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From a Mexican Point of View
Wednesday, 22. April 2015
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by Lorena Fortolis

Lorena has her own dojo in Tlalpan – Mexiko City. She and Juan Carlos spent two weeks in Tokyo - just during the cherry blossom season

A few days ago we had the opportunity to travel to Japan. The main purpose of the trip was to train in Aikido.

To give you an idea, for us Mexicans of Tendoryu group to be able to train in Tendokan is like a football player who gets to play in Maracana Stadium. We were filled with a lot of emotion and expectation in every class.

The timing of this trip coincided with the Japanese Hanami. It was an excellent decision because seeing the sakura flowers in person really moved us. There is no photo, image or video that could describe that which can be seen live, in person. We feel that it brought us a bit closer to Japan's spirit.

This trip was full of good experiences, although we did suffer some from the climate, as it turned out to be rather extreme for us. You could go through four seasons in one week: a beautiful and sunny day, a chilly day, a rainy day with wind and again the sun.

The beauty of the temples and gardens, the madness of Shibuya and Akihabara, Omotesando's glamour… any thing that we could say you have heard it already and every visitor experiences it. But for us, the more significant thing that we bring home for ourselves is the people of Japan and our time spent with them.

We want to share some of our appraisals of the differences and similarities between Japanese and Mexican culture.

With the people, the most obvious difference is the physical contact, or lack of it. Japanese are people of “Distance” but as Sensei explains, always there is a respectful and sincere inclination that arises from inside. On the other hand, Mexicans love to hug! Among friends and acquaintances we hug and kiss each other, sometimes also with people who we have just met.

Nevertheless we feel that there is an “interior Japan”. When friends receive us in their homes, it is affectively the same as in Mexico. We experienced the Japanese hospitality like it was a good Mexican hug.

Something that we envy, is the safety. The people leave umbrellas and bicycles outside of their houses. Mexico is a country very hurt by the poverty and the inequality. If I leave something outside of my house, sadly, I wouldn’t see it again.

Definitively what we don’t like in Japan is that people can smoke in restaurants, coffee shops and bars. In Mexico, smoking is prohibited in any public closed place. Of course if we were smokers, we would think differently.

Among the things we enjoyed most was the food. The authentic Japanese cuisine is truly appreciated by us because in Mexico we can only obtain poorly done sushi. Often it is made with chili and cheese and only a few fish varieties.

In one of our days in Tokyo we had the opportunity to take part in a "Zazen" in a temple with some Buddhists monks. Even though Seiza's position is difficult, after a time you don't think about that. We experienced it as an effort that stopped being an effort and became simply a thing of value.

But above all, the best thing is always the Keiko in Tendokan. Leaving the linguistic difficulties behind, there is a rather frank approximation that conveys much. Watching Sensei is in itself an education. Being able to practice with many partners and get to hear their observations and comments is the best opportunity for us to become better.

To feel the sincerity in the training was very important. Partners didn’t give us the opportunity to move when we were doing things wrong. They also showed us that they knew we would not give up until we discovered good choices with positive results along with finding the perfect timing and the correct union.

Again we came back to Mexico, very grateful and with many good things to share.