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Round Trip to Tento

Off Time No. 6

by Kenta Shimizu

Do all of you know the origin of the name „Tendo“ or „Tento“? Well, the name “Tendo” was adopted from the town “Tento” in the district Iizukashi of the prefecture Fukuoka, which is the hometown of the head of the Tendokan, Sensei Kenji Shimizu. In the past Tento was a prosperous inn town, and around the neighboring towns the famous Chikuho coalfields were situated. Still today the so-called mountain “Bota Yama” can be seen on the Chikuho coalfield area, which was built from the piled up waste of the coal.

On May 7th, 2006, Shimizu Sensei traveled to this area, which is filled with memories from his time as a boy about 40 years ago. I will report now about the town “Tento”, from which the name “Tendo” has been adopted.

<May 7th>

(1) The Tento Station

This is the railway station Tento of the Kyushu Sasaguri Line of JR (Japanese Railway). During our drive suddenly we heart Shimizu Sensei’s voice: “Over there is the Tento station”. Quickly I jumped out of the car and pushed the shutter release of the camera. The station is not so big, but very nice.

The next picture shows the street with stores and houses next to the station. Private houses with tiled roofs and shops run along the street. This area still looks very Japanese.

(2) The Classmates

This is Mr. Kasuyama, a very close friend of Shimizu Sensei from his primary school time. Mr. Katsuyama is so to speak a ‘townkeeper’, and he knows very well everything related to the town Tento. As well during this return to the hometown we again were able to learn much.

At this day we went for lunch together with five classmates from the primary and middle school time, and chatting comfortably the time flied. Of course the conversation dealt with memories of the childhood until all aspects of the recent state, and all chatted lively while drinking sake. Mr. Tanaka, who belonged to the same Judo class at Junior High school as Shimizu Sensei, told: “With regard to the Judo of classmate Shimizu he was not someone working with all his might, but he threw me always, if I was showing a gap”. The party went on until late in the evening, and the clock showed already 2 o’clock in the morning, when we returned to the hotel where we stayed.

<May 8th>

The next day it was not bright but very cloudy, but there was no indication for rain, and several times we could watch the face of the blue sky behind the clouds.

(3) The Kaho Theatre

On this day first we visited the famous Kaho Theatre. It was opened in the year Showa 6 (1926), and today it is a rare and unique wooden theatre, in which famous Kabuki performances and various concerts take place. Shimizu Sensei told us that in his childhood he came at the hand of his father for watching, too. At those days, when there were no public performances, sightseeing is possible, and we could watch carefully every nook and corner within the theatre until total satisfaction.

(4) The Mukumoto Primary School

This is the Mukumoto primary school, which Shimizu Sensei visited. Today the school building is renovated completely, and when we walked around, I heart the words “Well, this has changed extremely”. In fact on the school badge, which hung out above the school gate, we could read the inscribing ‘since 1874’ and feel the long history. For daily attendance at school Shimizu Sensei had to walk from home about 30 minutes.

(5) The Tento Shrine

This is a shrine named Tento. You can reach the shrine within five minutes walk from the station, and of course he was there already during the childhood of Shimizu Sensei. Still today the shrine is maintained carefully and she is quite nice.During primary school time at this Tento shrine Sumo competitions for children are said to take place. Next to the temple compound is an arena, and of course Shimizu Sensei attended because of the stalls. “Amazing, how small the arena was at that time!”.

(6) The Taishojin Mountain

Direct behind the Tento station the mountain Tento is watching over Tento town. Climbing to the top takes about 20 minutes, and on the way we came along countless o-Jizo statues (Bodhisattva who looks over children). This is an area, where Shimizu Sensei spent a lot of time in his childhood, and in the first place he remembers fictive sword fighting. Often he stayed at the mountain until darkness, and now and then he lost his way in the mountain area. But today there is an parking lot and a well paved road, and the mountain has become a famous place for watching the full cherry blossom in spring.

© translated by Peter Nawrot 08/ 2006