In aikido class this weekend, we had a couple of people whom I had never met. They had returned to practicing after a long hiatus. One of them was an older Japanese man. I didn’t get a chance to practice with him, but after class was over and we all did the customary thanking each other and bowing, he came up to me and asked me if I was Japanese. He said he was surprised to see another Japanese training in a martial art– most Japanese are more interested in learning Western things; it’s the Westerners now who are more interested in learning aikido, he told me.
A Japanese-American friend of mine, RI, said something similar to me a while back– that today’s Japanese could stand to learn and appreciate the older art forms and philosophies. It seems as though Westerners are more interested in keeping these alive than the modern-day Japanese are, she said.
I’m taking this chance meeting and conversation with this aikidoka as a sign that I need to keep my heritage an active part of me. But I haven’t yet figured out how.