This week we had a very interesting event. Otemae welcomed a group of karate teachers to come and share their karate study with us. The teachers were from England, Ireland, Canada, Norway, Australia, and Indonesia. The main teacher is a karate teacher named Richard Amos, and he is a very famous teacher all over the world.
Richard Amos-Sensei and I have been friends for many years and I was very happy that his group came to Kagawa to visit. I am also very grateful to the Kurata Family, and the staff and teachers of Otemae to welcome the group here. It was a very fun time for the international teachers and they all said that they had a wonderful experience here with you. Thank you very much for being so patient and for participating in the session.
One very interesting thing about this exchange experience is that we all could see that these foreign people love Japan. Richard Amos, and all the teachers from around the world have a very strong feeling of love for Japanese life, Japanese customs, Japanese culture, and of course, Japanese karate. For the rest of their time here in Kagawa, they were very interested to experience Risturin Garden, Yashima, Zentsuji, and Naoshima.
Every year, more and more people come to Japan to experience Japanese culture and to see your country. So many people around the world have a deep respect for Japanese society, Japanese art and music, Japanese history, and of course for Japanese people too. People around the world look at you and say, “You are very lucky to be Japanese”.
Do you feel lucky? Do you feel special? Maybe you do not feel so special or important. But the truth is, you really are very lucky, and you are very important. You are important because of your own personal feelings and your own style, but also you are important because you are the next generation in Japan.
The wonderful parts of your culture that we see in art, history, music, karate, iaido, judo, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, kabuki and Noh, and language are for you. All of those wonderful things are your responsibility to keep strong and beautiful.
Maybe that is a heavy job too. But it is a job that you must think about. Japanese culture is unique and special. There is nothing like Japanese culture in any part of the world. There is only one Japan. So, you have a special job to keep Japanese traditions and Japanese culture strong. Of course you must learn about other cultures and language too, but it is very important for you to always know about your own country, and about the great art and culture that you have.
We saw a group of foreign people who love Japanese karate. They study and train in karate for many, many years. The training is hard, and the karate practice is not easy. But they do karate because it is beautiful, and it helps grow a strong character, and it helps a person become strong and ready to push forward in life.
This feeling of karate, of “budo” is a very important thing for Japan to keep strong and safe. You can do it, and you must do it. Japan is a leader in culture and art, so I hope you will think about that, and think about the parts of traditional Japan that should live forever.
All of it will be yours one day. What would you like to do?