A Blog Post from Sensei Dan Smith March 29th 2011 Travel Day
The first time I made the trip to Okinawa was quite different than today’s trip but after making this trip thirty-three times many of the same questions go thru my mind while traveling.
My first trip 42+ years ago took three times as long as the trip does now. My first trip started from Jackson, Mississippi. I had been home on leave for two weeks before shipping out to Okinawa. As a twenty-two year old and brand new second lieutenant this was only my second time to fly anywhere much less to Okinawa. I first flew to Dallas, Texas, on to Oakland, CA on Delta and after an overnite stay in a military processing center flew on “Flying Tiger” airline to Hawaii, Guam and then to Okinawa….close to three days of travel.
Now I go from my home outside of Atlanta to take a non-stop flight (14 hours) to Narita Airport about an hour outside on Tokyo and 100+ miles south of Fukushima (for those that have expressed concern over my travel), layover in Narita about three hours for a three hour flight to Okinawa. The first trip took the better part of three days and now it takes me 26 hours from my door to the condo door on Okinawa. Big change….what has not changed is the arrival at 10:30 pm. Seems like over the years this would have changed…it would be nice to see Okinawa from the air but it is always dark when I arrive……what has not changed…..with age the trips have become shorter but with age comes what appears to be more stress on the body….what has not changed…..the anticipation as the landing gear goes down….I always relive in my mind the first time I arrived in Okinawa….we landed at Kadena air base and the oppressive humidity stilll has not changed as you can close your hand quickly and catch moisture…you have to come to Okinawa to experience this….on my first arrival I had no idea where I was going to live or what my daily activities would be like….now I have a good understanding of what to expect….even though I had no idea of where I would train in karate I was thrilled just as I am now to see Okinawan karate and learn…..
The trip has changed but over the years my desire to come to Okinawa has not……I volunteered for every duty I could to get sent to Okinawa….I am stilll volunteering to find ways and reasons to come as often as possible.
There are several things you can always depend on when coming to Okinawa….the weather will change every few hours…when I left Atlanta Okinawa had tempratures in the high 70s…I arrived it was in the high 50s….so much for any beach time the next few days….there will be a karate event if you are here for more than two weeks…on my arrival Hanshi Shimabukuro told me that we would be attending the Okinawan Ken Karate/Kobudo Rengoak National Youth tournament on Sunday….a great opportunity to see the best kata for 18 and under….Seibukan’s Goto san has won his division the last two years and this is his last year to be eligible…so he came from Tokyo to compete…he has been on Okinawa for a week to get tuned up before the tournament….the jet lag never changes…by the time Hanshi Shimabukuro and Isagawa picked me up from the airport and got me to the condo I should have been ready to crash but I was wide awake….SkYPED with Joy, and then watched UNC beat Marquette followed by Kentucky upsetting Ohio State…talk about change…who would have thought 42+ years ago I could have watched the games on the internet.
I have nothing planned for Saturday…get settled in…go for a long walk, suspension training and go to the dojo for a short workout…recover from the jet lag and be ready for an all day tournament on Sunday….Gambatte from Okinawa