It was the much anticipated Japan Matsuri (Festival) at Spitalfield, London, on the 19th Sept 2010.
There were many interesting Japan-related stuff to be had (as one would expect from a Japanese festival… ), food, sake, travel info, kimonos, sake, all sorts of cultural performances, cosplay, sake…. and did I mention sake?
My highlight was at the martial arts stage, where Ismail Hasan Sensei (from Aikido of London) did a demonstration that afternoon.
Jostling my way to the front for decent photos was a challenge due to the sheer number of people crowded around the mats, but I managed do so while stepping on a few toes (and maybe even whacking a few heads!), and got to the very edge of the stage.
As usual, the Aikido was intense, eyebrow-raising, and seemingly-effortless, often leaving me wondering:” how on earth did Sensei do that?”.
It was also rather amusing to see the sympathetic wincing and gasps from the crowd (myself included, sometimes) everytime any of the ukes (the opponent taking the fall) goes flying and hits the mats with a loud THUD, or gets pinned into rather impossible angles.
After Aikido came Iaido.
I’ve been trying to learn Iaido for a year and a half now, and this still fascinates me. The art speaks for itself, so I will not waste time trying to describe it. Anyone interested should go try it themselves.
I know I would.