Monday, October 31, 2005

Waves of Virture

this is my name in Chinese Kanji, depending on different readings, there could be a 3rd character between these two that has little meaning but would sound more like my actual name. This is funny i think, my name in Chinese means "Waves of Virtue" which i couldnt believe. the top kanji is pronouced Nami in japanese and has a reading similar to the first part of my name in chinese. A few interesting things of note about these kanji, the three strokes to the left of the kanji on the top is the radical for water, and those three strokes appear in many other kanji and indicate some meaning of the kanji. The bottom kanji is made up of a human radical to the bottom left quarter of that kanji, and the bottom right is the radical for heart i think, kokoro in japanese. it's interesting stuff this kanji, but tough stuff. sorry this blog is a little too academic, but i doubt too many people will read it so oh well.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


one of the truly amazing things about working in japan is that i get to attend enkais. Enkais are drinking parties held usually every few months the night after a big event at our school. All businesses and organizations in japan hold enkais, and whole resturants exist only to serve enkais. They are all Nomi-hodai style, meaning that for a flat fee per person, usually between $35 and $50 each person gets a set menu of dishes, they are all served family style and with the meal comes unlimited drinks of your choice for the whole night. This leads to lots of trouble, the meal begins with a beer toast with a speech by the principal and then all hell breaks loose. pitcher after pitcher of close to freezing beer make their way into the bloodstreams of the people who monday thru friday you work with. drinking contests, cheers, and lots of hot deep fried shrimps, small grilled fish slices, sashimi platers, tempura plates, octopus ceasar salad(it was actually amazingly good) sizzling noodle and beef plates, etc etc etc, it just keeps coming out and you keep drinking and then people start passing out on the floor of the restaurant! you start talking to random people you see everyday at work and have never talked to. I get asked the most random questions at these things, a teacher at my school actually asked me dead seriously if we have carrots in america. everyone is cheery, and has a good time, and they egg each other on to keep drinking, after usually 2 hours the party is over and people try to remember where they are. the really strange thing to me is, on the monday following an enkai everyone acts like nothing at all happened, no jokes, or mention of it. Everyone is back to their work mode and the people you could swear were your best friends in the world at the enkai dont even look at you when they walk by you.

a JET actually lives here in a 14 room building that used to be a super market

Saturday, October 29, 2005

now it's raining so its time to update pictures

bunkakaikan curtain

chorus competitiion in bunkakaikan

i feel like this too quite often

driving around kanazawa on thurs night

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cultural Festival (Bunkasai) day 1

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kyudo, the way of the bow

This is Uchinada's Kyudojo, it is connected to my school and i study kyudo there in the evenings. As you can see, the bows(yumi) are very long, most are over 6 feet and range in draw weight from 10 to 19 kilos, about 25 to 45 pounds, they are tough to pull back. But basically, you shoot from a raised wooden platform at small, usually a couple foot diameter paper target at a distance of 28 meters, or in some cases 40 meters depending on the range. but hitting the target is strangely the least important part of the sport.

The form of kyudo is the most important part of the sport. This picture displays 3 different steps of the form. The person closest to the camera is in 'kai', or fire/heat, this is one of the most delicate stages in kyudo, the arrow is in the fire position with the bow totally flexed, and basically this is a very high leve of buddist meditation, you do not aim the arrow with your eyes, but rather with you mind, seriously!, and you later your spirit guides the arrow after it has left the bow. I personally feel this step is named fire because you can feel the fire in your muscles holding the bow fully drawn and just waiting for 5 to 10 seconds. The person in the center is in ugamae, the forward preparation of the bow. The girl farthest from the camera is in daisan, big pull, when the bow is drawn, it is drawn in 2 steps, this is the first, the bow is raised up over the head, and the left hand pushes the bow out half way to fire position, the entire step is done with the bow up over the head without you looking.

each person who is part of this kyudojo has their name in kanji written in wooden planks and hanging from the wall. as of yet, my name sadly isnt on the wall. in a later post ill talk about what my name is in chinese kanji, i was very surprised.

this picture is to show the release of the arrow, see girl farthest away has just fired. This is called hanare, and she draws back her hand after the arrow has already left the bow in a particular motion and movement to guide the arrow. it is very strange to me, as i figured, well, the damn arrow has already left the bow and is on the way to the target, but my sensei has been very firm in me practicing, practicing, over and over the form of the hand motions after the arrow has left, as this determines where the arrow will go, somehow...

Monday, October 24, 2005

monday night

japanese black apples of the fall

early morning rain clouds over the lagoon

learning how to play cricket in the park with the australian and english JETs, it is a very strange game

Saturday, October 22, 2005

last night and etc

old boats on the kahoku coast, about 10 mins north of me

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

random photos for tonight

tokyo subway warning

shinjuku camera sign

uchinada this weekend

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


cheap katsudon buri from the groccery store, very sweet but tasty

i think volkswagen japan has gone a little to far with the retro thing

to the east

Monday, October 17, 2005

uchinada festival

another shot of sunday mornings dawn

364 days of the year this is the garden around one of uchinada's shinto shrines.

a group of my stuends, it seemed like everyone at the festival was one of my students, all yelling "barto sensei, barto sensei"

part Uchinada's festival from sunday night. the big golden portable shrine is being chased by a big lion in the traditional shishimai dance. i have more pictures that ill put up at some point about this.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

busy weekend part 2

dawn from my apartment

detail of festival table settings

booth at Uchinada's festival tonight

Nishida Kitaro and Lion Dance Festival

Ando Tadao's Nishida Kitaro Museum of Philosophy in Unoke. Wasn't much of a museum but a beautiful building.

then off to festival dinner at my supervisor's house. This is his tatami room, very traditional, but on the other side of the room was his computer and stereo. Funny juxtiposition because throughout the whole meal the beach boys, the beatles and Simon and Garfunkle played in the background.

sushi plate, watch out for the uni, the brown looking stuff on top of the cucumber, that's an unmentionable part of a sea urchin, beware.

Last night's festival was the lion dance, or Sishi mai or something like that, but a group of about 20 of my students from school performed a traditional dance with this lion head, the dance was full of samurais with wigs etc, they would go from house to house in Taiseidai(my neigborhood)to do the dance and collect money as an offering. Crazy stuff this japan place is.