As my first day at Osaka Taiiku Daigaku (A.K.A. Osaka University of Health and Sports Sciences, A.K.A. Taidai) draws closer, I begin to understand the frustrations expressed and experienced by my Sempai before me when living...err...surviving in Japan.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a 26 year old, 5th Dan, Kiwi, Kendo-bum. With the invaluable assistance of my older brother (also a Kendo freak, and somewhat worn out by the red-tape rigmarole of setting up shop in a Japanese Uni), I have recently been accepted into the Masters course at the aforementioned Osaka Taiiku Daigaku. Over the next 2 years in Japan I will continue my studies in the field of sport, sport science, sport sociology, sport psychology... you get the idea... under some of the youngest (and scariest) 8th Dan Kendo sensei I have ever had the privilege of being pummelled by.

I am extremely excited about this adventure, and given the unique nature of my circumstance, the Kendo World team has invited me to write a blog to share my experiences with ya'll.

Let me explain the opening mini-rant a little more clearly

Being somewhat ignorant of what is required to move country, apply to become part of Japanese Uni's Masters course, and transfer the large sums of money required to achieve both of the above, I was surprised to witness some dangerously high blood pressure levels, in a relatively small period of time!

My story of stress is best illustrated by the efforts (and additional expenses) required to bank some international cheques. That is, not wanting to carry a large some of YEN with me on the plane from NZ, and not being eligible for any type of plastic to load up (having been a student in New Zealand for the past 3 year), I was forced to transfer my money via Bank Cheques. All I needed to do then was bank em and chuck the cash towards my school fees. Sounds simple enough, right? No such luck!

(Thankfully) my Japanese language is not quite good enough to deal with Japanese bank bollocks just yet. Meaning that my ever-supportive big bro had the dis-privilege of filling out the numerous forms, (ensuring that his commas slanted the correct way!?), having the teller check her information time and again, filling out more forms, all with an estimated total wait time of 3 hours in the bank - simply to bank a cheque. Only to be told that each cheque would cost 4,000, that is NZD $80 (thats right, EACH!) to process.

Fortunately for us though, we did not have to pay that fee as it was past 3pm and the bank had closed for the day! Needless to say, this will become an ongoing, and unnecessarily expensive battle!

It occured to me that in an effort to work efficiently in government departments and other such institutions, rules and systems seem to be a misguided replacement for logic and initiative. In the case of the un-bank-able cheques for example, a day-to-day task such as this, should presumably be a cinch. Yet the obstacles...errprotocols we encountered only seemed to complicate the whole process. Still, this is certainly something I encountered in my own country as a student!

Nonetheless, a wise man once told me to roll with the punches. And despite the tone of my (first) blog, I can assure you that I am soaking up everything I encounter in Japan with a positive frame of mind, and relying on Kendo training to get me through the tougher times.

Thanks for listening!

K-B.