In early 1988 Nagae Sensei
and the Melbourne Kendo Club
were approached by a Japanese documentary crew that was developing a feature on Japanese expatriates in Australia. The documentary was later televised in Japan on the Tozai network, and the footage of Nagae Sensei and the Melbourne Kendo Club caught the eye of a retired businessman, Mr Kenshiro Otsuka. The 94 year old philanthropist firmly believed that the practice of Kendo was a positive force that not only helped improve individual lives but also benefited communities and societies. He also believed that the promotion and development of Kendo helped to build greater cross-cultural understanding between Japan and other countries. With these beliefs Mr Otsuka had helped to finance and establish several dojos in Japan and one in Hawaii (Kenshikan Dojo
). Mr Otsuka organized to meet with Nagae Sensei in Japan in October 1988 to discuss his vision of establishing Australia's first purpose built Kendo dojo.
At the meeting, the only one Nagae Sensei was to have, Mr Otsuka expressed his desire to help Australian Kendo by developing a permanent facility that would be a center of budo learning and cultural understanding. Nagae Sensei returned to Australia with the immediate task of finding a suitable location and premises. Sadly in February 1989 Mr Otsuka passed away.
Through the help of Mr Otsuka’s son, Kenshiro Otsuka and his grandson, Hiroshi Otsuka, the search for a suitable venue began. A large mechanical repair factory was found at in West Melbourne, and at an auction held on 26th April we were successful in purchasing the premises.
Over the next 15 months, the construction of the Kenshikan Dojo became the focal point for the entire Victorian kendo community. Volunteer teams were established to carry out various demolishing, clearing, building, sanding, painting, and decorating jobs. From the toil of many, a most impressive dojo emerged that included a Sensei’s office and change room, meeting and lecture room, a large dojo floor, store room, kitchen, male and female changing rooms, showers and an eight person spa.
The Kenshikan dojo officially opened its doors on the 15th July 1990 with a grand opening ceremony that included a special delegation of distinguished guests from Japan. The delegation included:
Kiyoshi Nakakura - Kendo & Iaido Hanshi 9th Dan
Tadatoshi Haga - Kendo & Iaido Hanshi 8th Dan
Makoto Miyaji - Kendo Hanshi 8th Dan
Shosuke Tsujimura - Kendo Kyoshi 8th Dan
Kazuma Hashimoto - Kendo Kyoshi 8th Dan
Mitsuko Tsujimura - Naginata Kyoshi 8th Dan
Tokuichi Kozuka - Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan
Kunio Shizawa - Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan
Tadahiro Ajiro - Kendo Kyoshi 7th Dan
Since the opening of the Kenshikan Dojo twenty years ago the facility has been used almost on a daily basis for training sessions in Kendo, Iaido, Jodo, and Naginata. It also continues to be the central location for important community events, including gradings, seminars, competitions, and state and national team training sessions. Moreover the Kenshikan has held classes and seminars to promote the learning and development of other Japanese cultural interests such as Japanese calligraphy, Zen Meditation, language learning, and Japanese history.