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Being Uchi Deshi

Sleeping traditional style in Japan

When laying out the futons for sleeping, put them in orderly rows. In the mornings, make sure to wake up and get get out of bed right away. Do not lie around. Bedding is folded properly and put away directly after getting up. There is a certain way of folding the bedding and a certain place for it as well. Ask someone to show you how. Make sure to always place it neatly as shown. In some places there is a closet (oshiire) specifically for storing futon and bedding. Your bedding should either be hung out to air or stowed away in the oshiire, or other designated storage space.



Bedroom in Aiki House


Inside / outside

Be aware of the different levels in Japan; the ground is considered dirty and shoes are taken off when you step up one level, as when entering a house, dojo etc. When in doubt, look to see if other people’s outdoor shoes are placed there, or ask! The same goes for things you are carrying: carry bags and other items should not be put on the ground if you are going to put them inside a house. Find an elevated place such as a bench etc. to park your bags when not holding them.
In general in the dojo: food money, cooking meals (Toban) etc.

Check how much is to be paid per week, and pay promptly.
Apart from the work you are expected to do, you should also train your awareness to find anything that needs to be done on your own. Ask the dojo sempai what work should be taken care of, but try to take the initiative yourself to get the job done. If you notice something that needs to be picked up, cleaned up or repaired, do it !
In Japan energy is very expensive. Make a habit of turning off lights when you do not need them, or when you leave a room. Remember also to close doors after you. Observe what other people who know about the dojo are doing, and follow suit.


If extra practice is scheduled during your uchi deshi stay, you should not use the excuse of insufficient funds to not participate in these practices. Be prepared for extra expenses during your stay.

Keiko gi

Wash your keiko-gi frequently - after every practice if you sweat heavily. Japanese people are sensitive to body odors ( and many Western people are not - especially not to their own! ). Shower every day, and use cold water as much as possible. If during the cold seasons, use the warm water sparingly.


Shoes for training outdoors

You will need outdoor shoes if you are doing outdoor weapons practice. Sandals are not allowed, since your feet will get muddy and this will be the same as walking barefoot if you have to go back into the dojo. Get some kind of rubber-soled shoes or sneakers, slip-ons are good since you will be doing a lot of getting in and out of them. You will also need them for wearing around the dojo area.

You will need easy everyday clothes such as sweat suits for working in, as well as wearing around the dojo and in Iwama. Also one good set of clothes for parties and going out: A shirt with a collar ( poloshirt / short sleeved shirt for summer or long sleeved shirt with collar for fall / winter) and a pair of pants ( not jeans ) will be good enough for most occasions. You may also need a pair of presentable shoes for dressing up. No sandals! Note: you will have your shoes off inside houses and dojos in Japan. Take care that your socks are clean, and without holes.

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