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Memoirs - The 40th Aniversary (2)

Kawaraban No. 80


by The Head of Tendokan, Kenji Shimizu

“What are you doing over there? This will not work at all!”

I am talking to you about my Uchi Deshi time. When I had a private lesson with my partner (Watanabe Yaeji – presently lawyer) after ordinary practice, a person, from whom I did not know how he entered, shouted with a hoarse dialectical voice. Mr. Watanabe was a personality, whose importance was especially enjoined on me by the Dojo leader.

Looking back now I see an elderly gentleman in good shape, who greeted me smiling with the words: “I am sorry to disturb you!” I knew at once that I should be cautious, and my partner Watanabe stopped to practice.

“I did invite this gentleman.”

The indicated person introduced himself with: “I am Sahashi” and joined immediately. At this very day I was teaching Mr. Watanabe.

Shortly before that incident Mr. Sahashi (Shigeru Sahashi, 1913 – 1993) had retired as the vice president of the MITI (ministry for international trade and industry), and Mr. Watanabe was working at the same ministry as the head of the trade department.

However, normally a person, who attends the training for the first time, should not shout at the people practicing in the Dojo with such a loud voice. That really is not correct.

Mr. Watanabe was a very quite gentleman, Mr. Sahashi on the other hand in the beginning made the impression of a stubborn old man, and only later I understood how completely different his character really was. Mr. Sahashi possessed a sharp flexible mind, and he was extremely friendly.

Lately the television movie ‘Kanryotachi no Natsu’ (English translation: ‘The Summer of the Government Officers’) was broadcasted, which adapted the original work of Saburo Shiroyama (Japanese author, 1927 – 2007), and the character of Shigeru Sahashi was the model for this novel. Sahashi was very famous, because he was an extraordinary government officer and because he disapproved the ‘Amakudari’ system (remark by the translator: literally ‘those who descend from heaven’, meaning that high government officers of Japanese ministries changed to influential well-paid positions in industry and economy after retirement).

During practice as well Mr. Sahashi showed extraordinary sensitivity and impressive intuition. Now and then when I was in charge of the class I threw Mr. Sahashi, who sometimes opposed my techniques during practice, strongly, and sometimes we went to the extremes. Apparently he tried to test my abilities, and now and then I cooperated. The age difference was as much as in case of father and son, but I remember that sometimes I threw him somewhat stronger to practice myself. Mr. Sahashi enjoyed this.

After practice Mr. Sahashi invited me sometimes with the words: “Just come to my office during your leisure time for a change of mood”, and I frequently spent my leisure time in the bureau of the Sahashi Economics Research Center in Roppongi (Tokyo). There was a secretary called Mrs. Murakami, who welcomed me with friendly feelings, and Mr. Sahashi also welcomed me at any time openheartedly and very friendly. Therefore I enjoyed the visits to the bureau very much. During lunchtime Mr. Sahashi invited me, and he mostly chose Soba (Japanese noodles) and I ate Katsudon (breaded pork on rice).

I always was able to talk to Mr. Sahashi freely about various issues, and once I talked to him about my own weak points: “Actually, if I do not cooperate well with my partner, won’t he become my enemy?” And Mr. Sahashi answered: “It is wrong not to dare to oppose to someone. And even if you have an enemy, it has not only a negative but also a positive meaning. And that is quite interesting in your life.”

Those words made me think intensively during my life.

(will be continued in the next issue)

By the editors of the Kawaraban:

In 1969 (Showa 44) in the May issue of the ‘Bungei Shunju’ (a famous Japanese journal) the following words about the intimate relationship between Shimizu Sensei and Mr. Shigeru Sahashi were published:

“Sahashi learned Aikido under the 5th Dan Shimizu, who graduated from Meiji University, and he was charmed by the clear expression of Shimizu’s eyes – (omission) – and his fascination was so strong that he intended to offer Shimizu a position in the Sahashi Economics Research Center.”

This paragraph comes from the biography ‘Sahashi Shigeru – Amakudaranu Koukyukanryo’ (English title: ‘Sahashi Shigeru – a high government officer, who disapproved Amakudari’), which was written by Kusanayagi Daizo (1924 – 2002, non-fiction author, journalist).

© translated by Ichiro Murata and Peter Nawrot 03/2010