This n That n July


This n that…July, year of the virus…

 
In America, things are going crazy with the virus, not only the numbers but the people. All so sad, a totally corrupt government, and people that do not see it, or only part of it that doesn’t support their interest, a growing divide among the people, a skyrocket national debt, a loss of face among the world nationals. An upcoming election with a corrupt wants to be dictator, mob leader, spoiled coward rich kid, and a man with a poor track record of helping, who has clear signs of mental failings as the only choices for county leadership. Sigh, total fall of an empire. It is a blessing to be here in Japan watching, my ancestor’s prayers must be working.
 
However, this is not a political post…
 
This is about This N That in the life of a weird expat living in Japan. “Living the life” as it said in the hood! I would and of a blessing considering the state of the States! Oops, I digress…
 
The rainy season has been brutal here in many places, again the sunshine of blessings lights the way. Here.
No rain problems, historically this is a “safe” area. With no heavy major problems.
 
Kyudo
 
I went to the dojo this week, on a different night than my usual night trips. It was almost empty, my friend was there which surprised both of us, and one other person. Later Yamashita Sensei, my favorite was there. A NaNa Dan so always good to hear feedback from him. I shot ok, the first round was the best. As before as I get more into the practice I get less accurate. I need to work on that, wonder is it physical or more mental strength. The high points were three hits in a row. That was after a first shot miss. I need to able to shift that to the first three shots!! Towards the end, Sensei who had said nothing after being there awhile. He had been practicing himself and helping a newer student. He says my right elbow needs to be back more. Meaning my alignment was not right. I pushed harder back, opened my chest more. Bam, it worked after the next shot. Something to work on next practice. I am back to once a week in the dojo while I am working. I will pick that up more once my transportation Improves. My overall average was a little lower than the other night but not by much. I looked back at my shooting history, I am about where I was before the big drop into the 16 and 20% range of hits. The good thing now is I know just what to work on. Before I wondered, is it this or that. Now I know if this, this and this and this…are in place, I should hit! If not o am fairly certain of what I did wrong. Progress!
 
Music : Band
 
The Seiki band is back in rehearsals. We have another new dummy, a young guy. We have a full range of ages in the group. I am the oldest, but only by a tear or two. The drummer is the youngest. We play a range of music types. Including one funk the # 2 guitarist is a big funk fan, the #1 is a big Sam Cook era R&B fan. We will be an opening act for a couple of groups there at the Live House at the end of this month. I hear rumors of something else in Nov. none of which pay. Which I have grown to expect that of most gig here in Japan which this type of band. I have no expectations of making money with this anymore. It is a Hobby. I have lost, set aside that Stateside mentality of this being a business also. It is a Hobby. I am too old to think of it as anything else.
 
 
Music: Shakuhachi
 
With everything getting into a new normal and I am working, The Shakuhachi effort has resumed. The class will be starting next week, I am back to serious practice again.
We had our first Society meeting in a while. It was good to see the group again.
The kneeling stool I made worked perfectly! I could use it for kneeling or as a lift when just on the cushion! Yatta that worked out well.

It was only a small meeting only seven of us. It was held in the old location at a center because of virus concerns. We were able to keep a fair distance spread out. The room had air conditioning but was still feeling a bit stuffy to me. I had a concern about the airflow and the virus. I opened the windows behind us. No one wore masks I. The meeting. I was wondering how that would go. The strong breaths are the issue with expelling the virus. More so blowing the Shakuhachi, even with some distance spacing in sitting. So yeah I wanted the windows open, they were not at first, but I did think so when I checked they were not. I corrected that.

Usually, there is an amount of flute testing. Oota-san only brought in one to show. It had been artificially smoked. I noticed no one played it just looked, although one guy did blow. Another Sempai brought in several he had. He pretty much insisted that I play it. I did a couple of notes then just looked it over. I was wiping down an Oliver asked me did I want an alcohol wipe? I wish he had said that before I blew. Hopefully, I did not catch anything… If there is another time I will just have to hurt his feelings and say not safe. Overall though safe actions were about. I was watching and passed out along with Oliver, alcohol lotion at the restaurant. I was pretty alert most of the journey. It is a weird sense of time to be on alert about picking up something, but still, try to live and enjoy life and contacts. It is not easy being a social animal.
I am reading a book about an old zen master and his teaching of embracing death, then you do not fear it. It will come to all. One more than ever needs some type of training, faith, blindness to live, and continue in the current chaos. The books of Carlos Castaneda state depth is always our companion, deal with it!
 
Biking
 
A few days ago, I was off work due to big rains in the morning, but they only last a couple of hours in the morning. My work friend contacts us and says he will come over and work on the yard entrance for the bike. He and a friend of his show up a couple of hours later and make short work of the stone pillar. Nicely opening up the entrance so the bike can fit in easier. It took them about three hours. We thought there was going to be more work done but the hrs out that it fo the days. Which was fine. It is enough to take care of the major issuer. There is talk of working on the walkway, but that can be done at a late time. With all the rain it is not a good time to put down concrete anyway. There would be drying issues with the cement.
 
A couple of days later a lady from the bike shop called and said my bike was ready. We were expecting it to be another couple of weeks. The woman said the bike was in such good shape not much was needed to be done. I could pick it up when ready. They would hold it in the warehouse until I was able to get it, however long. Cool!
 
A couple of weeks ago I ordered a new helmet. Safety graded for Japan and the States. Several functions the main being the full face section was able to lift up. Handy when speaking with people, taking a drink, or just wanted to feel freer. I was expecting it to be a couple of weeks in shipping. It arrived today. Cool!
 
That is three unexpected coolness right after another. Yatta!
 

Tomorrow is my live driving test. It does not seem that hard, less than California, but Japan has some Japanese things going on differently. I have been watching YouTube instructions from others. Also, I have a walkthrough video I did. So I am as easy as I can get. Still, I have in mind the Japanese testing mind. Therefore I am not expecting to pass the first time, this is a trial test testing run. I will do my best but have no expectations except for me to do my best! I will use the Kyudo mind and pay attention to details. That is how they will be viewing. Yosh!

Ceramics

The class started last week. I took all my self in to be fired. This week I added some glaze to a couple of pieces and purchased some more class. There is no class next month for the heatstroke season of August and Obon. This week coming is the last for this month. I do not expect to have anything fired until Sept. then I will have to wait maybe another month for the second firing. It is a slow process there. I figure around the end of the year I will have all done from this run. I will continue with whatever until then. At the end of the year, I will take another few months’ break from there. Save money and just work on some home pieces. I will stock up on some clay during this time.

So much for “This”, next is “That”

 

 

Back to the Mato


Back to the Mato

 

The other day after checking out some motorbikes, I went by the Kyudojo. I have been just practicing at home during this whole virus thing. A friend who is a go-dan in the States has been giving me some training tips that he can transfer over to the Mato. I have been working on it. Along with the things my sense is had given me before the lockdown something’s I had found on my own.

I was feeling fairly comfortable with the new way of holding the Ya. I also figured out that I really really really need to focus on pressing down my shoulders also when in Kai give an extra push to extend my right shoulder back and stretch my left. It seems to tighten my body alignment for a better arrow travel path. I had not as yet had a chance to test all this out on the full range but only on the Makiwara, and using one inch cut out bulls eyes and recommend by my friend. On the Makiwara, it seemed to help I could hit the mini Mato of alt least come close to it much more consistently.

 
So now with the Dojo open again I could test myself. I found out it was not as crowded as I thought it would be and the entry system was it as complex. I thought it would ebony one person at a time practicing, but when I arrived there were three others and was told even four is ok. So I was able to shoot with no problem. I guess more than 6 is a no-no. Anyway, it was a Sat night when I arrived which is usually not a busy time. There were a couple of classmates there and one person from another school. I greeted my friend and joked with her a bit before getting down to work.
 
I was pleased with my shooting all. It was not great but for sure better. The things were working. There was one thing that needed to adjust, at home a use a different Yumi so I did need to readjust some things for that, still, overall I did well. The last time shooting I was in the low 30% or less, this time I was about 45%.
 

The test will be my next visit. In the past, I do well one day then suck the next! So if I can maintain or do better steadily I will feel like I am improving. Maybe I will try the Shinsa at the end of the year if there is one by then. If not, oh well! The journey is the adventure. Nothing will change in my life passing or not. Other than bragging rights…LoL!

Update, I went to the Dojo tonight. In fact, just came home from a Sat night practice. As I was coming in several Sensei were leaving. Ohhh we said! long time no see! “Hisashiburi”. a few jokes about Americans being foolish about wearing masks, and they were off into the night. That left just Yumi-chan and me. She generally comes in after work on Sat like me to practice cause it is quiet and relaxed. She only stayed for an hour then she took off. Said she was burnt out from work.
So once again alone from a Night practice. My favorite. I worked with my to different Yumi’s to check myself. The corrections I have found on myself are true on both Yumi’s. The total hits for the night were @ 38.48%, the other night it was @ 42.31. So a drop but not a great deal. When I missed I could figure out why so yeah, I am making progress! I am close to breaking out of this slump…Yatta!


Once I get my wheels I will be uping my Dojo time to twice a week. Then three when the Shinsa is in operation again. “Fighto”

Yuki

Snow in the summer

Funny how things turn out, one thing into another once a step is taken. Like Domino falling.
A friend from work, a co-worker a team leader, he let me drive his Honda PXS scooter in the parking lot a few months back. That is what really got me interested in getting a scooter. I liked the style. It was like a mix of a Motorcycle and a scooter. Cool, sporty, yet practical of a scooter.
One day a week or so ago, I mentioned I was getting my license soon and would buy a bike. He had another co-worker take me to a bike shop one day during a long break in between jobs. I was not expecting it and really did not fully understand what was happening. Anyway, the shop was closed! He said he would take me another day since he was free. So the scooter owner and coworker take me to the shop again it is closed, so he tries another, and that was also close. It had been forgotten that most shops and somethings are closed mid-week and open on the weekend. He aid he would take me another time.
That evening he sent me a link to a couple of used bike shops in town. One was a big place well known for big scooters. My co-worker, Sumita-san, said he would take me, but he was going out of town that weekend to Hiroshima. I thanked him!
After finding out where the place was, it was easy for me to get there by train, and not far from where I often go. So I went on my own. I figured to go then stop by the Kyudojo on the way home and just make a day trip of the whole thing.
That part worked out fine. More on that later…
I make it to the shop they have several of the bikes I wanted. My plan was just to take a look and get some measurements from the bike. One thing I was sure was going to be an issue is getting it into our yard for parking and not in the street. I was thinking if the measurements do not work I will need to choose another bike.
I checked out the bike, the salesman gave me the rundown on everything. I could not understand everything but enough. I said I will have my wife call with questions. Once home I told my wife about it and showed her the store and bike ad. However, I also saw the same bike but with lower mileage and ABS braking system at the same store for only a little bit more money. I said this is the one I would really prefer. Please call and ask these questions, I gave her. The shorten the tale. She ended up after the call and us talking recalling the store and making arrangements for a deposit to be made. All that done! A trip to the city hall was needed to report I was buying a bike, done the next day! All the arrangements have been made and the final payment will be made next week. She decided not to finance the bike but to use the money from the government Corona payment and just pay the whole thing! Awww yeah!
Now it is a matter of waiting a couple of weeks or so for them to fully go over the bike and check and replace things that are needed or will be needed soon by factor specs. That is part of their service. Also included is a year riding insurance and a 3 mon warranty, or the option of 6. Nice. So all that fell into place. All I need now is a driver’s license.
There is one other thing that is still an issue. The bike will not fit through our gate. Again Sumita-san steps in. He came by the house to look at what he thought was my repair on our entrance walkway. There my wife was able to explain clearly what was needed, there happened to be a guy there giving us an estimate in replacing the walkway. I thought if I had it lowered the bike would fit through the gate ( you would need to see it to understand), although with some careful effort. Sumita-san says, it is a Bad Idea, the bike will get damaged and it will be a hassle moving it. It is simpler just to remove one of the pillars or cut it. I thought it was some dense rock/stone. He says no! It can be done, in fact, he can do it! Then with more talking, he calls his friend over a pro at this type of thing. They both agree better to remove and replace the pillar, not too difficult. Sumita-san says he can do it and the walkway repair also some spot that needs to have water drainage to stop the pooling of water that is occurring. Wow! Turns out he is quite handy, he built his garage and said he can borrow the tools needed from our workplace. Wow! So all that fill into place as a blessing from the Universe!
Funny how things sometimes just work out. While we were waiting for his friend to show up, we talked, we he and my wife. Found out he is an ex-cop! He worked on several big cases in his time, Also found out about the operation of the job! Some people there are lazy, some of the new people from just a couple of days ago quit. It is not an easy job for wimpy people! They are organizing more now into two groups. The hard work spears are the “A-team”, the slower, weak, lazy workers, are the “B team” they will do more of the park type work, where no one will complain of it is too slow. I am on the”A” team. I do not complain, don’t talk much just work. People notice, someone, is always watching, even though it does not seem like it. I had figured as much anyway. It is anyway my style just to do my job being watched or not! The end shows my effort. However, it is good to know my work is appreciated!
So, anyway, things are going well with the new bike, which I have named “Snow = Yuki”. I am changing from my all black USA biking style gear to white. Like my old Porsche. It looks cool, also easier to see! Finally, I have something to look forward to again. It has been a while. I am already planning my trips. I most likely have said some of this before. With my birthday coming up next month a big milestone one! If all goes well I will do my first trip on my birthday. A gift from the Universe…
A new blog segment if not a new blog. A man, a bike, a Shakuhachi.
….Amitoufo

On the road again – Japan


Getting on the Road

 
Getting on the road in Japan’ has been a hassle. A real pain in the butt.
 
However, first, let’s back up some. One time on reflections of the changes in life and the still-active sadness of losing my boat, I thought well I have no real travel goals now. Boatless in Japan for the most part. That part of the adventure in life is over. Then there was the smallest thought of exploring Japan by motorbike. Later by some twist of fact, it was approved that I could get a cycle! Another bit of fate is getting some government assistance in Japan due to the virus = Buying power with no loan!!!

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Then came the process of getting a driving license in Japan! Yet another big hurdle. We went to the DMV of Japan it was supposed to be a somewhat simple process, maybe for other places but nothing is simple in Japan and government. We spent the whole day at the office. They asked questions, after questions after questions. Things that at almost 70 who could recall from driving since a teen! Yet they wanted to know! How many questions on my test, what did it cover, how many tests, describe the road test process. After all, that was done still I was not approved even though I had done and shown everything they wanted, I needed to prove I was living in the States for at least 3 months after my license was issued! OMG, really?!

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After this setback, I had to contact my former apt manger and get her to write a letter stating I was there for a year, plus had my older license to show that I was there at that time. Luckily I still had it! From that period so I was covered. So I thought!
 
Next trip to DMV they checked stuff again, ok I was good. However, since I had something they could not verify so they wanted me to sign a “new” drivers form which would be marked on my license I was a new driver and subject to intense observation, and points given for a mistake. Fortunately for me, I had an even older license from another state which could prove I have been driving for many many years! This was calculated and approved after I gave them copies! Jheeez, OMG!
 
Next up I needed an eye test and a written test. The eye test passed I was a bit concerned about that as one eye is weaker than the other. However, it went well. Next to the written test. The whole process of transferring the license was so I would not have to answer some 50 some questions. Instead, I only had 10 which were very basic and common sense. Finally finally finally I got through all of that. I was given a date for a driving test. I needed to do two. One for the motorcycle and one for the car. They wanted me to select an auto or standard shift on the bike and car! OmG!
Ok, I complied. I was told I could walk the dive course at a certain time, which was coming up soon! (We held back on going to lunch until after this.) They do not test on the streets in Japan but on a course. You are given a map which HAS to be memorialized! Beforehand. I walked the course and filmed, which I find out later was not suppose to do. Oh well!
 
The course does not seem that hard and I saw youtube vid of people doing it. The thing is one needs to follow Japanese style when taking the test, even on things that have nothing to do with the actual driving skills. Ok, the kyudo training has me understanding that mindset. It is said the bike test is really difficult! Ok. I am prepared to fail it the first time Testing the waters, like with my taking the Yondan test, just to feel it! I will be prepared and more so, but also to fail the first one. A practice run, so to speak.
 
Afterward, the car test which is again extremely difficult because they want you to fail to keep comping back at a price. Or take an expensive class, about 1 or 2 thousand U.S. dollars, which are run by ex-police test drivers. Most of those who have passed the test have taken one type of extra side training class to learn the “tricks” they are looking for. It is a rigged system! I have a 1/2 day course arranged for the car, but first the bike test I want to get behind me.
 
I am hoping to have all this done by the end of summer and purchase a bike by Autumn! Which maybe sooner than later, if I find the right bike. I have already found the type and color I want. I found with help from a co-worker, a used big scooter dealer. He took me to. a couple of new dealers, but it turned out their day off. He then sent me a link to this used place. He said he would take me there. However he is out of town this weekend, and I can get there easily by train. So I will not have to bother him. I will buy him lunch sometime for his efforts. He owners a Honda scooter which first got me interested. He let me drive in the parking lot at work once. Nice bike, but I want one just a bit larger than his, so I can go on the highway and touring comfortably. I already have my first three or four places to visit picked out!!! yeah, baby yeah!

When I left the States I packed my biking leathers, just in case it was my hope. I dug them out, they are ready. I did buy a new used helmet. Because I needed it for my test. I will order a new one with a color change from Black in the states to White in Japan to match the new bike. It is the color the cops have. It looks cool and is safer, easier to spot, more so at night. The Wife approves! Important!!!!

I may not make Yondan this year, but having a bike again will comfort my spirit and be of a more usable in life value.

I had one concern about the bike. I Want to park it in our yard. Perfect idea, but would it fit through the gate with is large stones as a pillar!? I measured, I checked the size of the bike On line, I measured again. It would be tight but could fit if done carefully. There was one thing that was troublesome the gate pillars have some sharp edges that stuck out and are right on the edge on the entering size needed open. I found I can trim them with my Dremel tool and diamond blade and grinders. Very Cool! yeah Baby!

 

On another note, my bands are starting up…more on that next.

Also, the Shakuhachi club is starting the meeting again. However ina different location with a large room and more air.

Also hoping to get to the Kyudojo this weekend. I was told it is not too crowded. I will go on Sat after checking out some bikes!

Onward …Yosh!

Stay Safe… Amitoufo

Returning

 

Returning

It is now mid-June, there has been only one maybe two new reported Cv19 cases in Osaka. Tokyo has had many more, last I heard was just over 40. No matter. Osaka is better. People are adapting well to the new standards.
I returned to work last week, my job is outside an not really in close contact with people, still, I wear a mask in the truck when in Transport.
I had lunch out last week, it was good came across a friend who joined me. We keep social distance while eating. It was fine only a little weird at first. 
Yesterday was my first real venture out into the world, almost a two hr train ride, plus a change walking though a major change point. Everyone had masks, I have a bottle of alcohol with me for Tavel although I make it a point not to touch stuff in transit. I needed to pick up some things from the marina, that I was gifted a while back but could not make it over. I also needed to drop off some things.
The last stop of the trip was at Komyoji temple. I had a load of vegetables from my garden to drop off, plus my wife was sending something to thank them for always feeding me when I visit.
It was supposed to be a day of heavy rain, but I was lucky and did not get much at least while I was out and about. The was quite a downpour at one point but I was at the temple by then. Full of food and drink, while the heavy rain fell in the garden we sat with the door open. I could hear, see and smell the rain as it poured through the Bamboo in the garden. The garden there and the temple is one of my favorite places. Osho-san and I for a long time were the only ones there other than his wife who served us food and drinks. The only one there as far as the garden sitting room. There were many others in the temple doing a ceremony, copying sutras. I have done that before there and enjoyed it. At the time my friend who spoke English was there she helped me understand what was being done and I needed to do! Anyway, it was enjoyable, like doing a pleasant meditation without the effort of sitting correctly!

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Osho-san and I had a pleasant visit. Speaking in a combination of Japanese and English we talked on several topics. Buddhist stuff, Martial arts, Shakuhachi. He had mentioned something about me doing a Zazen class there. I am all for that. There would be some small charge for anyone attending. I really had no concern for that, it can be a donation to the temple. Just getting to do the session is good for me. I will speak to him more about it another time. I did hear him speaking about me to one of the temple members as they were leaving about me. I think it was something to do with teaching Zazen but I am not sure as I did not get all of it.
It is a challenge doing so in Japanese, but I have done it before and I have info printed in Japanese from that time. I hope this works out. It will give me more a sense of purpose and advancing my ministry, also I will need to step up my Japanese. It will also help expand the offerings at the temple for the members, an really help me feel I am adding to the temple and it is my temple also.
*update*

It has been confirmed I will be doing a monthly Zazen session at the temple. I submitted a plan to Osho-san he approved. We even set a date to start. I just need to now write up a little profile piece for advertising. Cool! It will not be a regular just sit and not think meditation, but something of my own design from my training. It will be interesting.
Now if I can just get a Tai Chi and or Kung Fu Class going that would be perfect! That really needs to wait until I get my personal transportation vehicle. Next week I go in for my written driver’s test. That is the easy part of the process. The road test will be a challenge.

I will do my best, but not expect to pass on the first go. First the bike test, then the car. One step at a time. The bike is my main focus right now… yosh!

Small steps are still steps… Amitoufo

.

 

 

Post isolation


Post – lockdown/Isolation life

 
It is now a couple of days into the post-lockdown, not really lockdown, lockdown in Osaka. Tokyo was kept on hold for a few more days, but Osaka got time off for good behavior. Even so things are not quite back to as before, Live-houses are still on shutdown, but a few are open for limited business and hours. The Kyudojo is open for limited hours and functions. Slowly things are getting up to speed. I am not in a rush to get back out there. Although I do miss the Shakuhachi gatherings and the temple.
 
Speaking of which I am not sure how the Society meetings will function, with all that heavy breathing in a small space. I saw somewhere someone with a trumpet mask on their horn, maybe something like that will be needed or meeting outside. It is a new world of dangers, more so for us older folks.
 
As for me at home, I have completed three clay projects and starting on a fourth and last before I am out of clay. It is difficult. I am trying to make a small fireplace/pit for the Autumn to enjoy on the lanai garden. So far my first attempt is not so good. However I am learning as I go. Like making it a two-piece unit is going to be easier than a one piece. I am trying to save my first try as I go along. The bottom is easy, the top is difficult!! The nice thing about clay is I can re-soften and start again. However my attempt to repair the base of my Komuso is not going well and to start over would be tragic. Since it is just for me, oh well I will just live with what happens and try another later. It was a lot of effort to create. Yet that too was a learning event. Art is like that until you get it down. I saw this Japanese Drama show about a potter and her attempts to get a good firing and the cost, not only in money but her marriage. I believe the ceramic club will open by July. That was when I had planned on returning before all this madness started so that is cool. I will have some things to fire and glaze. At that time I can stock up on more clay before taking another few months break. I like working at home then going in to finish things up. I get more done at my own place. The club meetings are only a couple of hours a week. They are good for doing the glazing mostly, at least for me.
 
My lanai garden projects are finished. So all there is now is just the growing and enjoying part. Some things are already starting to flower. The Basil is weird this year not sure what is happening. I started a couple of new plants off the one I purchased. they are doing better. Strange thing a few are already trying to bud, but the season is just getting started! Weird.
One thing for sure has been of great use is building the bench out there was a great idea. I can enjoy just sitting there and vibing with the plants sometimes besides playing Shakuhachi there. It is kind of like sitting at the garden in Kyomyoji temple. The mosquitos have arrived so I have set up a repellent burning dish. I do not believe it kills them it just keep them away. Maybe just hides one’s scent from them. I have no compassion for mosquitoes so whatever is fine as long as I do not get bites!
 
My home projects are coming to an end. I still have some things to do in the front garden. Then it is just reading, study, practice. I am planning on still chilling for another month and see how things go. When I am out I will still act like something is trying to kill me if I am not on guard…more than usual.

As far as Osaka overall that I can see. People are complying with the request to chill. Once opened there are a number of people out and about at the mall, but almost all wear masks. Stores have alcohol at the door, people use it freely. There are plastic shields at the checkout, the checkers wear gloves and masks. I went to the 7-11 last night. I notice a couple of customers not wearing masks, but it was late at night, so…I guess ok. However once one starts getting slack, it is easier to get more slack.

We have a selection of masks on the wall by our keys. Dress, casual, serious, just out for a walk…It is a new world. I am shocked to see how much of a big deal some Americans are making about wearing a mask, but these same Americans want to make kids wear bulletproof backpacks as the price for freedom, but wearing a mask is against that freedom. Weird!

A friend who is a good Kyudo shot, a go-dan gave me a drill to help with hitting. It is will he said will work going from Makiwara to Mato. It will help my targeting. I am trying and will see. I would really really like to pass to Yon-dan this year. I will not make it before my birthday, because of the virus shutdown, but if I can make it to the one Shinsa this year and pass, that would be wonderful! I would feel like I accomplished something!
Word today from the Kyudojo is, it is open – sort of! For private training. However, you can not call to reserve. You have to show up and check if it is available, then you can wait if it is in use or you can try another time and day. but you have to do it in person! Messed up system! Oh well. I had not planned ongoing for at least a couple of weeks later on anyway. Perhaps it will settle down more by then.

And speaking of Kyudo it is time for me to practice, so I’m out …later!
stay safe peeps! Amitoufo

Osaka in the shadow of covid19 – May

 

It has been a while since an update. With the isolation in effect, one would think I would have a lot of time to do so. In some sense that is true, but then there is not much to say because it is all at home stuff, boring to those who are not me 🙂
However, I have been busy, very busy in fact. However first a bit about life in isolation. For an artist, for an introvert, it is really not a big deal. In fact kind of nice because there is no pressure to get out and do stuff with people. LoL!
Osaka has been on voluntary lockdown, let’s call it for over a month now. It is not a heavy lockdown like some places. Some stores are still open, markets, and home center places like that. People have been limiting their travel, but the home centers are still pretty busy. People taking advantage of being at home to do chores. Myself included. A couple of times I was shocked to see how crowded it was there at the home center. Everyone is masked and keeping the social distance thing in effect but it was still fairly busy.
Markets, and places like that all have marks where to stand, many have alcohol at the door, plastic shields up at the checkout, gloves, and masks for the workers. They no longer put the money in your hand, but in a tray, for you to pick up. So everyone is doing things, trying to stay safe, yet have something of a life. Nothing crazy like stateside, where people are losing their minds. Another reason to be thankful not to be there!
My wife has still been working her pet sitting job, walking a dog a couple of times a week. The rest of her pet sitting is on hold as people are not traveling. She did one restaurant interview, but was so paranoid afterward she has done no more. I have been called into work a couple of times to do yardwork for the city group but it is all outside and not really close contact, so I feel ok about it. Riding in the truck there is just two of us and the windows are open we have masks.
The outside music scene is dead! I do not mind too much. Although I do miss the Shakuhachi gatherings and socializing. Oh well. I play at home. I have been playing in my balcony garden. I have done some transformations there to make it comfortable to sit and hangout. I play for the plants and for the hood. It is sort of like do doing Komuso, without any thought of donations. I am not seen so like wearing a Tengai, I am only heard. Just a couple of years ago I would have never done that. I am more comfortable playing in public now. I sort of feel like I am adding some positive Chi to a suffering world. That is what sharing music as a Komuso is about. So I am still functioning, without even leaving home. I am pretty sure the sound travels. As I can hear a lot of things in the area just sitting outside, sometimes even inside sitting, there is not a lot of insulation in Japanese houses. One can hear a lot.
I have been busy with just living …gardening enjoying breathing. I feel like I am a retired person. Working in the front yard. Some new flowers, repotting Bamboo, planting herbs. Which has been really nice to have for teas I have been mixing. Peppermint, orange mint, Tyme, lemongrass, and green tea is a pleasant combo! I have also been making trips to a local Bamboo grove collecting fallen Bamboo for misc things around the house. Fence coverings, meditation bench, shelf coverings for a new bookcase I made, and long wanted. The rear balcony is the veggie garden, tomatoes, peppers, kale, Swiss char, herbs, strawberries, opinion, garlic, lettuce all on a small scale, but tasty and helpful for life support without chemicals.

I repaired and set up a couple of indoor water fountains and found a good location for the family Butsodan, right under my altar. It is simple and not an elaborate one. Which is nice for our taste. So it all came together and fits. Even my wife likes the location and setup.
I did a bit of painting on a kneeling stool I made for Shakuhachi playing. I just finished up a new clay Komuso. It was a month in making, my best effort so far since there was no rush, I could work on details. The ceramic club is closed due to the virus, even though I had planned on vacation from there anyway, it worked out well, in a weird sort of way. Same with my Shakuhachi lesson a forced beak which I had planned on doing anyway.
I still get do my Kyudo practice on my home Makiwara, so no loss there. In fact, I think I am improving. Of course, the real test will be at the dojo, but do now, it is feeling like I am making headway. I filmed myself shooting and there was no big arm drop upon release. That was a big issue, hopefully, I will keep that when the Kyudojo reopens
So, all in all, we are living blessed and I am grateful daily. Many suffer, for us, with a simple life it is not really a change. Other than saving money by me not traveling to band practice, the Dojo, non-paying live houses shows, the temple, and things like that.
Life feels more uncertain than it usually is these days, it is like a Sci-Fi show. I hope to make it through all this, but if not, I like to think I am ready to pass on. I have no real dreams to reach for, at least none that are of real importance. I have had a good run. I will continue to do my best to continue but am ready to face, whatever happens, that is the Chan way of the Shaolin Path.
Amitoufo

In the Virus shadow-Easter 2020


In the Virus shadow – Easter 

Official government requests have been announced for people to stay home! Some things are closed, but not everything or everywhere. Some places seem like business as usual, but overall things have changed. There is a quiet sense of danger in the air. Maybe just my imagination. Sort of what I think being in a terrorist zone, living is like. Never knowing when something will jump out an attack you, you could die. That, of course, is more serious, more dangerous, but it is the idea. One could say though that in the Chan mind this IS still daily life, a daily mindset, this moment or the next could be your last! One should be training, practicing living life fully and grateful, each moment could be your last. In life, there is always death!
Being in that age and health group of high risk I am quite aware, If I catch it I will have a small chance of coming through it. I think I am ready. No regrets of note. So I am enjoying each day during this self-isolation period. Staying at home is not really that big a deal for me. With no bands, no Kyudo, no temple things are just down to basics at home. I have been working on several projects. I still get to practice, music, Kyudo, Kung Fu, do gardening…although the garden food production takes on a little different mindset, when one thinks…what if I have to live off this.
Home projects
The front yard. New plants, moving plants, wall cover, pulling weeds, transplanting…
I am about a third done, less than that as I think more about it. Whatever, I am enjoying it!
Tighten this and that, Run wires, clean…
Balcony garden. Added a wind blocker and privacy screen. That little second makes a big difference in my head. This addition also gives me a couple of shelves. I will add another three sections bit by bit. For now, It is good! I did a large part of spring planting. Made some small changes about its setup. The nice thing now after 5 years. I know what will grow well and where. I also know more of what plants we use most often, and which to just grow a small amount of. So overall it is a more effective use of space. I have decided I want a small water fountain and a fireplace for the balcony. I will make both from ceramic or at least the fireplace. Have to see what turns up. I can put together a water fountain from some parts. That is really more about the sound than the look. On a cool rainy day like today, a small fire pit/burner would be nice to have.
Overall I have decided to hang out in the lanai garden more. As it is getting cleaned up, it is more comfortable.
The other day I sat there in the sun and played Shakuhachi. That was a first, me playing outside in the hood. I would have never done that years ago. I was always so quiet, shy about my practice. This time I played outside for the hood. Not loud, but out there. I figure it is what I do as a Komuso, so why not here for the hood. Not really a practice-practice. Performance practice of some Honkyoku songs. It Sort of like what the Italians are doing in isolation sharing musical dharma. Sharing Musical dharma is like Zen dharma heart to heart transmission but with sound. It is pure heart, no words to misunderstand one feels the interpretation.
On my last visits to the ceramic club, I brought home enough clay for a couple projects. I have started on a new Komuso statute also trying my painting skills again. I am making a folding kneeling reader/meditation bench to play Shakuhachi in a kneeling position. On the legs, I am painting with gouache a couple of Bamboo images. My last painting was on the floor of my Kung Fu school. I may not keep these Bamboo, as the stool develops. For now, it is just a test and some painting practice.
So here the isolation home-stay is not bad, so far. We have been blessed…Amitoufo

Under the shadow of the Virus – April


Life in the Virus shadow 

 
Japan has no mandatory close to the cities, stay at home law. They can only recommend that people stay at home. Many places are closing on the weekend to help, by choice. Tokyo and Osaka have been asking people to stay home on the weekends for the last couple of weeks.
 
As of the last few days, all of the band’s events have been canceled. It is ok, with me. There was no money coming to me from them anyway. So I feel safer not to have to go to a possible hot spot. We live in almost the countryside so things here are not as bad as the city. A couple of weeks ago, one of my bands played at a live house and it was filmed for TV. They wanted to show what safety measure were used for people when they came to the club. It was aired on TV. I even got some face time. LoL!
 
 
The ZenCafe cafe event at the temple has been canceled for this month. That is a bummer. One of my favorite things is going there hanging with the Abbott. Another something for the best. I was going to play and lead Qi Gong drills, however, I was concerned about being inside a closed area doing deep breathing, that could be dangerous! So it is good the event was canceled. Better safe than sorry!
 
The spring Sakura viewing …people were are not to gather in the park and make crowds this year. The viewing spot I go to do Takuhatsu. I passed on going this year since the request was in not to go out on the weekend. So it was felt, that it would be better that as a Komuso and priest I comply with the government request.
 
I have been involved with an international movement of Shakuhachi players to do a Robuki Wave to honor and give positive energy to the victims of the Coronavirus. Daily at 12:00 noon everyone’s local time, we play the “Ro” note on the Shakuhachi. It is the bottom note, not too easy to get it sound correct, also it takes a fair about of Tan Tien. At least from my view and practice eyes. I wanted to add something to that, so I went to my local favorite temple and did some musical offering to the local Kamis and people who came on the temple grounds to pray. I was able to maintain social distancing and still make a musical dharma connection with a couple of people. It was worthwhile and fulfilling as a Komuso.
 
My next stop for the day was to practice some Kung fu under the Sakura blooms. They are just past their peak in many places, but the flowers are still up. It was pleasant. There is a different kind of energy that is under these blossoms! Hard to explain.
 
My next stop for the day was on my balcony garden. That would end my outside travels for the day. During my day trip, I only encountered about 5 people and those were from a distance and outside lots of fresh air.
 
Not time to get down to some serious planting now. Things are pretty setup already after doing this for a number of years. How I want and what will go where who likes which spot. Mostly now it is just soil preparation then adding seeds or plants. This year I hope to increase my yield and stick with plants that work with me. The way things are going worldwide, it may be needed to grow some of what one can eat! One thing for sure it will not hurt to produce some homegrown foods and have that skill. As long as the government does not totally collapse and they steal all the SS we can get by as far as income, but will the food flow stay the same. It will be a different world when this is over..and the difference could be toward the dark or light. Interesting times…May all beings be free from Suffering…Amitoufo
 

Temple Service Komyoji


Temple Service Komyoji

 
As I have written more in detail about this in my Komuso blog. Therefore I will just do a summary thing here, with some pictures, since everyone here does not go there.
 
Returning to the temple. I was under the impression there was to be some small ceremony for Jonen-san. He was supposed to be ordained this day into Jodoshu Buddhism, but it was postponed due to the virus. However, his mother was still planning to come, so I thought that was what part of this day was about. Again, however, That was changed by the airline canceling the flight, because of the Virus. Yet the flyer and Osho-san was saying there was still to be some small “something” happening. Ok, I would attend. As this was supposed to be somewhat formal, I asked should I wear my robes? Osho-san said your monk’s robes yes! I made them ready. I had not worn them since my ordination.
 
Osho-san was in his full formal Abbot wear at the alter. His two aides took their place on the side next to the Gong and knocker fish! Osho-san opened the ceremony, he introduced Jonen-san and myself. Then I started reading and chanting. I followed, not knowing what was going on, just rolled with
It. Following my “sense” like doing a spiritual taichi push hands. Chanting, gong, chanting, bell, I just held gassho position and followed the sounds not really caring about the words. Like playing a song I did not know but I knew the basic notes and cords enough to follow by listening. After a while I notice some people coming up to the Altar and dropping incense in the burner. Then I noticed names were being called and Osho-san was reading from little wooden tablets then another person or couple would come up a bow, put in incense, bow pray then leave. Ok, I was getting an idea of what was going on. These were the same type of wooden tablets that were burned at the ceremony we last attended outside in the yard. People prayed for their departed. ohhh, ok. Got it!
 
Then it was over and an announcement was made and people started leaving. I still hung out and watched. They, the watchers left and went to the other room where there was lunch served. I followed behind the crowd as I needed to use the Loo! When I came out I heard Jonen -san playing Shakuhachi for those eating. Osho-san saw me and asked me to play also. Ok, I said and went to get my Shakuhachi, I have named “Thor”! I returned and Jonen-san was finished and Osho-san was addressing everyone, telling them somethings I not understand, but it had to do with Shakuhachi and Jonen-san and me and something…
 
It was then my turn to play. I took a spot in front bowed and started. This was my first time playing a full planned song for a larger group. The other event I just played something to envoke a state of relaxing, really more to vibrate the “chakras” while doing meditation after the Qi Gong. This time a song was needed, I chose Tamuki. It seemed fitting for the occasion. I had been practicing this and Sanya for the ceremony but had not decided which as yet. Tamuki, jumped out. It would also be my first time playing it for the people on Thor. Another first, also standing not from a seated position. This would be a challenge! Started smooth enough, I gave myself some lead in with just Ro, before starting. Not proper form but I did it anyway. It started well, as I was not rushing. After a short while, the weight of Thor I started to feel. It is not a light Shakuhachi!! I pressed on telling myself this is training, like doing Takuhatsu outside dealing with cold, heat, sore back, hurting feet. Also, like doing Zazen and there are cramps, tired back, itches. Doing horse stance or any stance training in KungFu, one continues, one goes beyond the pain the discomfort making it part of everything, embracing the discomfort and making it all part of the training, part of the experience, living. Everything is zen, the pleasant the unpleasant, blend and continue. Then it was over. I made a few mistakes to my ear but made them part of the playing, part of the song, the experience. No one knew or cared. Osho-san said you have leveled up playing this Shakuhachi. I was just pleased I did not embarrass myself and bowed in thanks. It was done, I had contributed and people enjoyed the offering.
 
Slowly things wound down and everyone left. I spoke with Osho-san a bit in the garden before leaving. He said I should wear my robes to the events more often and said the next one was Obon. I think that means he wants my participation at more temple events. Great I want to help there. It gives me the feeling of having a home temple in Japan and being useful as a priest beside out there on my own.
 
… Amitoufo