On December 28th, we each offered a last shot for 2008 and then joined friends and family of Shibata Sensei in the dojo to toast his his 88th birthday. (That is to say, he is entering his 88th year in 2009. By western counting, he will turn 88 in December 2009.) It is considered an auspicious year in Japan, his "rice year." Sensei says being in the West has given him strong power!
[From Carolyn Kanjuro, photo by Yoshie Koester]