lee shark hat

lee shart hat, originally uploaded by renfield.

Lee shows off the finest in piscatorial fashion.

okuden naiden

I was the only one in class tonight, so Niina-gosoke ran me through the advanced kata, naiden and okuden. Them is some craziness. Fundamentals are the same, but they've got that some extra that makes them that much more difficult, and interesting.
After class we went to Ninjin (It of the Slippery Floors) and stuffed ourselves on cheap Chinese food. Chili prawns, sweet & sour pork, pot stickers. Miyasawa-kun's new student joined, and Niina-gosoke wanted to eat Tanmen (ramen) but couldn't eat a whole one, so he split it with her, despite her protests. Naturally, she ended up finishing it off, so I immediately gave her the unpleasant nickname "Tanmen-chan." I guarantee it will stick. I have that kinda magic.

not even close

Shock! Haven't really tried cutting in while, I mean on my own, for my own sake. I tried several half-rolls, slow and deliberate. Total disaster. Then again it is to be expected, for two reasons:
1) I have significantly changed the way I draw and cut. No windup, not overdone follow-through; just straight and clean to the target. Naturally, I'm no good, so it doesn't work.
2) My cutter is just too different than my iai sword. I'm used to draw a sword that's slightly longer, has far more curve, and different balance. Using my cutter is just totally throwing me off. Next month I should get my custom-forged, and I'll use it for both cutting and iai. Of course, it being a totally new sword with a different weight, balance, and size, it will probably take me another 3 months to get used to it.
So this year the theme is 'back to square one', every time I start.

this isn't what i wanted!

There are a series of robot toys called "Kore jyanai Robo!" ("This isn't what I wanted Robot!")
You've got the female, the enemy, and the hero.
According to the explanation:
How many times has the magic of Christmas morning been broken by a child tearing open a wrapped present only to explain "This isn't what I wanted!"
But life ain't so simple that you can just get whatever you want without taking any risk. Isn't it worth teaching that in order to get what you want, you have to be willing to earn it, to sacrifice? This toy teaches the harshness of reality by inflicting such trauma with its blatant not-wantedness that any child will surely learn this lesson.
Consider it an educational toy.
Absolute genius. Collect the whole set!

more joys of japanese banking

I discovered a long-forgotten bank book and ATM card for my old Asahi Bank account. Last entry in the book said over ¥100,000, so I went down to the main Shibuya branch at lunch. Asahi is now Resona; yellow has been replaced by green, and the old bank uniforms seem to have been replaced by a casual dress policy as all the cashiers appeared to be wearing whatever the hell they wanted.
Standing at the counter in front of a big sign that said
"For Your Safety: In order to protect the important assets of our customers, we will require a valid photo identification for all withdrawal requests. Sorry for the inconveniece."
I produced my ancient ATM card and bankbook, and in a few moments I was told that the remaining balance was, in fact...¥179! So I said I'd like to withdraw the money and close the account. I produced my hanko (seal) and in a few moments the account was emptied and closed, I had a pocketful of change.
And not once was I asked for any form of identification.
(Note: round-trip train fare = ¥380. Subtract ¥179 and I net lost ¥201.)

fish hat

Must wear fish on head.
From (who else?) Jeremy.

post rain sunset

post rain sunset
Sometimes, usually after the rain, Tokyo is damn near beautiful. After a weekend of freezing rain, the winter air is crisp, cold, and clear. Everyone calls Japan the land of the rising sun, but the sunsets from my 20th floor office window ain't too shabby.

shinnen keikokai

We had our Official First Practice of the year. Miserably cold, rainy weather. But not cold enough to turn into snow. Nasty stuff, but practice was at Toritsudai; a wonderfully new and warm gym in the Meguro Citizen's Center.
Niina-gosoke ran everyone through basic practice in the morning, and then in the afternoon we broke into groups and I had the upper ranks. We drilled for a couple of hours on various details of the kata. Spent a bit of time pairing folks up to figure out where they're really aiming, what distance is reasonable, and other things that are tough to figure out on one's own.
By the end of the day I was pretty fried and tired, considering I got up at 7 and had to go to Honbu first thing in the morning to get my stuff and then trek all the way across Tokyo.
Yoshida-sensei trained in the morning; since she had her kid in March she's been out, but now that the little grommet's gotten to the point where it can roll about, she's going to start practicing again.
After practice I came home and had some udon with hiroko for dinner. Sunday night basic Japanese dinner is practically a religion in our house.