nasu gasshuku

NEC_0237, originally uploaded by renfield.

Cruised up to Tochigi Prefecture for a weekend training seminar. It involved lots of eating, drinking, and karaoke.
Oh yeah, and we did some iai, too.

antique fair haul

antique fair haul, originally uploaded by renfield.

Surprisingly successful haul from the antique fair: hiroko scored a kimono and obi for 10,000 yen, an old-school formal purse, a set of sake cups and two flasks in a rare kutaniyaki with green, two cool little sake saucers, a bunch of kimono cloth for mama to make us another cool quilt, and two sets of fuchikashira sword furniture -- unused!
Finished off the day with some sushi and all was well in the land.

left elbow

Taught the regular Tuesday class for what felt like the first time in forever. Small turnout, low humidity (autumn is at last upon us; the three weeks of the year the weather in Tokyo is beyond bearable and becomes nearly perfect), and a mellow time working on basics. After class me and Elvis tore through some kumitachi in a feeble attempt to prepare for the first phase of my upcoming promotion exam.
But none of that is nearly as interesting as the mild epiphany I had about my left elbow.
The way I slightly flare out my left elbow, especially during noto, has always bothered me. For some reason tonight I figure out how to keep it in. Not forcing it in, but just sort of keeping the armpit relaxed yet naturally closed, and my arm came in a bit more, and even when cutting I felt like I was really coming onto the centerline nicely, and it felt good and clean and for what felt like the first time in forever, I think I made a teeny bit of progress.
I also came up with, for no known reason, a Silly Thing To Do When Teaching: whenever I would correct someone, say a foot or a hand or an elbow, after the correction I do my best Gray Bearded Kung-Fu Master voice and say:
"Problem not here [pointing to foot]...problem here [pointing to head]"

After the 20th time, it wasn't funny. Actually, it wasn't funny after the first time, but we'll ignore that.
After class I came back to work and accomplished nothing. I love it when that happens.

shizuoka weekend photos

All the photos from Shizuoka are available for your leisurely perusal on flickr, or for printing via Ofoto.

nap time!

IMG_0441.JPG, originally uploaded by renfield.

Hiroko demonstrates the Power Nap; recharging her batteries after a hard day of...napping.

kona besso

After the joy that was Sea Paradise, we headed back towards the station and checked in to Kona Besso. We were shown directly to our own private tea house and immediately changed into yukata and hit the hot springs. When we came back, the full moon was up and dinner began. Ah, the joy of the many-course-meal; the crazy old lady forcing me to eat a mouthful of fresh wasabi, the shrimp so fresh they were jumping off the charcoal grill.
Kona Besso probably ranks second only to Sekitei in plain old awesomeness.

Sea Paradise

IMG_0343.JPGTook the local a couple stops and then bussed up to Sea Paradise. Perfect weather, so we hung around and saw the dolphin show, the killer whale, sea lions, sea otters, penguins, giant sea turtles, all kinds of was totally sweet. And by sweet I mean really cool.
Dolphins totally know when people are watching them. They'd sort of float around, not doing much, and then when everyone got off the boat and came down the pier they'd start jumping and splashing, and if everyone was watching one dolphin in one corner, another dolphin would start doing something at the other end, trying to get attention. Unlike the giant turtles and flamingoes, who didn't seem to care, and the penguins, who were just trying to keep from slipping off their rock.

bus stop yugajima

bus stop yugajima, originally uploaded by renfield.