Sunday, September 03, 2006

update on the local tai chi class

Very excited, I rush to the bus outside of the train station, and hurriedly check that it stops at the location specified on the map that I got from the website. Mostly elderly people fill the bus. The bus driver was occupied with killing mosquitoes with his white-gloved hands. My stop is only the second one on the bus route, so the ride was over before I knew it.

I get out of the bus, but nothing helps me orient myself with respect to the map, so after looking around for a while, I ask a nearby lady on a bicycle. After a moment of confusion she realizes what building I was looking for and points me in the direction in a very friendly manner. I thank her and rushed to cross the street. The building is just a minute away and I walk in and ask the receptionist about the tai chi lesson. He informs me that they'll be admitting people at 6:15 so I should wait until then. Then he asks me if I have "uwabaki" (上履き) with me. I don't know what "uwabaki" is, so ask him "What is uwabaki? (上履きは何ですか?)" This throws him for a loop and he is at a loss for how to respond. Then I explain that my Japanese is not too good and that seems to make everything clear to him. He says I'll have to wear socks inside, and I say that's fine. Personally, I think it would have been nice of him to explain what "uwabaki" means, but I guess he wasn't up to the challenge. Apparently you have to bring indoor-use only shoes with you; no street shoes allowed. One of the secret rituals!

Quite a few people eventually filled the gym for the class. There were two teachers who seemed quite nice. All the students were regulars; I was the only new person. I think only 3 or 4 people were under the age of 50 out of 26 or so. They play music to go along with class which was an interesting change. A voice counted numbers in Japanese over the music. They use the Chinese names for the various parts of the forms. I don't know what style of tai chi they teach, but it seems to be different from Chen style tai chi. At two hours long it seems like quite a lengthy class, but very cheap since it only costs 100 yen to attend. The teachers must be volunteers.

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