Japan & Me

Jamie Stokes

Occupation: Salesman
Age: 40

Tell us about a place you like in Japan.
The Kiyomizu-Zaka road, leading up to Kiyomizu temple. There is a lovely (and delicious!) mix of traditional and contemporary cooking. Plus there is a combination of new and classic architecture, making the walk to Kiyomizu temple very pleasant.

What did you like about your time in Japan
Catching up with friends (Kanae and Miyuki) as well as making a new friend (Yoko). Kanae spent much of her time showing me around Osaka and Kyoto, as did Miyuki and Yoko.

From your photos, it looks like you've spent some time in Hiroshima. Can you tell us about that
I caught the shinkansen and visited Hiroshima overnight. It was great to see more of the countryside on the way. At the Peace Museum, one of the volunteer guides told me a touching tale about how the Hiroshima tram company got the services running just three days after the bombing. Afterwards I went to a little restaurant, and ordered something in poor Japanese. The kind waitress said "Oh yes, I can help you with that"... in perfect English!

What interests you about Japan
Aikido. Japan is the source of Aikido, and I'm interested in the way it brings together intention, attention, focus and self defence.

How is life in Japan different to life in Adelaide
The level of neatness in Japan is one difference. I can't recall seeing any graffiti of any kind while I was there.

How does Japan influence your life at present
I am learning Japanese to gain a better understanding of martial arts terminology, plus the concepts of "wabi-sabi" (a modest, simple beauty or elegance) and "ichi-go ichi-e" (once in a lifetime). "Ichi-go ichi-e" (relating to martial arts) means it's better to complete a technique or task rather than "halt and reset". You should just do the task at hand, then move on to the next one.

How do you imagine your future in relation to Japan
Personal development in Aikido will be a key part of my training. Also, speaking as an amateur photographer, Japan is a visual treat!

Tell us something memorable about your time in Japan.
Giving away those little clip-on koalas to Japanese people I'd met. The warmth and friendliness I saw at such a simple act confirmed we have so much in common.

Edited: November 2012