Manila international airport… a joke!

17 02 2016

What a dump!!!

Worst international terminal I have seen in my life! Worse than several local Chinese small airports (not comparing to super terminals like Shanghai or Beining). Much much much worse than tiny Haneda Tokyo international!

In Haneda the toilet were still Japanese style, with super clean toilets and the reminder to Chinese that… it was not China: 

do not use the toilet Chinese style!!


Here I was afraid to catch a disease entering the toilet area, with 2 closed bathrooms and 2 overfilled urinators!!!! I can’t properly picture the smell..

But the “best” part is the following and it applies to all the tiny and sparse shops at international departure: 

cash only – no cards accepted

Are you kidding me???????

I’m transferring between Japan and Indonesia and of course I got no local valuta and…. there are no ATMs!!!!!

Wow!!! 😂 

I admit, a first time! Missing China!!!

Drunk on Kit-Kat

15 02 2016

Sounds crazy, but is it?

Sake taste (and especially smell) Kit-Kat!!! And おいしい (delicious) as well!!!

Not the only special taste I have found here… and a few more will most probably find their way home with me!

Parking sensei

12 02 2016

I have no clue how the owner got the motorbike up the steps, and it’s not a light e-bike but a real heavy engine one!!!


Back to China

7 07 2013

After almost 2 weeks in Japan, and more exactly 3 weeks away from Longgang, I am back in the South of China.. already for a couple of weeks now! I know, I have been a lazy blogger lately.. hope to imporve again once back in Europe!

Again it has been an Aikido driven trip, that had started in Shanghai for 3 nice sessions with Irie sensei, start of the hombu dojo annual event in China (Shanghai/Beijing.. indeed a tiny part of China). Then, instead of following sensei to Beijing has done earlier, I said bye bye to both China and sensei and I flew to Japan, Kyoto at first, where I joined the Aikido Kyoto 10th Anniversary International Seminar with Yasuno sensei as top instructor.

A fantastic weekend seminar: nowadays a few instructors show such a passion, energy and are equally captivating as Yasuno sensei. Unfortunately sensei talked much during the seminar, and it was all in Japanese and not translated. But a good friend and close student of sensei translated for me some points that were emphasized during practice. This is indeed an extra motivation in order to improve my Japanese.. even if Yasuno sensei talks so fast that it was a challenge for a few foreigners even with good Japanese skills!

After Kyoto I visited Nara and thanks to Tominaga sensei, teacher of the local club (with several dojos between Nara and Osaka) I had a wonderful time both on the mats and off. Sensei took me around Nara and also a little in Osaka and I meet a few of the locals officials and the three UNESCO protected sites in Nara.

Back in Tokyo I had only one chance to practice with Endo sensei in hombu dojo and then one visit to Funabashi dojo, where the main teachers are also Endo sensei close students. At Funabashi dojo I had a great practice followed by a great dinner! Really nice people that I hope to meet again soon.

In Tokyo, as said, I had the chance again to practice several times with Irie sensei, both at hombu dojo and Shinagawa dojo. The more I can practice with sensei, the more I want to practice with him.. and I know already his only visit to Europe for next year.. I must take contact soon with the organizers!

With these 2 trips close to each other I clearly took my decision to stop being a hombu dojo Aikido tourist trying to practice 5 sessions per day (ok, I could never really do that!) with all instructors. I have taken a direction and I know I will struggle to keep contact with the teachers I really like now. Especially after I will go back to Europe, since Irie sensei and Yasuno sensei do not travel that much. A good thing is that in Italy there will be soon more activity related to Yasuno sensei because of one of his close students leaving Japan after several years. His new project together with the already existing and very active Aikido Club Bolzano will introduce more of Yasuno sensei Aikido vision.

I don’t need to add that if I will ever be again in a position able to invite some teachers to my dojo, Irie sensei is top of the list: my new dream is having him in Norway, just because I know Norwegian Aikido environment and people very closely and I am sure they would all love sensei from the first minute.. as I did!!

Aikido days in Tokyo

25 05 2013

It is now about 2 weeks back from an Aikido tour in Japan. The time flies and the post got delayed by different events, among which my laptop hard disk suddenly decided life stinks and took a turn to the dark side.. The situation involved a quite large amount of anger and several attempts to recovery, all failed, leading to the only solution of paying for data recovery, luckily successful.

Anyway, from the 26th to the 30th April I was in Tokyo followed by the 20th Anniversary of Saku dojo in Saku (Nagano-shi), home of Endo sensei. Again a wonderful time over there, not only because the great Aikido (both in Tokyo and Saku), but for the people I met (old friends and new ones), the food, the weather, the time, the places.. after a few days back, I was already missing it (and I started organizing my trip there in June for Yasuno sensei seminar in Kyoto!!).

In Tokyo I focused my practice with Irie sensei, happy that I will also meet him again in Shanghai in June (and then again in Japan). Managing to attend his classes both at Aikikai Hombu dojo and at Aikido Shinagawa  Kouyukai dojo (品川区合気道交友会), I had a chance to work longer on his Aikido way and especially focus on the movements and feelings that make his practice so fascinating and interesting to me. This is probably one of the aspects about being an Aikido “tourist” at Hombu dojo in Tokyo: always interesting meeting as many senseis as possible, but then in 1 hour practice I get almost nothing out of it, except the usual great practice feelings. But since we normal travellers have a chance to visit Hombu maybe once per year and for at most 1 week – 10 days, the chances to meet more than once any teacher (except for doshu and Ueshiba sensei) are extremely limited.

I enjoy every time I attend Irie sensei‘s class, but also being his Aikido closer to Yasuno sensei Aikido, I have strong interest in learning more and at the same time I feel every time I haven’t understood a thing and/or forgotten all since the previous session. Most difficult for me is the tori part, while as uke I think I manage quite well thanks to Endo sensei Aikido. But the wat to strictly perform a technique is quite different from what I am used. Still extremely interesting for the different direction, much more toward uke‘s center, taking him off balance straight from the first contact. Or at least, these are my feelings the lucky times sensei applies the techniques on me.

In the Kouyukai dojo practice we had the chance to use also jo both for technique and for aid to understand better the directions in the technique. This is something impossible probably when practicing only at Hombu dojo. And as appreciated before, especially thanks to my beloved Vanadis instructors in Stockholm, using the jo for understanding directions and body position and rotations in the technique is really useful. At least I can see better what the instructor does naturally, without thinking.. then doing it myself it is completely another matter!!

I wish I had a deeper and better understanding of several aspects of the techniques in order to be able to transmit it to others just with my body, no words needed. This is the kind of feeling I receive when I am lucky enough to partner up with any sensei or soom good practitioners in Japan. When there is a linguistic barrier it is so important to be able to transmit the proper feeling. Recently some of the Chinese people I used to practice a lot together in Hangzhou made me quite happy saying that even if I do not speak Chinese I usually make it quite clear what I am talking about by showing the techniques, finding easy examples/comparisons and then practicing together with the people. I am happy to hear that (people praising me as an instructor might come as a shock to some people!) but at the same time I know I have to work much harder (and much much more often with some instructor I am really missing!).

At Hombu dojo I managed to get one session with Yasuno sensei and it was quite nice to see him throw around a nice group of international senseis like Frank Noel, 7th dan from Tolouse, and several other high graded on the way to Saku dojo. Practice with Irie sensei does help to understand a little more of Yasuno sensei Aikido (and also Irie sensei was among the people thrown around). This was a session where you can change partner, but I met after some time a good Aikido practitioner from Italy, close to both Yasuno sensei and Endo sensei, so we decided to practice the full hour together, and for me it was really good (probably boring for him!).

The pace at Hombu dojo is much higher than at a normal practice or seminar session: people push full energy, especially if it is the only practice they can have that day. No reason to conserve energies.. lucky them they have in average much more than me!!

In June I will spend there more time and I will be again quite selective on the session choices. Mostly because I never had before and certainly I don’t have now the energy for practicing 5 sessions per day, many days in a row!!

During the days in Tokyo I realized there are 2 kinds of people I really dislike:
• people that never takes risks about anything, holds silently back in the second lines just waiting that someone makes a mistake and then start making fun of him/her;
• people that always think to know everything even if it is clearly impossible they know about that! still they have to say their piece and they usually do with confidence and attitude as if they knew.
I have also realized that probably I enjoy more traveling alone and make random meetings with people on the way, even if I would not be as effective and organized like other I know.

Good time in Tokyo

14 05 2013

Not much else to add! Just a great time off the mats!

(the pictures have an iPhone 3Gs bad quality, but it was so much faster for then sharing at once.. I go for social, and soon change the crappy mobile for one with good camera!)

Tokyo - 05/2013 Tokyo - 05/2013
Tokyo - 05/2013 Tokyo - 05/2013
Tokyo - 05/2013 Tokyo - 05/2013
Tokyo - 05/2013 Tokyo - 05/2013
Tokyo - 05/2013 Tokyo - 05/2013
Tokyo - 05/2013 Tokyo - 05/2013

Rinsed and happy

26 04 2013

Here I am, packing the bag for tomorrow practice and then meeting a friend for sushi. 🙂

Hugs from Tokyo!!!