尺八 – The blessing…

In the broad Cha’n sense, every day is a blessing, Gohan Shifu says every day is good. Narrowing it down though to a smaller scope here I am referring to a blessing pilgrimage of sorts I took. Hmmm thinking on it more, it would be better called a purifying pilgrimage. I went just before going to Myoanji, the last trip.

While practicing some songs on different flutes to determine some sound differences. I got carried away on playing with my “A” shakuhachi. 2.0 , that Oota-san from the Shakuhachi society gifted me. I had not thought of it in my Takuhatsu practice, but it could be used. This thought came when I could play some high notes on it but not the 2.5. Also about taking it to Moriji next time and use in an offering at the temple.

I also wanted at some point to go to the nearby bamboo grove and get some bamboo for a new project, several in fact. One of which was a simple as stakes for the tomatoes and anything else. Instead of buying tomatoe racks. This grove was on or next to my favorite local Buddhist temple. I have gone there before and sat and played. Most times it is very very quiet. The thought was born to take the 2.0 to the local temple and give it my own purification ritual.

So now with the need for bamboo and the thought of taking my 2.0 flute and do a purifying ceremony. The next day was chosen, the weather was excellent. A lovely autumn day I mounted my bike and peddled off to the temple. I gave inner thanks for the beauty, peace, and blessing of riding my bike to the local temple in Japan to play my flute and do some Tai Chi. Also, grab a few photos. I am still a stutter bug. I do not get off on taking photos of myself but I am a handy model whilst out and about.

It is a fairly easy trip to the temple, other than the last bit, where it is easier to walk the bike up the hill or leave the bike at the bottom and take the steps. There is some kind of tradition to the steps. I think it is 100 steps. If you use the stone steps one gets a blessing or merit or something, a wish filled…? Usually, I take the steps just because, I can. However not today I walked the road outside and around the temple grounds to another entrance. I wanted my bike there. and I had to go to the bamboo grove just across the road, the lot, something. Anyway, nearby and still needing to climb the hill. From that side of the temple, one must also go to the highest point around for quite a ways. One has a great view of the countryside.

From the other side of the grounds, one can see to the bay. That is the side of the grounds where the 100 steps are and the old main gate with the two stone guards. Next to that is the cemetery.

So I guess technically I enter from the back side of the temple. No matter. I had some concern about where I had parked my bike but, unwarranted concern. I enter the grounds and felt the spiritual presence of the area and again gratitude for being there. I went to the main temple urn, and found insense burning. I took out my flute and passed it through the smoke and bowed. Then played a single Ro note. I did this also at the main temple steps.

Once done there I went to the front side of the temple to where the great bell is located. There I played more. Maybe Cho Shi and/or Tamuki. I do not recall. Afterward, I did some Taiji, to bring my physical vibe up speed. Balance out, it a good thought. Sort of like doing walking meditation after doing sitting.


I left this spot after a while and went to another of my favorites. It is next to a pagoda just behind a sand and rock garden. I can climb up on the rock and hang out. There I settled in an do some playing. A group of people came onto the grounds, they were heading for the great bell and one of the other smaller pagodas. I kept playing at one time I would have stopped, or tried to play softer, now I am Komuso and I play for others. On Buddhist temple grounds and people coming to pay respects or homage to their departed loved one, it felt appropriate…Amitoufo






Winter is coming…

Technically winter is here, but in Osaka I do not think of it until really January. Then we have two months of, ugly, for me cold. It has started a bit early this year with some yukky days. 
So on other fronts, the breath of winter is here, I am now laid off from both of my jobs, until business is better. The boat yard is fairly dead, at least for me. My wife is still working which is lucky because we would be in a world of hurt otherwise. For me zip, nada there, other than the lost of income, I am fine with not working there. My spirit for being there is still damage from the owner sending me out in the Typhoon, almost getting killed, and not so much as thank you, from someone who is suppose to be a friend! So much for that my respect is zero.
I got a call the other day my work for the silver center is done for the season. Until maybe late spring or summer. Although I was just asked to work Christmas day. After that it will be dry. So cuts backs are in order. Mostly food, which is ok since I am, not working I do not need to eat as much, also it cuts into my travel and other stuff, oh well. Oh well. The strong survive. “Trump” happens. Yeah I am not a fan of Trump. Mostly because he lies and has zero feelings for the non-rich. But I am not going into that, it is just my view. I have friends who love him, blindly. There is more than enough of that political talk else where. Sickeningly so. So I will not go there.
Yeah so with no work and less money my activities will be reduced. I had a session the other night with a possible new forming bad, from the owner of the Red House club. It was a fun session. A small trio, we drink ate chatted and played. I hope we can do it again with a plan.
Either way I am continuing my quest for a solo career. I applied for a spot in the Sakai Blues Festival in the spring. There is no money involved but it maybe good advertising for me, getting my name out.
So as I was saying with limited funds, it is time for me to go inward. Winter training. My Kung Fu, needs work, a lot I have been really slacking with that without the external motivation of having students. I need to get back on it for myself, just like doing meditation, just because I can. Music wise, I get some piano practice in everyday, so more time and songs are part of my training agenda. Oh musically I had a Major bummer the other day. My shakuhachi developed a Major crack. It was heartbreaking to see. The weather change , plus a combination of heating my studio, then getting way cold when I am not there, whatever. Big time crack it will cost I was told by Sensei about 2-300.00 dollars to repair. ouch!! This takes away half of my saved money for a new Shakuhachi. Sigh.
On a better note someone in my long shakuhachi group said they could make me one for a reasonable cost. However the problem is I do not know if he can make the type I need, with a “western” tuning. The maker does not speak English and the person, who will translate the conversation is not sure how to explain, nor am I. So this maybe a dead end. With half of my funds going to repair my crack one and the other left over is enough to pay this maker, but, can he do it? A lot is up on the air on this, maybe I do not even need it, as the “band” playing idea for this type of music is not happening, and someone else says I can do it with my current Shakuhachi, but my sensei says no. So it is all up in the air right now.
Kyudo, training I can step up with not working, but it will need to be at home with the Makiwara. Hmmm, I guess I can make some difference in my form with mostly home practice, but it is difficult to judge until I can actually shoot at 28 meters, if I am making a difference. I believe the finer points I need to work on, form wise will to be as big a factor as hitting at this point. But hard to tell, oh well, just shoot, because I can, like Zazen sitting, just because I can.
Yeah, winter activtiy, is all about training. Music, Budo, Cha’n. 2018 is suppose ot be a good year for a Tiger living in the year of the Dog. Good I can use a break!

Alameda – WaterWorld…full circle

Back to Alameda


Was the day to return to Alameda, the home coming. I had a lot of ground to cover as usual.
My first stop was to Downtown Alameda, some banking and a trip to Trader Joes. From there over to the Natural market for some misc supplies to take back to Japan. I came across some nice omiyage to take back. Eco bags are big now in Japan. I got a couple from TJ’s and a couple from the local Natural foods store.
Next stop over to the Oakland Yacht club. There I was to meet a couple of old students for lunch on their boat. It took me awhile to find the correct gate even though I was familiar with the club.
It turns out my student gave me the wrong gate tag. After a bit it got worked out and I met up with the crew on the boat. We had sushi and pie with a little bit of sparkling wine.
There was another local guest friend of theirs there. I knew him from before sort of.
We all chatted, ate and such, then my time was up,
I was off to the next stop.
My next stop was just a little ways away. I had it all planned out. I went by my old place of work. The Blue Pelican Consignment shop. No one knew I was coming, big shocks! It was good to see the owners. I was offered a job.
If I was considering coming back to the States, that would have been a sign. However, no, I love Japan. I hung out a bit looked around, blah blah, then had to leave. I promised to try to stop again, before leaving.
Yup another stop, this one just around the corner. The marina where I was Asst, Harbormaster. I was expected there. I had an errand to run for Yoh Sense, in addition to my just going by. Again good to see the folks I did. A warm welcome from the new staff member. The vibe there is so much better now with the big shake up of firings and quits. So much for the better now! I sort of miss having a life there, but only a very little sort of.
Next off to see Capt Mary. She was a big influence on me getting my sailing chops together for the Japan sail. I also worked there at the sailing school, Afterguard, which she and her husband owned. She was the sensei fro LZ and her sailing skills. I took the chance she would be there and just went by. The streets where wacky with repairs but i found my way. I stopped in. Capt Mary was on the phone. She did not seemed too surprised to see me. I found out she had a lot going on right then with some work issues. I also found out her husband ad recently passed away. It was not the best of times for her or for a visit right then with someone on the phone and calls coming. We hugged and I slipped out.
Next stop. I head over to Chinatown, want to see my Kung Fu uncle and his wife. I make my way over there through the messed up repairs being done to the streets. I find the place dark and a note saying they were out. Sigh. That was a bummer. I will see them in two days at the memorial kung fu banquet. However a pre-visit would have been good to talk. There will not be much time at the banquet. I also needed to see if a Chinese herbalist could be suggested, since I needed some Kung Fu Medicine herbs and we were there in Chinatown. So oh well roll with it and off to my next stop.
There was a woman a worked with when I was a graphic designer. Before my whole world in that field fell apart. That was a major blow. But I survived…Allah be praised! We were pals at the office and a little on off time. I told her I would stop by. It was a short visit. She has three kids, one is a teen, the other two are 2/3 about. They cried, yelled, ran, jumped…
I am fairly old now, I need some rest and had a long drive ahead back to Sonoma for the night. It was a short visit and a peaceful drive back to Sonoma.
I had covered a lot in the one day. Tomorrow I had not as much planned to run and see and my stay was going to be in a motel for the night, close to my last stop visit. Yatta!
After some thought, I figure to just give up the mimi version of Friday, doubtful if it will be of interest on it’s own post.
I met-up with a close old-time friend for lunch. We chatted about this and that, Sound Healing, Music, Zen and had great Thai Food at an old hangout

Next I am off to do some shopping at the near-bye eStore ! That was fun, sort of with no money to just spend. Oh well less attachments. Next off to see another friend. That whole section did not work out I never got to hook up with them.Therefore I headed over to my student’s house for a visit and dinner. She insisted that I take no pictures of her meals. It was great by the way, she was just being anti-Social media. Oh well. this is the patio, one of several, where we ate.



It was a nice visit, We go back many years. She trained with me some 14 yrs or more. However I was off again, one more stop then I crash for the night. I go for a hotel since I have been with “others” for a week a bit of alone time is good for my balance. This location is good close to my last stop, close to my morning stop. The Tai Chi Mantis Seminar. It will be good to see the family.


On such a winter’s day

On such a winter’s day…
I decided to do something different today for a change of scene, change of pace. I am at the Snafkin Cafe for lunch. Once upon a time I could go down to my boat to sit by, the water have a meal, chill’n out, kick’n back, lounging etc, whatever you want to call it. Now being boatless a change is needed to do that. This is my first time coming here during the day and just to hang out. It is pretty quiet and nice, chatted a bit with the owners. One day I want to sail down here for lunch then back to Tajiri. Once the weather warms up.
I was told I had people coming in to look for me to be playing. It was my Japanese Sensei, I had forgotten I told her I was going to be playing here earlier this month and that it had changed. She came in with some others, I guess from the class, but I was not here. My bad for not remembering. I hope they still enjoyed the visit. I have spoken via email with her since then and apologized. 
snafkin lunch
So here I am, chilling, seaside. There are only a few people here, everyone was quite surprised to see me. I got a nice small table by the window. 
And the band played on…

Yesterday we, the Blues Band played at The Overheat club again. The night before or perhaps early that morning I get an email from the Doc., he had given me a couple of songs he wanted to do for the show. I said ok. That morning he gives me two more, and says I want you to sing this song, done slow. This is the same song I got pissed off about last show, being told to do it at the last moment on stage. However that was only part of my irritation. So I told him thanks for saying something before getting on stage, however if he wants it done that way he needs to sing it. His response was he is not ready. Ok, so I had to break it down to him (street talk for explain it). I said when I am being paid to play/sing, I do it however the employer wants. When I am doing something for free, I have the right to do it, play/ sing however I want. otherwise, I am not told how to do a song. When the band is working as Matsuo Blues Band and I am getting paid, I do as I am told. If I am not getting paid, doing something for free, with no benefit to me, then I do not have to do as told!
LZ thought I was being a bit mean. What if he tells you to leave then, what would you say? My reply was: BYE! So I had to break it down to her also. When band/ group is named after someone, the band members are backup for the “leader” it is all about him/her. The members are employees and have no say, because they are employees on a job. When a group is name for example The Sennan International Blues Band, then everyone is equal, No one is “told” what to do. It maybe suggested, discussed, but no one is ordered what to sing or play. Asking, requesting is ok, but I can also say no! There maybe a leader, but there is no boss, when there is a boss, the other members get paid and do as told. This group is call The Matsuo Blues band, it is about him, not the group. How many times have I heard him say to someone, that is my Bass player! If I am not getting paid, I am not an employee, who is told what to do. There is an etiquette line which has been cross. He may not be aware of never having been a professional working musician, mostly been solo and this is all just fun for him and maybe the Japanese youngsters he has played with before never said anything.
She got it then.
So did the Doc. He wrote back, oh, thanks for reminding me, he says. I have not paid you guys lately. I was thinking of paying you blah blah for the show today. I said ok, thank you, shacho! What other songs do you want done? The drummer who is part of this email, jumps in late and says ok, guys, let’s chill out. Your point is taken, let discuss this calmly and just go play and have a good time. I thought I was being very calm. As far as I was concerned it was settled…I had said my piece got resolution, understanding and it was done…and the band played on.
the band

We had a new member join us, on piano that day. The Doc said he was a piano genius, he could play any song hearing it. He was to my ears just ok. I was not impressed. I could not hear well when playing at the time, but later I listened to a recording and the first two songs sounded muddy and there were some clashing or disharmonic cords. The final song was ok, for a first time playing for all of us song. I do not know if he will be a permanent member or just sitting in from time to time, like for the up-coming big Blues Festival we will be doing in April. It is nice to have the extra instrument, and he seems a nice guy, hopefully he will work on his Blues cords.

You can’t stop the music…

A few weeks ago, I went back to the Ozaki Jazz society gathering. It was a Valentine night session. I arrived just a little past the starting time. When i open the door at first i got a bunch of stares, from everyone, especially the new faces. Then I was surprised by applause from those who recognized me, others after a few quick whispers. That was quite shocking and somewhat embarrassing, at the same time a nice little ego boost. It was a weird experience. I entered and greeted everyone I knew including the owners who welcomed me. I took a seat at the bar in the corner to watch and listen. It was a slower night than last time so now as packed, still a nice crowd. As I hoped for I did not get called up right away and got a chance to relax and enjoy.

Ozaki Jazz
After several other I was asked to come up. I gave out the music I prepared and pulled up a few players to help out who were not already up on the stage. We did the first song easy, it had a nice groove and was enjoyable. I am more relaxed about being up there now and getting the groove I want. The next song, I had changed from what I said I was going to do and play piano. I liked the keyboard player that was there. We did a slow blues, I was surprised at the good response when I said what we were going to do and also a couple of other players joined in. Ended up with three guitars, keyboard, congas, and drum. The trumpet player sat this one out, and no sax player came forward. Ok on all accounts. The horn player tends to be somewhat flat and I am not a big fan of Sax unless they are good players. So it was well and good. After two songs I sat down so others could perform. Later I sang one song with another group of players and also did some harmonica with a couple of songs. It was a fun evening. In Japan everyone is given chocolate not just sweethearts as in America. There was candy on the tables and bar, and I was given extra to take home. I am not a big chocolate eater, so took it home for LZ.
I left but the music played on.

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.

In the shadow of the Typhoon…

I usually keep my sailing stuff on its own blog for the few of my few readers who care. However just for a change-up I will do a Photo blog on my resent sailing adventure with a Typhoon alert hanging over our heads, on a sail from Tajiri, Osaka, to Sanan, Yamaguchi, in the shadow of the Typhoon!




























65 trips around the sun


Six Five

This week or so, past was my birthday autumn solstice. I had not planned it that way, however since the Universe put it out there, I accepted. There is a saying by Elkhert (s.p) about taking everything as if you planned it. Some would say we did…

LZ also had a birthday this month as did her friend . They wanted to go to restaurant we had visited before.
So we did. From there we walked around “deep” Namba, looking at stuff then to a wine Bar for another drink.
We had fun, it was not really about me, but close enough 🙂 because when one’s wife is happy, the man is happy.
The next day, my day, I took off work. Still I was up early. I wanted to do a little early morning Meditation, KungFu and also film a set. 
Sort of video document of my KungFu at this age. It went ok, not as good as I hoped for. It took me a long time to get the footage i wanted and by that time I was getting tired having done the “kata” quite a number of times to get the camera angles, moves, etc. Tricky doing it single-handed. 
I was just “ok” with the finished film it was passable. However when I posted it to the FB forum of my system’s founder, I was surprised at the amount of approval from peers and seniors. So I guess I am not looking too shabby for an old dude.
Afterward I hung out at home for a while then went to lunch with LZ. We went an Indian restaurant she found, as I love Indian food. This place was pleasantly good concerning the food. 
They had a chunty I have miss since Berkeley. so even thought he samosa were not what I expected the chunty made up for it. The Salat Pagneer was good as was the Lasse. I was able to find out they sell Turmic spice and balsamic rice. So overall I left a happy camper. From there I went to Kyudo…or maybe I went to Kyudo first. Hmmm age memory lost ? No matter.
Kyudo, was in there somewhere during the day, matters little where, it matters it was there. It was pretty quiet at the dojo, for the most part I had it to myself. I remember this because I had a chance to do some camera and video work un-bothered. I got some decent alone time practice in. I think I made some advancement in understanding something or applying it. Too many days, weeks have passed to recall. The real point is I was there practicing and enjoying my work-study. I also decided with all the extra work I have been dealing with, I should go for getting the Yumi I want. I have been taking a survey of people’s kilo Yumi strength. I have my 15.5k bamboo core bow, after spending the last several weeks shooting the 13 k, I like the feel and being able to really work on my alignments. The average seems to be 15. I am going with a 13.5 for a everyday Bamboo Yumi. A YonSun made in America by Symansky a student of Shibata XX. 
My first Yumi was by him and I liked it. Kyoto style is what I hear it called. A big factor at this time and place is I can have a well-built to Japanese standards, custom built, Yumi for less than half the cost of buying here. Kind of reverse of the old days in America when one could buy a qulity item from Japan for less than American built, like a Honda or something vs a Ford. Yeah, so it going to take a little over a month to build, shipping here I do not except to see it until Oct. Another factor in buying in the States is my cousin is flying in to visit and can bring it with her, more savings.The next I was off on a sailing adventure. It was not planned, and only heard about it a few days before. I had a boat pickup job. Another guy I sailed with before to Okinawa and I were going to Aioi to bring a boat back. We would take a train there in the morning, spend the night then sail back the next day. No overnighting on the boat whilst under sail. Perfect!


It was a pleasant sail back from Aioi. We motored sailed all the way, winds were pretty light. No drama befell us and I got some fair pictures, having brought along my Nikon with the big lens. That story is for the sailing blog readers.
So ended the week with the sail, really though I went to Kyudo again afterward so that really was a good cap to the end of the week.
So on the topic of birthdays I posted this on FB.
FB: Friends , definitions in a new age;
once upon a time, back in the day as we say in the hood your “friend” had a different “meaning” . My birthday was this month. Facebook book says i have 570 “friends” . About 60 of them, which surprised me, took the few moments needed to wish me a happy birthday (thank you). Small as it was in action, the impact was a surprise in the largeness of emotional gratitude. as an artist i am pretty sensitive to input. Ok so, 570 people are my friends, 60 took the time to say “yo” , ( about 20 of them i really have met) let’s say 110 were off-line and had no idea, no, let’s say 210 were busy in the real world and had no idea. So that leaves 300 people who are suppose to be my friend but do not give a rat’s azz about my birthday and it is too much effort to click and type something. However want to read my feeds and be in my business, iznt interesting! My main peeve here is that Facebook has changed the meaning, or at least the quality of the mean of Friend. How can 570 people be my “friend” when most of them do not even say hello.
This is a sign of age, I have heard, when you start bitching about how things were back in the day!.

2014: thoughts N Reflections

2015, year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep….?


Hmmm, not sure, I have seen it called all. Whatever. So yeah, here it is 2015, whewww, and we are off…Tiger in the Sheep’s Shadow

tiger2015 (1).jpg

So far just trip’n: Random thoughts and reflection starting the year.

I have been mostly chill’n the last couple of days. I came across a cool internet radio station that just does asian songs. Not the pop stuff but the old school based stuff. Japan, China, Korea, nice. I have it on the last two days, just drifting, mind drifting…


We had Okasan over for New Years day. It was quiet, I had this asian station on, she mostly slept and tried to stay warm. LZ had did the Traditional Japanese cooking menu. We drank, with Otosan’s old sake set, ate. LZ went to work that evening. I found “the Flash” TV show and zoned out for the night and stayed warm in a small space. Today, am just hanging out, some morning Chan, food, drink, music, internet, incense, candles, tea, snow, thoughts…


LZ is finally taking a full day off. She worked on New Years evening. Now she is relaxing in the bed, with the heater on, watching Japanese Year End, TV shows via the internet. She has found most of what she wants to see via the internet since we do not have a TV. Something planned for this year…




I had my first stare down the other day. I am riding the train, this guy across and over from me is giving me the mean mug. I ig (ignore) him for a while. After a while he is still just staring. I give him a look just to see if he is really locked on me or some other visual in my area…nope it is me. I look away…breath…then look back. Just as direct, just as blank faced. Eyes locked, the train rolls on…
He holds…I hold…both blank stone faces sway with the train. I settle into mirror-mode jitsu. He folds and yields, I shift awareness to the bay in the distance through the glass of the access doors. The wheels of the train squeak as we roll. No one knows of the drama among them as they sway in time with the train, lost in their own worlds. Oblivious, to the primal struggle of man against man in their mist. The vanquish challenger quietly exited with his female companion. I considered a nap. The train rolled on.

Resolutions…I do not really do New Years resolutions, except to do better than I did last year. There are things I want to accomplish, but resolutions … Hmmmm. I resolved to practice more this year than last…


Part of my approach to the new year is reading the I-Ching: how should I deal with/ approach this year?

The present is: ䷎ – 謙 (Khien) / Modesty

Khien indicates progress and success. The superior man, (being humble as it implies), will have a (good) issue (to his undertakings).

Explanation of the separate lines by the duke of Kâu.

Six at the beginning means:

The first SIX, divided, shows us the superior man who adds humility to humility. (Even) the great stream may be crossed with this, and there will be good fortune.

Six in the fourth place means:

The fourth SIX, divided, shows one, whose action would be in every way advantageous, stirring up (the more) his humility.

The future is: ䷶ – 豐 (Făng) / Abundance [Fullness]

Făng intimates progress and development. When a king has reached the point (which the name denotes) there is no occasion to be anxious (through fear of a change). Let him be as the sun at noon.


Just for the heck of it i did, Kyudo and me next, how to approach this year:

The present is: ䷎ – 謙 (Khien) / Modesty

Khien indicates progress and success. The superior man, (being humble as it implies), will have a (good) issue (to his undertakings).

 Explanation of the separate lines by the duke of Kâu. 

Six at the beginning means: The first SIX, divided, shows us the superior man who adds humility to humility. (Even) the great stream may be crossed with this, and there will be good fortune.

 Six in the fourth place means: The fourth SIX, divided, shows one, whose action would be in every way advantageous, stirring up (the more) his humility. 

 The future is: ䷶ – 豐 (Făng) / Abundance [Fullness] Făng intimates progress and development. When a king has reached the point (which the name denotes) there is no occasion to be anxious (through fear of a change). Let him be as the sun at noon.

Hmmmm, let.’s try the band:

The present is: ䷎ – 謙 (Khien) / Modesty

Khien indicates progress and success. The superior man, (being humble as it implies), will have a (good) issue (to his undertakings).

Explanation of the separate lines by the duke of Kâu.

Six in the fourth place means:

The fourth SIX, divided, shows one, whose action would be in every way advantageous, stirring up (the more) his humility.

Six in the fifth place means:

The fifth SIX, divided, shows one who, without being rich, is able to employ his neighbours. He may advantageously use the force of arms. All his movements will be advantageous.

The future is: ䷞ – 咸 (Hsien) / Influence (Wooing)

Hsien indicates that, (on the fulfilment of the conditions implied in it), there will be free course and success. Its advantageousness will depend on the being firm and correct, (as) in marrying a young lady. There will be good fortune.

What is really interesting is the “Modesty” figure showing up each time. Something that I have never seen.

Yet each line takes it to a different place…interesting. One can not go wrong usually living in / with modesty…

I have been giving thought to my life direction, comparing now to a couple of years ago. Happiness, fullness, accomplishments , direction maybe most. Some who read my blog for a number of years, told me she felt I was going in the wrong direction. I did not laugh as before. Hmmm, interesting to judge that from my blog and facebook. Still perhaps true. There were/ are several levels to recovering from the lost of Zen II. I do feel more grounded in my “plans”, hopes.

Another friend, a Chan sister, asked me for advice on how to live on the edge, live with uncertainty, and still be happy. LZ also had a similar query. Hmmm, I would not say I am happy… I am not unhappy, and that is in a sense, happiness. I have moments of happy happiness, but more I am on the “middle” sense. Perhaps I am naive in continuing to feel things will work out, and sometimes I feel pretty depressed being still, but knowing that is the only thing I can do at times. 


Perhaps it is, finding pleasure, contentment, gratitude in small things, even if they are not what you want, whilst continuing to follow your heart. Perhaps that is what is perceived as happiness to others…

hmmm, so yeah, I am happy, but not happy happy, everyday is not sunny, but happiness is in the gratitude of being able to “see” all the days…


Ok, so writing down what one want to accomplish is suppose to be a good thing. So let’s see this year I want to :

Yon-dan in Kyudo. Not a big deal even within the Kyudo world but in my head a milestone in personal training and that goal I sought on the start of this Renmei path. I had planned on reaching Yon-dan then retire from shinsa. I can understand the value of “exams”, and have re-set my personal within the renmei goals. Still there is question, “is it all about shinsa and Tai Hai’s”. I have made an introduction connection to the Muyoshingetsu clan. I will pursue visiting a class in the spring after Shinsa. It will be another pilgrimage  as it is a several hour journey to reach where a class is held.

Start Shakuhachi lessons. I can get sounds and entertain myself, however I would like some formal training. Then I can explore more of Mixing Styles for some original songs, sounds. It would be good to spreadout more musically than just doing the Blues. There are several of the Sempai at Kishiwada Kyudojo who play Shakuhachi at the dojo. I wondered the other day whilst playing mine, if the lessons helped to train the breath control. I will ask someone At the Dojo about an introduction. 


Tai Chi/Kung Fu class going. The first one fizzled out at the cultural center. I have another, perhaps better location on the radar. Getting the students is the real challenge…yosh!

I will be dropping my current Japanese language class and finding another. The one I have now, is kind of “fun” but, I am not really learning, improving my Japanese skills…seriously. I want to/need do that.

No real sailing plans other than to get out more since I know I have boat access. No big sail away dreams. I still want to sail the inland sea and visit islands… However I am not thinking about that for a couple of years. Somewhere in that “5 yr plan” formation.

Another thing is to do better with my Chan class and personal practice. Part of being able to do that is to better my Japanese. I need to guide the students better.


As for the band. Hmmm, i would like to expand our song base, and do some other songs. Our current “house” status is ok. However I would like to get into some other clubs, expand our musical base. Starting some time near the end of the month I will go visit some other “Jam” venues, , meet some other musicians. Maybe I will end up working some with two bands. People do that here.

Well this has been a pretty long post about me doing nothing for a change. It is also getting late on the last day of my vacation. In the morning I am back to to Silver Center for rak’n stuff. Unless it rains, which is expected. Like the Universe is saying, here dude have another day of chill’n.

As it turns out, I got my extra day off. The rain did not start early enough for me to stay in bed. I got up and ready for work. However just before I was ready to leave I detected some rain fall, with the sky saying more is coming. It was the correct call as it is now raining proper. Even if I went in the day would have cancelled shortly after.

Rather than just go back to bed I will be productive at least for a while. First step publish this.


2015, na! Ganbarimasho!

Chicago Rock – Dec


So it seems that we, the band, are booked as a regular monthly band. Just what I was hoping for as a minimum doing music in Japan. So that aspect has worked-out perfect as hoped for. Even nicer the lads in the band are cool. Many times there is one jerk, pain n the rear type.

We had a rehearsal last Friday to go through some new songs and a some practice on a few old ones. We have a couple things upcoming, the Tuesday (now past) gig at Chicago Rock B&S Bar. The following Sunday (upcoming) a guest spot at a Blues and Soul show in Kyoto. It will take some travel and effort to get there and we want to make a good impression. 
So the Tues @ Chicago Rock was fun. It was a long day for me as I worked the day. I had a sailing class to teach. Yeah, I was surprised also to teach this late in the year. Even more so when I found out I have another class in January. January teaching a sailing class in Osaka! Maybe the force will bless me with another good day. Tuesday was not bad, fairly mild temps, I dressed warm, and there was mild wind. This past week was ridiculously windy. This day was good. The person spoke some English which always helps things go smoother. Oh, and no rain! Unlike the past week class where one day of the two-day class was filled with rain and high wind. Even so the class must go on, when unpleasant. I worked around it as much as possible, but did need to spend a time in the rain as the winds abated enough to make some docking training feasible.
Afterward I head to meet up with the lads in the band at the club. I had made arrangements to get done with class early, so I could make the gig. As it turns out I had plenty of time. Enough that I could stop and eat a bowl of noddle at a shop. Kisune Udon. 
From there I went to the club. Still I was the first to arrive. So I hung out bit. Even when the guys got there the owner was still some 20 min away. The lads went and ate. I hung out with the equipment and played with a few selfie photo shots.
Once we had all setup, a friend from the Mosrite club cane and sat-in with us for the night. It was fun. Also nice to have another instrument to fill out the sound. I got a surprise that the guy and I could match our vocals easy. It was nice to have a fuller vocal sound as well. 
The club was not busy so we got to be very casual with our song list and playing. It was a good evening. The one bummer is I thought it was taping audio but nothing recorded. My bad for not checking in detail other than a glance. Oh well. Non-attachment…the memory is there. If we all live there will be other times, If we stay local.
So here it is Christmas 2014. It is a much better Christmas for us this year. LZ is off, unlike last year and has the energy to cook. We are having some quiet time, dinner relaxing being grateful. The wine helps.
Merry Christmas / Merry Festivus From the Zen Clan. 

Black -n- White weekend

Weekend in B/W

I have an acquaintance in France I met via Kyudo, in Tokyo. He sent me a challenge via FaceBook to do a B/W photo a day post for 5 days. I took oa few days thinking on it and figured it would be fun. I accepted the challenge. I had plans for the weekend so it would be a good time to get some shots. 
I ended up with more pictures which turned out pretty good, than I needed so I decided to do a blog post and a small photo album of the Black and White weekend.
I started the project at home, first with a couple of yard and hood shots.

The next day I am off to Tajiri Harbor. I have made arrangements to take advantage of my perk as an instructor for Aoki Yachts. I am taking a boat out for a solo day sail. I had wanted to on my birthday but the office was closed that day. Today ( at the time, on Friday) seemed prefect. I have figured out that most of the time the winds here are pretty weak, compared to the S.F. bay area. The three times I went racing here, 3-6 knots, the classes I taught , 4-8 knots. Only once was there some fairly strong wind. The it was called for 10-12 knit winds with 15-20 knot gust. Perfect!
I got my gear ready, hopped on the bike and pedaled over to the marina. It was a great day, mostly sunny, cool temps but not uncomfortable when dressed correctly. I got the boat ready is was a nice 22 ft. This is a good size it was light and agile enough to move yet heavy enough to be comfortable. This is the size. I am leaning to when I am ready to buy again. It took me about 45 to get all in order and checked. That is after finding the boat. It was not where I was told by the office. It was dock an easier location for me. I was quietly grateful for the much easier access, being side tied to the dock.

Once i was pleased with everything, I cast off. It was a historic event in my mind. My first solo single-handed sail on Japan and the day was perfect for it. Fair wind not much chop, only a few white caps. It was and easy sail put on to the bay. It is nice to be in a large open are to sail after only a short motor. In Alameda open water was about 45-60 min away. In Martinez it was closer but limited. It was nice to sit a tack here and just go. After an hour or so I hove-to for lunch.

It was a pleasant lunch. It was a light but tasty meal. Thoughts drifted back and forth across the ocean, past to present. Many were the thoughts of gratitude. After lunch and meditation I set-out following the basic route of the races. Just to go where i had not been before, enjoying the wind, movement and the sound of the boat cutting through the wetness of the Bay.
Ahhh, it was a pleasant journey, alas time to return. The sail back was comfortable, an easy close reach to the mouth of the harbor. I did run into a bit a challenge getting the hacked on Jib down and secured enough to go onto the port. It took longer than I thought , but I was being careful as I was alone. Rushing is when “things” happen.
Once the boat was put to bed and everything returned to the office I took a few around the dock shots. Interesting because this is not only a yacht harbor but, a working fishing port.
I start my fairly short ride home. However, with B/W photos and that eye and mindset, I got distracted for a few in route shots. Therefore making for a longer, but more interesting pedal home.
It was a pleasant restful evening that night. Heater on, I caught on the “Arrow” tv show and a couple of other, with several glasses of Chuhai, before hitting the blankets for a deep sleep. Tomorrow I am off to Kyudo.
To be cont…