A seriously sweaty practice last night. And since it's now summer vacation, half of the gym we use at an elementary school has been transformed into changing rooms for the kids who use the pool during the summer. So we've got half a gym and not much space.
After practice Taka and I got some Chinese food and talked smack for a while. Bummer none of the other university students showed up for practice, as I got paid yesterday and so it was my treat. Tomorrow is the shizankai where I get to try cutting stuff for real...will attempt to avoid taking off my own foot.
Today I spent all day attempting to renew my driver's license. As much as I'd love to blame the maddening Japanese bureaucracy, the reason it took all day was entirely my fault. First and foremost, I got a ticket and therefore lost my "gold" status and was relegated to the dregs of "regular driver", meaning that instead of hitting the local police station, eye check, cash payment, photo new license in 15, I had to go to one of the two designated license renewal centers and revel in the joy that is the one hour lesson. Secondly, I didn't read carefully enough and showed up at 11:04, four minutes past the cloes of morning registration, and was told to come back for the afternoon session. At 1:30. Doh!
So I got myself very familiar with the various backstreets of Kanda. First I tested the Starbucks Theory (which is a variation of the McDonald's theory): walk in any one direction for 10 minutes and you'll hit a Starbucks. I set off north-northwest and in a few minutes passed...a place that sells swords! This I had to check out. I went in and they mostly had blades for display, some heavy cutters, but nothing good for iai. Had a nice chat with the woman, gave her my card and told her what kind of sword I was looking for, and continued on my way. Sure enough, not 3 blocks down I spied the old green and black.
Lunch consisted of a banana and a tall rhumba frap, and then back to the license center went I. First in line, smiling photo, down to class, watch the video (oh, look out for that va-...) careful when turning right, speed limits are set for a reason, blah blah blah, and a good four and a half hours after I set off this morning, I had my new license in hand.
I am now determined to get no tickets for the next 5 years just so I don't ever have to do that again.
Ericka's put some photos from the Gyoza Fest up in her Ofoto Album (simple registration required but don't sweat it, eh.)
Found out in Iaido last night that August 4 the sword dealer is coming, so this may be my chance to get a shinken (real sword)!
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has put up initial designs for the redevelopment of the former World Trade Center site. I hope reason prevails and they rebuild a commercial/retail/social/residential space that revitalizes downtown. A memorial is necessary, sure, but the "hallowed ground" argument is in my opinion a bit over-emotional. Not to belittle the tragedy, but the best thing for Manhattan, and for the memory of those lost, is to rebuild NYC as the economic and cultural dynamo it has always been. Restore the thousands of jobs lost, give people more places to live, relax, shop, meet, and be entertained. Remember, of course, but also revitalize.
Typhoon #7 come and gone. Not very interesting, actually.

Last night in iai I realized my footwork needs serious help. I blame aikido. If I stuck with kendo I'd have no problem keeping both feet parallel, knees forward. But aikido has drilled into me the hanmi stance where the back foot is turned out. Great for balance, terrible for keeping my hips forward and driving sword cuts straight. For the next month I have decided to focus on my damn feet in an attempt to keep a shoulder-wide, feet parallel, knees forward stance.
Also, I have recently been consuming more than my fair share of mozarella, tomato, and avocado salad with Italian dressing. Damn good stuff, that.
More photos from the Iaido Festival and Tournament!
It was a weekend of gyoza. In expected G.Y.M. fashion, we managed to stuff and consume about 1000 gyoza on Saturday night. All involved where bloated and happy. This seems to be a theme: make lots of food, eat too much. I think Ericka took some photos so I'll link them up when available.
Interesting Mugai-ryu Lineage page up in Finland.