Gong Xi Fa Chai – Year of the Horse

Happy New Year of the Horse – Gong Xi Fa Chai

May we all ride well and shoot straight.





So there seems to be improvement with my Kyudo training. Not a lot but some. Although usually when I think this I find I am wrong. So I will add the disclaimer, limited improvement. I went in to the Dojo last week and did the best shots of the year so far. If I recall I got one hit out of every four. Even the first shot of the year was a hit, but I digress because I said that already in another post. Today was better. Yatta!

But first…
I decided to take my home practice Yumi in for the Kaicho to check it out. I got it really cheap on Yahoo auctions. About 80 dollars. It is Carbon and is a draw weight of 13.5. Not a ninsun the next one down . It is a decent bow. It does however have some damage to the wood veneer surface. It is covered with a strip of tape at the spot. I wondered if it could be repaired. So I took it in. The Kaicho looked it over and said no. If it was Bamboo ok, it could be fixed, but not Carbon. It was not that big a deal I could wrap the spot in fishing line, or epoxy it, wrap and paint. As it is Carbon, I can still use it for practice. Not a big deal. Ok so I feel relieved, somewhat at least. I can continue to get my use out of it, until …
Since I had it with me today I figured I would shoot. I had only used it for a Makiwara til now. I actually like the weight, but not the thinness, narrowness of the Yumi itself. Anyway I shot with it the whole practice period. My first set of shots I got three out of four, with the fourth just on the edge. I was Jazzed. Yeah baby yeah! The rest of the 3 groups, there was only one group I did not make a hit. It was a good day. I did not get advised today by the Kaicho, only a sempai. I was leaving when the Kaicho was coming back from lunch. So I did not get my buzz grounded.
I used some Tiger Balm on my shoulder, that combined with the lighter Yumi made for a relaxing shoot today. I was told by Sempai a few things I need to work on. Keeping more power in my arms so they do not drop at Hanare. draw with my body not my arms. This I am really struggling with, I do not seem to get it. I keep focusing on my back but I am told I am not there yet. Still I need to use my body. When I watch people do it, they seem no different from what I am trying to do. I do notice it is easier to focus on trying to work the body with a lighter Yumi. The 15 I can open, even a 18 but, I guess I do it wrong. 
Ok, so my home practice will continue with working the body to open the Yumi and of course tenouchi. One other thing Sempai mention which I have heard before is open my right atm on release the same line as the arrow. I guess I am going over the top of the line and not on the front line. This apparently breaks the flow. 
So still a lot of work, but at least I am back to banging the mato more. So maybe, maybe I will be ready by summer to test. After so many downers, losses, bummers, disappointments, last year, I need some win time…yosh!

Zigenin Temple Monthly Zen – Jan, 2014

Once a month I sit with a Zen group @ Zigenin Temple here in Osaka. My friend Yoh Aoki a sailor, and Zen master runs the session once a month. It is where I get my group Zen fix. Sharing space with others of the same mind and spirit. It is also nice sitting on real Zen Temple grounds, feeling the vibes. Once it gets warmer I will take a day bike trip to the temple and do a photo shoot. I have been there before doing that, it was quite awhile ago now. I would like to grab some newer shots. It is too dark these days when I go as can been seen by this shot. This is the Bell ‘tower”

Yoh Sensei and I sitting at the Bell in 2010.
Sensei n me sitting 
The day was fairly warm so I thought the temple maybe be as well, wrong! When we opened the door, brrr it was cold cold cold. I am so glad I dressed warm planning for it to be cold, just in case. When we sit the door is open, and the lights are off as is the space heater. I guess that is part of the training, just going within. I understand the lights and the door, fresh air, heater hmm not so much but it saves fuel and when you dress warm it is ok. In My early Kung Fu days we had a saying, go beyond the pain. I guess this is the same idea, go beyond the cold, which is pain to me.
Nothing eventful about the session, the paddles wacks still startle me a bit. Some sound more painful than others. I still pass on volunteering to get whacked. Not my style. The only thing of note was as cold as it was, someone was sleeping whilst sitting. I could tell from their breath and sometimes the slight snoring. Without looking around I could not tell just where in the room, even though there was only a small group tonight. Funny thing was it sounded like Sensei! I found that humorous. I am pretty sure that I was wrong, but still it was a funny thought. Him or the woman behind and next to me.
I brought along my iPad tonight because afterward the head monk always comes into the tea room and says a few things. Then everyone chats. It is in Japanese so I have not a clue what is up. Tonight I figured I would tape it then have LZ tell me what he said. Reason being at my chan meeting after the meditation there is some topic covered. Here it did not seem like it. One time they were talking about the weather i was was told. Another times mostly it was me and others talking about me. Another time I did not get what the general topic was as another two guys and myself were talking about English class and martial arts. Ok, so tonight I figure I would tape. Wrong, the Head Sensei did not even come to the room until after we were getting ready to leave. I am guessing he was busy. The general topic of tonight’s discussion was sailing and boats! ! Ehhhhh, shocking!
I did find out that another guy there who studies to be an acupuncturist also practices Tai Chi, Chen 36. I learned that once upon a time, mostly these days the Chen I practice is 24. anywho, it is a good bit of info for mind storage, perhaps a later reference. At the least he maybe my acupuncturist practitioner to visit later once he gets his license. So far in the group there is one person who practices Tai chi, one who does Karate and one who does Judo, three including me sailors. Interesting ne!…to me anyway.
This session’s flower arrangement, ikebana, was I thought extra nice. I forgot to ask who does it. I am wondering if the head monk is the arranger.

Now…something completly different

And now for something completely different. When reading other expats blogs, they always seem to have something profound to say about life in Japan. Well ok not all, but some. Mine so far is mostly about Kyudo and trying to get my other class going or a small local trip. Not the big travels, sights, eateries, oh well, someday. For now it is mostly finding my place in this society and not being a young English teacher or the high-tech gaijin salarymen. This narrows my options alot. So whilst in search for other options and developing my martial/musical path the opportunity came to get some basic training in tree and shrub trimming. This is something one does not see everyday on other expat blogs.
Today was good weather to be out. On the chilly side at first so I dressed warm for the expected chilly morning breath of winter on the bike ride over to the meeting place. The good thing about the bike ride beside the small carbon footprint, it once the blood gets moving from all the leg and waist action it gets pretty warm… mostly. unless it is ridiculously cold, which thankfully it was not!
The meeting place logically turns out to be a park which is reasonable since the training is about trimming greenery. The guy who signed me up for it at the Silver Center was there, I saw him first off, rather he saw me first. This was good since I did not know for certain where the meeting spot was located. As it turned out out I was the first student there. Meaning I out did the Japanese on being on time/early. This may have made a good impression.
We stood around whilst everyone slowly came in. There was about 16 or 18 in total. We were split up into small groups with a leader, after roll call and group talk. I was a bit concerned about my Japanese level so I had my iTouch to record. Turns out it was un-needed. Once we were in our groups I got what was explained and shown enough to do it. It was not really complex at least the shrub trimming. I had done some before so it was not a big deal. I only got a minor adjustment because I was being too gentle, because I thought that was style. Anyway, I got it and rolled with it, “like a boss” as they say these days.
After some clean up there was the tree trimming after the lecture on using the ladders. This was more complex, the trimming, not the ladders. I was not that clear on the trimming details. I got some, then watched the master, did some more, and watched. I think I did ok. They where doing park trees so, it was not like a high price client. 
After lunch which I went to the mall for and had Ketsune udon, I was sent off to work on my own after a while so I figured I was ok. After a while just before cleanup to go home, an older gent gives me some more guidance on a detail. I listen, did not understand, but watched what he was doing whilst talking and got it. That was a fine point that now made sense. From his age I figured he was more experience than the teacher of my group. It was kind of him for the guidance. I know look at trees in the yards around town different. Kind of like how one looks at posters and stuff after studying Graphic design. It was a good experience regardless. I may get my own little pine tree Bonsai going as an addition to my Zen Yard.
Lastly was cleanup then we waited. One guy who had spoken to me earlier asked me a few questions. He spoke English. There is usually one in a large group like this who can do basic English and likes the chance to practice. He was a nice guy, a few years older than me. He wished me luck as we parted for the close of class. I said my thanks to the in charge people and the sign-up guy said he would call me. I guess I did ok, and he meant he will call if there is some work. I could get into this kind of job on a part time bases. It could be hot in the summer, but still they take break and one would be working mostly under a tree , at least part time. Anyway I know he, the guy from the office took several pictures of me whilst working. Good PR for the center to show some diversity. No doubt the only foreigner to be there..ever!

Kyudo season is on…

2014 Kyudo season is officially started…for me. It was a cool, …hmmm er, no a chilly, hmmm no it was a cold yet sunny day here in Osaka. I bundled up and made ready to make the 10 mile bike trip to Kishiwara Kyudojo. I was not especially looking forward to the trip, to the practice yes, to the trip, not so much. It had been a week just before Christmas my last bike trip there. Lucky for my legs and knees I have been doing some local riding, so I was not out of shape for the trip. After making ready, some zazen, breakfast of miso soup with onions, seaweed and rice. I mounted up and took off. 

Have I mentioned i am really tired of winter. It is not just a matter of being cold when one goes outside. With no central heating in an old wooden house, one lives in a state if perma-chill. It sucks. In-door, one dresses like being outdoors. well at least you do if you want to save on fuel cost. Although it could be worse like if I lived in Northern Japan. However if LZ was from Northern Japan we would not be here, no way , Jose…(or Jose-san since this is Japan ).
stadingi at the window
The ride was fairly chilly, it was good I did the layers thing. The down vest was great. However as the sun was full and i was working the pedals, the inner fires started building and after about 20 min or so it got rather warm. I made a few clothing adjustments, adjusted mentally as well and made the trip without too much effort.
It was nice I was not on a time-table. I have found the best time for me is to arrive just before the Senseis go to lunch. That way they see me and i can get a quick check over. Then while they are at lunch i can get some practice in on my own without adjustments. After their lunch then again I am under their eyes. So I can get the best use of the time there. Usually I am alone or near alone during the lunch period. I like it!
After I did my warmup on the Makiwara, I went on the mato floor. I figured it was good to do the full Tai Hai not only for practice , but some kind of personal ceremony for the first shot. I took it as a good sign for the year that my first shot hit. The rest in that set no, but the first did, so I was pleased. I was able to get one hit per set of four, which in itself is an improvement I noted mentally.
Once the Senseis returned I received some adjustment advise on my Daisan. This is one of the differences as i stated before from learning in Japan and learning in the States. Details. Angles crosses, etc. it is more than just hitting the target, it IS the finger pointing to the moon. Or the journey not the destination. I guess the destination will take care of itself, if the journey is correct, that type of mind.
So much little things, and one part of my problem in Dai San is my shoulder. My range is limited without some pain and tightening up. No way will I get or can afford to get and operation. Doubtful if it really needs it, that is extreme. I can get motion, although sometimes painfully, until it warms up , still it is difficult to relax all the muscles in that area. It is like bursitius which all they do is give you a shot or go in a scrap. Forget that, it is not that bad, Nor getting worse. I should start using Kung Fu players secret, Tiger Balm. I do not have any Dit Da Jow (Chinese herbal kung Fu medicine) made. what I had was lost on the boat. I do have some old herb here I should start a batch, still that takes 90 days to be ready to use. That or buy some, orsettle for Tiger Balm. My other choice is to locate a local acupuncturist. I hear my government insurance will cover that here, unlike in the States. Yeah, that is a good plan see an acupuncturist.
Anyway with all these details I wonder if I will be able to be ready by Summer. Also with this much for San-dan, Yo-dan must be hell. Well anyway I need to remember the training is the important thing, making the journey. As I was told the tests are just sign posts, markers on the path. Yosh.

Jan 2014 – this n that, that n this

Next month, Feb, I am off to Tahiti to work. A friend we met in Alameda is hiring me to travel there for a week to help setup his boat for the trip back to Japan. Pretty cool since I always wanted to see Tahiti, we never made it to the Pacific puddle jump and it is basically a free trip. How cool is that. Also I get to do a bit of sailing whilst there. My friend does not speak English, the workers there in Tahiti do, my Japanese is weak but better than his English. We went this past Sunday to his place to see how well we can communicate without LZ translating. I got the jest of what he was saying with him drawing illustrations of what he wanted me to do. I think it will be ok, kind of the jump in deep water and learn how to swim after learning how to tread water and do a breast stroke thingy. It will be an adventure.

So I got the run down on what will be my tasks in Tahiti, my flight info and we had some sweets from Kyoto. A Mocha mochi filled with cocoa and strawberry paste. Hmmmmm hmmm good! Afterward we went to lunch.

Also this week I had another trial Chan and Kung Fu class. We rode our bikes over to the big mall where the class is held. it is nice Japan is a bike friendly country. I have seen several mall shopping center bike parking locations that have free air stations for bikes. In the states one has to buy gas in order to get free air or give up the cash! 
Sadly, very sadly the two people who signed up for Kung Fu cancelled and the person from the last demo did not sign-up. So there was no Kung Fu… depressing. It is not really a good time spot the culture center has me in, so it has been agreed to try running it on a Sat evening in the spring. We’ll see. There is an interest, as the guy who was at the last demo studied some Kung Fu with friends somewhat locally, however the time spot was conflicting with his work.
There were several people who signed up for the Chan meditation class demo. Of the four of them who signed up, one stated she was only there because it was a free demo. The other three…i did not get the vibe that they were all that interested. They put down on the evaluation sheet they are considering it still. 
The cultural center will not let me run a Tai Chi class because there is one already and there is only 6 people in it. We were told if there was 15 or so, then I could run another class. They do not see the logic of having another class at a different time to increase the possibility of more interest.
Sigh, this is going to be a bigger challenge to get going, more than showed at first light. I will need to set out on my own more to find students and go to another location.
From some information from a friend we located a local “silver center” here in our town. What they do is find light/temp and p/t work for retired people. Things such as trimming trees and bushes, sweeping leaves and trash. Directing traffic, parking bikes, data entry, child care, senior care, grounds patrol. That sort of thing. 
I was hesitant to go, as my Japanese is not that good. However LZ thought I should go, and register as they may have some work that does not need a lot of speaking or comprehension. I had nothing to lose so off we went.
Orientation was today. LZ filled out the paperwork, and we sat through a video and lecture. Some of the video I could follow what was going on from just watching. The lecture which was basically read from a handbook, which everyone had a copy, I got none of what was said. LZ can give me the short of it. Sounded like rules, conduct, pay scale, that sort of thing.
As I said one of the positions, temp jobs listed is tree and garden trimming. As it turns out there is a free training class near the end of the month. I am enrolled in it. I asked if it was difficult, the guy told me no, it was artistic, and with my background I should be ok. I should take it he said. Well nothing ventured, nothing gained. It will be a new skill I can take with me, even if I need to take the class (1 day of training) a couple of times to get the hang of it and understand. It is free so no big deal. I can meet some new locals, and maybe get some work this spring, along with teaching some sailing. I like doing the gardening trimming, I can use the skill on my own garden maples, and bamboo and as said, increases,my chance of finding some p/t work as my language skills improve…yosh.
My music life is zip so far here. I took my Bass with me when we went to visit my Tahiti connection just in case I had the chance to jam a bit with the lady friend of our boat friend. It was a chance to try out my Bass travel bag if nothing else. 
The lady friend plays sax, however there was no time to get on that wagon. So we agreed for another time. Beside getting some work this year, and my San-dan, it would really really make my year to get some musical hookup. I know a few musicians and where there is a monthly Jam, but one of the down-sides of living in the countryside is the travel cost to someplace like Kobe where the music is going on.
In closing this post just for the record, I am more than tired of winter and More than ready for Spring.
I hear though that even even Alameda is feeling the cold grip of winter this year. I am sure it will not get better as climate change gets a stronger grip.
So that is it for the local news.
If you can not help someone, at least do no harm. _/|\_

A day trip -2014 1st Tai Kai Osaka Castle Kyudojo

I received a notice from from one sempai about the First New Year Tai Kai at Osaka Castle Kyudojo. I wanted to go, and since it was just a few blocks from the Hospital where Oka-san is at it worked out fine. I could do two things for the train cost of one.

It was a cold winter’s day, however the sun was shining so it made it bearable. Winter does not seems so bad when you can get some sun shine. So it was a good day to bundle up and be out. 
I walked over to the train station and the adventure began.
When I first got on the train it was not crowded. A small bit more than usual when I ride , but I was able to grab a seat. It was it in the priority section. Meaning if someone pregnant, on crunches, etc needed a seat they got first choice. I have read other people of color blog’s in Japan and usually at some point they speak of how rude Japanese can be with sitting next to them. I have not found that yet, well except a possible one time which may have just been in my mind. So there I was on the train seated reading my book. The seats in that area are arranged so that four people sit facing each other. There were three seats open after one person left, I took their seat. Now there are two. One next to me next to the window, and one across from me next to the aisle. Two older women got on and came over to the seats. One of them had a cane. Stood planning to let them both have the seat next to me, and my seat. The woman with the cane took the seat next to the window and said sorry , and thank you. Twice. The other woman sat in the other seat the empty one across from where I was. Leaving my seat still open. There fore I sat again. The woman next to me again said sorry for the trouble. I said no problem. At the next stop the other seat next to her friend became open. Once the train started moving the two women said something to each other after the one across from me move across from her friend, then the woman switch back and the woman next to me move next to her friend. Again, smiling and saying excuse me sorry. I did not get a single bad vibe from either of them. Shortly later another older woman with a cane came on, she stood next to the seats, I gave her mine. She too smile and expressed gratitude, I then stood next to her. Maybe people are nicer on small towns trains than in the city…
Next up Osakajo, Kyudojo.
I found the Dojo rather easy. It is not located at the castle as I thought, but a fair distance away in the park in it’s own building. I entered and asked where to sit to watch. The girl at the counter looked through a bunch a papers for some reason, I thought I had something to fill out, but no. After a bit she took me outside and around to the side to the seating area. Right off I saw a couple of my Dojo-mates from Kaishiwada. It was kind of nice seeing familiar faces. 
I sat near by and watched.
I was told by the couple from Kishiwada that their son was shooting and up next. They pointed him out. I asked what Dan he was as he was in a Kimono. I was told Nidan. Ehhhhhh I thought. Hmmm ok maybe for these special event Tai Kai anyone can wear a kimono, or unlike in the States where only people of some higher rank, yon-dan and up wear Kimono. At least at Renmei functions. I will ask someone about what the proper etiquette here in Japan on Kyudo Kimono wear. I see only the upper ranks wearing them at a general Tai Kai and the lower ranks in standard Gi’s. There is a sign at Kishiwada stating about the first Tai Kai ceremony for year , next week that said wear a Kimono if you have one. Yeah, I need to get the 411 on the custom. Everything in Japan has rules of etiquette to follow. 
So after a while of watching and taking a few shots. Yamashita Sensei came over and sat with me. I thanked him for the info on Nogami Sensei and we spoke a bit. He said he had been traveling on Kyudo business to New Zealand and Australia. I am thinking he must be up there in the importance range, I felt honored to have him greet me. I will be making a point later this year to visit the Dojo when he is there for some feedback on my shooting. Not that the Sensei’s I am working with are lacking, but it never hurts to get more guidance from other masters. Everyone has a little different way of seeing and explaining things, and he is my contact from Nogami Sensei.
So lunch time rolls around. Many took off for lunch. I had no plans, so figured i would walk around and scout the area. I had plans on visiting my Mother-in-law at the rehab hospital which was nearby. So I could check out the route at least. So I started on my park walk. As the day was pleasant other than the cool air there were at lot of people out and about. It was interesting, watching and snapping a few shots.
I made my way to the main street leading to the hospital route, then upon looking back I spotted Osaka castle in the distance. Not a great view but I could see the upper floors. I had been there before so it was nothing I needed to make the trek that distance for….at least at this time.
I stopped in a convenience store for a little something to eat and picked up a rice ball. I was going to head back to the Dojo, however opted to head over to the hospital now. I went back inside the Convenience store to confirm the location. I asked one woman behind the counter she told me. Then a guy also behind the counter stepped in to help. He had me follow him to the door. There he gave me directions in English. I think he wanted to practice. I never mind that and thanked him and left.
After I stopped to eat I continued to the Hospital. Once in front of what I thought was the right place. I asked a couple of ladies coming down the walk who just came of of the building. One of them spoke to me in English which surprised me. A few questions and the both of them took me inside and up to Okasan’s room after seeing that I was properly checked in. One of them, the English speaker said her mother was also on that floor.
After a short visit with Oka-san, I checked out with all the eyes at the nurses station watching in amazement. I smiled and bowed, then headed back to the Dojo. I arrived in time for a couple of special Sharai’s. Also came across my Sempai from Banpaku Kyudojo who told me about the Tai Kai. We spoke for a while before he had to go back to for the final round of Tai Kai shots. He said next year I should join the ceremony. I had not thought of it, but it would be good. I later asked my other Sempai from Kishiwada why she was not in the ceremony. She gave me a long answer which i did not understand, but i think it had to do with her not being ready and it was her day off so she was resting from the pressure…or something like that. She also said next year should join. I will be quite busy next year with more official involvement, hopefully, prepping for my shot at being Yon-dan …yosh!
The last round of shooting had different targets. small gold disk and fans. I have seen the disk before but not the fans. Once the disk was hit in a round it was taken away. Each group only had one shot, not several, guessing because it was the finals.
It was a good day trip and mini adventure. I am getting the hang of the train transport. Fairly simple once you figure out the map and the lines.
…and so ended the day trip’n, and I was back in the Hood. Mission accomplished.

2013, NewYear’s Eve 108 Ya

There is a Buddhist tradition of ringing a temple bell 108 times at the end of the year for the 108 “sins”. A friend of mine a Buddhist monk and Kyudo Sensei came up with the idea of doing a 108 arrow shoot at the end of the year. The last 3 years we at my small private Dojo joined in the tradition. This year as far as I know there is one Dojo in Canada, one in Thailand, two or more in the states ( three I know of, one extra maybe not be using the 108 name), me in Japan. Kind of cool ne!


Maybe next year there will be more as the word spreads.

I started around noon at the Bamboo Mantis Hidden Makiwara Kyudojo. There was rain in the morning, I thought it was going to put a bummer on the day but, as hoped it only lasted a short while. Around noon I was able to start.

After the rain it was fairly sunny and being dressed in layers it was reasonably comfortable. I started the morning with my usual meditation, and a bit a yoga, since it was too ugly to go outside for Tai Chi. Then setup to shoot.

I had a pretty quiet practice for the first part of the shoot, the first half, 54 arrows. My helpful neighbor, the one who is nice to be around, just stopped by for a short comment about the new bamboo plant I had acquired. I dug it up from the riverside she had told me about. It is a nice addition to the yard space.
After 54 shots I took a short lunch break with some hot tea. It was good to rest my shoulder and drink something warm. It was comfortable outside though still. Two pairs of socks, thermo underwear, several long sleeve shirts with a wool sweater, and a turtle-neck all worked to keeping me in the warm zone. Still I was surprised to find I was after several shots getting even more warm from the non stop shooting effort.
It was a peaceful practice, then the Oba-Chan, the rude, from next door showed up. It was like a cloud covering the warmth of the sun on a chilly day. I was polite and said konnichiwa, and kept shooting hoping she would leave. She then started talking about what I was doing, hitting, etc. she tried to walk into the yard for some reason. I told her no, she still kept coming pushing the gate open and trying to walk in. WTH! Now I stopped her! Frimly! Saying it is dangerous and re-closed the gate in front of her forcing her back. Unbelievable! She is not a bad person but, pushy, a pain in the butt for sure. Once I did that she stood outside the gate saying how the shooting was difficult, hit in the middle and some other things I did not get or care about. I tried to ignore her for the most part and kept shooting. She opened some crackers from her pocket or somewhere and started eating whilst commenting…I continued to ignore her. I took it as another level of practice, a test of my concentration. Tuning out the distractions and focusing on being only into the shot, mindful. After what seems like forever she left. The warmth of the sun returned and peace settled upon the Garden. We in the garden breathed a collective ahhhhhhhhhh of gratitude.
The rest of the practice was peaceful. I did not get a full Yugaeri, but a couple of times I did get a half way. I was able to get more comfortable with a, I believe a proper Tenouchi. The calluses on, my thumb and little finger are on the right spots so I must be doing something right, I guess. Another thing I put effort into was not dropping the left hand and expanding open upon hanari. One thing I noticed after a while was how I needed to make a mental effort to stay balanced and centered on my Tanden and not shift weight focus to my legs, more so the right leg and pushing rather than stay centered and separate, expand from the center. As I grew more tired I would push from the right leg. So even though not shooting the 28 meters, it was still a learning experience.
I also found out my yard gate makes a perfect Ya holder whilst shooting
I also know I can shoot about 20 arrows in 30 min. This is a good gauge to know for practice time.
It was a good sense of a completion to finish the shoot. I did the 108 plus 1. Really though I did a couple of extra over that just for good measure. 
Once finished I posted the results to Facebook to noticed the other participants, the Japan delegation was complete. The Bamboo Mantis Hidden Makiwara Kyudojo is ready to ganbarimasu for 2014!
Next up in February, if I am not in Tahiti , the “Iron Man 100 ya shoot”, maybe they changed the name to the “Blackwell 100 Ya challenge” or something, in order not to sound sexist, since there are females shooting as well.
New Year Eve night:
My first year end in Japan. The New Year change-over is so different than in the states and I guess the over all western world. In the US we can tell when it is time, by all the at minimum firecrackers, pans banging, etc. Here in Japan all that was heard was the sound of a Shrine gong ringing. It was nice.
New Year’s Morning, I made breakfast. Potato pancakes, cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, garden veggies and herbs. Not. Tradition or anything, just something I wanted to try. It would have been perfect with Mimosa! However tight budgets have limits, and one can still be grateful and enjoy simplicity…or I guess in this case minor extravagance!
Hidden-Mantis copy
Akimashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!! _/|\_