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This week, the cherry blossoms in the Kanto region were spectacular. Last Sunday night, some friends and I gathered on the porch of the Kannon-do temple at Ueno Park with the pink petals outdoing the vermilion of the facade. Nice. Many people are exercising 自粛jishuku, which means self-restraint. The park was mostly dark, and there weren’t nearly so many parties of people as in past years. The atmosphere was subdued. While it is understandable that people practice jishuku, it is greatly damaging t othe economy because people aren’t spending money. BBC documented the result of jishuku on a brewery in Tohoku.

On Monday, we marked one month since the earthquake and tsunami with a minute of silent prayer and reflection at 14:46, the time when the earthquake struck. My coworkers were silent even after the PA announcement finished, and I wondered what to say to get us back into the routine of work. So I asked them to honour the dead by living to their utmost, and we got back to business. On Monday morning and early evening, we experienced two aftershocks, both over 6 magnitude.

Today, TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says it will take 6-9 months to get the nuclear power plant situation under control.

What does this mean for our training?

The numbers are beginning to pick up at Hombu, and I greeted many visiting members. For a while there, it was very quiet at dojos. For us locals, we are seeing our offices and companies understaffed because foreign employees left and didn’t return. The trains are run without lights and shops are turning off their exterior signs, which is a relief, really, as they are blindingly bright. Some goods run out in the shops, but if you come back, you’ll find those things restocked – yoghurt and beer and a few other things are in short supply at times. Most of all, the change in consumption and the lack of panic at large shakes are the most noticable differences now. After the 3.11 quake and its aftershocks, people don’t get excited. Once the shake stops, it’s back to business, as long as there is no tsunami warning associated with the earthquake.

My sempai on Saturday at Hombu said in Japanese something that took me aback, hearing such a sentiment from a Japanese person for the first time. She said,, “It’s like it is not the same Japan.” Nope, it sure ain’t. My hope is we can make a new Japan.

On Saturday night at the pub, we raised a glass to a Japan Self Defense Force member at our table, and two Tokyo firemen dropped in and poured drinks for us. They were so grateful for the presence of the world community in response to the disaster, and they were so glad to see our foreign faces at the table. I thanked them for their hard work and wished them well.

Mainichi Shimbun on Friday ran this article in its Perspective column, thanking the world community for help in Japan’s time of need.

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Japan Tsunami documentary


This documentary includes news video footage that we watched live, and much that was recorded by people and surveillance cameras all over Eastern Japan. The scientists explain the enormous tectonic forces that caused the earthquake and tsunamis, and the effects on the land and people.

The earthquake that shook my house caused a deafening roar in my neighbourhood, things fell and broke around me, and I heard the neighbours screaming. I held the doorframe because the violent shaking made it hard to stand up. People ask me how long the shake was. I had no idea of time. We experienced five minutes of violence according to the seismic data.

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Watching from afar

I’m watching the MIT nuclear information hub blog. They are far away from the action, as am I. And I won’t be that close when I arrive at Narita on Sunday.

I’m looking at Japan from the outside today. Sensei says we need 神眼 shingan, the eyes of god, to discern truth from falsehood, and to see where the opportunities and pitfalls wait for us to notice them.

Besides the eyes of god, I’m praying for the Fukushima plant workers, the nuclear refugees, the people who’ve lost their homes. I want to cry, but if I do, I can’t see what I’m doing. No cry, just preparation for work, training and lifre on the ground in Kashiwa City.

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You already know by now about the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck Japan March 11th.

Watch this blog for info in the next two weeks about relief efforts, nuclear crisis information and analysis, and my impending return to Japan after taking shelter in Vancouver, Canada for two weeks.

For now, here are some things I’ve been reading.
http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/101084/

and

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/tohoku-kanto-earthquake-news.html

Please see the project Quakebook, a fund-raising and cathartic effort on teh part of an Abiko City resident, to document people’s quake experiences. All proceeds go to The Red Cross. See the Quakebook blog here.

A huge thank you to the Coastal Buyu for welcoming me back and receiving me on short notice, and to my sempai Shawn for a great seminar last weekend.

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明けましておめでとうございます。I wish all my fellow budo-ka a very happy Year of the Tiger, 2010. 頑張ってください。Keep going! 

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大光明祭 2008 Daikomyosai

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This year’s Daikomyosai is in 清水公園Shimizukoen in Noda City. At the entrance to the park is 仁王門 Nyomon, the gate guarded by fierce deva kings. This gate once stood on the grounds of the Hananoi house in Nagareyama, and was moved to this location in 1971. The gardens are famous for cherry, azalea and maples. Daikomyosai coincides with the peak of autumn colours in the park.

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Happy birthday to Hatsumi Sensei and thank you for bringing us together.

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This morning, Mr. Gray was busy at work, and ML was away, so that left me, Jrock and Swedish D to train with our Men in Gray regulars. We each brought some ‘homework’ from Soke’s Tuesday and Friday night trainings, and from Shiraishi sensei’s midweek trainings. J, D and I took it in turns to demo movement, and T and I took turns at interpreting English to Japanese after we presented techniques.

Welcome back to Jrock, who is visiting from Canada after a few years away from Japan.

On Tuesday night, Soke was out there in space, showing us amazing things, difficult things, things that were hard to grasp. Sometimes I think he’s out there on the edge of the world, the edge of understanding, bringing back stuff for us to see and do that we have the potential to someday get, but struggle with today. He just dances out there, artless, elegant. Inspiring.

It’s a rainy night in Kashiwa, and I’m listening to Fantastic Plastic Machine…Here’s another musical interlude.

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