I went out a few days ago on my own. I needed to go to the Kyudo store for some glove power and a yumi rain coat. I figured also while I was out I would stop by a new and used guitar shop. I hoped to find a used “gig bag”. This is used to carry a  guitar to a job or rehearsal. Now a days rigged like a backpack. This is lighter and easier than a hard shell case. much easier to deal with on a train, I see a lot of people with them. I also needed a harmonica neck brace so I can play and use my Bass at the same time. Yeah, I can do that.

The guitar shop and the Kyudo shop are on the same train line. So I figure to go first to the Kyudo shop then stop by the Guitar shop on the way back home. I could see the guitar shop from the train so I figured an easy deal.
I made my way to the Kyudo shop, having been there several times now with no problem. However once there I am once again faced with a closed sigh! WTH do these people only open one day a week! Disgusted I turned around and went back to the station. With the song by the Stone playing in my head. ” Well I followed her to the station, with a suitcase in her hand”. 


Anyway I got back on the train and started to head to the guitar store stop. After a very short ride i got off at the right station. Getting out of the station was a bit complex, I could not tell which of the several exits to exit by. I picked one, it was wrong  I thought.  So I took another entrance back underground and crossed over to another exit. This looked even more confusing, but I figured first started walking I could sort it out.  I went down a few streets , then around a corner then up and ended back at the station, but from a different side. Which I thought was where I wanted to go.  So I start walking in the direction I thought was the store.
I walked a few steps and this guy comes running up to me speaking Japanese. I could not figure out what he was saying, but seems like he was looking for a payphone or cell phone. He needed to make a call and was running late, or something. Anyway I said, I do not understand , also I do not know where there is a phone. He kept on for a few minutes then figured it out I was clueless. We bowed, shook hands and he took off. Strange…why me to ask with all the locals around.
So walked on, down a street , around a corner, up a street, down a block on and on trying to get over to where I thought the shop should be. I walked past older and newer local houses on small streets. I  got a feel for local hoods, less the highrise apt complexes. Kind of cool. Once a reach another train station I figured I was lost and headed back the way I came, because was getting late, this time on the other side of the train tracks. Again interesting walk via local town and got back to where I started.
I got on the train station platform but the sign made me uneasy. Something seemed wrong. I looked around and checked other signs and boards and figured out I was on the wrong side to go home. Once I understood that I also figured out I walked the wrong direction. I walked away from the guitar shop! Doh!
I heard Zen master once say. “mistakes are chances to learn”

Wu Wei




One of Taoism’s most important concepts is wu wei, which is sometimes translated as “non-doing” or “non-action.” A better way to think of it, however, is as a paradoxical “Action of non-action.” Wu wei refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease and awake-ness, in which – without even trying – we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.
I think this is a good defining state of where I am now. Like doing Zazen, the outside is still the inside is busy. Busy but not busy, because the mind is stilling, the body is still busy, moving blood, moving life force and in some cases healing. Externally… Doing what I can while doing nothing, preparing for when nothing turns to something. I am waiting for Nogami Sensei to feel well enough to come to class. I want to start training, even if it is not with him he can give me some direction or assign me a Sempai. I do not want to just show up, I think that would be un-cool, improper, whatever. I want to get the proper procedure for going to practice and or train at the dojo. Since Sensei is in the recovering mode I feel it is best to wait. In the mean time I work on my draw with the Gomuyumi and some Kiza and Shiza. Shiza being the most painful. So I should put more effort into that. 
My loaner bow has arrived from my blog bud Karamatsu-san I think I  said this before I am very grateful for the help. My replacement glove arrived yesterday from from my CA Sempai, so things are coming together. Albit slowly. That does however give me more time to prepare.
It seems like I have been in this holding pattern for a while but looking at the calendar it has been less than a month. That maybe the nature of nothing it seems like a long time, yet if  I was totally mindful of being in nothingness I would have no sense of time and it would go quickly. Like doing Zazen when one first starts 10 min is forever, but as one gets more comfortable and mindful of not being mind-full even 30 min is nothing.
Getting out to practice Kyudo will not only give me a bit more sense of immediate of purpose, working on re-testing for San Dan, but will also get me out involved with more of the local Kyudo population. It will be good to mingle more. More so with the Kyudo people at the dojo, many , if not most look to be my age. There is one woman who I am looking forward to speak ing with some more who teaches TaiChi as well as being a Kyudo Sensei. She was pleasant to LZ and I on our past visits. I had a bit of a chat with her on the Zen aspects of Kyudo and some perspective on Shomen and Shamen styles. Some of the other Sensei’s were also helpful to this rookie. To me overall the reception for the upper ranks to me a low rank was much better, warmer here than in the States. That could be just my perspective. I do still have the remembrance feeling of a real lack of warm and fuzziness from the upper ranks at the Seminars, unless I already knew them. Again, maybe just me and the general American ambiance. Perhaps I am the same with the lower ranks in Fu unless I know them or they seem to need help, I know I can be very helpful then as I have been told that several times. Anyway here my uniqueness as a foreigner in the ranks tends to draw people to me, maybe the curious as an anomaly. 🙂 
I am still in a holding pattern for my work visa. I have to keep reminding myself it has not been that long since we applied. It just seems that way, since most of the time I am just sitting in the apt, other than my morning practice before the heat sets in. Or the occasional trip to the local shopping mall for some small thing. There is a local international school in the area, just around the corner from the Apt. So the locals at the mall do not even blink when they encounter me. The store clerks have been very helpful, always polite, that is the Japanese way. Well most of the time. I have seen some small things like in super markets and the like were Americans would say excuse me, were Japanese say nothing, or even do just the famous bow, they just keep on trucking, with me watching think ing, wow rude! These things have not been directed at me but other Japanese. So perhaps politeness is relative…or something.
I checked my blood pressure yesterday. I generally get more heathy when eating a more Japanese based diet. I do not know if it is the reduction of stress, the diet, more sleep or what. It was the lowest ever , 125/75 ! Shocking, I wonder of it is too low, even though that is suppose to be the optimum figure range. I have been so dragging and sleepy as of late. I was thinking it was my dealing with the new type of heat, but maybe it is the lower blood pressure, or some mild depression. Maybe too low blood pressure for me. Once I get my Gaijing card, I will get health insurance and go in for a check up.  Maybe I can cut back on my meds now with the new environment and food, plus eating less, and less stress. We get a very good family rate as we are low income. The rate compared to the rate in the States is a much more humane, one can actually live a life with a health plan here. There are a lot of free services one gets with the plan and more so when it is ones birthday month, like mine coming up.
Next week we head over to the other side of Osaka, to visit our friends owners of Aoki yachts. We are looking forward to that it has been awhile perhaps a year since seeing them in the states. Also my first exposure to the yachting world since the lost of The Zenamaran. There are times that is still a tender sore. Anyway it will be good to see friends. It will really be the first friends or family we have seen other than Okasan. Sister has been very busy and as I said before the other people we met before prefer to remain in their own world Separate from us. The Aoki’s also want to introduce us to their friends who live in the mountainside who do ceramics. I am really looking forward to that.  That is something I want to also return to studying. I miss doing that a lot! Sister used to do that with her husband ,but now she does jewelry and is very good at it. She has several shops in Vietnam that sell her products. If I can do ceramics, music part time, Kyudo and sail on occasion and teach P/T I will be happy here in Japan. More so with all the crazy stuff that is happening in the States. Perhaps the naysayers are correct saying a race war is coming. Or at least a haves and have not wars as the gap widens. It is sad though that most people can not see how those in power are playing those who are not against each other. Wonder where Japan would stand in such a conflict. LZ says in the States she felt on the bottom of the race rung, below that of Blacks, because of her language skills. That maybe true to some extent but I feel she is being over dramatic. In American being Black is the bottom of the barrel. An Asian will always be chosen over a Black mostly. However the KKK hates all non whites equal, they are fair with that. Equal haters :-)… However I digress. Japan still worships power, being an American here has clout. Even as a Gaijin an American is the top line for respect, even one of color. This is why many Americans of color enjoy Japan, because here for the most part it is an even playing field, unlike back in the States…for the most part. Sorry I digress a lot this is not a race post, I think it is stupid separation thoughts. We all bleed, we all die, we all have good people and stupid people in every human culture. Race is a made up thing.
Moving on…I have started making plans and developing a format for teaching my Martial Arts classes here. I have stated work on the website and putting up a Facebook page. English conversation and Martial Art/Meditation. The facebook page is “Osaka Bay Shaolin Martial Art Holistic Health Assoc” quite a mouth full. ( if you are n FB drop by and like) However I want it to be understood as more than just a Kung Fu school, and fighting, it is about living. Therefore the name is more than just Shaolin Kung Fu  which evokes one line of thought. Even though the word Kung Fu is not about fighting, the average person on the street does not know that. Also Nor knowing that Tai Chi Chuan is a form of Kung Fu not some New age peace and love dance. For that matter so is Kyudo, all are really Motion Chan/Zen. It is simple once one understands it, but explaining it can be complex…sort of 🙂

The Killing Fields

  Most days I am up near sunrise. Before in the states it was around 6 :00 am. I find here in Japan it is about 5:00 am. Generally I go back to bed until 6:00. I like to do my morning Zazen first thing before Kung Fu stuff. I was told between 12:00 am and 6:00 am is sleep time. The body goes into rest mode then. It is that natural cycle of things, thing.

I received my replacement work out pants yesterday from China. They are light, and comfortable, but not fully cotton as I was expecting. They are some cottoney , stretchy material. They are loose which is nice, but at they same time kind of clingy. I have not decided if I fully like them or not. I have another pair of pants on order called Harlem baggys or Aladdin pants. Which really look like MC hammer pants but have the tie at the bottom of the legs. These are suppose to be 100 % cotton. ( They came , they suck, oh well) It is hard to find proper Kung Fu pants in Japan. I have some extra pants but they ar still in storage in the states. So I am seeking replacements for what was lost on the boat.   
My loaner Yumi and some arrows arrived yesterday. I am Jazzed ( pleased). A reader of my blog sent them to me so I could continue training. A BIG thanks to him. I have enjoyed his blog ( Mu ) since it started.
LZ spoke with someone at the local Dojo here in Suita-shi and I can practice for the most part whenever I want for only 5.00 a visit. As we have limited income, I will keep this down to one visit for practice and one visit to work with Nogami Sensei. I am looking forward to formal training again and even more so in Japan, under a Master.


One of the things I do daily when I do my morning ” Fu ” practice is to take my Gomuyumi and do a couple of shots. It is said that one should do something in Kyudo training daily, that is what I do. Virtual shoot with the Gomuyumi. The one I am using is oversized. A Friend made it from real Yumi which was broken. It has the feel of drawing a full size Yumi. So I can really feel like I am expanding from the bones and checking my crosses.
Where I practice outside, there is a little park area behind the condo. There are a lot of ants, small ones, medium size and very large black ones. Way more than I have seen in the states at one location.  I wonder if I am the only person who practices martial arts but feels bad, has concerns about how many ants I am stepping on during my practice. I feel bad when I think about it, still I will kill a mosquito without a thought if they bite. That is more self defense.  However the ants are just going about their business and here I am turning their home into a killing field. 
One of those things that make me weird to even trip ( think about it) on it.
Knee pads for Kyudo came today, whoo hooo!  When starting from nothing, even small things are huge!
On another note. I spoke with one of the musicians from the Kobe Jam last night. He has been living in Japan for a number of years. We spoke about work as a musician her in Japan, Osaka particular. If did not sound promising. At best considering my “foreignness ” some temp unique draw work could be had. However even famous local name people find it hard to work here for a living. Japan like everywhere is having money problems. In a way that’s ok, I only want to get some part time work as i want to do other things. Kyudo, ceramics and teach my Motion Chan classes. So some occasional gigs would be nice.
I have changed my opinion of Japanese TV other than the silly game shows, some of the TV is interesting. Showcasing things around town , the country and other countries. Side note on the game shows, and some of the around town shows, I notice after LZ mentioned it, there is usually one gay person on the show. she says Gay are “in” here. Also food is always big! Also Lone Wolf with Cub still comes on and some of the dramas are interesting.

Music, Hotel, and a Castle

Jamming in Kobe
A long ago FaceBook acquaintance from Kobe told me about an open music Jam at a friend of his studio. He told me how to contact this person since he could not make it himself this past Sunday. I did so via Facebook and was given directions to come join the event. It was to be quite a distance to travel. LZ said almost 1.5 to 2 hours, by train. I was close to not going. However I needed to step outside of my comfort zone to meet people and see things, and get involved in the local music scene. I got a travel route from LZ and off I went. The trip involved a couple of train changes and some walking to a different station. Having traveled from Osaka to Tokyo alone, I fairly confident I could do it, it is a matter of keeping one’s eye open, many signs are in Romangi and Katakana. Also i can speak enough Japanese to ask basic directions and read hand signs 🙂
The actual trip was not bad, I kept an eye out for stations and paid close attention and only asked for directions once at the large station change from one train line to another. That required going outside to change not only platforms, but as said to another station and line. Over all it went well.
I made all the connections on time and arrived pretty much at the planned time. Everyone was nice at the studio. The studio itself was nice. seemed like a small bar. converted for personal use. When I arrived there was only a couple of guys there, one from the Bay area another from Canada. We chatted about this n that. That did not last long as people kept rolling in. I guess there was about 20 or more people there. Several Bass players, of course a lot of guitarist, three drummers, a trumpet player, a woman sax player, another who played Bass and keyboards, a couple of singers and a harmonica player. Not only foreigners but Japanese as well. The studio was pretty amazing. There were a lot of instruments everywhere. Only one bass, so we took turns. Those who did not have their own axe with them, played about three tunes then switched. It went smooth. I played Bass a few times, then bongos, then congas, then back to Bass. I had my flute with me but did not bring it out. I was not feeling it really fit in with blues jams they were doing. I have ordered a new set of harmonicas, but they will be a while coming from the States. Toward the end a younger group of Japanese showed up. I was told they were good players, but needed a bass player since I was already playing and by that time the others had left as it was getting late. The drummer said he, they the new kids were more rock types, but we still did a few blues songs. Near the end before I needed to take off, I recalled Jumping Jack Flash by the Stones and went into that. Everyone fell into it and we had a good session with that. It was fun remembering my rock n roll days.


Business Hotel
As it was close to midnight I needed to go to the hotel LZ had reserved for me. It was not worth it to come to Kobe and only get to play for 1 hour. The trains stopped running back to Osaka around 10:30. So it was better to stay the night at a nearby cheap Hotel. Business Hotels in Japan are different from in the States. In Japan they are very clean and comfortable. Unlike the seedy dumps in the States. As it was a holiday the next day in Japan the closest one to the studio was full, there was one not too far that had one room left for me. 
I got rough directions from the Jam host, but I was not clear on what, where to go. The guy, the host went back to the groups and was involved with them and beer. I asked the last drummer I played with, if he knew, he was also unsure, but had a general idea. He also spoke no English, that was a bit of a challenge to communicate. I figured out listening to him where my confusion was. Anyway he walked with me to the nearby train station and got me on the right train.


Now I went to the next stop and got off The train and made my way down to the street. Following LZ’s directions and brief map with a little guess work, I was able to find the hotel. Now there was a new problem. LZ had made the reservation for the wrong day!! Oh snap!


The manager was helpful, spoke some English and gave me another room. A nice room, for the same cheap price as planned. This I believe was a more expensive room, because to my great surprise was a high-grade massage chair in there. I found out later looking at the charge bill I was charge half price of what I was expecting, which was cheap.


I made full use of it. For the next hour or so, plus in the morning. This chair not only did my back, but shoulders and legs. I never sat in a chair like that before! OMG wonderful! I had a good sleep there in the room, breakfast and a shower in the morning, before another massage session and before checking out…ahhhh


Rain in Castle Park.


It came a bit to fast, as I was back in the chair, but, it was time to check out and move on at 10:00 am. I stepped outside, and was surprised to find to raining. Not an unpleasant down pour but still rain. I started my trip to the train station. 
Once in the block to the station, I was distracted by a scene in the park that would make a good photo shot. With a brief moment of reflection I changed my plans to make a side trip into the park, since I did not have a time table to be home. While walking it dawned on me the hotel name was Akashi castle park. There is a castle here…! well sort of. Well not really but there is a wall. 
None of which I knew before hand. 


I took a stroll through the park exploring and taking pictures. Reflecting, ah yes I am in Japan. Around some turns were some pleasant visual surprises, even in the rain. Perhaps that made it even more special. 




Surprise rainy day treasures unfold
Pleasing to the eye, mind and spirit
The camera does no justice .



Creole food, Jazzy soul and a Hospital

It was my first venture out into the night of O-town since being back. It was arranged that I was going to see Alicia Saldenha and her band play at the Bistro New Orleans in Osaka. As it turns out my Mother in Law is a Jazz fan and LZ had me take her along as she would not have a lot of chances to visit such a place.

We made our way to the club, a small place downstairs. On the hard side to find and small, but a good atmosphere. We arrived a little early and the band arrived a little late. I order Okasan and I food. It looked good. However bad move on my part to order red beans and rice. Who knew they put meat in it, Other places i have had that there was no meat. Ok, that sucked. So I could not eat it. I was glad it was only less than $5.00! So not a big waste, but enough. Okasan ordered a beer and some cheesy, pasta with crab. It was on the spicy side for her, so I had a bit of it, since my food was a wash. It was good. I did not eat much since I do not do crab. I did not ask if it was real or fake. Fake is just pollock fish.

Alicia and the band came, we finally got to met after a couple of years of causal short chats on Facebook.
 Her band consisted of a steel drum player, percussionist and a guitar player. Alicia did a few fills with bass on select songs. the band was excellent. i had never heard the amount of sounds the drummer/percussionist got out of a crate before.I was throughly impressed. I would love to Jam with him. The steel drum player was also impressive. He is Japanese and Alicia said that he not only plays but makes and tunes steel drums. I spoke with him afterwards. He said he took numerous trips to Trinidad to learn from his late teacher.  The guitar player was smooth and solid behind everything. I was told they have been together for a while but do not play often. Their gigs are not that regular. 
Sounds like Osaka is not a big club band working town. I believe also their songs are not top ten stuff , dance band type so, a mostly original Jazz type band is hard to stay working. Almost impossible in the states, no doubt here also.

Alicia and the band have a CD out it. You can check out her music and info on her webpage : 
We stayed for the first set, then after speaking some with the Steel drum player, it was time to go. Two reasons, one I found out when we first got there.
One does not pay an entrance fee for the evening, you pay per show or per set depends on how you want to call it.
 But ether way it can be very costly to stay for  a couple or more shows. I do not know if all of Japan /Osaka is like that. If so, no wonder it is hard to find working bands. That was a disappointing discovery. I guess though it is good for the bands that have a following to pay that much, they can make decent money.
We left the club, thinking that was it for the evening. Wrong!! Whilst walking back to the train station, Okasan tripped on a wire which was run in front of a sushi restaurant out to a sign on the street. The wire was across the sidewalk with no cover on it. She fell face first. After aiding her as I could I went into the restaurant to get the owner/manager. He sent his aide with the two of us to the hospital to have her checked and the cut on her chin looked after. Later after closing he came and stayed with us, into the night. Japan is not from what I understand a suing country, if this was in the States…whooo hooo, BIG law suit!
It was a long evening. We finally got home around 1:30 am. Once again I got to see the working of Japan’s medical system. This time an emergency room at night. Surprisingly for a Sat night it was fairly slow, unlike in the states where it is a mad house.
Anyway the owner has agreed to take care of whatever expenses. Still i do not know how complex this will get. We are hopeful there is no damage showing up later from the fall at her age. It was quite an Evening, sad it ended on a down note.


  I started today up and out fairly early to get my morning practice in, also to beat the heat. I decided to skip going to the big park with the group, it was not productive for me. I stayed in the little space next to the condo. My own workout was better even though there was group chi it was not organized and I could work on more than one set, plus whatever else. I also did my Zazen before going out so the bugs would not eat me.



After breakfast and what not LZ and I headed off to immigration via the train.  I was surprised to find how air conditioned they are. I do not recall public trans being that way in the states, but I never rode public trans in the summer or at all for that matter after I owned a car. I did ride the Bart, but one does not usually need A/C going into the City (S.F.) and although Philly gets hotter than Osaka back in the day there was no A/C on Public Trans. Anyway, every where you go here in O-town is a/c. Wimpy folks. Maybe if they left more trees on the streets and byways, they would not need so much Aircon…just saying. Outside of our park of town once into the “city” trees are few. I remembered why I dislike city life in most places, especially Japan. The parks are great, but few, almost none closer to and in Downtown. Anyway… I digress.


We made it to immigration, went to the info counter they were helpful, with no attitudes. They gave us a stack of papers to fill out. LZ did that part as they were in Japanese. My only beef was why does a retired age man need to put down his parents phone numbers, dates of birth and his sibling’s info. Ok so after some thought I figured the forms where not just made for me…shocking as it seems.


Once finished we went back in line to the info counter, really called the consultations counter. There were spoke with another guy. He was cool, nice guy. Asked if i wanted to legally use my Japanese name. Best if starting my own business, but do not need to do it until later if then. Also said, that teaching Tai Chi or Kung Fu is popular when taught in English, so they get more bang for the buck. ( my words). Anywho, now we got in the main line for processing. That was a fair wait, to turn in the papers, but not bad. Then sit and wait while everything was checked. Then we were told everything was as it should be, and if approved for a working permit and extended visa it would take about 1-2 months. I would get a notice by mail. All in all painless unlike the States,  and far far  far less expensive! Also the people were nice, very unlike the jerks in the States that work at immigration.
Next we were off to Kyudo shop. I have been blessed with enough donations to replace some of the things on the boat, that were left. A fellow blogger is loaning me his extra Yumi and Ya’s ( bow and arrows) , my sempai is sending me a glove. So I only needed a hakama and gi top and a few misc items. We made the track across town in the heat of walking about 15-20 min after leaving the comfort of and A/c train only to find the store was closed on Weds! Who closes on Weds!? 😦 uncivilized!!  We walked back, went to a shop for cheap lunch , they were also closed !! It was getting unpleasant ! So we walked back the way we came to a shop we saw was open. We had a fair lunch for $5.00 ea. including cold drinks.


We were now done and headed back home. While on the train platform LZ remarks I look scary, like Yukuza…Huh!? I think to myself are Japanese so timid? Then I recall what Amy Chavez (a blond woman) said in her book Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage – 900 miles to Enlightenment that one of her reviews as a university professor said, that a positive about her was, she was not intimidating being she was so small. Really!! what happened to the brave Samurai spirit? A tall white woman would intimidate them! ok, so I get it, an old medium size thin Brother man in shades ( Yakuza wear shades) would possibly freak them out 🙂
I have on a large brim hat, sometime used before for sailing and sunglasses. Not even dark sunglasses, old school blu blockers. I have started taking off my shades inside, just so my shaded blackness does not panic folks. 🙂
Actually for the major part I have had no issues with people here, when I speak, most speak back. I do not have aggressive body language, try to stay small and put out humble vibes.
Ok with that said. We are on the train. Whenever I ride the train I recall what other  Black men have said about Japanese avoiding sitting next to them. I had not had that happen. As I was sitting there today next to LZ, there was space next to me, then a woman, then a man on the end. Another woman came smiled at the lady next to me, she moved a bit and let here in next to me. I though, hmm she did not seem afraid or concerned to sit next to me. Even though there was an open seat across from us she sat there. Bump shake bump, wiggle, bump, we are riding along all normal on the train. The woman next to the woman gets off at the next stop. The woman next to me, slides all the way to the other end next to the sleeping Japanese man, and opens the space next to me. Hmm I thought…did that seem a bit odd, or what. Did my deodorant fail? Oh well. Not my problem. Bump, shake, wiggle bump, the train moves on, as do my thoughts.


Last stop was the supermarket for dinner food, and breakfast the next day. Did you know that there are no baggers in the Japanese Supers? Everyone bags their own at the bagging stand. So much for the land of full service myth.

Week two begins

  Today is our one week anniversary being in Osaka. I would not say a lot was done this past week. A lot of resting, sleeping and adjusting to being in a new world. Sometimes it is hard to believe we just a few weeks ago were in Mexico. Even less time ago we were out hundreds of miles in the Ocean figuring out if we had enough water to survive until we could make it to land. Life is change.

We continue to be amazed at the show of compassion from others, even those we have never met. LZ finds that an amazing feature of Americans.
One thing I find interesting on another level is, there are several people, Americans, we met here in Japan years ago, that want no contact with us. Unknown why as we did nothing to them or anything. They seemed comfortable around us but I guess we are not their type or something. Whatever. You can not like or get along with everyone.
This is the week I start integrating out into Japan. I went out to the big park today, early about 6:00. I was surprised how many people, mostly retirees were out and about doing exercise. 

With the heat here it makes sense to go out early, that is why I was there. I watched a large group of seniors do some stretching and stuff, before I went off to practice on my own at a small out of the way location. 
When I returned back to that area, I walked over by the lake and flower garden looking for a place to do some Zanzen. The ground was too alive with huge black ants where I did my Tai Chi and kyudo basics, no way would i sit there and get eaten. 
After a while I noticed another group was forming, this was the Tai Chi group I had practiced with before. Being shy and not wanting to just barge in I followed along off to the side, for the second and third round of three they do. Afterward I sat over on a bench for some Zazen, before heading back to the Apt.
LZ and I were suppose to go to immigration today to start my paperwork for a long term visa. However since Okasan was not feeling well we stayed home with her. Tomorrow I go out into Japan officialdom. I hope they are as nice as the customs people at the Japan airports who just let us pass through with no hassle, no doubt because LZ is a citizen. Unlike the official jerks in the States who are drunk with power. 
Later this week, I hope to go pay my respects to Nogami Sensei and let him  know I am here and want to resume Kyudo soon as I gather equipment. Then on Sat I am off to a club to see a performer I have been in touch with for several years on Facebook, but have never met or seen her sing. Last time I was here I had planned on catching her show , but got detained in Tokyo due to winning a place in the finals. This time I am hoping to get an interview with her for Blacktokyo.com and maybe some leads on some musicians to Jam with or even gig. So this week will be productive … yosh!


  I decided this morning  ( now yesterday )I needed to get out and get some space for me. I needed a spiritual tune up…badly. As the realities of the past few weeks and the near future sink in I feel like I am being drawn into the abyss.

I checked out a little park yesterday near the Condo. I have walked by it before but never stopped.  I was not up to making the track over to the big park and joining the Tai Chi group, I have been around people for weeks on end and needed a My Space time.
I was up fairly early and headed to the park before it got hot. There was a nice breeze, the park was quiet. I loved the rock formation and the energy of the place. There was some shade trees and even though exposed to the surrounding apts I did not really care who watched from a distance. 
I chose a flat rock on which to sit and started my Chan Ding/Zazen…
It lasted about 5 min or less before I was snapped back to reality by the numerous mini bites of mosquitoes. Japanese mosquitoes are smaller and look a bit different from western mosquitoes. As Mexican flies look different from flies in the US. Still a rose by any other name…or more like dung by any other name still stinks. Bloodsuckers are bloodsuckers. I left the park to them.
With some research I found this:

There’s no need to suffer long-term and serious health consequences to ward off pesky mosquitoes.  Choose a natural alternative that’s proven to work as effectively as DEET or in some case, MORE effectively than DEET.

Here are some natural options:

1. Catnip—You can drive cats wild and make mosquitoes run in terror, according to research at Iowa State University which found that the essential oil found in the herb catnip is about 10 times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes.

2. Citronella—the old standby. Use only pure essential oil of citronella—not fragrance oil.  Oils purchased in bulk for burning are not adequate for applying topically to your skin.  For your skin it is best to get a high quality citronella essential oil from a natural food store.  While it’s not as effective as catnip, it’s still a good option.

3. Garlic—eat lots of fresh garlic—mosquitoes can’t stand the stuff.

(See: 12 Surprising Uses for Garlic)

4. Lavender essential oil smells great and is a commonly used and effective mosquito repellent.  It’s best diluted in a carrier oil like apricot kernel, sweet almond, or coconut oil.  If you can find organic soy oil, it is also a good option since it also keeps mosquitoes at bay.

5. Neem oil or neem seed oil:  According to a study by the US National Research Council neem oil is more effective than DEET.  The results were confirmed by scientists at the Malaria Institute in India and in research cited in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. Neem is a plant that grows in India.

6. Organic soy oil—Research cited in The New England Journal of Medicine found that repellents made of soybean oil are just as effective as DEET-containing repellents. Soy oil is inexpensive and easy to find, making it an excellent choice. Plus, it is an excellent body moisturizer. As an aside, research shows that an ingredient in soy can slow the growth of body hair when applied topically.  Choose organic soy oil if possible since many soy crops are now genetically-modified.

7. Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)—New research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine shows that lotus is an effective mosquito repellent and also helps kill mosquito larvae.  Since lotus grows in water it is a good option as a natural repellent in backyard ponds and water features rather than something that is applied topically.

8. Black pepper (Piper nigrum)—New research from the same study shows that an extract (the study used an alcohol extract but black pepper essential oil would probably work too) of black pepper is effective in repelling mosquitoes.

I mix about 30 drops of the essential oils of catnip, citronella, lavender, neem, and black pepper (total, so about 6 drops of each essential oil) into about 30 mL of an unscented and natural oil or moisturizer, which I keep handy in a jar. I rub a bit onto my skin prior to heading outdoors. You can also mix 30 drops of these essential oils into organic soy oil for extra protection. Always do a 24-hour skin test to be sure you don’t have sensitivities to any of the oils.

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Forced Stillness

  The hardest part of right now, is the stillness. Kind of like being on the boat, waiting for wind. Can not use the motor because not enough fuel to get anywhere so all one can do is wait for the wind. This is how I feel now. I want to do something to move forward but can not. I really really want to get on with Kyudo study. However, no Yumi, no ya, no glove, no Gi. I figured I could go outside to practice with the gomuyumi, and do some Tai Hai, however with the rain, which I love, the ground is wet, and the apt too small for me to practice any physical art.
I have been doing some free style practice on the Bass to get my chops up. Also some reading. I just finished a great ( to me ) book called the Chronicles of Tao , the secret life of a Taoist. The only book other than the Kyuhon saved from the boat. So much of the Taoist philosophy is in Chan it rings bells with my spirit. Also reading about the variation of this person life from the mountain temple to the everyday world and his blending and straying from the path and returning is a real perspective on living in good and bad times, perseverance and strength in the face of unpleasant conditions and survival.


I will need to get out soon. I have been shut in with others for too long.
I have been getting some Zazen time in but, it is not enough, and really is still more stillness. I think tomorrow I will go out, rain or shine, dry ground or wet. Even if it is just out here in the back area behind the Condo. There is a small open space , among trees and other greenery. It looks inviting. 


There is also a little park at the next door apt complex which is even more appealing. With a little walk there is the big park around the corner, where the is , or was the Group Tai Chi practice. I have not worked up to the early morning rise yet, but that too is coming soon.
Meanwhile, I guess it is time to dive into Kyudo reading the Kyuhon and some other Kyudo reading I have gathered and not had the time to read.
We are off to an Izakaya tonight. Yay! This is a favorite one from the hood, but they had to move due to the mall remodeling. We are off to the new location tonight, Okasan is treating,