In Memoriam – Kaminoda Tsunemori

I first met Kaminoda Sensei in 1996, when I attended the first Jodo seminar that he held in the United States.  To my surprise, my teacher, Otani Sensei, when he heard about my plans, said: "You go speak to him.  Tell him I said yoroshiku!"  I knew better than to disregard orders, so they were duly carried out.  Kaminoda Sensei kindly acknowledged the connection.

For a great number of not-really-good reasons, I did not see Kaminoda Sensei again until 2008, when I attended my first gasshuku in Kashima, Japan with Peter Boylan.  Since we arrived from the US the night before the official start of the seminar, Sensei was kind enough to come early himself and meet us for dinner.  I was sort of embarrassed to return after so many years, but no one cared, including Sensei. The important part was that I was there to practice.  Eventually, after more gasshuku and visits to his home dojo in Tokyo, he took to calling me "New York," even though I wore a patch with my name on it.   I wrote him letters, and he remarked to the other foreign students that he was so pleased that I would write.

He was a stern and exacting teacher, passionate about his art.  He would bark at his seniors (distinguished teachers in their own right) but was invariably kind and welcoming to foreign students.

Sensei died in March 2015 after several years of declining health.  I was not able to go to the funeral, though I sent condolences in a letter.  I also had the (totally inadequate) consolation that I had written to him early in the year, telling him about my students and our practice.  At least he knew that "New York" would continue to share what he taught me, half a world away.

Kaminoda Sensei (left) demonstrates with Osato Sensei at Kashima Shrine, 2013.

Kaminoda Sensei (left) demonstrates with Osato Sensei at Kashima Shrine, 2013.


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