Kimiyoshi Suzuki, who has taught "kenjutsu" swordsmanship in Hungary for more than 20 years, looks back on his life with wonder.

“I never imagined that such a different chapter of my life would be waiting for me here,” said the 83-year-old former photographer.

Suzuki teaches more than 100 students in Hungary and Germany, and some of those he has trained have gone on to become acting master kenjutsu instructors.

“I want to continue teaching kenjutsu until I die,” said Suzuki citing Hungary as his second home, to which he immigrated when he was in his 50s.

Hailing from Musashino, western Tokyo, Suzuki is the second son of Seisaku Suzuki, founder of Laquan Studio, a photographic studio in the Kichijoji district of the city. Suzuki worked for the studio after studying photography at the Nihon University College of Art.

The turning point in his life came in his 50s when he was grieving over the death of his wife due to cancer.

Suzuki happened to accompany a group of Hungarian artists on their travels around Japan who were invited to the nation by Suzuki’s friend, and he has kept in touch with them ever since.

While visiting Hungary on a trip to Europe, Suzuki was warmly welcomed by many Hungarians.

“Show us karate and aikido,” Hungarian people would often ask him whenever he told them he is from Japan, as Japanese martial arts have gained a following in Hungary.

Suzuki’s maternal grandfather was the Shirakawa feudal retainer Shigekatsu Makita, a swordsman of the Japanese kenjutsu school “Jikishinkage-ryu.”

Suzuki started to learn Jikishinkage-ryu swordsmanship when he was six at a “dojo,” a martial arts training hall, and continued practicing even while working at the photo studio.

He also reached the sixth-dan level in Goju-ryu, a traditional Okinawan style of karate.

When Suzuki demonstrated kenjutsu and karate for Hungarians, they erupted with cheers and applause.

Suzuki also met his Hungarian wife, Katalin, now 70, who lost her husband to cancer, as Suzuki had lost his first wife.

In 1992, Suzuki and Katalin started to live together in the historic cultural city of Pecs in southern Hungary, and set up a dojo on the first floor of their newly built two-story house. The couple married in 1994.

Suzuki also teaches kenjutsu every week in a nearby elementary school gymnasium.

In the beginning, Suzuki instructed in his broken English but now he uses his self-taught Hungarian.

Suzuki only receives about 2,000 yen ($17) per head, just enough to cover paying for the training venue, and he lives on a pension from Japan and his savings.

With about 20 students in Pecs, and an additional 50 or so in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, and Germany, each. Suzuki regularly travels to teach his students.

He is the only Japanese who teaches kenjutsu in Hungary, a nation with a large number of Japanophiles, according to Suzuki.

“It was a curious twist of fate that brought me a new life in Hungary. I want to keep conveying Japanese culture and manners through kenjutsu,” said Suzuki.