Blues 4 Bali

lues for Bali was a benefit for some children of Bali to have a school house built. This concert was organized by a new friend of mine who has been in Japan for some 3o yrs. he does some teaching in Bali via music, being a musician. The concert was held at a new club in Kobe. It was a very nice venue. There were several bands involved with the events. It was build as a Blues music concert. There seems to be a rather large following for Blues here.

I had a class that day for my Japanese license, which will be covered on the Sea Blog. I finished up there and went home to eat, rest and change to the Kobe event. I took more time at home than I planned on. Although I did not plan on being as late arriving as I did, I did plan on being somewhat late. However I was late to the point they thought I was not coming. I was scheduled to go on around 10:00 pm. I got there about 9:30. I missed all of the acts except two. The end of one and the short set of another. I had met several musicians from the participating show at the organizers house before. Last month for the Mexican dinner thing. So I was a bit disappointed I missed so many players, and more so after a received a warm welcome from them when I arrived. I feel I should have given them more support, on the other hand , I do not really know then well and it  probably does not matter. Oh well next time if the Universe is willing.
So I arrive late and get a warm greeting at the door, and then shown where to sit. I speak to the people I know, and am surprised to see my new friend from France the karate/tai chi instructor and his girl friend there. I had invited them but he was unsure if he would make it. He had a friend with him visiting from Hong Kong another Kung Fu player. I spoke with them a bit but for the most part hung out by myself watching and listening.
Finally it is my turn, I am even introduced. I was not expecting that, I thought I would just go up and sit in with the band. I was listed to sing two songs then play. This was my first ever just singing, no bass playing. Sort of, I have just sang before but had my bass, because it was just a transition song. So this time I am just singing, it feels weird. My friend the organizer is also a Bass Player, he wanted to play for a couple of songs, however wanted me to sing. Ok, my first time. The singing only part, is really not a big deal, the just being there with nothing, when not singing is the weird part. I covered that by having, my harmonica and doing fills.
Ok the first song is cool, we bust it out. It was good for never playing together, no rehearsal, no nothing just saying ok, this key, 1, 2, 3. The practice on the bike paid off for my vocal cords. It went without a hitch. Only small problem was the glass of wine messed me up being nervous and trying to talk, make sense and remember the words. However it went well, everyone liked it, or all the drinks before hand 🙂
Second song was a bit more of a challenge. The key was not one I had a harp for and up until mid way the bass player was in a different key then the rest of the band. So the music sounded off. I could not tell what key to sing in. Finally it came together. Now there turned out to be some extensive musical break part, I had no harp so ended up trying something I saw a guy do in a concert, make a trumpet sound with his voice. I used to do that on my own just fooling around so I was well rehearsed in it. It came off well. Having the wine helped give me the nerve to try it.
After that song I switched to Bass, ahhhhh. I felt home again. Next up were a couple of songs I did not exactly know but were easy enough to play along from experience, so I could get my funk on.
I used to think there were a lot of guitar players, but now I am surprised at the amount of harmonica players. Maybe because of the blues gender, but man there were harp players out of the walls on the open Jam. I had brought along my neck brace to play both harp and Bass, but did not even try, with four others playing. I just focused on Bass. It is kind of nice not to multi-task, when singing or playing one can focus on one part, in Zen terms, one can be mindful of one thing.
So the show was a success, everyone enjoyed and I got established in the Blues community here in Osaka/Kobe. One guy with an established band gave me his card and wants to play together sometime and said that to his companion who I guess does some business arranging also to another friend of mine who arranges these musical get togethers. I will follow up on this next month. Now that I will be working here and there I will be able to attend some of these musical gathering that happen once a month out in Kobe. Maybe hooking up with a band or starting one will be possible. I have not heard anything from the others guys who wanted to do a rock band. Maybe they are waiting for me to contact them.
It was a fun night, perhaps my best since being in Japan.

Flowing with the Tao


Well things here, like spring are starting to flower. I just returned from a sailing trip yacht delivery job from Shizuka to Osaka. I was not planning on it being fun. It was not. However I will not go into that here. After some thought about it. I have decided to open another WaterWorld blog. It is for anyone interested. It is already live, but does not have the latest adventure to Shizuka on it as of this posting… yet. Later tonight most likely.

I thought those who have an interest in sailing but not in my other stuff would prefer to read that. I seemed to have more sailing hits on the old blog than here. So I guess there is an interest. Water World is a whole different bag.


If I am wrong. Oh well. It has happened at least once or twice before.
On another front, my Kung Fu class has started at the cultural center. Yatta!! It started a couple of weeks ago, but now it is rolling. One of the female students who attended the trial class has returned and joined. I am pleased with that. It gives another dimension to the learning process for them both. It also makes it feel like a real school/club
After almost a week on the water it was nice to do some gardening today. Even just pulling some weeds and watering the plants. Seeing how much they have changed in just a few days is interesting. My feather leaf maple has new leaves now. It is quite lovely and a good choice for the garden.
We purchased another bike for LZ just before I left. This time from the local recycle store. No hassle, no police, just sign and pay it is all done. lZ loves this bike a Panasonic. I did not even know they made bikes. I rode it once when I needed to put air in the tires and thought it was a nice bike. lZ got to try it whilst I was away and she loves it. Perfect for her, gears, height, and weight wise. Very nice riding bike. I like Panasonic products, I have for a long time. We are looking into a Panasonic bread maker. I had heard it was one of the two top brands on the bread-making market.
Next week starts my Japanese boating license class, the last day of the class Afterward I am off to Kobe to play in a benefit for some kids in Bali. Then helping with Oka-san’s move to our area. Which will be followed the next day by me heading to Okinawa.
Once returned from that there is a Tai Kai at my Kyudojo I am signed up for. Busy busy busy. I like it, busy is a good thing.

Faces of yin and yang

There are those who think Yin and Yang is just about positive and negative, male and female, water and earth, winter and summer it is more than that. It is also states of being, energy, form and formlessness, action, non-action in daily life

Yin: Kyudo – the student
I went to Kyudo today, it was suppose to rain so I treated myself to a train ride. It was a nice change. Saturdays afternoons are fairly busy there at the Dojo. I will have to keep that on mind for the future. Morning are the beat time to go, then get in a little quiet time during the lunch break then cut out afterward. I missed Y-Sensei I was checking as he was checking out. Not a biggie. I will see him next time. “If the Lord be willing and the creek don’t rise”.
When the Kaicho returned lunch he gave me a form to fill out. I am guessing he spoke with Watase Sensei, the head of the Kishiwada Renmei. W-sensei had asked me if I wanted to be in the next month’s Tai Kai. I said ok but I had to confirm with my calendar if I would be back from Okinawa in time. So he gave me his phone number. LZ spoke with him that morning. She called him early to respond to the Tai Kai. Also I had questions about testing if my shoulder was going to hold me back. If so I would forget testing and just shoot for me. I have been getting so much attention due to it. However he thought I should wait until the Sept exam, but not because of the shoulder, but because he had not seen my Tai Hai and did not know I have been practicing that as well. Er, yeah I digress, Anyway back to the paper, this paper had to do with exam or the Tai Kai I figured. Elementary deduction Watson. It was the latter, or is it the former? I always get those mixed up. Anyway it was for the exam, not the Tai Kai. He needs to register me with the Main Renmei group.
So on to practice. I did not shoot at the mato today. Once I came out of changing, the Kaicho wanted to see my Hikiware. He had me me draw with this Yumi that was so weak it seemed like the string had next to no tension whilst knocking the Ya. Which was good for understanding my draw issues. I got it, but I really got it later when I asked another question , later on that! So I with help saw how I was drawing wrong, and yes it is partly due to the shoulder issue I have. I did find out a couple of other things while doing this demo for the Kaicho. The shoulder thing of course, what was shocking I could do the spin thing, yugaeri, the light weight Yumi spun all the way around in my hand. That shocked me so much the shoulder issue took a back seat in my head. However I do not know why that happened. Perhaps the Yumi?
Ok, so I spent the next hour or so just working on keeping my shoulder down. I was moving my whole shoulder, up and back on the draw not just my arm which is what they wanted. Ok, so I had another question about how high I should raise the Yumi. In explaining that he stated that I should keep my back rounded, reach more outward with the Yumi. Once I did that the shift of the arm came so much easier. I was trying to keep my shoulders and back flat the whole time. Ok so the real test of this will come net week. On another good note though, is I am making progress. The Kaicho looked closely at my right hand Tenouchi and I received no correction same with my left. Awww yea there is hope. 
So if I add that with what I picked up the other day, about where to my sighting, and if I open up on Hanare, push at the mato instead of holding still, bam, I can make the hit. So now to test these theories in the up coming weeks. 
Yang: Kung Fu – the sensei
Tonight was the first official Kung Fu class at the Aeon Mall community center. It was a long time coming but there is finally a CCK Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis Kung Fu branch here in Japan. Even if it is only just me and one student 🙂
At this point I am switching rolls, from the Yin Student to the Yang Teacher. However as yang is not completely yang, yin not completely yin . The saying ” when one teaches two learn ” is a perfect example of that. I am the Sensei but I also learn from my students. Eg: Am I showing, explaining in such a way that they “get it”? Do they understand more than just the surface meaning of this action, statement? In my case do I have the words to explain this, if not how do I?
I was pleasantly surprised to find there will be another student next week attending class. So I will have a group of two. That is great, because they can help each other and gives more a sense of brotherhood within the class. I can run different drills which they can learn and practice together. 
Having the kung Fu class is a double benefit as those who take the Kung Fu must also learn about Shaolin Chan. So not only does my Kung Fu group grow my Chan group grows. It gives honor to both of my Shifu’s (Sensei) teachings.
Another nice thing about this current student is he studied the same Kali ( Filipino stick fighting) system as I did back on the States, so he is familiar with the basics which I also include in my Kung Fu format. I sense this guy will stick around, and maybe bring in a friend(s) at some point. I am unsure of the new person next week we’ll see. 
Sakura pedal start to fall, 
The leaves of new life 
spring into the world.


Spring growth

When we last left our adventurer he was in recovery for some shoulder injury, awaiting results from the Heart Chan meditation sample class, planning on the sample Kung Fu class, recouping from a fun night of partying with the Gaijins in Kobe and viewing Sakuras.
Speaking of which, my post on Sakura received 60 some hits for readers. Almost a record. I am sure it had to do with the name Sakura in the title and it being that time of year, the interest is high. It does tell me that there are at least some 60 people who know of this blog and with the right topic will read.
My biggest read hits was 80 something. That was because I posted a link on a Kyudo board and the post was about Kyudo. I rarely go to that page anymore. People do not stay on topic and it is full of fixed minded “experts”. They read to respond, not to understand, and OMG if you say something about Zen and Kyudo, their panties get all knotted up, even if they only know about Zen from something they heard or read, not from study or practice. Anywho, ( breath) that is another story. I digress…This post is now. ( exhale)l


As it turned out the lone Sakura picture taking worked out just at the right time, the next day or so it rain , it poured. there were still flowers left after the rain but not as full as the time before. So it was a good choice to grab the pleasure of the moment. Time and Sakura wait for no one.
IMG_3513 copy
There are other trees starting to bloom now, I found a couple of smaller ones in bloom on the way home from Kyudo. Another case of enjoying the moment I am sure that also has changed with the rains that followed. It is good I carry a small camera with me. I see a group of trees lining the river bank near home that will be in full bloom soon. Another photo-op awaits.
I went to Kyudo the other day. It was a good session. My arm gave me very little concern. I got as usual some guidance from the Kaicho, but I must be getting better. The corrections are less. Still I need to open more, but it is better than before. He took a close look at my right hand tenouchi and said nothing. So that must be ok. He looked at my left tenouchi and said nothing, so that must be within acceptable parameters. The main things I got from this session, open more at Daisan. I am still a bit closed and push more toward the mato so my left hand does not drop. I only got a couple of hits out of three groups of four, however my shot groupings are better. I think that is an improvement. With more practice and another couple of Physical therapy session I feel I will make good headway. On another note, I found out that Yamashita Sensei and Watashe Sensei are both Kyuoshi Rokudan and the Kaicho is Renshi Godan. None are at Nogame Sensei’s level but still quite good, especially for a lowly Ni-Dan. I will pass to San-dan this year, the goal for next year is to test for Yon-dan in Nagoya! As suggested by Karamatsu-san over at Mu, I will regard these exams, I will not call them test any more, but exams of my progress to my higher goal. Also there is no reason for me to hold myself back with that small vision of Yondan.
I met a woman at the party the other day in Kobe who said, she tested 7 times for Sandan in Kyudo. Finally she passed. At that point she quit. She said she was tired of being the “token” gaijin. She has been here for 30 some years. I found that a bit strange of a statement. I guess if you are always part of the main crowd being a “black sheep” can be unsettling, after a while. She is a German, I said even if you are here for 75 yrs you will still be the Gaijin. Her only response was yes, I know. I have dealt with that in one form or another, being an anomaly everywhere all my life. Therefore I am mostly jaded, and here will use it to whatever advantage I can. You can not change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
Nice Segway ne?!
I have turned in all my paperwork for my Captain’s lic class and test for next month. Everything is a go. I will be training the week of April 21st. afterwards on that Sat i will catch a flight to Okinawa to sail a boat back to Osaka. I am hopeful for good weather. It will be at least comfortable temps. How the weather will cooperate otherwise, will be up the the Universe. The good thing is this is for the most part Coastal Sailing and about the same distance we covered going from The S.F. Bay to Mexico. We will not have as many stops , however there will be another two crew members. So I will have a lot less pressure than I had with concern about LZ and her lesser strength. Even though she did hang in there when it was tough, it was hard on her. With two men it will, be less of stress on everyone and more sleep time available. I will be the Captain even though I am new to these waters. So i will have to start planning now for watches, galley duty, navigation, etc. Yoh Sensei is counting on me to pull the off. I am guess since i have done some Coastal sailing on the Ocean, even if the crew has experience local and have their licenses already I have the real Ocean experience. I am told by LZ Okinawa is not all “that” but I am still looking forward to it. Along with the three or four land rest stops. I had wanted to make the sail from Okinawa to Osaka on the ZenCat , before we figured out it was better to go direct from Saipan to Osaka. I was told by Yoh Sensei these deliveries will be part of my job there with the Aoki Corp so I will be getting to see varied places around Japan via boat which was what I wanted. Sort of even better it will not be on my dime…er, yen in this case.
Kung Fu:
The sample class went well the other day. There was suppose to be only one person attending the opening session. As it turned out there was three. Two girls joined in at the last moment. I did not have LZ to translate however I felt it went ok. Everyone was relaxed and they the girls laughed often, it was a low key class. The other person who had originally signed up had taken the trail from me before. However the day it was offered was not good, which is what I figured as well. This was a better time spot. No one has come back to pay the enrollment, I think the girls were just trying something different for a bit of fun. To bad , because three would have been a good size and they could partnered. However the office is expecting the guy to return to sign-up. I said upon their inquiring that I would teach a class of one. For me it is a start and not about the money. It will give me a regular time and place for my practice, have a partner to train with and establish a group here for my Kung Fu system honoring my teachers. With a regular location and even a student of one, it can grow.
We received a call from the cultural center tonight. It seems the Chan meditation class is a go. There is only one signup. However as with in the case of the Kung Fu class it is something. Another stimulus to advance my Japanese. Also another step for Shaolin Heart Chan development here in Japan. Something that both Shifu and I wanted. Again just a small start but a start. Overall not bad for being here less than a full year. I will need to spend some meditation time on how to maximize the class with my small language skills. Perhaps some small hand out for each class. This will help guide the student and prepare info for future students. It will also push me to increase my skills within my own practice. Another small problem with this student is she is hard of hearing so I need to speak louder. Being usually soft spoken to speak louder in another language will be in itself another personal challenge.
This is still fairly unknown territory. It seems the blues scene is fairly big here at least around the Kobe area. However, from what someone who was involved in that scene for several years told me, it is more of a blues as in interpreted by Eric Clapton, Johnny Winters, type of blues basically through a white filter rather than straight up blues. Not that I mind, because old school blues can get tiring after a while, blues all the time. Anywho, most of it seems to be happening in Kobe, about a two hour train ride for me. Yuk. Even that is not too bad but, i need to leave early enough to get a train home. That is an issue. However i am thinking once i have some fairly regular income happening i will make a trip to Kobe once a month to the open Blues Jam, to get in the mix. The up coming benefit this month should also help get my name out there. The little gathering last week resulted in meeting and re-meetiing a bunch of locals so that is good my Facebook contacts grew a little, with some musicians. So yeah once i can afford it better I will come out of the countryside to mix it up and add some funk flavor to the blues Jams. I would like to find some peeps to do a New Age Funky Jazzy blues rock band, that would be cool. At least to play, doubtful if there would be any work, but it would be fun, maybe the off time concert or something gig. That would be ok. Maybe work on some originals to record. Sigh, that is a reach but, reality starts with a dream.
Working with the earth is a good thing. Growing veggies and herbs, even on a small scale really gives one a sense of connection with life and the Universe. My garden is coming alive with spring. There are flowers blooming. I do not age a lot but the few are springing into bloom. They were given to me by the helpful neighbor. 
The veggies I planted are taking root and springing up. I have a few bees that hang around here. That I find comforting, with the issues the bees face, I feel I am helping in some small way. Not doubt not enough to really make a difference but you never know. My Maple trees are spring to life. One has some flowing buds. I am surprised at that I thought they just put out leaves, but this one has some flowers.
Spring in Japan is great all the flowers in the yards are showing their colors. I can understand the sense of the four seasons here after going through the winter, even though mild, and now seeing spring and new life cycle. Schools start here at this time, a friend told me he feels this is really the beginning of the year, not January like in the States. now is where the new cycle begins.