Quanzhou Jazz Society

Quanzhou Jazz Society End of the year party

It had been a couple of months since I have been able to attend. Work or Kyudo reasons being in the forefront. I have been looking forward to it. Playing something beside Blues is fun, and even better with good players. I like the Club 24, all the people are nice, as they are most places I go, All so far in fact!
Anyway, I arrive after they had started, as planned, i heard them Jamming as I walked up. There was a what I thought was a cop standing knocking on the door. When I came up he moves aside after asking if. was going in. I check his shield it is a rent-a-cop. I asked was it too loud, he said something, long. So I just nodded and went in. The owner spotted me, he waves, I wave back and give sign language for him to come over there is a badge-wearing dude outside.
He looks slightly irked, but welcomes me and goes outside. I go to bar and see his wife to pay my fee. I notice a spot at the end of the bar, after seeing the place is packed. The guy in the end seat motions for me to sit, it is ok. I speak with him a little, and he tells me he plays piano and shows me a couple of pictures and says he is the new Bar/ club owner. We chat a bit more ( mostly him talking), I go grab some food and prepare to settle in for the night, and fully check out the room.
It is a large group of people. Surprising as the last time there were some, but this time seriously full. I stayed in the corner just taking it al in.
After a while the wife of the organizer has me sit with her. I was thankful, very thankful the bar corner was smoky! I was dying in the corner!
After a short bit I am asked to play Harp on a Jazz tune. I go and join in. It was fun, it took me a while to find the right key. I asked one guy, he just showed me his fingers on the guitar fret board. I understood, but it did not sound right. Since it was a Jazz tune not a Blues tune I needed a different harp. It took me a short while to find one that would work. Afterward I am asked if I’m ready to do a couple of songs. I agree and make ready.
A few players assembled to Jam with me. I heard a voice that had asked me about playing “Summertime” again bring it up. He was answered by the MC, I will be doing it. Ok, I am fairly surprised. I had only done the song one time before months ago, but I guess this guy was impressed with it, although I did not remember him from that night. The band gathered, I asked for a couple of others instruments to join and gave out the cord chart from them to follow.

The drummer asked about the beat, I gave him the count and showed him what I was going to play since it was way different from what the keyboard player started to play. First problem, the Drummer, could not “find” the beat, oh boy! hmmm, then out from the side another guy shows up and steps in on the drums, saying he got this.

Ozaki Jazz band ...where is the beat brah
The old drummer stands and starts to leave I remember him as the conga players also and asked him to play those instead. He is happy with that arrangement, as am I. We start the groove… It turns out ok, not the ending I wanted, and other than losing my voice issues it went ok, for a song with no rehearsal and new to each other players, being directed by a foreigner with limited language skills 🙂 The Sax player was good and cute!
. The second song did not go as well as the first, it was harder to follow. The changes I made in the arrangement and my own newness to it did not help. However it was pulled off ok, the audience, was very easy going, friendly in a good mood and drinking so did not really care about mistakes and lost of place in the song. It was kept going and ended well. One of the things I noticed about this group is they are very supportive. There is a trumpet player who played with me every time. He is not really that good as yet. There were a couple of really good horn players there that night.
However when this “kid” was called up he was given a big encouragement by many. Good folks.
The rest of the evening I just watched and enjoyed.
I did not stay until the end and called it a night about 7:00pm. I could have gone over to Snafkin and joined in actives, but I was done for the night after my bass started to weigh heavy on my shoulders on the walk to the train station. I had to work the next day at the boat yard. It was the end of the year work day, and everyone was to be helping with cleaning. I figured I would save some strength for the unknown chores tomorrow.

A Working Christmas

Christmas sail

It has been a long time since I worked on Christmas. Japan is a different flavor when it comes to Christmas. Unless you are going on a date which is the big thing among the youth for Christmas, it is a pre-holiday event for grownups. Along with eating not much is done. Here the place, many places in Japan shut down for the New Year. 
Anyway I worked on Sat. An easy day really, I changed a reefing line on one boat. Then the main event for my day at work, taking a new owner out on his boat, a Zen24. I got to spend a lot of time on the one in Alameda, it was nice having that boat. It sailed really nice and was comfortable. Not comfortable as in soft and snugly, because it is a bare boat, no padding, no cushions. However comfortable as in sailing. It is a sailing boat not a sit at the dock and hangout boat. I recall doing a sail around the Island on New Years on day. 
It was part of an annual sailing community of Alameda area event. LZ and I took the Zen24, we got stuck in the mud along with several others. This was common in this event as the water is quite shallow at some parts. The timing has to be right. We ending up get loose with some help, however drained a lot of power from our electric engine batteries and needed to get a tow back to our dock as the wind for the day sucked!
Today’s sail was less eventful. We had a new Honda outboard, and good wind. The new owner has here at the marine for the last couple of weeks while we put on parts. The boat came by truck inside a container which was how it was shipped from Vietnam. We then added the sailing stuff to the mold. Sort of like buying a boat from IKEA. The new owner came and just watched, sometimes in the way of our work. I saw him today early just sitting on the deck of the boat , while everyone was getting ready for the handing over to the owner ceremony and launching.
BTW : I have noticed from doing several used boats to new owners here in Japan, that Japanese do not have the same superstition about renaming a boat. They want a new name , take off the old one and put on a new one. Simple as that.
The sail was easy, enough wind to make it pleasant. Although a bit chilly and somewhat overcast, and cloudy it was a good day for a sail with periods of Sun and steady wind. We went for a couple of hours. The new owner did not want to helm the boat he was too nervous. I pretty much had to insist he do so. He is a sailing student of mine. He has had only SBD class, which is basically docking. Still he purchased this brand new boat. He is scheduled now to take BKB class from me after the Holidays. Good I can use the two days of teaching work. I hope we use his boat for the class, makes sense if it just him.
It was a good short sail. We made it back in time enough for me to get off early. I went home and could eat and casually prepare for my night gig with the band…Chicago Rock
I arrived in time to setup without being rushed. I like that! Once everyone was set we started. I did the first song. I usually will not start the set, I dislike that. In this case a friend had to leave, she was sick and asked for me to do a song. I agreed, and did our only Christmas song. We had agreed to do “Merry Christmas Baby” since it was bluesy and easy to do. The lads did not want to put in too much effort. It played ok. Slow blues is hard to mess up.
It was a pretty low key evening, only a few people. More than I thought some were “guest” so no income for us. Oh well. Music wise the evening went ok. Well ok for a band that does not practice. The Doctor, tend to drag on a song, way too long, a couple of time the drummer and I had to do a forced ending to get hom to stop. It was really bad when someone turns a video comera on him. Kind of funny. It is his band so it is good for the customers when he gets up and roams out in front playing his leads in their face, or in this case right into the camera. Just do not drag out so long!


There was a guy there who I had seen at the other club, “OVERHEAT” I am thinking the doctor invited him. He took great interest in my 6 string Bass. He is a player also but I am not sure what. He was also pretty “faded” whole sitting there drinking more and nodding out a couple of times.

There was Christmas cake, we got paid enough for my train fare one way, the owner gave us a DVD of last month’s gig. Shocking some songs were not bad. All in all it was a pretty good evening. I just really wish we had it more together musically as a band. Oh well it is all practice. Maybe this year coming will open better doors with other musicians hookups.
Tomorrow I go back to the Mahjong 24 club, for the Jazz society band Christmas party. I have been busy for the last two months so have not been able to attend. I am looking forward to it. Nice people, good musicians.

Osamei-kai, this n That


The end of the year Rei-kai was held the other day. I do not recall if I went last year, I am pretty sure I did. Perhaps this is the first year it held some meaning to attend and not just another Rei-Kai. I did not expect to do that well, it was really in my mind practice. I did do better than I thought. Not enough to win anything, but enough for me to feel like I am making some improvement. I did not suck as bad. Mostly my shots were just under or above the Mato, instead of clumped together to the lower right. Now it is a matter of finding my vertical line, the horizontal seems to be mostly working, since correcting the right elbow.
The was a very relaxed Tai Kai. I saw the Kaicho giving shooting pointers even while the match was going on to a couple of people. The sempai who helped me the other day was the over all winner. 
The whole thing started with some Renmei dojo business, of which I had no idea what was going on, other than they were talking about money at first, end of the year stuff.
It was really cold , like winter had just dropped in that day. Everyone almost was wearing jackets when not shooting on on the floor. At one point I forgot I was wearing my hat when I went out to shoot with the group. In the line-up almost going to shoot It is raised to my attention I have my hat still on. Several people had told me before ” don’t for get to take off your hat” i did the first round but forgot on the second… Doh! Oh well, I am a gaijin, no one gave it much thought other than a moment chuckle. I laughed at myself also.
During the rest break I found the warmest spot!
The Next Day:
I returned to the dojo today, the day after the Rei Kai. I planned on keeping score, thinking I should have a good day after the revelation of the right shoulder thing. It started good with a hit …bam…then went down hill from there. Into the abyss of another sucky day. I was thinking when I noticed how bad my shoot was, every time I think I made a break through and my old stuff is better, I get a notice my stuff still stinks. Today was no different. Two Sensei Sempai called me on a couple of things I thought I had corrected, where still wrong. Sometimes I do it right when they are guiding me, but on my own it was sucky. Sigh. So I am back to square one on a couple of things, well more than that really, I noticed, with much pain that I was not getting yugari at all and kept getting smacked with the string. 😦
I am not feeling like I am moving forward at all today. The other day I was feeling, yeah I still got a way to go, but I can do it in the Spring! Bampaku…Yosh. Well today I am feeling; not ready, not even close. Will need more time, a lot more time and practice. There was a bit of comfort in seeing another classmate who has been at the YonDan Shinsa trials a LOT longer than me. She was also getting some of the same corrections with her shoulders, back, elbow…stuff. The un-ending story, I still see Renshi’s getting some adjustments on that.
Hidden Dojo annex
I may have a spot for some 28 meter shooting practice. Whilst out looking for such a spot, down by the river(creek) I came across an almost perfect spot. I thought I would look because I see there is a golf practice range of sort setup on one side of the bank.
The spot I am thinking is under the overpass for the shooting line. Shooting out into an open field. I can see anything coming, which would be rare, on the other hand I would not be seen until going to retrieve my Ya.
There is very little foot traffic in the area and none where I would be, on the river bank. I will not have anything fancy or attention grabbing other than a couple of boxes for a mato.
Anyway it will be helpful, since my dojo time is limited now due to winter work cut backs. I have to be now more creative with my Spring Training.

Onomichi, Hiroshima


A while back, a couple of months, we took a trip to Hiroshima, via bullet train, regular train, shuttle, and ferry to reach a very nice hotel LZ had found. Great view ! Great Food ! Spoke Spanish, Tagalo, English and Japanese with some of the staff. This is the photo blog for that, it took me a while to get it together. Sorry to my three readers.
LZ has a new p/t hobby/job, doing reviews on hotels and resorts for a magazine so we will get to visit some different places, for free! Cool or what!

吹禅 : Now & Zen, Zen -N- Now

Blowing Zen

It has been just over 10 months now on this Shakuhachi path. I had thought, and was told by Sensei there are only a few people doing Shakuhachi. I suppose on a comparison chart of world population of musical instruments it is few. However I am finding a lot of players. Also judging by the cost and the amount of High level Shakuhachi out there, these players have money to spend. Shocking selling prices and are selling! So I wonder do these people just have money or are they working enough with the Shakuhachi that it is worth the money output…or what?
One thing that has developed from this is a new art project: the shakuhachi @ Lunch series. Some are of kind of trippy, some are interesting…
I have been putting more effort into recalling the Katakana for the notes. It dawned on me in order to play the good stuff, as in the Zen things, I will need to read Japanese notation, fluently. Currently I am still just doing Shakuhachi drills, part of old folk songs, etc, etc. nothing really interesting, fun, touching. Learning technique, or another way of looking at it, stances, and basic movement drills. Boring but necessary. I am trying to break an old bad habit of just getting a little basics and then go off on my own. When I do my lunch time practice I am mostly working on sound, and technique, rather than a song. I do not have any Shakuhachi songs,yet. I have tried jamming with just me doing a basic blues beat and changes on the casio keyboard. It is hard, because of the tuning, and pitch. A good player can adjust the pitch, me, not so much…without some serious effort and limits. Anyway I have no idea where this will take me, it is much to early for this tadpole. Although it really does not matter, the end this is about the journey.
The other day when I went to class, Sensei had some info for me. He had researched the maker of my Shakuhachi. He gave me a page of stuff all n Japanese so he read it to me. I do not recall, but the basic of it. This person, “shaozen” family has been Shakuhachi makers for over 100 yrs. this current person is also a famous player and has done concerts world wide. It is believed he is about 80 yrs old now, and the last generation to be a flute maker of his line. Sensei believes my Shakuhachi is made by his father, but it maybe the current master. He, the maker had a impressive list of he’s done that. I was pleased to make such a find at the recycle store. Sensei says mine is a just student level flute, but a expensive I had said to LZ before I purchased it, suppose it is a unknown treasure? I was right, sort of, it is!

My curiosity about the Kumosu sect grows. Now that I find out they are still active, sort of, I want to know what they are about besides walking around begging. What are their thoughts, practices, philosophy. I did find this on Buddhism and the Shakuhachi. They have had some pretty famous priests in the past. I asked one of my new acquaintances on FB, who is one of these New Kumuso, he is in Kyoto, about info on his sect. So far no answer after a few days. Maybe he is busy. Doing what ever it is Kumosos do, whatever that is… Even though this is the second “note” to him which he has not responded, I will try to remain neutral. Perhaps I my writing has the wrong “flavor”. It is is rather curious that when I wrote to one, perhaps the master and said I was looking for a flute not a new teacher, I heard no more from him…now this monk again no response…Jus saying…Hmmm. Some tonal note seems off, maybe it is me.



I guess I will have to wait until I can meet my Sensei’s disciple who is a practicing Kumoso. He would be my Sempai, perhpas more helpful in giving information on the Modern Kumoso practice. My 1 yr anniversary for the Shakuhachi is coming in March. It is just before or just after my Kyudo shinsa. I plan on making a pilgrimage to the Zen temple in Wakayama where the Kumoso are still active. Almost a three hour train journey from my home. Maybe I can get some info or at least a few cool photos of the temple grounds and the Journey there. 
Sensei said before he would take me to this temple place, however I wanted to go on my own first an trip around at my leisure.
That is more of an adventure and pilgrimage.

Kyudo: Steps on the Dao…

Steps in the Dao…

I have been getting back to a more serious training mindset, slowly. I have started getting in some form of Kyudo daily, makiwara, gomiyumi, like my Shakuhachi practice even just working on a pure tone, in the Case of Kyudo, purifying my Daisan and Hikiwaki. I could classify my Shakuhachi practice as part of Kyudo due to the breathing aspects, but I am not not going to go there and open a whole lot more senerios and additions to the backpack. Also planking after morning Zazen and getting some Taiji in at least on my Kyudo days. Cross Training Shaolin Chan style of sorts. Which is kind of interesting in that, I started to Kyudo to help my “Kung Fu”, now using the Shaolin Skill to help train on the Kyudo path. However, I have been slacking with the physical part… weather change, only one student, lazy, blah blah, whatever, that aspect of my “Holistic Practice”. Shame on me. Well,with the recent news of workday cut backs at work, due to the winter slow down, I will have more time to practice, but less money for it. Going to the Dojo I mean I can still practice more at home now. Also spend sometime learning the Kyohon for that pesky written part of the Shinsa.
I had a spark of enlightenment the other day with using the Gomiyumi. My elbow, the right one needs to point down not back. I have been told before and again the other day, I was pulling it too far back, back as into my back area not my back as in side area, where it needs to be. (That was too many commas right? Sorry, Deal with it!) The slight turn down helps me focus on staying, power wise, balanced, to the arrow tip. I got into the Dojo today to try it out, this theory, with real practice action.
Yes; it works, today, rarely did I have the just off the lower right cluster strikes. Much more I had shots in the center but, missing too low or high by inches. So yeah. I am making progress. Slow, but it is happening. I may start keeping track of my hit rate again soon. I still need to work on a balanced release. This, going by what a sempai told me today, is my issue. He also helped me to understand better the release with the fingers thing. I was too extreme. The unbalanced reえlased is causing my left arm to drop more as I am overpushing to the left. I need to work on holding my center. My left is better than before, but it needs to be better.
..so yeah progress.
Sometimes progress is just understanding, where, what one’s weaknesses are. You can not defeat your demons, until you face them.
So yeah little by little I am setting up for Spring.
” the road is long with many a winding turn”

Kyudo: Sukoshizutsu 少しずつ

Kyudo: Progress in small steps…

I have not been able to get in as much Kyudo time as I would like, however…
I have gotten in some mato/ yumi time. Since getting my new Bow, little by little I have been trying to correct bad habits. It is a different kind of mind set to think of what one is doing wrong rather than where one wants to go…Getting sucked into the dark side, the desire for rank.
A classmate of mine, we did San-dan shinsa together. She did not pass, I did, I felt bad for her at the time. She is my dojo sempai, although she says I am her Tai Sempai since I have been overall training longer. She trained, practiced for another 6 months before going back to retest, instead of three months which is the default. Then she passed! Another 3-6 months passes. I am 2nd trying for YonDan. I ask her, when are you doing Yondan Shinsa? She says, I am not ready, I need more training. I watched her put in the effort and starting winning at Tai Kais, placing upper levels in others Tai kai. It is over 1 yr now she enters a YonDan shinsa, her first and passes! Sugoi! I am so happy for her. I have other sempai testing for YonDan, who has failed all this yr., impressive for her to pass on the first try. That says a lot about her effort.
Ok, so she is YonDan now, I am so happy for her! Another sempai has been testing for Renshi for the last year, she passed finally. Another joyous moment. Another Sempai who has been testing YonDan just before I started is still trying to pass!! Perhaps in the spring together. It is interesting to see the attitudes of those who fail. There were several upper ranks for 6 dan that failed, the attitudes was “oh well another time”. That is sort of the attitude oveall. Really the most logical. This is not life and death. It could be a metaphor, not real life and death. It should be enjoyed and not take so serious.
There are not many I have seen shoot that really impress me. I have two sempai who impress me with their shooting. Like a redwood tree in stance, and accurate ! The other day after Yamashita sensei helped me with some pointers and he had left one of these Sempai said he would help me if it is ok. He is a sempai I tested san-dan when he was testing YonDan, now he is Go-dan. Even Yamashita Sensei uses him as an example on position. We are sort of buds. He said I should come drinking with the group after a Tai Kai sometime.
So this sempai had watched me shoot from behind, when everyone else had left he came over. He broke it down for me. My tenouchi should be firmer on the base, and yumi placement better, and my thumb was a bit off. I was looking at the wrong part of my hand for the Jumongi, he changed that. Then on to my release, I should not just open my fingers, he showed me the correct way. Next my angle of release with my right arm was off. I needed it to travel on the same line as the Ya. Everything needs to be on the same line. My right elbow was going too far back and to the side. This is why my Ya hits are the in same spot just off the edge lower right of the Mato. Not balanced, something Yamasta Sensei had said about my Draw. I was out of balance coming out of Daisan, which was not in balance, trying to get in balance, instead of getting balanced in DaiSan and staying there. I did not have much time to practice this other than a couple of shots to set it in my head what to practice.
The other day, yesterday in fact I went in. After some friendly chatter with those who passed and did not at the recent Shinsa, I practiced on what the Sempai and Sensei had told me. First two shots hit!, as did most of the shots that day. Still a number of misses, as I made adjustments, but yeah, my hits where up. My misses where not clumped all in the same lower/side spot, like before.
It felt like a good practice session. I feel like a breakthrough happened. Combining what Semapi and Yamashita Sensei had said made difference.
Now I need to refine those points clean up my act. That should bring my hit avg up from 35-40% to 60-70%. I will feel better going into Shinsa with that percentage. I have three months…Yosh!
I have lost my status as the Osaka Area Kyudo Gaijin! 🙂 My former classmate, sounds like he is settling in well in Suita. I expect he will be showing up at some Tai Kai once he gets full comfortable and his Japanese KyuDo re-set.
Things are in motion for Nagoya this spring. LZ has spoken to the head sensei at Kishiwada expressing my wish to attend both the local Shinsa and the seminar. Sensei says he will find out what I need to fill out file , etc. Also my need to learn the standing form. I am going to embrace my knee demon. He says it will be difficult to learn, because to the timing to watch with others. Hah, one of the main things I do, Music, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, even sailing, when working with others it is all about timing, harmonizing.

Kyoto: The Fall of Autumn

LZ did the planning for a short trip to Kyoto, This was for me to have my first and her’s Kyoto autumn leave viewing.

She was told that this day we were arriving was perfect. The leaves were not quite at their peak and this late the crowds were few in size.



It was a weather pleasant day, The crowds were so so, large for a countryside dweller these days. The trees were nice, but I could tell they were past their peak. I mentioned it to LZ after awhile, not as a big deal just an observance. It took her a while to notice, then arrived, yes the info was not quite correct. Still it was a nice viewing.

The highlight of the viewing was going to a nearby Shrine for a night viewing of Autumn trees on their grounds under lighting. That was very cool, even though we got rushed a bit since it was near/past closing.

So this is my first Photo Blog of sorts. I have one of Hiroshima but have not sorted it as yet. mada mada. Click the link for photoblog >>>>>> Kyoto Autumn waning