Adventures in Japan

A big Mahalo to Reverend Mel Iwata and Bishop Yamanaka for planning, organizing, and coordinating this trip!

DAY 1 (Friday)

Most of our group arrived at Kansai International Airport on Friday evening. There, we were greeted by the Tenrikyo Overseas Department and transported by bus to Tenri City, Japan located in the Nara Prefecture. The Young family stayed in a hotel while the Ching and Chow family stayed in the Tenrikyo Hofu Dormitory. Nearly everyone stayed in a traditional Japanese-style room and slept on futon.

The view of the sunset at Kansai International Airport
Traditional Japanese Room at the Hofu Dormitory (Sleeps 2-6 people)

DAY 2 (Saturday)

In the morning, we observed the Tenri Middle School judo practice. In Tenri, each level of judoka have their own practice dojo. The junseikan dojo is for the youngest students up to grade 6, the middle school dojo is located at the Tenri Middle School and for students grade 7-9, the high school dojo is located at the Tenri High School for students grade 10-12, and the university dojo is located at Tenri University.

Tenri Middle School
Tenri Middle School Judo Dojo (twice the size of Hawaii Tenri dojo)

Then, we proceeded to the Tenrikyo Main Sanctuary where we watched and instructional informational video about the beginnings and beliefs of the Tenrikyo faith. We toured the main sanctuary and learned about the ways that the Tenrikyo followers worship God the Parent and Oyasama.

The Tenrikyo Main Sanctuary
The Young Family cleansing their hands before entering the Tenrikyo Main Sanctuary
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Sensei Greg and Reverend Mel Iwata at the purification fountain
The Hawaii Tenri Judo group in front of the Main Sanctuary

Later that evening, we were treated to a yakiniku dinner by Bishop Yamanaka (the head of the Hawaii Tenrikyo Dendocho). We were joined by some Tenri Judo sensei who teach varying levels of judo.

Sensei Greg grilling some food
The yakiniku grill

DAY 3 (Sunday)

On Sunday, we traveled to Kyoto, Japan to tour a number of different sites. We started at Nijo Castle, then went to Arashiyama for lunch and sight seeing, went on to Kiyomizudera Temple and lastly, to Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Sensei Robin and Chrissy at the Nijo Castle
The Ninomaru Garden at the Nijo Castle
Kainoa Young at the Nijo Castle
The Bamboo Groves in Arashiyama
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The Togetsukyo bridge at Arashiyama
The view from the Kiyomizudera Temple
The Otowa Waterfall at the base of Kiyomizudera’s main hall
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The street leading to the Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine

DAY 4 (Monday)

In the morning, we headed off to Nara, Japan to observe the Nara Prefecture Middle school Tournament. Tenri’s Middle School team took second in the tournament!

After the tournament, we went over to Nara Park to see the deer and feed them some senbei.

Kyler Ching and a deer


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Feeding the deer senbei (Japanese rice cracker)
The deer greeted us in the parking lot!

Monday evening, the Ching family and the Chow family went to observe the Tenri University practice before meeting up with the Young family and the Hiromasas to practice at the Tenri Junseikan Dojo.

Tenri University Dojo (6 times the size of Hawaii Tenri dojo!)
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Tenri Junseikan Dojo
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Tenri Junseikan Dojo (same size as Hawaii Tenri dojo)

DAY 5 (Tuesday)

In the morning, we attended the Tenrikyo monthly service at the Main Sanctuary. After the service, we had a curry lunch in the Tenrikyo dining hall and then proceeded to the Children’s Olympics. The Children’s Olympics was put on as a part of the Children’s Pilgrimage, the Hawaii group competed against Tenri Canada, America, France, Brazil, and Japan. After the Children’s Olympics, the kids played some fun carnival-type games that were set up outdoors.

Children’s Olympics (like a Japanese game show!)
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Kekoa, Kainoa, Kiara, and Isaiah Young at the Children’s Olympics
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The Hawaii Tenri kids group at the Children’s Olympics
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Brennan Morioka, Royden Young, Daniel and Chrissy watching the Children’s Olympics

Later that evening, we dressed up in our aloha attire to walk (and dance) in a parade. We walked with the rest of the Hawaii Tenri group and danced to Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride.

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Kainoa, Isaiah, Kyler, Kekoa, Brayden and Bronson before the parade

DAY 6 (Wednesday)

Wednesday morning we had some free time, most of us shopped at the Arcade, a covered, outdoor strip located right next to the Main Sanctuary. The Arcade is lined with a variety of different vendors and even features a Daiso (100 yen store)! We also watched a performance by the Tenri High School marching band – the Tenri High School marching band consistently ranks as either the top or runner up marching band in all of Japan.

The Arcade, lined with shops

We returned to the Tenri Junseikan practice and Tenri’s own 2010 World Champion, Anai Sensei was there.

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Group picture with the Junseikan students and sensei
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The Hawaii Tenri kids with Anai Sensei

DAY 7 (Thursday)

Thursday was the day of the Michino-ko Budo Taikai tournament. The tournament was held in a gymnasium with 8 full mats. The middle school and university judoka ran the tables and served as the tournament referees.

8 full mats at the tournament

All judoka were divided into 7 different brackets by age group regardless of weight. All the 1st graders were in a division, 2nd graders were in a division, etc. The only age group that was divided by gender was 6th grade – there was a 6th grade boys division and a 6th grade girls division. Each division consisted of between 40 and 65 judoka.

The 5th grade bracket (51 kids!)
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Hawaii Tenri Judo kids warming up
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Opening ceremony
Bronson Morioka took 3rd in the 5th grade division

After the individual competition, we ate lunch and returned to participate in the team competition. Each team could have up to 6 players – one for each grade level. Hawaii Tenri put in two teams of four competitors.

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Hawaii Tenri Team 1: Kekoa, Isaiah, Kainoa, and Tanner
Hawaii Tenri Team 2: Dannica, Kyler, Brayden, and Bronson
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Brayden and Bronson Morioka with Kekoa Young
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Kyler Ching, Isaiah Santos-Young, and Tanner Hiromasa
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Kenny and Kainoa Young
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Dannica Hiromasa
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Hawaii Tenri Judo kids

After the tournament, we attended a Tenrikyo Overseas Department welcome dinner. We ate delicious yakisoba, yakitori, and more! Additionally, all the different Tenri groups performed a dance. We saw performances from Tenri Brazil, China, and Korea.

DAY 8 (Friday)

Everyone parted their own way – the Young family took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo for a few days, the Morioka family traveled to Osaka, the Ching family stayed in Tenri, and the Chow family returned home.

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