Wednesday 30 August 2023

日常空手道 (Vol. 3): Informal relaxed practice: A Legacy

 This type of practice on alternative hard days of training and practice actually originated from Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei, based on recovery and technical precision advancement. While this Shotokan Karate training is not visually impressive, it provides a real glimpse into Nakayama Sensei's physical education methodology, which I received directly from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei and several other Shotokan legends here in Japan.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Sindelfingen, GERMANY SEMINAR: September 2023

This seminar will be very special for those who attend. LEVEL UP! Osu!!!

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Saturday 26 August 2023


Some images from my extra self-practice outdoors today; in sum, Heian Shodan to Godan and Jitte. My focus was on natural alignment, stance transitions and what my late sensei, Asai Tetsuhiko, always commanded me: "USE 'NATURAL ENERGY' JOINT POWER... SNAP!" Greetings from sunny Oita City, Japan. OSU!!! -- AB
Movement one of Heian Nidan: Hidari haiwan hidari sokumen jodan yoko-uke doji ni migi zenwan hitai mae yoko-gamae (Migi kokutsu-dachi).

Migi mikazuki-geri travelling to achieve "sasho-ate".
Impact point of movement 15 (Heian Godan).

Movement seven of Heian Sandan: Hidari chudan morote-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).

Kokutsu-dachi viewed from the side. Stance alignment is more important than length and depth.

Movement five of Jitte: Hidari teisho hidari sokumen chudan yoko-uke (Kiba-dachi).

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Thursday 24 August 2023

Nakatsu-Shi, Oita 2010 Video (Part Two)

         © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Wednesday 23 August 2023

壮鎮 (Sochin)

Yumi-zuki from Sochin on the cover of Karatedo Kyohon.

 Rather than commenting first, here are some comments from ‘SOCHIN’S ULTIMATE AUTHORITY’, Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei (8th Dan), former Fuku Shuseki-Shihan of the JKA, and many times All Japan and World Champion. He was also Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei’s ‘#1 model student’ whilst teaching, and in his books and video tapes. Bottom line, he's a legends LEGEND! — André Bertel. 

Osaka Sensei stressed to me that his two favorite kata are in fact 慈恩 (Jion) in training and 壮鎮 (Sochin) for enbu. Before delving into Sochin he stated “Start with Jion and end with Jion”; nevertheless, if you’ve trained with Osaka Sensei here inJapan, you will know that he technically references everything back to 平安 (Heian).


Osaka Sensei’s commentary on Sochin

“The dignity and strength of Sochin kata can be compared to that of a large mountain. Everything about this kata is big. The firmness of fudo-dachi, also referred to as sochin-dachi, and the large-scale movements are the dominant characteristics of it. In these regards Sochin utilizes strong and effective attacks combined with silky smooth flow of movements that seamlessly integrate different kankyu (rhythms).

Nonetheless, as in everything, kihon is the most significant point; that is, if one loses proper kihon it ceases to be karate. Sochin clearly exhibits this critical point in both its execution and application. You cannot merely focus on going through the sequence of Sochin, nor any kata if you wish to perfect it; rather, it is most important to focus on each individual waza. Furthermore, with its relationship with the waza around it. The mind and body must become one. 

In regard to fudo-dachi, much time must be dedicated to its mastery. It is not just a question of placing your feet correctly on the floor; instead, you must feel you are grabbing the floor with your feet to the extent that if you lift up your feet the ground will come up too. That’s what you must try to achieve with fudo-dachi. When you move on to the next technique you must release the feet and move smoothly. As soon as you move rapidly into the next stance you should feel rooted to the earth once again. This ability can only be achieved via an enormous amount of training with intense concentration (André Bertel note: AKA—deliberate/professional-level practice”). Once you have mastered your tachikata you can go on to the movements. I will repeat myself.  It’s critical to work on your tachikata first before everything else.

(Osaka Sensei concluded on this note to really emphasize Shotokan's integral base positions: André).




             Number of movements: 41

             Placement of kiai (plural): movements 30 and 41


While I have Osaka Sensei’s booklet (in Japanese) outlining all of the standard kata plus Taikyoku and Hyakuhachi (Hyakuhappo/Hyakuhachiho/Suparinpei/Pechurin), this is my own summary of Sochin that is based on my karate master, Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei’s teachings. This has little relevance as only a few of the terms (technical labels) differ. In these few instances, I will add notes to highlight these points.



REI (Musubi-dachi)


YOI (Hachiji-dachi) Ryo ken daitai mae


1. Migi gedan-uke doji ni hidari jodan age-uke (Migi ashi mae fudo -dachi). Note — this waza is also known as ‘Muso-gamae’.


2. Migi tateshuto chudan-uke, saken hidari koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


3. Saken chudan-zuki, uken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


4. Uken chudan-zuki, saken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


5. Migi sokumen jodan uchi-uke doji ni hidari sokumen gedan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi). “This waza is also commonly referred to as ‘Manji-gamae’ and found in nine other standard Shotokan kata (the fifth Heian; Bassai Dai and Sho; Kanku Dai and Sho; Jion, Jitte and Jiin; and Gankaku). In sum, this elucidates the importance of this technique.” — Asai Tetsuhiko.


6. Migi gedan-uke doji ni hidari jodan age-uke (Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi).


7. Migi tateshuto chudan-uke, saken hidari koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


8. Saken chudan-zuki, uken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


9. Uken chudan-zuki, saken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


10. Migi sokumen jodan uchi-uke doji ni hidari sokumen gedan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).


11. Migi gedan-uke doji ni hidari jodan age-uke (Migi ashi mae fudo -dachi).


12. Migi tateshuto chudan-uke, saken hidari koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


13. Saken chudan-zuki, uken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


14. Uken chudan-zuki, saken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


15. Ryo ken migi koshi-gamae (Migi ashi dachi, hidari ashi ura—migi hiza yoko). Customarily amongst the students of Asai Sensei the one legged stance is referred to as ‘sagi ashi dachi’ or ‘tsuru ashi dachi’: depending on the position of the foot on the supporting leg. — André Bertel


16. Hidari uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi doji ni hidari sokuto chudan yoko-geri keage (Migi ashi dachi).


17. Migi mae-enpi sasho-ate (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


18. Ryo ken hidari koshi-gamae (Hidari ashi dachi, migi ashi ura—hidari hiza yoko).


19. Migi uraken jodan yokomawashi uchi doji ni migi sokuto chudan yoko-geri keage (Hidari ashi dachi).


20. Hidari mae-enpi usho-ate (Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi).


21. Migi shuto chudan-uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi).


22. Hidari shuto chudan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).


23. Hidari shuto chudan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).


24. Migi shuto chudan-uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi).


25. Migi shuto chudan-uke (Hidari kokutsu-dachi).


26. Hidari shuto chudan-uke (Migi kokutsu-dachi).


27. Sasho chudan osae-uke doji ni migi jodan shihon nukite (Migi kokutsu-dachi, yori-ashi). Note – the shihon nukite is the ‘ura-nukite’ commonplace in Chinese boxing.


28. Hidari chudan kizami mae-geri (Migi ashi dachi).


29. Migi chudan mae-geri keage, migi zenwan hineri jodan kake doji ni hidari jodan ura-zuki (Hidari ashi dachi).


30. Hidari zenwan hineri jodan kake-uke doji ni migi jodan ura-zuki [KIAI!] (Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi).


31. Migi jodan mikazuki-geri sasho-ate kara migi gedan-uke doji ni hidari jodan age-uke (Hidari ashi dachi kara migi ashi mae fudo-dachi).


32. Hidari chudan uchi-uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


33. Migi chudan oi-zuki (Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi). Osaka Sensei uses the alternative term of ‘jun-zuki’ here and in movement 35.


34. Migi chudan uchi-uke (Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi).


35. Hidari chudan oi-zuki (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


36. Hidari chudan uchi-uke (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


37. Migi chudan uchi-uke, gyaku-hanmi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


38. Migi chudan mae-geri keage (Hidari ashi dachi).


39. Uken migi chichi-mae doji ni saken chudan-zuki (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


40. Uken chudan yumi-zuki, saken migi koshi (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi). Here Asai Sensei termed this tsukiwaza as yumi-zuki or ‘bow thrust’, which describes the waza not coming from the hip; whereas, Osaka Sensei simply terms it as uken chudan-zuki or ‘right fist middle-level thrust’.


41. Saken chudan-zuki, uken migi koshi [KIAI!] (Hidari ashi mae fudo-dachi).


NAORE (Musubi-dachi)


REI (Hachiji-dachi) Ryo ken daitai mae



Selected 分解 (Bunkai) and 応用 (Oyo)


In different ryuha/kaiha, and even between different Shotokan groups different terms can mean different things. In the case traditional Shotokan, for example, ‘uchi-uke’ comes from the inside-outward. Whereas, in the JKF (Japan Karatedo Federation), this waza is labeled the opposite; that is, soto-uke. Neither is right or wrong, it is merely the perspective.


With this type of point in mind, I need to clarify what bunkai and oyo means to us. Bunkai literally means ‘Analysis’. Oyo literally translates as ‘Application’. According, bunkai, in our case, is to break down the movements to learn the correct trajectories and positions in the kata movements. Once a person has learned the proper kata ‘actions’, bunkai is no longer needed, unless teaching someone else. You can see bunkai in Nakayama Sensei’s books and videos (likewise in Asai Sensei’s, Shoji Sensei’s, Enoeda Sensei’s et al).


Oyo on the other hand is bujutsu-Karate, it is self-defense effective techniques, strategies and principles within the kata. For example, bunkai in Gojushiho Sho is three consecutive tate-shihon nukite to the solar plexus. This is ok if you are Edward Scissor hands. The same waza in Oyo is three neck cranks (joint damage, dislocations or worse) which, needless to say, is very dangerous (unlike the aforementioned ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' rip out the heart scene’).


Let’s compare and contrast Bunkai and Oyo from a couple of selected actions in Sochin:


First the ‘Muso-gamae sequence, which is followed by advancing with tateshuto-uke and two consecutive chudan thrusts’ (Movements one to four; six to nine; and 11 to 14).


Bunkai: Opponent attacks with hidari mae-geri then migi jodan gyaku-zuki. Block inside the kicking leg with gedan-barai whilst advancing, then cover the tsuki with gyaku-zuki etcetera. You can see from these two actions, it is ‘just doing the movements’; moreover, impossible to use due to lack of realism both in attack and defense.


Oyo: Opponent clinches you. Strike with migi jodan soto-uke (kentsui/wanto) to the side of the neck/head. Advance striking under the to the throat with hidari age-uke whilst striking to the groin with migi gedan-uke (gedan kentsui).


Secondly, the ura nukite sequence, beginning with hidari shuto chudan-uke and concluding with the first kiai (Movents 26 to 30):


Bunkai: Opponent attacks with migi chudan oi-zuki followed by hidari chudan gyaku-zuki. Defend advancing with hidari shuto-uke then osae uke and ura nukite simultaneously to foil the two tsukiwaza and counter. Follow up with hidari kizami-geri then cover a jodan tsuki attack with hineri-uke while kicking mae-geri and impacting with ura-zuki. Hineri-uke and ura-zuki again to cover and counter an additional jodan-zuki.


Oyo: Grab and/or cover then impact with hidari shuto-uchi or enpi-uchi (in the form of hidari shuto-uke. Pull the opponents head down simultaneously striking the eyes with a light and rapid ura nukite. Immediately impact with kizami-geri to the groin or eyes. Continue attacking with another mae-geri and alternate ura-zuki whilst simultaneously covering with the opposite arms (hineri-uke). In sum, a generic continuous blitz of defense and counterattacks.


OKAY! On to some Sochin trivia...


Firstly, I’d like to highlight an ‘old school Shotokan point’. In the case of the older Shotokan masters born in the 1930s and earlier, Fudo-dachi and Sochin-dachi were classified as different stances. Keep in mind, both of these were developedby Funakoshi Yoshitaka (Gigo) Sensei, and fully endorsed by Master Funakoshi. At that time Sochin-dachi was the wider stance used in Sochin kata; whereas, Fudo-dachi had the same configurations, however, the feet are in-line. When they were merged, I do not know; however, irrespective of labels, naturally utilizing both variations is valuable. Needless to say, these variations are consistent with zenkutsu-dachi and shokutsu-dachi (which is now simply called ‘zenkutsu’).


Secondly, another interesting point, relating to Funakoshi Gichin Sensei’s son was that he actually developed Sochin kata, however, some have claimed that this was actually a lost koten-gata (old form). Irrespective of this, it not related to the other Sochin kata, practiced in other styles, nor Shisochin.


Thirdly, it said that Funakoshi Gichin Sensei’s favorite kata were Kanku Dai and Sochin! However, I find that a little hard to believe—insofar as Sochin is concerned—as it wasn’t included in his 15 core Shotokan kata. Perhaps, it was after his publication of ‘Karatedo Kyohon’? But that seems too late in his life right! So, I have no idea... However, I’ve also heard from different senior masters, here in Japan, that Jiin was his tokui-gata. But, again, that was not included in his core group of kata. I suppose it is not important, but nevertheless very interesting.


I’d like to wrap on with one fun anecdote. At one seminar here in Kyushu I noticed Osaka Sensei used Fudo-dachi, a couple of times, in a kata where it’s not featured. He stopped and just stared at me with the 'you idiot look' and answered in his gruff voice: “I think I’ve done too much Sochin...[it’s]Zenkutsu-dachi”.

I'll end on that note. I hope this has a useful article for those of you who love the karate masterpiece: SOCHIN. Osu, — André

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Monday 21 August 2023


Shodan is granted to those who have acquired the basic techniques of karate and can use them.



Nidan is granted to those who have acquired the basic techniques of karate and can use them. In addition to this, they can effectively engage in freestyle (jiyu) kumite.



Sandan is granted to those who are devoted to mental training in completing one’s character, have realized the general techniques of karate, understand the principles, and are able to deliver these waza without difficulty.



Yondan is granted to those who are devoted to mental training in completing one’s character, possesses leadership qualities, has realized the general techniques of karate, understands the principles, and are able to deliver these techniques and their adaptions without difficulty.



Godan is granted to those who are devoted to completing one’s character, are exemplary to students and juniors in everyday life. They show high level karate techniques as well as research, and original skills.



Rokudan is granted to those who devote their lives to karate training, and mentally and physically reached a high level.



Nanadan is granted to those who devote their lives to karate training, and mentally and physically matured at the highest level.



Hachidan is granted to those who devote their lives to karate training, and mentally and physically reached an elite level that is utterly unique. This is the ultimate technical level of Karate-Do.

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Nakatsu-Shi, Oita 2010 Video (Part One)

           © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Remembering Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei today

 Exactly 17 years ago today I received the phone call from Asai Keiko, the wife of my karate master, Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei, that he had passed away. I had literally just returned from Japan and could not fly back for the funeral, so all we could do was send flowers to the Asai family home. Today I want to send my condolences to the ASAI FAMILY, especially Asai Hoshimi, as I am a father, and feel the very deep relationship between a father and daughter. 

Asai Sensei will never be forgotten in the karate world, but FAR MORE SPECIALLY in your family. Nothing is more special than our loved ones in family. So, I offer my deepest condolences on this day to you both: Keiko and Hoshimi,

アンドレ  バーテル

          © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Koryu Karate: Highlighted by HIKITE

One of main strategies of 古流空手 (koryu ‘old school’ karate), which is a constant throughout kihon, kata and yakusoku-kumite is “…to grab, pull and attack”.


This is highlighted, for majority of the time, by the 引き手 (HIKI-TE).


My theory is that this ‘constant physical action to apply karate techniques with optimal effectiveness’ was one of the technical reasons why Funakoshi Gichin Sensei strongly disapproved of karate competitions. It is obvious, that hikite when applied in the aforementioned classical sense, is purely for self-defense as opposed to a karate match or any form of combat sports.


Considering this point further, this is why people often say: “Why is Kata so different from Kumite and so seemingly unrelated?” At least for me, it seems these logical assumptions perfectly concur with Funakoshi Sensei. Isn’t that ironic. Well, I guess, not really.


For many years I’ve personally been practicing Shotokan as Budo/Bujutsu in the koryu manner—personally encouraged by Master Asai; however, the basis remains the JKA style as refined by Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei. Without this strong Shotokan foundation, one cannot maximize physicality. Nonetheless, without the understanding, practice and application of koryu karate, shotokan—even when claimed to be traditional, is actually mitigated to a sport: irrespective of being labeled budo or otherwise.


Returning to the 引き手, the idea of “…pulling back one fist or hand to the hip (or in front of the solar plexus) and impacting with the other”—to ‘make more power’ or ‘to have cleaner technique’—is actually embarrassing and, to be honest, totally stupid.


Am I attacking competitions. No, not at all. However, karate if only trained for competitions (or, more commonly, ‘in the competition way’—without knowing it) is unreliable as art of self-defense and is detached from Bujutsu.


The old school application of hiki-te is one of the major technical points that blatantly elucidates this.



アンドレ  バーテル

          © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Make your karate your own!

Probably the greatest technical lesson I learned from Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei was to "MAKE 'MY KARATE' MY OWN". He stressed not to copy him, but to assimilate the Bujutsu Priciples that underpinned his Karate. This karate was an EXTENSION OF JKA style SHOTOKAN, which was focused on the use of natural energy, snap, smoothness, necessary relaxation/softness, and re-integration of techniques and Oyo (applications) that were neglected post-WW2.

Looking at a few movements of Asai Sensei performing Tekki Shodan (images below), it is easy to see that his execution maximizes his smaller framed physique and extreme flexibility. Yes, he broke the 'standard' rules, but he had fully mastered them (under Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei) and used them as a reference to optimize himself.

This is what all senior practitioners must do, if maximizing their individual potential is their aim. 

OSU, André 


© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Monday 7 August 2023

意志 (Ishiryoku) - Willpower

意志 (Ishiryoku) or 'WLLPOWER' is obviously an essential ingredient in the practice and training of any discipline: especially if one is aiming to maximize their human potential.

Learning, refining, practicing and training over-lap, and quality in all these domains is very important; nonetheless, embracing all of these is ISHIRYOKU.

It is "...the ability to CONTROL YOURSELF and GET THINGS DONE!"

In karate, this is first and fore-most the will power to go to the dojo and train. Secondly, to keep going when times are tough: when we feel we are 'not improving' or regressing. Thirdly, to overcome politics and negativities, which is too prevalent in Shotokan. And fourthly, in when dealing with a violent assault, in a self-defense situation, the will power to overcome the attacker, irrespective of what they do to us: TO NEVER GIVE UP.

Considering these points, and indeed others 意志 (Ishiryoku) is an imperative quality for all Budo Karateka. That being said, it must be grown, step-by-step through consistent and conscientious training.

  © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Thursday 3 August 2023

Without Kata there is NO KARATE!

Kanku Dai Kata
Practicing Tekki Shodan at Oita Wharf.

Some people insist that (KATA) are unnecessary and/or outdated; however, to my seniors here in Japan, my Budo karate colleagues, students and myself, “….without kata there is no karate”.

 Yes, it is true that some contemporary styles do not have kata but, irrespective of being labeled ‘karate’, they are not karate.


Likewise, if someone only practices kumite they are not karateka.


Karate styles literally are determined by the kihon, applications and tactics within the kata they have. This is one of the reasons even if someone practices the kata from another style, more experienced karateka will still be able to ascertain the individual's style: irrespective of how precisely they copy the waza of another Ryuha.


Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei once said to me and my wife at dinner “you can see the style the person began karate in, within their kata”; furthermore, in these regards, he went on to stress “…the style one begins in is therefore very important”.


Another Sensei, not to me directly but to a class, has some very interesting comments about styles and kata. Isaka Akihito Sensei stated that “the mixing of styles is highly problematic, as it nullifies the special points of each of them”.


In light of these points, it is easy to see that kata and karate, and kata and ryuha are inseparable. Without kata one simply has a form of boxing/kickboxing which quickly results in the technical characteristics of karate and the various ryuha to diminish.


I will not lie here and say that ‘one NEEDS kata for self-defense’. Of course, that’s not true. But certainly kata, when trained correctly, contributes to one’s capacity in these regards; furthermore, finely allows one to practice in isolation when a training partner is not available. Of particular importance is the motivational aspect of kata training, which is one of the great points of karate.


It has been well detailed that Funakoshi Gichin Sensei almost exclusively trained in kata, and that he was against competition kumite. But we have to remember how he learned karate.  The focus was life and death in self-defense; moreover, that karate must only be used when absolutely necessary.


With this in mind, and “…the movements of kata applied in very dangerous ways” we can realize why Master Funakoshi was against humans applying these waza; likewise, that he couldn’t accept karate being executed in more ‘fist kendo’ manner, with specific weapons of the body attacking vulnerable points of the human body.


So again, to him, kata practice was utterly imperative for karateka.  In sum, “…the origin of kihon and containing the applications (and tactics) refined and handed down from past experts”.


While I won’t delve too much into this here, this is the value of the additional kata Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei handed down to us. This extension of Shotokan for senior practitioners has “…immense value for our style via ‘the filling of technical gaps’, without compromising our ryuha”.


 Taken as a whole, yes kata is not absolutely necessary for fighting and self-defense; that being said, without kata what one practices literally ceases to be karate; moreover, over time would further and further deviate from it.

I need to add here one more important point. Kata functions as a TEACHER! Yes, our SENSEI!!! By the serious and on-going practice of Kata and Oyo, one strips back the layers of skills, applications and tactics. In addition to this, as one age's, experiences injuries, illness, and so on, kata changes for us: even helping us to change! A concrete example for me is since Asai Sensei passed away I'm still unpacking secrets from the numerous kata that he personally taught me. So, kata is like a treasure chest which contains numerous gems. Hence, without kata, I'd never have found these, let alone ever being aware of them.

To conclude, I personally do not believe in only the function of karate for self-defense, even though this underpinned its historical evolution and development. Yes, rudimentary self-defense is a prime physical/technical aim; but also karate for holistic health and fitness; as an art; and so forth. Ironically, though, when the physical focus leaves from self-defense, kata (and karate in general) also loses its beauty, which is only expressed by its effectiveness. 

Funakoshi Gigo Sensei: Movement 17 of JITTE KATA. Migi ashi mae fudo-dachi!

                       © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

Tuesday 1 August 2023

My view of Kyusho

 Some have asked me about my thoughts on KYUSHO-JUTSU. So today I will address that, with a brief commentary to answer this in full, followed by a chart of anatomical meridians.

"Aim to hit the Atemi/Kyusho point; but, hit with so much kime that irrespective of accuracy, the opponent will still be downed". In other words, yes, pressure points are important; nonetheless, not as important as physical prowess and explosive power!

押忍!! — AB

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).