shibuya saturday

Did the standard Saturday AM errands; hit the dry cleaners and learned that the building will be torn down and rebuilt so they're moving around the corner (conveniently, so am I), went to Shibuya with the intention of getting things done, but failed miserably.
Have to fix my watch band but forgot my watch. Have to buy a new alarm clock but didn't go to the electronics store. Met hiroko and tried to get some Indian curry but it was too crowded, so we bussed back to Hiroo and ate at Homeworks. Beautiful day and all the pretty people were out and about doing their thing.
Came home in the afternoon and dropped dead, tired from all the being useful in the morning. We are so NOT morning people.


Niina-gosoke's practice at Shinbashi. I've actually been able to do my own practice twice this week. Amazing. Gosoke's new thing for his year is: "Do what you want, figure it out for yourself, I'll give some hints or clues as necessary."
So I started with the basics for the first hour, just trying to really hard to not try too hard, and working on rotating my hands a bit later as Gosoke told me on yesterday.
Then I started running through kata. Just doing each one a few times to see how it feels. Also trying to not do alot of foot-stomping, which actually makes it easier to think about putting energy into the sword tip instead of into the ground, but it also make timing the upper and lower body movements harder.
Felt a bit sore in general but it was a good practice and for the first time in a while it was not cold and I worked up a good sweat.
After practice we hit the local dive and stuffed ourselves as Gosoke told us stories of how he almost went to Germany and Lebanon, ended up getting sent to South America, etc.
Also talked about the deeper Zen issues we have to start getting our head around: "Swinging a sword is only part of it. You have to use your head. You have to use your heart. Think of how small and insignificant the Earth in when seen from the farthest reaches of the universe."
Big, deep, and too much for me to wrap my head around, but I'm working on it.


Did some work in the AM and then went over to the Park Hyatt about noon. The sky was heavy with clouds but the rain was tapering off, so I had faith that the Japanese weather reports would be correct and we'd have blue skies for the PM.
Met Larry, Nancy, and The Jake and we walked through Central Park to get to the subway station. Nancy remarked on the amazing homeless houses built out of tarp, tents, and cardboard. Some of them even had doors and windows. Regardless of what the hotel told her, though, I reassured her that no one in Japan ever pan-handles, and walking through Central Park in Shinjuku at 2 am was no more dangerous than walking through the hotel lobby. It's a tough concept to get, but the worst thing Japanese homeless people will do is read and sleep alot. Which if you think about it is what most people would do it they didn't have to work every day.
So we got on the Oedo Line and Nancy jumped off at Aoyama-Icchome to transfer to the Hanzomon Line and go to Omotesando. She walked around checking out all the cool shops and boutiques and met Hiroko and Rolands for lunch.
Meanwhile me and Larry and The Jake went Hakuhinkan in Ginza. But first The Jake had to remind me how much I Suck, because I missed Shimbashi Station and we had to get off the train and get back on to go back, wasting 7 precious minutes. But it was all part of my plan, because those extra 7 minutes gave us just enough time for the weather to clear and the blue ski to come burning through.
We got off at Shinbashi and walked over to Hakuhinkan. Larry bought armloads of Yugioh for Sanitsky The Smallest and The Jake checked out some of the other coolness. Then we got on the JR line and headed to The Mecca: Akihabara.
Straight out of the station we went up to Yellow Submarine and wandered around looking at all the cool figures and toys. The Jake got a bunch of sweet Naruto figures and Final Fantasy monster figures and I grabbed a set of Shinsengumi samurai. We hit all the floors looking for more Yugioh and checking out the crazy custom models and figures (nice Rhino!)

Then we went across the street to Gamers to check out the Anime stuff. Larry was hypnotized by small electronics so we left him to his own devices and me and The Jake started on the ground floor and worked our way 7 stories. The whole building was infused with a Peach smell. Kinda pleasant in a wierd way. Found some Naruto and One Piece DVDs, but they were new and not too cheap. Also looked for some soundtracks for Final Fantasy but nothing too exciting. Ended up grabbing a bunch of Naruto manga and more Yugioh stuff for Satinsky The Smallest.
Then we wandered through the small sketchy stores and Larry was again hypnotized by small electronic devices of questionable utility.
We cruised up the main street and hit one of the duty-free stores. Larry was checking out a tiny portable DVD player that was region free, but we wanted to compare prices so we continued on in search of food. The Doner Kebab truck wasn't there, so we went for the traditional hotdogs at Doutor's cafe (?) then crossed the street to check out the video game displays at Asobit City. We cruised up to the top floor of Animate to check DVD prices but still new DVDs were kinda pricey.
Finally worked our way back to the station and hit Laox to verify the price of region-free DVD players. Larry settled on a sweet little unit that's PAL/NTSC and region free. Larry busted the salesman's butt in expected NY fashion because the sign said Region 6 but the dude said it's region free and had to prove it by putting in a US, a European, and a Chinese DVD to show that they all worked.
With nothing left to buy in Akihabara we got back on the Yamanote, rode to Shinbashi, and got the bus back to my house so that The Jake could get some more munchies and check out my swords. After whining about Hint of Lime Tostitos, he relented and devoured my remaining half-bag and the last of Hiroko's Magical Salsa. We checked out my swords and then Nancy called, saying she was on her way back to the hotel. I had to get ready for practice so Larrry and The Jake, loaded down with shopping bags, got on the bus up to the Oedo Line station to subway back to Shinjuku.
In all, a primely successful day, with minimal sketchiness.


First 'official' practice at Honbu Dojo. Niina-gosoke just had us do whatever we wanted for 2 hours, every now and then dropping a helpful hint or making a correction.
I did nothing but practice kihon ichi (basic #1) and then did the first kata shin for the last 30 minutes.
My makko-giri needs serious work; too small and cutting up more than out. Niina-gosoke watched me for a bit and finally commented: "Don't start turning over your wrists so early, that throws the sword tip up above your head. You're making a big arc that comes down to close and quick. Throw your hands OUT, keeping them high, and just a hair later start turning the blade. That will throw the sword tip FORWARD, not up, and you'll cut out farther and bigger."
I actually managed to do it correctly once or twice, but then he commented about foot-stomping: "Stop banging about! Keep the balls of your feet on the ground and shuffle forward. Throw your energy forward, not down into the ground. Imagine keeping your heel off the ground the width of one piece of paper...Shiokawa-gosoke used to tell us 'Practice like you're walking on rice paper.'"
Of course I immediately thought of Kung Fu: "When you can walk across the rice paper without making a mark, you will be ready to leave."

After practice we went to some local dive bar/restaurant and ate. Always good, cheap food at such places. Otsuka-san is a madman: he talked about designing the front door entrance to the dojo to look like an old Japanese dojo. Plans on carving it all out of styrofoam and painting it to look like real wood and bamboo. He didn't even practice tonight; he spent the whole time in the office sketching out the design!


Some lovely photos of Maia, sister of me god-daughter TheLovelyAndBeautiful Emi.
She looks just like daddy!

staff in the solar plexus

Did a proper jo (staff) workout with Hoshina-san. She ran me through all the basics and the we started really drilling on the first several kata.
Kin-san (the other Tanaka-sensei) was there, and being as he's The Man, he showed me some finer points, including whacking me in the stomach and solar plexus repeatedly. Over and over. Again and again.
Needless to say, I am beginning to rethink my habit is sitting right up with the edge of my desk jammed into my gut. It hurts.
But jo is tons of fun, so from now on I'll probably help Hoshina-san teach sword on Wednesdays, and then after that 2 hour practice we'll hang out for an extra hour and do jo. Anyway I have less than a month to get to the point where I can act as Niina-gosoke's partner when he teaches at the seminar in LA, and both Hoshina-san and Kin-san's comments were along the lines of "You do it like that with Niina-gosoke and he'll take your arm clean off..." so I gotta get in gear asap.


Whenever I have an allergic reaction to something (which seems to be a more frequent occurance these days) my neck just below my ears, kind of right behind my jaw, gets red and puffy. Usually on the left side only, though if it's really bad it happens on the right side, too, and sometimes on my forehead just up on the hairline.

It happens when I have two or more hard-boiled eggs in one day (that one took forever to figure out!), and now I think it happens when I have aspirin (Japanese Bufferin.) Either that or it was the scrambled egg/tofu thing for lunch, but it wasn't that much egg, and it wasn't hard-boiled. I'll have to eat a bunch of scrambled eggs for breakfast this weekend and see what happens. But I'm pretty sure it was the Bufferin.

Note to self: always have some Advil on hand.

dinner guests

Met Hiroko on the train platform and got to Shinjuku. Rain was unpleasant and my shoe had a crack in the sole, so we stumbled about and finally got on the (or at least 'a') shuttle bus to the Shinjuku Park Hyatt.
Met Jacob and parentals and took a cab to Restaurant Kurosawa. Jacob and I talked about various anime and plotted our assault on Akihabara on Friday.
Met Ed at the restaurant and had a multi-course meal of pork shabu-shabu, boiled chicken ("fighting cock" actually, as Ed pointed out) and various other delicacies.
Had many a good laugh, too. Larry is good-naturedly bitter/caustic in that New York east coast way that reminds me of my family, and he and Jacob had us cracking up all through dinner. The funniest part was probably when we realized that Jacob's bedroom is bigger than the 1400 square foot apartment I'm about to move in to. Gotta love Beverly Hills!
Hopefully the weather will be ok on Friday as we have to get Jacob a region-free DVD player and see what kind of anime vids and GameCube games we can find.


Seems like I haven't been to Shibuya practice in forever. Fujin and Raijin were in fine form, and the usually gang was there (Presley, Matsuo-kun, etc.) so we had a good practice. Lots of basics and only a couple of kata.
I sold Fujin my old tessen (metal fan) and signed it, so of course Raijin got jealous. Perhaps I should auction off autographed photos to my students?


Amy came over with mom and dad today. The weather was great so we walked up to Azabujyuban and had soba for lunch at Sarashina, and then we went up to the slide park at Roppongi Hills. Amy now totally loves slides; the long roller slide, the twisty plastic slide, the covered green the end of the day she was sliding on her own and having a great time playing with the water fountain.
Mom and dad came back from checking out Roppongi Hills, so we walked back trying to figure out what to have for dinner when we spotted the rotator chicken truck. We took two chickens home, heated up some refried beans, mixed up the avocado with Hiroko's Magical Salsa, and made burritos.
Amy slept a little bit in the stroller on the way home, but she was bouncing around during and after dinner. She likes chicken. She likes our yellow tape measure. She likes refried beans. She doesn't like guacamole. She doesn't like poptarts.

Also, I had shrimp tempura in my soba for lunch and I was fine all day, so maybe I didn't inherit mama's seafood allergy...