Another milestone just recently passed. On February 1st of 1980, I became the chief instructor of Aikido of San Jose. The dojo in its original location was on 6th St of San Jose's Japantown. My daughter Jennifer was born in that building which is also referred to as Okida Hall. And it housed the dojo from July of 1976 into 2001. It was opened by Robert Nadeau sensei, whose business partner at the time was Ed Dreesen. At that time I was married, and Sarah and I purchased the business from Nadeau sensei and ED Dreesen. Actually, we took out a loan from Sarah's dad and were able to pay him back, in I believe, about 3 years.
So as of February 1st of this year, I have run the San Jose dojo for 30 years. Quite a milestone in its own right. So of my 40 years in Aikido a good 30 or more have focused on the San Jose dojo. Sarah, Jenny, and I lived upstairs in those early years. What later became the kitchen was originally the Women's bathroom. Of course the changing area was on the stage. Women to the right and Men to the left. I think the monthly rent when I took it over was less than $400 a month. That part of it changed as years passed.
I remember the area just across the street was a large warehouse, which housed art galleries and a lot of creative small businesses. This is similar to our current location. Across the hall on the other side of the building are a lot of neat businesses and art oriented ventures.
I still go back to Japantown. I have many memories of our time there. Many of the old businesses have moved on. Dobashi Market is now Nijiya Market. The old warehouse complex is now Blockbuster Video and apartments. The old dojo building last I looked was unoccupied and for sale.
Of the photos above. The first is a cute picture of Jenny taken in front of the old dojo building. And the next is of Sarah and Jenny and the elder member of the Dobashi family. When the dojo first opened and for a long while there was a house where the parking lot is now. And in the back there was an extensive garden. Mr Dobashi used to garden there during the day. Often Jenny would be out there with him. The house eventually went. I remember I went to Moscow for 10 days in 1989. When I got back the house was no longer there. For a major amount of time I actually lived in the upstairs space of the building. Yes, many memories.