Sumio Hirai was Kanai Sensei’s friend from junior high school

thumbnail of Kanai Sensei 8th grade - December 5, 1954

Dear Mitsunari Kanai kun,

I met you for the first time at Rokugo Junior High School in Ohta. We went to different high
schools, but we kept in touch with each other after we graduated. 

You invited me to visit Hombu dojo in Wakamatsu-cho in Shinjuku. It was the first time I saw
Aikido. You tried to have me practice Aikido, but I turned you down. I thought it was impossible for me because of my small body size. 

One thing I can recall from school days was about Mr. Miwa. He was a senior student to us, and he used to live near your house. We visited him once and then he played “Yu no Machi Elegy” (Hot Springs Town Elegy) with his guitar. 

I was so fascinated by the sounds of the guitar, and I wanted to own one myself.  So I started
delivering morning newspapers before going to school. I saved money and bought a new guitar at Matsui Music store near Kamata station. I still remember I bought it for 1,700 yen. 

The first tune I learned to play was “Yu no Machi Elegy”. I actually still play that song from
time to time.

Years later after I saw you at the Hombu dojo, I wanted to see you again and called you at the dojo. Then I found out you had already left for the United States. I was very surprised to hear it. The dojo gave me your address in the U.S., and I sent you a letter. You wrote back that you were surprised to receive a letter from me! But that was when we got closer again and we started to send packages to each other.


Sumio Hirai

January, 2024

  1. Kanai Sensei 8th grade – December 5, 1954 ↩︎
  2. Kanai sensei signed his name and date. 8th grade – December 5, 1954 ↩︎