evan and miho

After running various errands in the morning, Hiroko and I got all dressed up and went to Evan and Miho's wedding reception. Watatani-ke is a very cool old mansion built in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Japanese entrance, western hall and stairs, Japanese tatami rooms, western sitting room, Japanese garden; a cool blend of old and new. Hiroko and I played video games and chatted with some of Evan's family friends before heading over to Trocadero for Zareen's going-back-to-the-states party.
But as soon as we got there I started feeling really bad, and we ended up going home right after we got there. Hiroko thinks it might have been the crab-stuffed appetizers, as I was careful to avoid the cheese.

honbu jo

Came by honbu dojo after work and set up the computer and network. PC worked ok but we couldn't get Niina-gosoke's laptop to connect to the wireless LAN. Still have to figure that one out.
Hoshina-san schooled me on the first five jo (staff) techniques. Niina-gosoke would demonstrate the tachi (sword) part a couple of times, and then I'd try it with Hoshina-san pummelling me in the wrist, head, and solar plexus. The moves are tough, and I have no idea how we'll teach the basics and 10 kata during the LA seminar next month, but then again Niina-gosoke does have Menkyo-kaiden, so he knows what he's doing. The problem is I don't.
The first five kata are tachi-otoshi, tsuba-wari, tsuki-zue, hissae, and sakan. And that's about all I remember. Gosoke loaned me an old, out-of-print book with all the Shindomusoryu jo techniques in it (over 70 or something like that) and I've got to make copies of it as it's been out of print for decades.
After practice we went to the Chinese restaurant next door. Cheap and good and the portions are huge. Plus they have those cool lazy-susans on all the tables.

it's a girl!

Yoshida-sensei has given birth to a daughter! Congratulations!

minami azabu 3rd

Put up some photos of what will hopefully soon by our new home. Shimizu-san is still negotiating with the landlord, and they still have to clean the place. If all goes well we can probably move in late May!

honbu dojo

Stopped off at the honbu dojo to set up the DSL and wireless LAN. Niina-gosoke bought pizzas and food and everyone who helped paint and set up had a little party. The place looks really great now that it's all painted, and it's much bigger than I thought. I'll go on Friday to practice with Niina-gosoke; he's got to teach me the jo and tanjo (staff and short staff) kata for when we do the seminar in LA next month.

what a difference a day makes

Shimizu-san is, without a doubt, The Bomb. Hiroko and I were wondering if really Pacific was the better apartment, or if we should go for MinamiAzabu 3rd, the house we saw. Both have their good points.
Tons of light, huge living-dining room, brand new reform, right in AzabuJyuban, but the building is old.

Huge, giant basement, two toilets, fully spec'd kitchen, but it's a stand-alone wood-frame building (not well insulated.)

Anyway, going back and forth with Shimizu-san and she finally says: "The management company of Pacific is...sketchy. Even negotiating the most basic things, they're dodgy and indirect, and then they're making this crazy demands like 6 months advance notice when moving out...I've done some research and the parent company is into loan-sharking, debt collection, land and real estate management, venture capital...I just get a bad feeling dealing with them, and I'm worried that it will be trouble for your later."
Hmm: loans, debts, real estate...can you say Yakuza front? So Shimizu-san basically gave up her agent fee by being honest with us. That is so cool.
But little did she know we really liked 3rd as well, so I told her to go for it. She knows that management company well and they're totally cool. So she's put a hold on the place and is negotiating to take 50,000 yen off the rent and knock down the deposit, get the place cleaned, etc.
It's an awesome house:
First floor has a big entrance way with a MASSIVE shoe closet. Right off the entrance hall is the bedroom (as big as my living room now; 12 mats) which has a giant walk-in closet. Down from that is the bathroom (toilet and sink) and next to that the shower/bath, a totally modern Japanese deal.
Stairs go down into the basement, which is basically the whole foundation of the house (20 mats at least), plus two massive storage spaces in the corners and more storage under the stairs. So basically, that's my dojo.
Upstairs is the main level: kitchen with refrigerator, washer/dryer, dish washer, water filter, oven, and stove. Lots of cabinet storage and counter space, and an open counter into the living-dining room. The ceiling is high; cathedrals all the way up to the roof, and theirs more stairs up to the loft above the kitchen. Loft has carpet, more closet storage, a big sky light, and is big enough to stand up in (my office probably.)
Off the living-dining room is a reasonably nice sized wooden deck on two sides (with a small bench on it now.)

So, things are looking good, assuming we can get a final agreement on the place. Also, it's about a two minute walk from our place now, so moving won't be a big deal, and I know the neighborhood's good!

giant microbes

from my bro:
Get intimately knowledgeable about the common cold, flu, or a stomach virus with these awesome stuffed toys!

kobayashi barber

My clippers are dying (ok, they're dead) and I haven't cut my hair in weeks. Hiroko suggested I just pop down the street to Kobayashi, the barber next door to the local bath house.
So I hopped on the bicycle and cruised over. 4000 yen and I got a shave, haircut, and shampoo. The best part is at Japanese barbers you lean forward to have your hair rinsed and washed. Sporty.

pacific azabu mansion!

The sun was shining and it actually felt a bit like spring. Shimizu-san must have been getting sick of showing us apartments, because today each apartment was better than the next. Minamiazabu 3rd was a little house down the street from our place. It had a huge basement, a giant master bedroom with walk-in closet, a good kitchen with all the trimmings, nice living-dining room, and a loft. Two toilets and a Japanese bath, too. Hiroko liked it, so we were off to a good start.
Next was Pacific. Just in Azabu-jyuban, across the street from the Korean embassy. The building is old (1971) and the floorplan looked lame, but when we looked at it, the place was amazing! Seems the owner himself planned on moving in, but half-way through the remodelling decided to live somewhere else. Beautiful floors, giant (GIANT) living-dining room, the whole south wall is double sliding glass doors, 2 small bedrooms and a third room that opens into the living room, brand new kitchen with a counter to the dining room, lots of smart closets, and a toilet lid that automatically opens when you stand in front of it. 7th floor, south facing, and the building is in from Sendaizaka Street because of the parking lot, so it's quite and full of sunlight. Behind it is the temple and graveyard, in front is the Korean Embassy, so there are cops all over the place 24/7 and no one will ever build something to block the view or sun.
This was one of the first floorplans Shimizu-san sent me, but the floorplan was the old apartment before the remodelling, and I don't think anyone's gone to see the place since it's been on the market. The location, price, and design makes it a steal, but the floorplan is so bad everyone (including me) just blows it off. Asked Shimizu-san to put in a offer on this place, so we'll see!
Also saw a couple of other apartments. Two nice 'foreigner' places just down the street: good carpet, high ceilings, two toilets, but the kitchens were kind of lacking and compared to Pacific they weren't really big and open. Then we checked out Flats K in Nishiazabu: very clean, almost sterile, but nice places. And finally a huge place on the top floor of a building right on Kottodori in Aoyama. The living-dining room was even bigger than Pacific, the kitchen was an open counter, and the entire roof was a balcony. Had a big master bedroom with a big closet, and another big but funky-shaped room. Two toilets and a Japanese bath (old but usable.)
Hopefully Pacific will come through, but if not there's still hope.