Friday, July 31, 2009

You gotta try these!!!!

OMG!!! One of my students, a really talented English speaker, has a father that likes to cook cakes and desserts for a hobby. He makes the best pudding!!! He could set up shop and sell these they're that good!!

Ayumi bought in a bunch last night as you can see. So don't worry mum, I'm not going to fade away!

Hanabi & Hula

The Annual Summer Fireworks Festival ran last night as was scheduled. It is often postponed due to inclement weather and boding typhoons. None of those this year though and as a result there was a huge turnout!

I was working, but in my break time I managed to sneak down for a quick look and caught the Tahitian and Hula show in which a couple of my student's mothers were dancing.

They looked great and danced well to the swelling crowd that was gathering.

I had to head back to work before the fireworks got underway but snapped a couple of pics from the back balcony at work before a combination of sea fog rolling in and smoke made them resemble traffic lights more than anything else. Still, it seemed the masses enjoyed themselves with all the noise and revelry going on outside!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


That time of the year again!!

Headed off to immigration today. Tons of people!!!! We were a little late getting away from home so that meant we spent about 4-5 hours (incl. a 1 hour lunch break) waiting!!!

I now have my new visa (3 year extension, yay!) and put in my application for a Permanent Residence Visa which is required by banks and so on for loans, etc. The base requirement for this is either to have been married 3 years or lived in Japan continuously for 10 years which is why I haven't applied for it earlier. I still need to get some more papers from City Office and send them off, but the process is underway!!! It is expected to take anywhere from 3 months to a year so I guess we just wait and see....

We swung by Costco in Makuhari for a little grocery shopping. While there we ran into friends, Junji and Momoko, and picked up a few treats. (Dad, thinking of you when we bought the Soy Milk)

Then we went to the movies and saw "Harry Potter" where we also ran into people we know, Jesse and his wife who comes out to cover teach sometimes.

It's a small world!! Even here in Japan with 129,000,000 people!!!!

Balcony BBQ

Had a very relaxing Sunday taking care of some things around the house, hitting the beach for a swim followed by a surf and then wrapped up the day with a BBQ for two on the balcony with some icy cold beer!!!

Aiko whipped up an awesome avocado and tomato salad that hit the spot and we had edamame beans as well as some beef (with salt from our friends in Kauai), BBQ chicken, some sausages and (we stole Dave's idea) okra in bacon on the grill!!

Curtain Ties

The sister of one of our friends was in Kamogawa, visiting, not so long ago. She has a little "hobby" that has become a little "side-business" (HASEES)
These little critters come in various forms but Aiko liked the rabbits so we have a pair in the living room. I bet my nieces in NZ, Pippa and Holly, would love them! What do you think?

Sunday, July 19, 2009


BIG THANKS to my sister Liz, my bro in-law Brian, and their wonderful family Pippa, Holly and Ben!!

The bi-monthly mag subscription they get sent over for my birthday arrived the other day with a DVD attached!!
Big smiles all around here and some more surf material to keep the stoke alive!
It's always good to keep in touch with what's going on in the NZ surf scene and reminisce about surfing some of the breaks that pop up in the photos!!

p.s. still no surf here (that's 3 straight weeks!!!!!!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I'll be watching the Tri-Nations kick off tonight in Auckland and cheering on the ABs to reverse their form against the Wallabies!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

AED - First Aid Training

On Thursday, Aiko and I went down to the Kamogawa Fire Station for a First Aid course, incorporating the use of an AED organized by Masao Ueda, a guy who has a lot to do with SURFRIDER FOUNDATION (Japanese chapter) and local enviromental issues.

An Automated External Defibrillator is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. (wikipedia)

AEDs are designed to be simple to use for the layman in conjunction with CPR and as it turned out they were. I had seen one once before, more than 10 years ago, during my Surf Life Saving days, but it was great to have a refresher course and catch up on all the CPR advancements as well. So I now feel confident again to apply my knowledge if called upon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Surf School

The Kamogawa Surfing Club and friends put on a surfing and bodyboarding school for some of the 6th grade kids from Kamogawa Elementary School. There were about 50 kids, the sun was out and the waves small and gentle....perfect for the day!

I got a great buzz from it last year and this year was no different. Seeing the stoke on the children's faces after successfully riding a wave to the beach was priceless. Just glad I could help to make their day and hopefully they got "bitten by the bug" and will be back in the water over summer.

Who knows, there may even be some future pros amongst them!!!

Little beach clean to finish up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ground Hog Day

Still no sign of waves. At least the sun is out though!!

Drove down to Tateyama yesterday to price refrigerators. We took the inland route 410 for a change from the coastal route 128 that we usually use and stumbled upon .......... goats.

I guess not every farmer here is knee deep in mud growing rice!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Beach BBQ with Oysters and Paua!!

Yesterday, in front of Bloom Surf Shop, we had a BBQ to celebrate Kayo's and Ko-chan's wedding (See Sea Festa entry).

Ponta hooked us up with a bunch of oysters from his grandmother up in Hokkaido. They were great straight up and cooked on the BBQ!

I look forward to them every year!!!

Then Naoki went snorkling and brought back a couple of black "awabi" (paua in NZ) and a few "sazai" (turban shells??), shown here by Ko-chan, that went down a treat with everyone!!

So "ono" as they say in Hawaii.

Taro was also up to his old tricks and had some great BBQ pork and chicken going on the grill!!

And it was Eri's birthday, too. So she had the birthday sunnies on.

All in all, it was a fantastic day out with friends!! Even the weather came to the party!

CONGRATULATIONS once again Kayo and Ko-chan!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


It's our 3rd wedding anniversary today!!
Aiko should get back from her hula course tonight!!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


What is Okra? Check it out on Wikipedia HERE
I harvested my first couple of "Okra" from my balcony garden yesterday and ate them with "somen", a light weight summery noodle popular in Japan. It was really healthy (see nutritional data on wikipedia) and delicious!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finished Surf Rack

Actually got it all done pretty much while Dad was here. He gave me a few technical tips and then I rounded the corners off this morning with some gardening snips and sandpaper for the finishing touch.
It works a treat and has freed up some valuable much needed space in the kitchen (bonus) as there is room for a couple of shortboards to boot!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nikko in a day!

It was an early start (4:20am) as I wanted to beat the traffic thru Tokyo to make navigating the highways easier. As it turned out we nailed it and arrived in Nikko at about 7:30!!

Located north of Tokyo in Tochigi prefecture, Nikko is one of Japan's major tourist attractions. Once a famous training center for Buddhist monks in the mid 8th century, it later became home to the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord that established the shogunate that ruled all Japan for more than 250 years. According to the Lonely Planet "the grandeur of Nikko is intended to inspire awe; it is a display of wealth and power by a family that for nearly three centuries was the supreme arbiter of power in Japan".

I took too many photos to post individually, so I made a little slide show. Enjoy!

In it you can see;
Shin-kyo (bridge at the base of the hill)
Rinno-ji (founded 1200 years ago)
Tosho-gu (the centerpiece with a 5-story Pagoda and the emblematic three-monkeys carving "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil")
Futarasan-jinja (a smaller scale of Tosho-gu)

We did all this by 11am!

There are also pics of Lake Chuzenji and the surrounding area.

What a lot of visitors don't realize is that Nikko is part of the Nikko National Park encompassing extinct volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls and marshlands with hiking trails weaving there way through it all. The area around Chuzenji-ko (lake) really appealed to me when I first went up there with Aiko. There are a lot of resemblances to NZ, but the wildlife is said to include bears, monkeys, foxes and deer. We came across both deer and monkeys as we drove up there on the roadside.

Kegon waterfall looked majestic as it plunged the 97m to the bottom where we saw from an observation platform. Then we grabbed a nice Japanese lunch. Dad had the Shoyu Ramen and I had the Shrimp Tempura Soba. We were back there soon to pick up my cap that Dad left on the table after driving up to the observatory overlooking Lake Chuzenji. Once we had the cap we were off again and spent the rest of the afternoon hiking the various trails across the Senjogahara marshlands and around Lake Yunoko where fly fisherman were catching trout as well as checking a few of the other waterfalls in the area.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Nikko & Lake Chuzenji
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We left Nikko at about 8pm and got back around midnight. Exhausted from all the driving and walking we had done we slept well.

Then on Friday, after sushi for lunch and shaking off a few aches and pains from the previous day, it was off to Narita!!!

An awesome week, with loads of good memories and some good quality father/son time. Until we meet again....

B'Ball & Darts

Had a pretty fun weekend with the "Annual Minami-Boso Basketball Tournament" with teams from the lower half of the Chiba peninsula. We usually do quite well but this year the "O-sans" struggled a bit and fell just short in both games.
The "O" is derived from Oji-san meaning old man. All of us are at least 30. I think I might be the youngest at 34.
Good times and played in a fun spirit which was nice. Two years ago someone tried to level the playing field, elbowing me in the ribs resulting in a cracked rib!!and one pissed off kiwi!! Luckily there was no such repeat and in fact, I got through two games without conceding a single foul despite being hacked a few times. Very controlled of me (hahahaha).

Following that Dave had some friends over for lunch/dinner and we busted out the darts!!! The last time I played seriously was way back in the lunch breaks at Arborline. I was a bit rusty and there was some fun heckling going on.

I think I'll have to work on my game(s)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lay Days

We came back from Kamakura via the ferry service from Kurihama~Kanaya.

Luckily for Dad we were able to catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji through the clouds on the way. The ferry ride was a little windy and there was a south swell running up Tokyo Bay which made it interesting. Then for me it was straight to work. Fortunately I managed to grab a quick nap beforehand to keep the energy levels up.

Tuesday afternoon, dad took the bike for a spin around the block and orientated himself again after his last visit here. He snapped a nice shot of the beach to prove that the sun did actually come out while he was here.

Then, on Wednesday after work, we dined at JuJu (an Okonmiyaki restaurant). Dad had been pining for it since his last visit. It was good fun as we sat around our "teppan" (hotplate) armed with spatulas to flip our shrimp, squid and kimchi savory Japanese pancakes which went down a treat.

Not too many beers though as it was an early start the next morning as we headed off to Nikko...

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Just a hop step and jump over the hill from Yokohama, Kamakura lies about 30 mins or so by car (provided you don't miss the turn!). With rain falling, a lack of signs and no GPS or maps we attempted to navigate the urban highway system to Kamakura with just the hotel's front-desk clerk's vague instructions. Destined to fail, I missed the one and only real turn and we found ourselves "locked in" and going in the wrong direction. Fortunately, we came across an off ramp, did a U-turn and found an access ramp right away. Other than a few extra yen, from there it was plain sailing...

Kamakura, now a cultural and surfing mecca on the coast south of Tokyo, was once the capital of Japan from 1185~1333 and is recognized as a tourist hot-spot with multiple Buddhist temples and the occasional shrine in the surrounding hills with significant historical importance.

Our first stop was the HASE-DERA temple.

The grounds have a garden which proved very popular with photographers attempting to capture the Hydrangea flowers in bloom that lined the hillside.

There is also a collection of JIZO, the patron saint of of the souls of the departed children.

The main point of interest though is the KANNON (goddess of mercy) statue, one of Japan's most popular Buddhist deities. The 9m-high carved wooden JUICHI-MEN (eleven-faced Kannon) is believed to date from the 8th century and photos are prohibited.

Walking around the neighborhood we stopped for ice cream, signed autographs (kids didn't want dad's for some reason) and met some interesting people.

Next stop was the famous DAIBUTSU.

Completed in 1252, the huge (850 tonnes, 11.4m tall), cast bronze Buddah statue was swept away by a tsunami in 1495 before being mounted where it stands today. It's pretty eye catching and makes for a magnificent memory of our Kamakura trip. For ¥20 we got to go inside, squeeze past the school kids and take a peek at the construction techniques which were amazingly advanced for their time.
After a quick lunch at Denny's the rain began to fall again, but Aiko really wanted to see and show us the Zeniarai-Benten.

So we missioned it in the car, but roadworks blocked our initail route so we decided to follow our nose and found a step, narrow, dead-end street with a trail resembling a waterfall more than a track which lead us there. Lots of huffing and puffing but once there it was quite quaint and peaceful. We washed our money with the 'sacred' water as is the tradition at this shrine and with any luck I'll win the big summer lottery!!

Back in town, we parked at our hotel for the evening near the station, walked down the cherry tree lined walkway down the middle of the street leading to the TSURUGAOKA HACHIMAN-GU shrine, the main shrine of Kamakura, before farewelling Masako who had to go back to Osaka.

That night we dined at an Izakaya, the Japanese equivalent of a pub, with a wide array of dishes which we sampled ample of and cheap wine and beer!

Then back to the hotel, Hotel New Kamakura, which is a building of historic importance and features on many a TV drama set and movies.

Here's Dad in his 'Father's Day' Hawaiian shirt with Aiko in front of the hotel. It was a lark dressing up in the traditional yukata before settling into a couple of games of cards with some uninvited mozzies.

Little critters went to town on me until I woke up at 3am scratching myself silly and couldn't get back to sleep!!!!!