Spring Kaboom in the City

25 05 2010

Two times a year the local radio station puts on a fireworks display of a huge magnitude. They do not do advertising for their station with ads and the like, instead they do this fireworks show. The first year LZ and I saw it, we viewed it from the water. We were on a boat ride with friends and they took us to it, we were almost right under it at the time. LZ never forgot it!! She has been dying to see it again. As with many things, the first time is the best. Finally some years later we went this past Sat. night. The city of S.F. forced the station to move the show to another location rather than just off the pier in S.F. Oh I forgot, the last show we did see , but from our balcony at the Apt. off in the distance we could see it. However there was a lot of smoke that block the view after a while.

This LZ found a ferry ride that was going out to view the show and she booked us seats. She also told our friends, another mixed couple ( her bud from Osaka) from the Islander yacht club about it. They also went.

We took the Bart Train over to the City rather than drive.

It makes life simple doing that. Only problem came when we had to wait and wait for the trolley to take us to the pier to meet the Ferry. This Trolley line has old style trolley cars, which reminded me of the trolleys I used to ride in Philly as a child. I was quite surprised to see a plaque mounted on the one we rode saying it was from the old Philly Line!   Another surprise was when we got on the trolley there were our friends as well.

Once we got to the Ferry all the tables were taken so we made do with just a window bench.

Once the fireworks started most people went on the upper deck. Not me! Turns out the sit we were in faced the show and I could see very well from our seat. Yay! The bummer of the show, was it was far away, and it was shorter than in the past. Times change…

Otherwise it was pretty cool. Because it was  a radio station, they had the music timed with the display. I could not hear clearly because of the engine sound, but I did make out the WHO on one of the sets. I always liked them from my Rock and Roll days.

It was cold , but it was a cool evening. Next time we can watch form home as they moved it to a place that is right across from Apt, although on the other side of the Bay.

Lab Rat…

22 05 2010

Over the last week I have been in training for the new security job. This time it is doing security for a medical center. That is a whole different bag from the other job. I had to get medical check this time. Which means “golden rain” to make sure I’m not “enjoying” myself when at home. Also I had to get check’d… twice! (*_*) for TB.  I hate needles! Now on top of that, my personal doctor, sent me in for a blood test, yup more needles. Also a golden rain check. Not careing about home “fun” but health. Anyway, I’ve been giving fluids to be checked out like I am a specimen. On top of that, I need to go in to get some Hep B shots for working at this hospital…jheeze! Did I say I hate needles?

I went by the hospital today to check things out. Not bad, it maybe an ok job. I do some foot and driving patrol and I believe sitting in the guard shack in the parking lot. Nice so I do not have to deal with flipped out patients or visitors. It is about 20 min from home in good traffic. I should start next week. It is only p/t but with the other two P/T’s we can survive until things turn better. That is a blessing and something to be grateful about.

The road to recovery…

17 05 2010

Since Japan the main thought, other than what now…?, has been work, a job, income. I have been on this thinning road of EDD and no money for way too long. Not because I want to be, because I have had to be, there has been no, not to be. ( get it? too be or not too be! Hmm ok never mind)

Moving on…

I had an interview with West Marine a boating store a couple of weeks ago, that went no where, even thought I thought it was a good interview I heard nothing since then. I did get a email from a Tai Chi student asking if I was interested in a weekend/holiday job at the Marina, where I had applied, with no luck at the boating store also. However this time I was able to land the job as an Asst Harbor master. It is just a weekend job, but I’m hoping to get some “extra” benefits from it (discounts). They are letting me work just two weekend a month so I can still teaching sailing during the season. This is important for long term.

Another interview landed me a part time security job. This will also help. The bad part is it does not pay much and is only P/T if this was a full time job, perfect! On the other hand being it is P/T I can still look and interview on other jobs with out taking a day off to do so. The bummer about both of these jobs, even combined I do not make the same as unemployment. Which means when EDD is finished in 1-2 months, I will have a more negative cash flow. I’m hopeful I am more on the road to recovery than complete collapse. We still have a 2-3 month window to locate a sheltered port, so to speak.

Kyudo practice will be catch as catch can. I went to practice today and I can attend the next few Thursdays instead of Sunday’s but after that…? Sensei wants me to help him teach at the new Dojo on Thursday. That will still give me some practice. At least I did reach my goals with Kyudo as hoped for. The Force was with me, so there must have been a reason.

I start the new Security Job training tomorrow, Monday. the hours are good, 2 pm to 6 pm as far as NOT staying up all night to work! I did not want that. Also I get more experience which will give me a better chance at other jobs. I did have an interview with a new company that wants be because of my Martial Art skill and background. The pay is better, it will be full time, it will be riskier…but it doesn’t happen until perhaps July.

So at least I am walking the road to recovery and not still standing in the ditch, in a nautical sense, drifting on a windless sea with my sails up…at least there is a small breeze.

Renseikan Kyudo Demo

10 05 2010

My head is still in Japan, my body is here. LZ is still in Japan, waiting on news of her green card so she can return. Hopefully it will not throw our life into the crapper with her missing work. Last time I went to Japan I got laid off when I returned, this time we are concerned about her job because of the extended stay…I am not in the best of spirits to do a demo.

However the show must go on we in show biz say…

I headed out to Sensei’s to help pack-up the van for the trip to San Jose. We are doing a Grand-opening demo for the new dojo with in the Japanese Art and Cultural Center in San Jose. I was surprised once I got there to find people really speaking Japanese. I thought ok, Nisae or Sansei, something like that who did not speak the language but wanted to preserve the cultural connection thing here in the States.

We arrived and setup fairly quickly a mist the small crowd of people. Which looked like a lot because the place was much smaller than I thought. However that is good because it is ea$ier to maintain especially as a non-profit place.

One of Sensei’s old students ( find out later) came by to help after we setup. He gave me the 3rd degree about who I was. I just smiled and gave simple answers as is my custom to people I do not know and grill me.

him: Are you Steve Sensei student?

me: “yes”,

him: How long have you been with him?

me: ” oh , not long”,

him: I have never seen you!?

me: “.Hmm..So ne”

Him: Is that your bow?

Me: Ummm

him: Where did you get it?

me: Don Shimansky


Then we went to change.The changing room was a bit of a surprise. It had a shower but none of it was complete. I found out later the permits are still not finished. One of those city building government hold ups. They can be a real pain.

After finishing changing I came across another of Sensei’s Student, he and I had practiced together. I was surprise to see him. I asked if he was helping, he laughed and said no way am I ready. I had him work my camera some to feel part of it.

I sat back down and waited. The other Senpai came back, much friendlier this time. Congrats on your pass Shodan he says, blah blah blah. He must have had a talk with Sensei. I was just surprised to see you before, he says. We chatted more, he said, his wife is a San-dan and the daughter or grandaughter of one of the few female Hanshi in Japan. He was a nice guy, as with many he studied some other Arts as I found out. He helped out with some of the other demos as well as the Kyudo.

Show time:

We sat in Seiza while Sensei gave the opening intro, then shift to a cross leg position after he got rolling. The older student, my Senpai started the opening demo with what the beginning stages of training are for new students starting  with gomuyumi and hassetsu, while Sensei spoke. I sat.

After doing the 8 steps and some other no arrow  demos, it was time to shoot. Sensei asked me I if do this part. Standing form first, then sitting from. Ok, I got this I said. Senpai said thanks, it had been a while since he shot. No problem, I said.

The standing form and sitting form went smooth. I just went into the zone. Zen’d out as M3 says. Since it was just me I figured no need to rush. Next up Sensei did a standing Makiwara Shari, everyone seemed impressed.

Afterwards it was Q&A , we help some people who wanted to try using the practice Yumi, the tubing thingy. A couple of Ladies in Kimono’s who I took there picture and later found out one was the Sensei for Sumi came over to me for some questions after another guy asked about how is it I do not get hit by the Yumi strong when it is right against my cheek. It look so different from Western Archery. I explained. Then I helped the ladies, then a couple of teens who were trying out doing hikiwaki. It was pretty cool. I hear Sensei had a few signups.

Next was an Aikido Demo, turns out my Senpai also helped with that. The Aikido Sensei who spent some time in Japan training threw him around a bit. I can never watch these days with out thinking, Mantis trap, Mantis takedown…

Following that was Karate. Shotokan, my style. Most of them doing the demo were black belts, There was one green, and one brown, everyone else was a Black belt. Some of them judging from there belts were pretty new. They all for the most part did a good job. I spoke with a couple of the guys afterward. They were pretty nice chaps.

This was day one of two. I hope they do well there at the center. I would not mind going down for a Sat class but my concern these days is money, the drive and the dues to attend. I may need to cut down my free training on Sunday’s to once a month, due to fuel cost unless I get some income happening and even that may mean working on Sunday’s. Anyway we’ll see what the Force has planned.

While in the area, I checked out the large Japanese market that is in the shopping complex. It was almost like being back in Japan, with all the products and bakery. Wow . Of course having my Yumi with me drew attention, one of the workers and I got into a conversation , she was from Japan. We spoke of Kyudo, and Sakura’s. I miss Japan already, I am so pleased I got to see full bloom Sakura’s this time, even if it was at the end of the season.

—Sunday Second Demo

The second day demo was pretty much the same as day one, however I was the only one doing Kyudo other than Sensei. It still went well.

There was no Akido demo this day. There was a kendo demo.

There was one on Sat as well but I missed it having to leave to see what was happening with LZ. I found out this day that the guy running the show there, is not only the Karate Sensei but the Kendo sensei. He is a big guy, but fast and smooth, I was impressed. Not only with his arts but his style talking with the crowd.

Over all it was a good demo and a good place. It has pleasant vibes, if I lived closer and had the time and money I would hang out there more.

Nihon Chronicles 2010… go’n back to Cali

9 05 2010

Monday night we were packing. I had done my stuff fairly early and was just having out relaxing, reading my book, trying to stay warm and just feeling the vibe of Japan. Taking in the last pleasures of the life in Nihon. Ahhhhhhh

Not as nice a bath as the house in Fukuoka, where I could look out the window over the back valley view, and a bit smaller, but still…ahhhh

I starting feeling something off about the trip. I signed off in my head that I was just concerned about the check in with baggage and the yumi…that was my logic

We had a peaceful breakfast with Okasan on Tuesday morning, San-Sakura, then just basically relaxed.

We did not have to leave until 12:30, when the taxi would come for us. I’m still feeling something, but what can you do … perhaps still nerves. I did have some concern about checking in the Yumi’s for the flight home, was I going to have to pay this time?

The taxi came and we were off, the Yumi case with some effort fit into the car. We made really good time to the airport and got there much earlier than planned. I enjoyed the ride to the airport taking in the last of the city views of Osaka. I have adjusted know to the vibe of Osaka and feel much more at home in the area. I still like the outer edge more than the city , but that is just my nature for anywhere.

Once at the airport we figure we could check in do a few things, pick up some omiyage (gifts) then catch the plane home.

There were starting to be some lines at the check in with the beginning of golden week.
We got in line, it moved along slowly, LZ got up to the self check in and started the process. That is when things started going wrong….very wrong.
She was told she could not leave the country, she had forgotten her green card! Once again I had to unexpectedly fly home alone.

I meet a guy on the plane, who ended up getting LZ’s seat. He was on his way back to the States, we chatted as a bit as he was one of those talky kind of guys. The conversation lead to him telling me he did weddings in Japan and he had some good connection in our Osaka area. I thought ok cool, maybe this is a fortunate event. He said, give me your info I’ll get you some introductions when your ready to move back to Osaka. I gave him my card with my email. I’m out of my cards right now, he says but I will email you once I get to a terminal and we can stay in touch.
…it is disheartening to run into people who are just talk, sadly there are a lot out there. I never heard from him again.

All in all a bad ending to a good trip, life is change. I guess the universe has to balance it’s self out. Too many good things, then you got to have some bad things. Otherwise one would think life is easy… I guess. I spent the next week dealing depression and with shipping her card to Japan during golden week which not an easy task. It was fine from the states but getting it taken care of in Japan is the problem.

So now from a joyful set of events to worrying about getting LZ back to the States and when, her losing her job, me finding one, sigh

…Life is an adventure, life is change, life is a challenge,  life is also a pain in the butt at times.

Nihon Chronicles 2010… Kickn’it in Kobe

5 05 2010

The Sakura are almost gone, only a few flowers hang stubbornly hold to their birth place now after the wind and rain. As the final Sakura pedals take to the air we prepare to do to so as well.

I was unable to do everything that was planed for the trip, only so much time can be filled.  There was no musical Jams. No investigation of finding work as a musician.  I guess that is for another time. However the Kyudo part was an enormous success! As was the visit with Yoh Sensei.  The Apt hunting went ok, we at least got and idea what is available for our budget. The time with the family also went well and Okasan is now setup with our old laptop computer and Skype, she will feel more in touch with her kids now. Overall it was a successful journey with consideration, not much money spent, which we did not have.

Now for the final wrap up we are in Kobe. I love Kobe. The Miyatani clan had dinner together. Sister cooked one of her amazing Japanese fusion meals. Course after course was delicious, as was the table setting she designed was pleasing for the eyes. We talked, drank and laughed in Japanese and English. We spoke with her husband via Skype who called from VietNam where they are moving to for the next couple of years at least.

We had several course of food, and 3 bottles of wine between the four of us.

Toward the end of the evening the sisters had had enough and found the floor carpet very comfortable for a little nap.

It was worth the sacrifice to make the journey, we are grateful for the blessings on many levels. On the way home back to Osaka the next day we stopped at a little shop to bring home food for lunch.

There is a demo planned for the opening of Sensei’s new Dojo for the first weekend after our return. Reisenkan Kyudojo San Jose, located in a newly opening Japanese Cultural Center an interesting way to start to life in the US as a Kyudo Shodan. What Shodan really means, that I am just “house broken” and know how to behave in Kyudo social environment. The real training is still ahead. I have no destination … just a path.

Pictures: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=31258308&l=7419b8fec6&id=1318695816

Nihon Chronicles 2010…Kyudo World Cup TaiKai

4 05 2010

Tai Kai: # 37 and the challenge

On this day #37 was up early. The starting time for the tournament was at 9:00 am. The doors opening at 8:00 am. Check out needed to be done from the hotel as well before going to the event.   The hotel was comfortable for the stay and #37 was glad to that LZ found it. He did not get to explore the area because of the weather, but that was ok, because his plate was full anyway. Some thought was given where to leave stuff at the hotel in storage and come back or just lug it all over to the event.

It was chosen to carry it. Because one had to go back past the train station to get to the Hotel so seemed more logical to take everything with.  The walk through the park was pleasant, even on rainy days it was nice, but today it was clear, but still cool. Today being the last visit extra vision was given to the small things. Of course everyday should be like that following the path of “Zen”

The ground was too wet still for Tai Chi practice though. There was the plan for #37 to go get the arrow knocks replaced or repaired after check-in for the event. However that turned out to be more costly than planned @ about $20.00 to replace a set four, so it was decided to just deal with what was on hand and just be extra careful when shooting, there were not any expectations of winning anyway, just to shoot the best one is able at that moment.

The knocks where checked before starting as to the fit on the string. With the new string and wrapping it seemed fine.  From reading the program #37 thought that the shooting group for San-dan and lower started late afternoon, so there was the thought of not changing until afternoon. However following the “zen sense” a clothing change was made and things were organized in time to make the opening lineup for the speeches and such, also the entrance of the Princess Takamado.

All the opening hoopla was interesting, long, in the cool morning air and with the cold wood floor, but interesting anyway. After the fan-fair was done next was the opening demos for the TaiKai. Everyone took spots, inside and out. There were more people today that during the week since this was the main event, so people filled the stands and also the other side of the range and the spectator area on the main floor.

#37 went upstairs and ran into M3 who was not pleased about some internal political  things. He went on for a bit before #37 was able to slip away to watch the rest of the demo.  There was just time to watch the last of the demos and take a few pictures, one of them with a Facebook acquaintance from France who had given him some encouragement on the first day of the seminar.

Shortly afterward came to call to line up for the eliminations. The teams were in the main dojo and started their Q in the hall.  The San-dans and below were to go to the other dojo, the main one was for the teams to compete only.

It was surprise there was another dojo, meaning this place was huge. The main one at 28 meters could be convert into 60 meters, now to find out there is another 28 meter range, wow.  After a bit of a scramble #37 made it to the designated area. Everyone was trying to sort thing out with the who goes where and does what, in the varied languages. French, Spanish, English, Japanese, German, Russian… it was controlled pandemonium.

Mushin: The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning mind of no mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness”. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.

It was said to the contestants that if one missed two arrow shots to turn in their numbers. The setup was different from the usual tournament, style with 4 arrows. Ok thought #37 maybe they do not want to be too complex with the lower ranks and it will make things faster this way.  #37 got into the staging line, still unsure of just what and how things were going another new twist was 10 people went out, but shot in two groups of five. #37 was last in his group this time.

Ok he just needed to remember to walk backward after shooting then exit after passing Honza.

When an archer is shooting for nothing he has all his skill.

If he shoots for a brass buckle he is already nervous.

If he shoots for a prize of gold he goes blind or sees two targets –

he is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed.

But the prize divides him.

He cares.

He thinks more of winning than of shooting

and the need to win drains him of power.

Ok, the group went to Honza all was well. #37 had no thoughts other than to shoot his two arrows and leave for Osaka on a early afternoon train. Just thinking only of doing good form what he was shown, the new points in drawing and grip, not even much though was given to aiming. Just form and release…Bam a hit…sugoi!

He was surprised, ok, he thought that was interesting. He figured oh well, that was cool, but the next one will be all over, even though not sure what happened if you hit one missed one. Again he drew, not much on the aim, breathe, expand, release…BAM! another hits. Wow shocked!

He was still thinking do not blow the exit as he left the floor. Once off the floor he was greeted with many congratulations, you are finished until the final this afternoon, he was told,  ehhhhh! So much for leaving early.

The next few hours were spent getting congrats, doing meditation, watching the team finals, and killing time. People were checking out the posting board to see who was still in the running.

Steve Sensei visiting the board is excited to find his student was in the finals and offers congrats. Still it had not hit #37 the depth of what was happening. However now there was some pressure, the Mushin was tainted. He called his wife, she was full of surprise, congrats and ganbatte!  The afternoon dragged on.

Another highlight for #37 for the day was meeting with the Queen of Kyudo and getting his picture with her.

She was surprised at his Japanese, but so are most Japanese to anyone who can speak it other than a Japanese. Come to think of it, any other country is surprise when an American speaks anything other than English. What is up with that? They an learn English but we can not learn Japanese, Chinese Tagalo… but I digress…

About one hour before the individual finals #37 met with the other finalist, as it turns out he was one of the 3 finalist to compete for 1st place and World Cup Individual Champion.What a turn of events this day was suddenly. He and the two others all had the same story, they were all surprised and just did it for the experience and not to go for the gold. We did a lock fist salute to each other…  Time past slowly, the teams ran longer than planned. They had a heated competition.  There was originally 10 finalist in the team battle.

The USA did not make a great showing and did not make it to the finals. The Canadians did not make it as well. However the Argentinians did make the finals.

not all Canadians

#37 had found them both the Canadians and Argentinians to be very friendly over the last couple of days, so was cheering for both. One of the Argentinean ladies was in his group during testing and Marcielo their leader was there as an assistant during the training.

Argentina and Canada

However the French team was nailing their shots. They were hot! I watched one of the French Sensei’s shoot during an earlier demo he was excellent.

Finally it was time for the individual showdown. The individual champion was the last contest of the day. Steve Sensei was there offering encouragement. That was appreciated with #37 feeling fairly alone, even with misc congrats and ganbatte’s drifting in from strangers, it was nice to have one’s Sensei there. Most of the focus was on the Team shooting. At last individual finalist lined up and went on the floor. They were suppose to shoot until someone missed, and they were given one arrow. As it turned out, they all missed.

They were re-staged and given another arrow. Again all missed. The crowd grew tense. Everyone was on the edge of their sets now, even the Judges and Sensei(s). Another round, listening to the advice of a finalist from Argentina ( bad move), #37 aimed higher than normal and hit the curtain, still the others also missed. Another round was up coming. The shooters were told, they would have 4 tries this way then a larger target would be place there and the one who came the closest would win, they had used up two. They lined up again and went on the floor. Bam the leader of the line from Switzerland hit the target, the crowd cheered. #37 missed as did the other shooter.

Now it was just down to two, who will be second and third. The target was replace with the standard size. It would be one shot, the closest one to the center was the silver. #37 was first now. Now there was desire, a goal, lost was the clear mind. #37 shot and missed, he was directed  were to go and do shiza while waiting the next person’s shot, who also missed… The crowd was audible with their tension while they waited for the distance to be measure as it was too close to judge by looking with the eye…

#37 was slightly disappointed but to lose by only an inch. However delighted to have gone this far against the 175 entered. He had brought honor to his Sensei’s, school and coaches. He brought home more than planned for, a bronze metal in the Olympics of Kyudo and a cool statue.

Two part prize

A big Arigato to: Nogami Sensei, Scott Sensei, Ed Sensei, Marcus Sensei, Rick Sensei, Blackwell Sensei, Hans Senpai, Neu Senpai, Don Senpai, Micheal Senpai, LZ Suma, and well the wishers  and special side thank you to Doug Sensei for coming over to offer his congratulations, the only one from the US team and to John of the Minnesota Renmei for taking a picture ( which I’m still waiting for – John). One other American, I believe from Georgia won the Individual 4-5 Dan section on Sunday, congrats to her!


It was a good day and a worthwhile journey. The only small bummer is there are no pictures of the award ceremony for the photo album. Oh well, maybe they will show up in the Japanese Kyudo Magazine.  #37 was pretty much the last to leave the building, there were a few others but once the action was over people cleared out fast, on with their lives.

The place looked different with no-one around having been full for the last few days.

The crowds were gone ,

but the memories remained.

good times…


next …kickn it in Kobe