Finally made it to the yearly koshukai (practice where all the different schools get together) after getting lost on my scooter for a good half hour. Good practice in the morning and then all of a sudden I'm being told I just made 2kyu! A bunch of people tested for shodan in the afternoon, and there was even a sandan test -- hope the photos of the (test cutting) come out ok. Also found out that there's a tameshigiri practice in late July; that should be fun. Tanaka-sensei said I can borrow a sword since I don't have one, but said that if I bent it I have to pay for it, and then Kanai-sensei told me how easily they bend when you cut badly, and then Tanaka-sensei said she should know, as she's always bending them. Seems she had to do tameshigiri for her 4dan test last time, but didn't pass so she's doing it again in October. And then as we were settting up for the tournament tomorrow Gosoke told me to get 1kyu next time and go for shodan in October! Doh! Everyone else was saying I should go for shodan this year, but when Gosoke says, I guess I have no choice.
So the tournament is tomorrow and since I'm in the lowest ranked group there's alot of people, but most won't show up so I was told I've already made it to the quarter finals. We go two at a time and the winner (3 judges call it red or white, majority wins) moves to the next round. My first opponent is female, and I've already been told (by Kanai-sensei, who's judging tomorrow but not my block) that judges tend to encourage female participation and therefore are more lenient, so I've really gotta nail it. Speed isn't required so I have to make my cuts big, keep my eyes steady, and make sure my chiburi (cleaning the blood off the blade before sheating) isn't wimpy...we'll see how it goes.
Causing me father endless amounts of hassle as I'm getting him to finally transfer to me; right now I'm just admin contact, but he's registrar. Sorry!
Pet peeve time: waiting for a package to be delivered, and someone had to be home because I owed 850 yen COD. So I use the handy automatic push-button phone packaging system to have the package delivered today in the AM, knowing that the lovely and ever-dependable Lai would be, as she is every Thursday, busily cleaning my apartment. When I came home tonight, 850 yen sat on the coffee table with a note from Lai saying that the package never came. Checking the mailbox I saw the delivery slip: package delivered 12:43pm. Checked the answering machine: message from driver at 12:30pm saying he probably couldn't make it before noon. Called the package center and managed to get a human being. Explained to her that, as far as I know, AM actually implies BEFORE noon, to which she agreed. By some miracle of customer service she got the driver to deliver the package within the next hour. Package received: 8:15pm.
Last night's iaido in Akihabara was kind of freaky but good practice. There was little me (3kyu), another "beginner" (1kkyu), and EVERYONE else was 3dan or above (read: shogun battle masters, the lot of them). After basic practice we ran through the kata for the tournament on Sunday. Head instructor calls out "OK, 3kyu and one here, right?" And I meekly proclaim by rank. All heads swivel and I am called to the front of the pack. We run through the 3 kata I need to know (shin, munezukushi, and enyo) and then before I know what's going on we're running through the dan-level kata, most of which I've never done and several of which I've never even SEEN as they don't teach them until you're at least 3dan. Naganuma-sensei finally came up to me and asked "You don't know these kata do you?" and I jus shook my head. "Don't worry about it, just move to the back and try to follow're drenched in sweat! Don't stress so much!" I thought I had been called up to the front to get drilled before the tournament, but that came later...after kata practice we split into individual practice and I shuffled into a corner out of the way of all the real swords and started practicing. All the instructors, meanwhile, had gathered to practice judging for the tournament. Of course they needed to judge someone, so I and the 1kkyu girl acted as competitors five or six rounds. I thought the judges were just making it up because I actually won 3 of the rounds, but later Taka told me he thought I actually did win a couple of them. Very doubtful it was true, but it was just what I needed to motivate me to practice. General practice ended at 9pm but we could use the gym until 10pm, so Taka and I stayed around working on a few points: me, chiburi, him, really fast draw and cut. Finally the security guard kicked us out at ten and we cruised back to Ebisu to get some Ippudo ramen and talk crap until 11:30pm.
By the way the package I got was another iaido uniform: shorter hakama because I have stumpy little legs and a cotton top, much cooler (as in temp, not the Fonz) for summer practice.
I really hate mosquitoes. Woke up at three-thirty in the morning when a mosquito was dive-bombing close enough to my ear to drag me from my gentle slumber. Immediately noticed my left forearm and right shoulder were itchy. Got up, found the muhi, drank some water, turned on the electric mosquito repeller and started searching the net for mosquito nets for the bed.
Ericka proved that even without Jeff she's still the Queen of Meat. BBQ dinner at her place with a bottle of wine for every attendant, way too many s'mores, and surprisingly good chicken. Though this doesn't mean Ericka can actually cook nearly as well as Jeff, it does prove she's not totally lost without him.
Her brother is also here, having just moved to Japan 2 days ago to begin an exciting career as an English teacher. In proper welcome-to-Japan fashion, "the boys" (Kevin, Stevie, etc.) took him out on his first night in Japan and proceeded to alcoholically pound the jet-lag out of him. Alas, big sister was smart enough to know that it wouldn't work and dragged him home in the not-so-wee hours. He was still looking a bit confused last night, but it could have been the company more than the jetlag. We tend to have that effect on people.
Hiroko should be coming home today after spending a couple of less-than-pleasant days back and the parentals'; beware the fried clams!