virgin a5 cow!

virgin a5 cow!
Originally uploaded by renfield.

Brilliant teppanyaki dinner at Kisentei in Midtown with the defenders of the free world.


Been thinking recently about the various problems people have with their training. Actually it's not so much a problem with the training, it's actually a problem with all the other stuff; life in general perhaps.
There are a couple of different theories that focus on most of the problems being Gosoke's fault. I agree that Gosoke is at the center of the issues, could even be called the cause or trigger, but he's not the one at fault.
One theory goes like this: Gosoke is too nice. He is too quick to promote people to a rank undeserved and too free to give out responsibility to those who cannot meet the requisite demands.
The other theory is, amusingly, the exact opposite: Gosoke is too harsh. He punishes for the slightest infraction of protocol, allows no second chance, expects perfection.
I tend to think both theories are correct. It comes down to the simple expectation that Gosoke has: he expects you to be honest; to do what you say will do, to be responsible for your words and actions.
I don't think it's possible for anyone to be honest with others without first being honest with himself. This means possibly admitting that you cannot do what is asked of you. It's much more sincere and downright impressive to honestly say you cannot do what is asked of you than to say that you can and then get it done half-assed and late.
A big part of Japanese society is "effort". Trying hard is important, oftentimes regardless of the outcome. You work 14 hours a day every day for 15 years, you deserve a promotion and a fat pension. Never mind how much value you actually added to the company. I remember when I first came to Japan and was amazed at the school graduation ceremony. Students got top awards not for academic achievement but for attendance, for not missing one day of school, never mind how much they actually studied nor how well they scored.
I have a hard time believing this is an old tradition in Japan. Back in the day I imagine you were expected to do what you said, and trying was lovely but if you didn't deliver you were probably told to split your stomach to atone for your failure.
Some people these days seem to think that if they promise to do something, pull three all-nighters in a row and finally deliver half of what they said they would, they somehow deserve praise for such an heroic effort. Gosoke doesn't believe that doing what you say you will do is heroic or even praise-worthy. It's merely expected. And not doing what you say is dishonest. Far better to be honest about doing nothing well than be dishonest about doing something badly.
So Gosoke has no problem with people who want to get rank, take responsibility, and work hard. And the more you say you will do, the more he expects you to actually deliver. Therefore, the farther you have to fall when you cannot deliver. The problem is not that someone didn't deserve that rank or that position, it is that they failed to live up to it.
Gosoke likes to push people out of their comfort zone and demand that they constantly strive to get better and achieve more. People mistake promotion for praise. Gosoke doesn't promote you because he thinks you deserve that rank, he wants to put pressure on you to step up to that rank by forcing you to face the fact that you're not deserving of the rank you have. But alot of people get the order confused; they think that since they are now promoted, they somehow deserve some respect or praise or something. They feel entitled, not under pressure to grow.

There is often this fundamental mismatch between what people expect and what they deserve; how the world is and how they think it is, or how they think it should be.
Amazing how it comes back to the basic zen principle of truth. The name Mugai is taken from the first line of a poem that starts "there is nothing but the one truth."
Being honest with yourself is first recognizing the truth, of yourself and your situation. Your abilities and your limitations, what you can do and what you cannot. If you are honest with yourself then it's easy to be honest with others, and people will recognize your honesty, sincerity, and humility.

more photos

As promised here are more photos:
Also Mama put up some photos, and papa's put up some photos, too.

break @ muji

break @ muji
Originally uploaded by renfield.

Yesterday the rain let up and it wasn't too cold, so we headed to the big Muji in Yurakucho to check out the all-wooden walker for Tonchan and various other bits and bobs. Afterwards went to MOS Burger and Tonchan had a burger and fries. When we came home we sat in front of the TV and zoned out. I guess being overseas so much has really made her American now!