pay for these promotions open their own dojos soon after receiving their rank. This lack of continuity only adds to the confusion and general lack of cohesiveness in our Aikido community.
Historic city of Budapest.
For Homma Sensei’s seminar in Budapest, Aikidoka from many dojos came together. This was a precedent-setting event for us and we enjoyed sharing time with students from other dojos. The students from the Kobayashi dojo in Budapest were especially friendly, courteous and attentive. It was quite apparent from their manner the caliber of instructor they had in Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan. www.kobayashi-dojo.com We made many new friends with fellow Budapest Aikidoka who also do not care so much about rank or affiliation, and made new plans for developing our training together in the future.
I think Homma Sensei really enjoyed Budapest for the very short
time he was able to spend with us, and we are already making
plans for his return next year.
Link here to an article written by host and translating coordinator for “Aikido forLife in Hungarian”, Akos Szederjei..
Written by a Budapest Aikidoka
June 25-July 3, 2007
From Nippon Kan General Headquarters:
Homma Kancho returned to Turkey on a tour of four cities this past June and July. Packing little more than his keiko gi, Homma Kancho moved from town to town, country to country on what he calls his own personal “caravan” training. Homma Kancho always carries his keiko gi when he travels and even on the planes, his uniform is close by. Below are excerpts from Homma Kancho’s travel log during this trip to Turkey.
With Ankara dojo students.
The plane from Budapest to Istanbul was five hours late. Actually four days ago when I took the 12-hour flight from Denver to Budapest, that plane was three hours late so I missed my connection in Frankfurt. All of us on that plane waited at the counter for four hours to get new connecting flights. I can understand about safety issues or weather etc. and I can be patient, but the Lufthansa customer service really was the worst. There were about 300 people in line and everyone was tired, especially the airline staff who seemed to have given up on trying to be cordial or accommodating to anyone but the Germans. In my travels, it is interesting to see how differently different countries operate their airlines. It seems like an indication of general attitudes and airline service varies greatly from place to place.
I gave up on my original flight from Budapest to Istanbul and switched to Turkish Air. I have always had good luck with this airline and have always found Turkish Air employees to be courteous and helpful. They usually say Konnichi wa (hello in Japanese) when they see my Japanese passport, and this time actually bumped me up to business class without an extra charge because the economy section was full.
Finally arrived in Istanbul and changed flights to the Capitol City of Ankara. AHAN Nippon Kan Ankara Coordinator Banu Alisverisci and her staff were there to greet me. This team did a great job organizing the Ankara events for the Japanese Kyougaku Taiko Drummers when we came last year.
Only a two-day stay in Ankara. Practice at Turkey Aikikai Ankara
dojo was good! The number of students was up and the level of
energy was high! Compared to last year, the student level for
bokken and jo has greatly improved. Uludag Sensei came by night
bus from Istanbul to join us.
Healthy breakfast in Ankara dojo with Uludag Sensei.
Ankara dojo practice scene.
Ali Uludag Sensei of Turkey Aikikai www.aikidoturkey.com has been busy finishing up some very successful and rewarding projects. He hosted a Turkish Aikikai seminar in Instanbul at which his first teacher—Aikido pioneer to Turkey Kumagai Shihan—traveled to attend. About 400 students came to the seminar and it was a great success.
The last time I was with Uludag Sensei I gave him three pieces of advice. “1) don’t compete with other original Istanbul students of Kumagai Shihan. 2) Show your respect for Kumagai Shihan’s long-standing efforts in Turkey by bringing his original students together in a positive and friendly way. Do something together for him like holding a party in his honor. 3) Don’t forget to name a humanitarian or community service project as a beneficiary of some of the proceeds for the seminar.
Uludag Sensei listened to well to my advice and took every point to heart. This I think gave him the foundation for an outstanding success, and he seemed to be beaming from the experience. Some of the seminar process were donated to a support center for homeless, orphaned street kids. I was proud to see him initiate projects with AHAN philosophy on his own and very successfully at that! He and his students are on a very good path and are growing strong. This makes me happy.
Soon it was time for Uludag Sensei and me to leave Ankara,
and this time I took Banu and three members of her staff with
me by plane to Izmir and the Aegean Sea. This was my way to
you” for all their efforts and hard work last year when
the Japanese drummers came to Ankara.
With Izmir dojo students.
As soon as we stepped off
the plane in Izmir, I was overwhelmed by the site of oleander
in bloom. They were everywhere and quite beautiful, but I hear
they are also quite poisonous. Instructor Tolga Akyel of Aikikai
Izmir dojo picked us up. The Ankara crew came on a later flight.
A cool breeze off the Aegean sea brought relief from the heat.
It was record-breaking 51 degrees centigrade in Izmir, a temperature
that had not been seen in Izmir in 100 years. Luckily there was
a cool breeze coming in from over the Aegean Sea which made it
seem cooler than it actually was. It was still HOT outside which
made me stick pretty close to my hotel room. My first priority
is always to keep my body in good shape on these journeys, and
I did not want to get ill from the heat. The staff from Ankara
soon joined us, along with AHAN Istanbul Coordinator Megumi Machi
and her assistant Mr. Bejihi. All these young people did not
seem to have any problems at all with the heat and went to see
the sights of Izmir while I stayed at the hotel.
Uludag Sensei helps a student with his belt.
With Instructor Akyel in Izmir.
We held practice later in the evenings after things had cooled down in the 9 Eylul University gymnasium. Even though it was an evening practice, it was so hot that my keiko gi soon became as stiff and heavy as a cowboy’s duster coat. If this were not bad enough, it was not long before my uniform was so wet with sweat that it stuck to me like a wet towel. Most of the Izmir students were wearing heavy judo gis with t-shirts on underneath and they did not even break a sweat! “Native power,” I concluded. The next day we went to an outdoor sports club outside of Izmir for bokken and jo practice. This was the real test in the hot, hot sun!
Every morning we were in Izmir, I jogged for an hour in the early morning on the beach, and every evening we ate dinner at my favorite restaurant in Izmir. It was a good visit all in all, and the Turkish food was simply delicious.
June 30-July 2
With Turkey Aikikai Istanbul hombu dojo
Uludag Sensei’s hombu dojo is Turkey Aikikai Headquarters in Istanbul. Istanbul is a fascinating, colorful city with a glorious history and international flare. The bridges leading out from the bustling city connect Istanbul to Europe and vice versa. Looking out over Istanbul, I reflected on the fact that I have visited Turkey the most in the years since AHAN began.
We held practice for two evenings at Uludag Sensei’s dojo in Istanbul. Many of Uludag Sensei’s senior students were there, and Uludag Sensei was in a great mood after the success of Kumagai Shihan’s recent seminar visit. I advised Uludag Sensei again, “It is good to be happy, but don’t relish in this ’victory’ too long. Your standing as a leader is on the rise which is something to be proud of, but there will always be those that you began your practice with that will not be as happy with your success. Be careful, this is the real world.”
For this trip from Denver to Hungary, Turkey and Iran, the most intense part of the trip was yet to come, so I rested well in Istanbul and held back a little in reserve while teaching. The most important consideration on a multi-country journey like this is my body condition, and this was a time to pace myself a bit. Before I can teach, my health has to be good, so this visit to Istanbul was a time for me to get mentally and physically prepared for what was next to come… Iran.
Students request; koshinage!!
Uludag Sensei invited me to his home for dinner where I met his wife, two daughters and one beautiful grandchild. I was honored by their traditional hospitality and the food and atmosphere made me feel very much at home. All of my travel weariness vanished during this wonderful visit.
In Istanbul I was informed by AHAN Nippon Kan Istanbul Coordinator Megumi Machi that someone in Istanbul had plagiarized my book “Aikido for Life”, or at least large portions of it. Out of the 24 chapters that make up “Aikido for Life”, 18 whole chapters and some of the illustrations and text in the other six chapters had been published under someone else’s name. While flattering, this had been done without permission, so in actuality it was criminal. The AHAN staff in Turkey was quite upset about this. I asked Uludag Sensei to take care of the problem.
From left; Instructor Alpa, Uludag Sensei, Homma Kancho and Inagu Sensei.
After returning from Iran to Istanbul, we took a one-hour flight to the resort town of Marmaris on the Mediterranean Sea. This visit to Marmaris was not part of the original itinerary, but once invited I postponed my return to Nippon Kan Headquarters in the U.S.
The town of Marmaris does not have an airport, so we landed in nearby Dalaman, about an hour and a half drive away. Instructor Huseyin Inanc was waiting for Uludag Sensei and me when we arrived and drove us back to Marmaris. The road wound up through the scenic mountainous region until we suddenly were looking down at the green Mediterranean Sea and the town of Marmaris.
Marmaris has a population of about 150,000 in the winter months and close to one million for the five months of summer. I did not see other Japanese tourists, but Maramist is quite a popular destination for Europeans. The 10 kilometers of beaches were lined with mansions and palaces, all for rent by the tourist elite. Topless bathing is commonplace, and while entertaining, there were so many people on the beach I ended up feeling a little overwhelmed. I found myself not quite sure quite where to cast my gaze as the throngs of scantily clad people passed by! It was also a bit confusing. Turkey is an Islamic country and yet the attitudes in Marmaris were quite liberated. I concluded that the people of Turkey were quite open-minded, due to centuries of trade and exchange with Europe and Asia. After just returning from the strict social codes of Iran however, Marmaris was a bit of a cultural shock!
View of Marmaris beach.
As we neared the area where the seminar was to be held, we came upon a large banner announcing our upcoming event. Practice was held in a luxury hotel located on a private beach. At the hotel, our group of students looked a little funny in keiko gis amongst all of the bikini clad (or not) bathers on the beach!
The Turkey Aikikai Marmaris students were all top-level professionals and members of the Marmaris social elite. Instructor Alper has been practicing Aikido for 10 years, and has been teaching in Marmaris under Uludag Sensei for two years. As a group, students were new to their Aikido practice on the mat, but knew a great deal about the written history and philosophy of Aikido.
It is true that people in different countries and different cities or environments practice Aikido at different levels. Groups that form and practice together under different circumstances are at different stages in their own development. For this reason, when I travel to dojos in other countries, I try to quickly ascertain what the students’ view of Aikido might be. It is then my job to blend my teaching to their level and their interests. Aikido is a multi-faceted art, so it is not for the students to adapt to my teaching. It is for me to adapt my teaching for each different group of students.
After practice we drove from Marmaris to the village of Amos to a private beach area named Professor Village. This was the end of a very long journey and finally a day to relax.
As I was leaving Turkey I reflected on my time spent with Uludag Sensei and the four cities in Turkey we visited together. I respect all of Uludag Sensei’s efforts and the fresh new directions he is pursuing. Uludag Sensei travels by night bus--sometimes five to eight hours at a time--to visit all his students on a regular basis. I admire Uludag Sensei’s dedication and hard work, and can appreciate the support he has from his students and family for his efforts and actions.
AHAN Nippon Kan IISA (Instructors in Support of AHAN) Training Tour: Korea Aikido Federation President Ikam Yoon Sensei’s Denver Seminar.
May 11-16, 2007
From left Yoon Sensei, Vice President Busch, Miae Sensei, Homma Kancho.
AHAN Instructors in Support of AHAN, (IISA) are instructors of
many different styles and affiliations who support AHAN’s
philosophy of service to the community through projects in their
own hometowns. The only requirement for becoming an AHAN IISA
Instructor is to get involved with one’s students in community
service projects of their choosing. As part of AHAN’s IISA
program, instructor education is very important, especially for
instructors who exhibit an enthusiasm for learning and a dedication
to their own practice. Nippon Kan encourages instructor development
with projects such as these training tours.
IISA Instructor Ikam Yoon Sensei, a pioneer Aikido Instructor and President of the Korean Aikido Federation (www.aikido.co.kr) was invited to participate in this year’s AHAN 2007 IISA Instructor Training Tour to the United States and Mexico. For the first part of the tour, Yoon Sensei, accompanied by his wife Miae (also an Aikido instructor) came to Denver, Colorado to teach at Nippon Kan Headquarters.
Ikam Yoon Sensei originally trained in the martial art of Aikido
under Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan (Aikikai Koboyashi Dojo (www.kobayashi-dojo.com)
in Japan. Yoon Sensei is also accomplished in the arts of Korean
Hapkido and Tae Kwondo, both of which are very popular martial
arts in Korea. After his studies with Kobayashi Shihan in Japan,
Yoon Sensei became one of the first instructors to teach Aikido
Yoon Sensei and Miae Sensei at
Nippon Kan dojo.
Yoon Sensei teaching Nippon Kan students.
The word Hapkido is written in Korea with the same Japanese kanji symbols as the word for Aikido. Thirty years ago in the United States, Hapkido dojos could be found most everywhere, and Hapkido dojos in the United States often had a pictures of the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba hanging in their training areas along with the Japanese kanji for Aikido. What was being taught in Hapkido dojos was not Aikido, but does have historical ties to the Founder Ueshiba. Today, the Hapkido dojos that remain in the United States do not bear a photo of the Founder or the kanji for Aikido. What is taught today in Hapkido dojos is an original Korean martial art and is completely different from the Aikikai Aikido taught in Japan. Hapkido has a Japanese side to its heritage from the days when Japan occupied Korea and I believe Hapkido should be included in our Aikido history. There are high ranking Hombu shihan who throw people high into the air while with one finger while sitting in seiza. If this is considered Aikido, then the definition of Aikido is general enough to include Hapkido as well.
Colorado sightseeing the Yoon Sensei, his wife and Homma Kancho.
Today, Ikam Yoon Sensei has branch Aikido dojos all over Korea, and he concentrates his personal teaching on his Korean Aikido Federation’s next generation of Aikido instructors. Aikido is becoming more widespread as a martial art in Korea, and Yoon Sensei and his wife Miae have worked very hard to accomplish this goal.
Yoon Sensei taught a dynamic seminar in Denver with about 100 Nippon Kan students in attendance. After classes, which were enjoyed enthusiastically by all, time was spent in a variety of activities focusing on cross-cultural communication and exchange.
Written by Gaku Homma
Nippon Kan Kancho
July 5-8, 2007
Second from left; Scott Olson, 4th from left Kobayashi Shihan.
Calgary Aikiki hosted this four-day seminar in the Canadian Rockies instructed by Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan. (www.kobayashi-dojo.com) In attendance as Homma Kancho’s representative was Nippon Kan Instructor Scott Olson.
Homma Kancho first met Kobayashi Shihan over 40 years ago when Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan was an instructor at Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. They met again at Aikido Journal’s Aiki Expo 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Homma Kancho travels extensively throughout the world, and has met many students and instructors who practice under Kobayashi Shihan, who has a vast network of affiliated dojos that is well known around the world.
Homma Kancho was unable to attend this seminar in Canada due
to prior commitments in Turkey and Iran and sent Instructor Olson
to represent him. Please link
here to Scott’s report on
his adventures in the Canadian Rockies!
Written by Nippon Kan Editing Staff
June 21, 2007
Computers arrive at the Dharmarajika Orphanage.
In December 2006, AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarters in Denver shipped 50 used, refurbished computers to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Six months, one week and three days later, the computers finally arrived!
The journey to Dhaka was only supposed to take two months, but was delayed due to political turmoil in Bangladesh. In an attempt to clean up corruption, the government was taken over by the military, which brought customs to a standstill.
On June 21st, to the relief of both senders and recipients, the computers were delivered to the Dharmarajika Orphanage and to the Paris International School.
Computers arrive at Paris International school..
computer shipment was sponsored by Nippon Kan students, family
members and friends with $20.00 donations to the AHAN Adopt-a-Computer
program. Each computer was refurbished by our
Nippon Kan computer team and sealed with stickers containing
personal messages from sponsors to the children in Bangladesh
who will be using the computers. Many thanks to everyone for
Written by Maji
AHAN Bangladesh Coordinator
July 10 - Aug 6, 2007
Ava and Nippon Kan uchideshi coach Kazumi.
Homma Kancho was visiting Mindanao Island in the Philippines
last February , he met local community leader and martial art
instructor, Ava Yancha. Ava does many things for her community
and works especially hard caring for Philippine youth in the
Illigan City area. Homma Kancho suggested that she be sponsored
as a candidate to participate in AHAN’s IISA (Instructors
in Support of AHAN) Beginning Instructors training course at
Nippon Kan, and on July 10th, Ava arrived for a one-month instructor
training intensive. Ava was also granted financial assistance
through AHAN’s scholarship program.
Photo 42 5175 Ava Yancha with Monday night class members.
The peaceful atmosphere of Illigan City is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of uchideshi life at Nippon Kan, and Ava took on this important challenge with great determination. Denver was a new cultural environment for Ava, and her chore and training schedule was a rigorous one. Nippon Kan staff and students helped her training with strict but supportive kindness. Every morning Ava woke early at Nippon Kan dojo to complete her morning chores and practice. In the evenings she took the uchideshi class plus two to three classes with regular Nippon Kan members. Supplemented with her beginning instructor training.
Homma Kancho spoke of Ava on her last evening:
“I have been to Illigan City on Mindanao Island in the Philippines, and Ava is from the upper levels of society there. Still with this background, she does not spend her time frivolously, working instead to help those in her community, especially in the outlying areas. While in Denver, Ava had to clean toilets, cook, do laundry, dishes, and tend to the gardens, and she has done well executing all of these tasks. In the Philippines, daily tasks like these are performed for the social elite by others of lower social standing. This is one way families of higher standing can help support the community around them. I gave Ava this experience for a reason. Ava will someday be a great leader and I think it is important for her to experience the kind of hard work that is involved in doing simple everyday tasks. It is important for her not to forget the reality of those she supports. Ava has met the goals that I have set for her and I wish her the best. Hopefully she will continue to work diligently to support her community and I will be able to meet her again in the future.
Nippon Kan Uchideshi Coordinator.
Fifty students from Kazakhstan had an important chance this
summer to experience life in Colorado through a special government
cross-cultural exchange program. Six of these students, having
finished their assigned work-study projects, came to work at
Nippon Kan’s Domo Japanese Country Foods Restaurant for
a one-month internship.The brightest students from all over Kazakhstan
were selected for this work-study permitted program, and at Domo
they will have a chance to experience American AND Japanese culture.
Financial support will be paid by AHAN Nippon Kan’s Cross
Cultural Program. A full report on their experiences at Domo
and Nippon Kan will be included in upcoming Nippon Kan activity
AHAN Assistant Director
April 26th-May 5th, 2007
In front of the Aiki shrine with Hitohiro Saito Jukucho, Iwama, Japan.
In late April and early May, I flew to Japan to attend a series of meetings with AHAN Nippon Kan Japan Branch Coordinator Chrys Kikuchi, Japan Branch Assistant Coordinator Yoshi Shishikura and Senior Advisor Mr. Taka Suzuki.
On this trip, I was able to travel to Iwama to attend the Ibaraki
Tai Sai Festival (annual ceremony honoring the Founder of Aikido
Morihei Ueshiba) and a ceremony honoring the late Morihiro Saito
Shihan. I had the honor of staying at the dojo of Hitohiro Saito
Sensei, Founder of Dento Iwama Ryu, Shin Shin Aiki Shuren Kai
where everyone treated me with gracious hospitality. My sincere
thanks to everyone for the experience!
Dinner with Japan Branch Coordinators Kikuchi and Shishikura.
Japan Branch Coordinator Chrys Kikuchi and family.
In front of Aiki Jinja dojo.
With the widow of the late
Shigeru Kawabe Shihan.
The day after the Tai Sai Festival in Iwama, I made my way north
to Higashi Naruse Village, home to AHAN Nippon Kan’s Japan
Cross Cultural Exchange Program since 1990. This was my seventh
visit to Higashi Naruse, but my first visit in seven years. I
had a chance to meet with many village leaders and old friends
who had come to Denver as part of this long-standing cultural
exchange program in the early 90’s. It was wonderful to
meet again and see how they had grown into positions of responsibility
within their own community and now had children of their own.
Village government office staff.
Thank you very much!
Homestay with the Tanifuji family.
Mr. Takeo Sasaki , Nippon Kan Japan Project Founder and his wife.
About 100 people have participated in Nippon Kan’s cross-cultural exchange program with Higashi Naruse Village, either on tours to the village in Japan or from the village to Denver. Many have participated in the Japan internship program on a long-term basis with the Village Office Education Department. During this brief but memorable visit we were able to confirm plans for future cross-cultural activities. I was received with a wonderful welcome and want to thank Mayor Sasaki and everyone for their generous hospitality!
Nippon Kan Vice President
AHAN Director of International Projects
May 2nd, 2007
In front of the temple is great place for weapons practice.
From March to May of 2007, Nippon Kan Assistant Instructor and
graduate uchideshi John Grotrian was sent to Kathmandu, Nepal
to teach beginning Aikido to students in the newly formed Nepal
Aikido Club. On May 2nd, John returned to Nippon Kan Headquarters
in Denver for a rest, training, and to discuss future plans for
the Nepal Aikido Club with Homma Kancho. While in Denver, John
trained intensively to develop both technical and teaching skills.
Happy students and Instructor John.
Practice in Kathmandu, Nepal.
On July 17th, John returned officially to Nepal to continue his
teaching for a second term. This second term was sponsored by
AHAN Nippon Kan General Headquarters Developing Nations Division.
Link here to John Grotrian’s Nepal report.
Nippon Kan editorial staff
Madrasah Orphanage for girls.
Maji Sarkar, AHAN Bangladesh coordinator in Dhaka, Bangladesh sends monthly reports to Nippon Kan Headquarters about the rice deliveries he personally supervises to both the Dharmarajika Orphanage for boys and the Madrasah Orphanage for girls. Every month with the support of AHAN Nippon Kan, one ton of rice is purchased and delivered under Maji’s watchful eye.
Since July 2006 when this AHAN program originally began, 6 _ tons of rice have been delivered to the Dharmarajika Orphanage, and since March 2007, 2 _ additional tons of rice have also been delivered to the Madrasah Orphanage.
AHAN Nippon Kan International Project Director
June 2nd, 2007
Nippon Kan tradition; stretch exercises to start the day!
For 16 years, Nippon Kan has participated in an annual spring
volunteer project in conjunction with the Denver Parks and Recreation
Department in Denver. This year, the project focused on a section
of parks linked by the Platte river bicycle trail which winds
from the northeast end to central Denver. About 100 Nippon Kan
members and friends pitched in to paint gazebos, mulch trees,
spread crusher fine rock to abate erosion, cover graffiti and
pick up trash. From the Japanese Consulate in Denver, Consul
Haruo Yamagami joined in to lend a hand. Consul Yamagami has
participated in other community service projects with Nippon
Kan such as the homeless meal service project at the Denver Rescue
This years leader James Salmen. A job well done!
Consul Yamagami on trash detail with Nippon Kan students.
Homma Kancho related the story to newcomers about how this spring
volunteer project tradition began:
“I used to celebrate my birthday with a huge party. Back in the old days, I used to drink quite a bit, and having a party always seemed like the thing to do. The last party we had for my birthday was 17 years ago and ran from 10:00 am to 2:00 am the following morning. We gathered at a local restaurant for brunch, and throughout the day students arrived in shifts each bringing with them a bottle of wine or champagne. We drank enough bottles of wine and champagne to string a 60 inch necklace out of the corks which hung in two loops around my neck. It was defiantly a tribute to the recklessness of youth! I awoke the next morning with a massive headache and a realization. Birthdays come only once a year, and celebrating them with a party is a waste. I decided then that I would celebrate my birthday by doing something more productive than manufacturing a massive hangover.
I have not had a birthday party since. There comes a time in life when one has to say ‘enough is enough.’ Now instead of cards, presents or parties, I celebrate my birthday with this Spring Volunteer Project. I realized part of my job as leader of Nippon Kan was to be a better role model and more active in my community.”
I think everyone that was listening to Homma Kancho could understand and relate to the realizations that started our spring tradition at Nippon Kan.
Annual time for friendship and communication.
2007 Spring Volunteer Project Leader
Since its inception, Nippon Kan has opened its doors to Denver
schoolchildren through its School Field Trip Program. This year,
from January to July, over 2,000 students toured the Nippon Kan
General Headquarters facility on this special cultural tour.
These two-hour excursions into Japanese culture include a facility
tour, hands-on origami (paper folding), shodo (brush calligraphy),
Aikido demonstrations, a museum and garden tour, and a traditional
Japanese lunch at Domo Restaurant. The cost for this tour is
$10.00 per person, $6.00 of which is donated to AHAN to fund
children support projects worldwide.
First experience with chopsticks!
Youth Aikido Program members help with
The mysterious samurai—Homma Kancho!
The popularity of this program with Denver schools makes for
a demanding schedule for the volunteer staff. The tours are held
from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. which means that staff members have
to take time out of their busy day schedules to assist in this
Vice President Emily Busch gives a talk in the museum.
Mr. John Cruise leading the facility tour.
Many thanks to our dedicated staff for their years of skilled assistance.
Nippon Kan Vice President
AHAN International Project Director
Jewelry Designer, Graduate Gemologist
Alumi Nippon Kan President
Nippon Kan Board Advisor
University Instructor, Professional Writer
Nippon Kan Kancho Task Team Staff Member
University Biology Laboratory Coordinator
To the many more adult and youth program members who have assisted with this program, thank you all for all of your help!
AHAN Assistant director
285 meals served
June 17th, 300 meals served
July 15th, 280 meals served
Total since January 1991: 46,923 meals served
July 15th, 2007
The finishing touches on last year’s Nippon Kan garden expansion was completed on July 15th, 2007 with the placement of a bronze statue of the Kanzenonbosatsu (Musubi Kannon). This beautiful image from Homma Kancho’s private collection is a seated Kannon figure representing the Buddha listening to the heart of mankind. Soon after Homma Kancho returned from his trip to Iran, he and John Grotrian, Nepal assistant instructor, spent three days and nights building the stone and mortar base on which the Kannon is seated.
Domo Restaurant, which is part of Nippon Kan, employs many legal immigrants who have come from Asian countries seeking refuge for political or other strife-related reasons. Many find solace and a kindred spirit in the new Kannon and find comfort in her presence.
This Buddhist statue has a gentle and kind presence that is already becoming known in the community. Everyone seems to enjoy and appreciate this new addition.
Nippon Kan Office Coordinator
- Recognition from the Mongolian Parliament and Zorig Foundation President, Congresswoman Sanjaasvren Oyun for organizing the farewell event for the Mongolian student exchange group April 28th, 2007.
- Recognition from the Denver Parks and Recreation Department for leading participation in the Spring Volunteer Trails Day Globeville Park reclamation project, June 4th, 2007
from the Minoru Yasui Foundation Inn of Court.
Nippon Kan and Homma Kancho were presented a plaque of recognition honoring community service and humanitarian activities. The annual Inn of Court meeting was held at Nippon Kan’s Domo Restaurant Gardens on June 17th, 2007
Ringo feeds the babies, while Hatako stretches her legs!
My name is Genbei and I am senior uchideshi at Nippon Kan. Last August, a white dove flew into the Nippon Kan gardens and made herself at home. She spent the winter with me nice and warm in the dojo office, and this spring, she and Ringo (another visiting dove) hatched two eggs in the nest they built there. The new baby doves were named Chako and Shiroko (brown and white). Both parents took good care of the baby doves until they were strong and able to fly. Every day Homma Kancho would take all of the doves to the garden in their cage and Hatako and Ringo would fly to get a little exercise. When the babies were big enough to eat on their own however, Ringo flew the coop! Hatako continued caring for the babies as a single mother, and did a very good job. As the babies grew, it became apparent that there was not enough room for all of them in their quarters as the young birds started picking on Hatako a bit.
When Homma Kancho got back from Iran, he decided it was time to let the birds go back to the wild and they were released back into the Nippon Kan garden. “Better to free them, and let them fly in the sky.” Homma Kancho said as he let them go. I am not sure, but I think this had meaning for him after his experiences in Iran.
Now the doves are free to come and go as they please and every morning they stop by to say hello to Homma Kancho and have breakfast. I guess this is the end of the stay for our littlest uchideshi; Hatako, Ringo, Chako and Shiroko!
The dojo dog, 3rd kyu