AMERICAN-JAPANESE GOOD WILL TOUR 2002
The American Iaido Team
with Head Master Matsuno &
Grand Master Crandall at the base of Himeji Castle
of 2002, the American-Japanese Goodwill tour and American Iaido Team,
under the directions of Grand Master Clifford C. Crandall, Jr., visited
Japan to exchange knowledge and develop good international relationships.
Good international relations are everyone's responsibility. The fertile
top soil of a hill is not held together by the roots of the large trees
but by the intertwining efforts of the grass. A nation's leaders are seen
and heard, but it is the actions of a nation's individual people that
can prove a nation's worth and create bonds of trust and hope from country
to country and culture to culture. It was truly a historic trip.
July 2nd and
first two days were spent in Akashi where the American Iaido Team trained
under Head Master Tsuneyoshi Matsuno, the head of Takenuchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno,
a three hundred year old samurai sword cutting style. Training sessions
lasted eight hours each day, and Iaido Team members often continued training
privately into the night. Some training involved cutting bamboo, learning
new katas, refining old katas, and taking lessons on history and philosophy.
Master Crandall presented Head Master Matsuno with gifts and a New York
State legislative resolution, no. 5333, honoring him and Grand Master
Crandall for exemplary service on behalf of their communities and New
York State. Head Master Matsuno also presented gifts to the team including
three swords for use in Grand Master Crandall's school and copies of his
books, The Way of the Samurai: East & West, which he translated,
and Nin-jutsu, which he authored, for every member of the tour.
Grand Master Crandall presents Head
Master Matsuno with a Legislative Resolution
second day of training Head Master Matsuno announced publicly that he
was retiring from teaching and would only train. A ceremony was conducted
passing the Master Instructor status to Grand Master Crandall. This signifies
Grand Master Crandall as the successor to the 300 year old tradition.
Head Master Matsuno penned a certificate to be posted in Grand Master
Crandall's school and instructed him to add his name to the lineage. The
new school name is Takenuchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall.
Master Matsuno, acting as host and translator, lead the Goodwill Tour
members to Himeji Castle, a UNESCO "world heritage" site. It
was at the foot of Himeji castle that the group picture of the Iaido team
was taken. Master Matsuno took the opportunity of this beautiful and historic
site to teach Grand Master Crandall the highest two-sword form of the
traditional Iaido style. After this session, everyone enjoyed a tour which
showed the beauty and splendor of Himeji Castle.
On July fourth, the tour visited four historic
sites: Todaiji Temple, Iga Ninja Museum, Ueno Castle, and the Koga Ninja
House. The group left by way of tour bus to Nara to see Todaiji Temple,
where the Great Buddha resides. The Great Buddha is 53 feet high and was
cast in 752 A.D., requiring hundreds of tons of molten bronze, mercury,
and vegetable wax.
From here the group traveled to the Iga and
Koga provinces to see the Iga Ninja Museum and the Ninja Farmhouse which
was depicted in Ripley's Believe It or Not. This museum is at the foot
of Ueno Castle, another beautiful site in Japan. This house is over 300
years old, and has been maintained as it had been structured by the owner,
who was a ninja. This house is still owned by the ninja's descendants
and is maintained as an off-the-beaten-path accurate part of Japanese
history. Then it was off to the excitement of Kyoto.
This day's travels began with a train ride
to the Isenoumi stable, which is the oldest sumo stable in Japan. This
was a very special morning where eighteen sumo wrestlers and their trainer
spent time answering questions and demonstrating the ceremonial, historic,
and exciting aspects of sumo wrestling. This whole presentation was done
solely for the American-Japanese Tour group. A very rare offer was extended
to Grand Master Crandall to wrestle the top sumo competitor in the group.
Grand Master Crandall accepted and, at 155 pounds, squared off in the
holy ring across from a 420 pound sumo wrestler. The rules and ceremonial
procedures were explained to Grand Master Crandall, and then the match
began. After a short time had elapsed, Grand Master Crandall picked himself
up from the dirt and awarded the sumo to be the champion. It was at his
point in the tour that a group picture of all of the members of the American-Japanese
Good Will Tour and the hosting sumo wrestlers was taken.
Grand Master Crandall puts up a
good fight before going to the ground
The American-Japanese group then boarded
a bus to make the long drive to the town of Gifu to understand the intricate
art and craftsmanship in making a samurai sword. This experience was hosted
by a 74 year old master and his working partner who was not only a sword-maker
but the Grand Master of the Toyama Iaido school in Japan. Following this
was an opportunity to see and purchase swords of all sizes and shapes
made by this company and by individually contracted master craftsmen.
The day's first stop was Nijo Castle. This
is a beautiful, private home that was in effect a large castle. This summer
home was used at times by the Shogun. The group was educated on the nightingale
floors, which were used as an alarm system, and on the many rooms and
how they were furnished and heated. The beauty of this castle was accented
by the historical fact that it was in this castle that the powers shifted
from the Shogun into the hands of the Japanese Emperor, which became known
as the beginning of modern Japan.
From there the group was transported to the
Sanju-Sangen-Do Temple. This temple is world recognized because it houses
the one thousand and one Kannon statues, each one individually carved.
This temple is the longest wooden structure in the world, and the main
statue is of a 1,000 armed Kannon which was carved in 1254.
Next, the group went to Kinkaku-ji, also
called the Golden Pavilion. This site is also world recognized due to
its unique structure. It was originally cast in gold, and is surrounded
by a beautiful pond and garden. It was at this location that a group picture
of all the martial artists in the group was taken.
Black Belt Instructors and Students
of the American Martial Arts Institute in front of the Golden Pavilion
The afternoon was set aside
for an instructional class in the background philosophy and process of
Zen meditation. This took place at the historic Tenryu-ji Temple, which
was designed and built by the monk Muso Soseki to experience Zen meditation.
The group was fortunate enough to have the Buddhist monk Shaku Yuho, an
American who left the United States to study Zen 33 years ago. His American
name is Thomas Kirchner, and because of articulate English and scholarly
manner, he was able to aptly relate the Zen concepts and methods. The
afternoon was very rewarding.
Leaving Kyoto on another amazing bullet train,
the American-Japanese group traveled to Mount Fuji, locally known as Fugi-san.
From the train a bus took the group to station five. Arriving at station
five, the group was given the opportunity to climb a distance up Mount
Fuji. The climb started with rain, but as members of the group ascended
the mountain, the rain changed to sleet. What was referred to as "old
station seven" was reached by many group members. Although physically
demanding, it was an exciting time for everyone involved.
The last full day in Japan involved one of
the most educational aspects of the trip. The group was given the opportunity
to view the Japanese Kendo Association's 50-year anniversary, which was
being marked by a world-wide Kendo seminar. This seminar was headed by
the world recognized Kyoshi 8th degree Kaoru Watanabe and Kyoshi 7th degree
Kenji Horiyam. With the top Kendo instructors from schools in 21 different
countries, the seminar emanated an atmosphere of the greats teaching the
best. The hospitality and martial arts courtesies extended were heartfelt
and appreciated by all members of the group. During this seminar, not
only were the skills and techniques of the art of Kendo observed, but
there were also seminars by two of Japan's greatest masters in the hand-making
of Kendo armor and equipment.
With a half day left for shopping, the American-Japanese
Good Will Tour group left for the airport at 12:00. Everyone expressed
their excitement and happiness regarding all they and seen and done.
In conclusion, the world
is truly getting smaller, and the understanding and cooperation of people
in each country needs to be encouraged. It is hoped by the members of
the American-Japanese Good Will Tour that in some way we have encouraged
not only good will between the United States and Japan, but possibly stimulated
others to embark on such cultural trips to other countries.
The group extends their thanks
and appreciation to the senators and congressmen who wrote letters of
support for this cultural exchange. Sincere appreciation goes to Metzler's
printing, one of the sponsors who provided the information pamphlets for
the tour. Also, a special thanks to Yasuyo Baba, the Japanese translator,
who helped make the buttons, brochures, and pamphlets legible for all
of the Japanese who received one. Finally, a heartfelt thank you to WKTV-2
and WBU-11, the NBC and Warner Brothers affiliates for Central New York,
who have undertaken the development of a half-hour television show covering