Hey everyone! So when you think of Bakersfield, California, what comes to mind?
Whatever you thought of, please keep to yourself, because I’d rather not know. I bet it had nothing to do with Japan though. Surprisingly though, Bakersfield has more things dealing with Japan than you would think.
Earlier this month, a group of 24 students, plus their two adult chaperones from Wakayama, Japan came to visit and stayed several days in Bakersfield with host families. Bakersfield has been a Sister City to Wakayama, Japan for over 50 years now. We’ve had student exchanges back and forth for many decades. June, 2014 we’re expecting to have a large delegation go over to Wakayama. Bakersfield Sister City is something that’ll likely continue for another 50 years.
That isn’t the only thing Japan related here in Bakersfield. I recently came across two other organizations. The first I learned through a friend of mine. I found out there was a Zen Buddhist group here in Bakersfield. It isn’t a big group, but it seems to be a quality one and they welcome anyone curious about Zen. They are having an orientation for beginners soon actually. I’ll link the brochure for it.
Website – http://www.zenbakersfield.blogspot.com/
The other group I eluded to is called Bakersfield Budo. They’re a Japanese Martial Arts group here in Bakersfield that has a wide variety of offerings. From Karate, Jujutsu, Aikido, Iaijutsu, to even Shodo. It is one of those things that is surprising to find even existed in Bakersfield. Of particular interest to me is Iaijutsu, Aikido, and Shodo. They all take a nod from Zen Buddhism and there is a lot of synergy between them all. Iaijutsu is a sword art, similar to Kendo. Shodo is the art of Japanese Calligraphy. I’m sure I will be a regular at Bakersfield Budo. I’ll link the website if you’re interested in more information.
Lastly, I’ve tried in vain to find a Japanese language study group in town. Although there are a couple of Japanese classes offered at Bakersfield College, there aren’t any groups interested in studying to a level beyond the two basic level classes. What do you do if something you want doesn’t exist? You create it yourself. I’ve found a few other like minded individuals interested in improving their Japanese to the next level and committed to that undertaking. I’ve created a group and have a basic structure in place for it. It is my hope that eventually I’ll be able to grow the group to something larger that can be self-sustained after I have left. For now though I’ll keep the group small until we work out the bumps.
This just goes to show that with regards to Japan, there is more to Bakersfield than meets the eye.
The-Mello-Man signing off~