Jessica Gerrity, 44, was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and moved to Japan over 20 years ago to teach English after graduating from Auckland University. She has since become highly trained in several forms of traditional Japanese martial arts, particularly archery, and now works to promote Japanese culture and artisans as a tourism ambassador.
1. Have you always been interested in martial arts? When I was small, I didn't know anything about martial arts. Growing up in New Zealand, I had access to European medieval culture. From around 5 or 6, I was really interested in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
2. How did you become interested in Japanese culture? The first brush I had with it was when my mother showed me tabi, or Japanese socks, as a child. She bought them in Japan before I was born. Also, New Zealand has a lot of Japanese cars. My father, being an engineer, loved talking about them. My first time really experiencing Japanese culture, though, was when I was at university. My half-Japanese friend Naomi had family in Himeji, Nagoya Prefecture, where I rode trains for the first time in my life. I saw Nagoya Castle and Himeji Castle. I fell in love with the modern and traditional designs.