Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Slouching toward Shakadani

I don't write about it much, but the main reason I moved to the Kyo was so that I could study Takeuchi Bujutsu, the oldest extant jujutsu style in Japan. This nearly 500-year old system was born in the deep mountains, so it's fitting that my dojo sits on a mountaintop above the Northwest corner of the city. It is a mysterious, and quite often, a spooky place. A few weeks back, my sempai Tony and I were talking out front of the dojo after practice. Up above us, something large was moving steadily but stealthily down the slope toward us. "A tengu?" Tony asked. I yelled into the dark, "Teach us some sweet swordsmanship!"

It's getting cold in the Kyo now that it has hit December, far too cold to ride my Vespa up there. I prefer an hour of reading in the warmth of a bus. I'd noticed that there is a set of stone steps leading from near the bus stop, and wondered if they were a shortcut to the top of the zigzag of streets leading up to the dojo. Last Saturday night, I took a torch with me and decided to explore. The steps leave civilization quickly, entering a dark and dense bamboo forest. Midway up this trail is a small pond. I'd had my iPod going, but above it I thought I heard something. I took off the headphones to hear something enter the water. Not a loud sudden splash of a startled animal, but the slow deliberate movement of something trying not to be heard. Like something hunting. I shined my light over the surface of the pond, but it was glassy, without a single ripple. I usually feel quite at ease in the wild, but on this occasion, my blood turned icier than the winter air. I hurried up the hill, shining my light wildly behind me every few steps until I entered the safety of the dojo.

And then I asked myself, quite seriously. Are kappa real?

On the turntable; David Byrne, "Rei Momo"

On the nighttable: Gary Katzenstein, "Funny Business"

1 comment:

Billy Jack said...

Nice post.

Please say "hello" to Tony from Al in Vancouver.