The Japanese Guests Enjoyed Russian Cuisine and Banya
It is the third time our city was visited by the Japanese delegation. But it can be considered the first one in the sense that they had never come to Kursk in such quantity. They were up to hold the 1st, 2nd and 3rd dan examination to test the mastery of our sportsmen who practice one of the most graceful martial arts aikido.
The Kursk team intrigued the guests by their skills...
All four visitors from Japan are highly proficient and merited aikidokas. Shogo Yamaguchi, JAA vice president, enjoys the record of one of the most well-skilled person in this kind of sport on the whole planet. Sato Tadyuki is Japans 1980 national champion. Tanabe Shintaro and Fuwa Hisayuki wield high dans (ranks) and have a reputation for their sport performance.
The week the Japanese spent in Russia was split into 4 days in Moscow and 3 days in Kursk. While only 8 representatives of Moscow club took the dan examination, Kursk had 20 1st, 2nd and 3rd dan challengers whose skill in aikido the guests had to examine. It should be marked that only 15 sportsmen were from Kursk, the other 5 having arrived from Belgorod region and St. Petersburg. As a part of the trips official part the masters arranged a meeting with the Youth, Sport and Tourism Committee Chairman Alla Chertova. The guest pointed out the excellent skill of our sportsmen and promised to come back. What charmed Shogo Yamaguchi was the performance of girls from the KSMU section. He noted that the Russian girls resemble the Japanese in their manner pretty much in their common naturalness, gentleness and elegance all the three aspects being the key elements in aikidos philosophy.
It has always been surprising to the Japanese that so many people in a provincial city practice aikido with suchlike earnestness, so it was not by chance that they visited Kursk. Astonishing as it may be but our soil proved fertile for the Japanese martial art philosophy to get its roots deep into it.
— Presently about 200 people in Kursk practice aikido professionally,
says Aleksey Shchepikhin, the director of The Way of Harmony sport organization, the headmaster of aikido and swordsmanship KSMU sections,
— seven years of training within the section involved all in all 1500 people.
1982 was the year when the first Russian aikido club Hermes was established by the father of Russian aikido Igor Dmitriev. Now the club located in the basement floor of the tenement can be rightfully called Kursk aikido museum. Foreign sportsmen always visit it with a great deal of enthusiasm. The clubs walls are all glued with photos of the famous and more obscure Japanese masters and it was stunning for our guest to recognize them on the pictures in such a place, moreover some shots there are of great rarity like the picture of Morihei Ueshiba the founder of aikido in his early years. Most of the photos we have now are post-war showing him as a mature man.
Tomiki aikido atlas compiled by Aleksey Shchepikhin and his students was quite a surprise for the masters as well. It was structuted in line with the Japanese traditions of manual writing with the backup of 200 illustrative photos shot from above which is also characteristic to suchlike issues in Japan.
—This book, - remarked Shogo Yamaguchi the oldest member of the delegation,
—illustrates to what extent a Russian man can perceive the sacred secrets of the Japanese style and see the inherent harmony.
Our guests even claimed to borrow some innovative ideas.
The two-week seaside seminars at the Caucasus have been held annually for several years already. The notion of training at the seaside was welcomed by the Japanese who always strive to reach unity with nature.
... and by pies!
The three days in Kursk were at the same time devoted to getting to know Russian customs. Even the friends from Japan the country famous for its hospitality were impressed by the warm welcome of Kursk.
All the four stayed at Aleksandr Tarans place but visited quite a number of Russian homes. They were delighted with our food Kursk aikidokas took the Japanese fellows to one cozy restaurant in Fatezh where they were treated with borsch, mushroom pies and other national dishes. To crown it all after the dinner was banya. Especially for the friends the top quality banya had been chosen constructed traditionally without a single nail. At first they cast worried looks inside but soon nothing of their first glance caution was left and they beat each other with birch bunches in a Russianlike manner and dipped fearlessly into tubs of icy water.
A credit must be given to every home that received the guests, for all the dishes were exceptionally delicious. The treat that excited the Japanese most of all was bacon. One mistress who is a professional cook had so many various dishes that it was utterly impossible even to try all of them. The guest said they liked it more here in Kursk than in the capital.
— Here we feel at home, - they would say,
— the nature is so beautiful, people are kind, easy-going and friendly the true sons of nature.
Photos from A.Tarans family collection