Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eat, Spit, Be Happy!

Some friends came back from spending the winter on the North Shore of Oahu and brought back a funny souvenir, a bag of DAVID ROASTED & SALTED SUNFLOWER SEEDS. They're popular in the States with baseball players as a healthy substitute to chewin' bacco.

David is my father's name so I thought he'd at least see the funny side of this. I will eat, spit and be happy when I open these and will think of family back in NZ.

Mahalo for the souvenir GRACE SURFBOARDS

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Earth Hour 2010!

Earth Hour - Logo
We did our bit for Earth Hour last night and switched off everything but the fridge! It was actually really good just to sit down and chill out with a bottle of wine and some good food, listen to the waves and talk! It's a shame that more people weren't aware of it as most people just went about their Saturday night as normal. It did make us think about how much electricity is wasted not just by large government institutions and the like, but by us too. We'll be taking extra care to 'switch off' whatever is not needed from now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Baum Kuchen

March signifies, not only the end of the financial tax year, but also the end of the school year here in Japan with students graduating and salary men transferring offices alike. As such, it's a pretty busy time of year for most.

One of my High School students recently passed his university entrance exams and will be relocating to the greater Tokyo area to further his education. We'll miss him at work as he was often there or thereabouts either studying with us or in the adjacent Juku (cram school).

On his last day he brought in some BAUMKUCHEN, a kind of layered cake, known in many countries throughout Europe. When cut, the cake reveals the characteristic golden rings that give it its German name, Baumkuchen, which literally translates to "tree cake". To get the ring effect, a thin layer of batter is brushed evenly onto a spit and allowed to bake until golden, after which the process is repeated. The most skilled bakers will repeat the process numerous times.(Wikipedia).

In Japan it is one of the most popular types of cakes and this one was particularly delicious!!Thanks Daisuke and good luck with your future studies

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

House Warming BBQ

(S-kun showing M-kun the ropes)
Good friends recently completed their new house and moved in around X'mas and as is tradition, had a little house warming party. The weather finally cooperated with some warm temps allowing us to bust out their new BBQ. Fortunately their house is tucked in under the ridge of the hill so the strong winds affecting most places didn't hinder us at all. There was horrendous yellow sand choking the skies from Mongolia that brought visibility down to less than 1,000m, at a guess, for most of the morning thru until about 2pm, but the skies cleared as the day wore on which made for a great occasion.
Thanks to the wonderful hosts for the great spread of food and putting up with me when the beer started to take hold...hahaha. We'll have to do it again sometime!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kafunsho Allergy Sucks!!

Mountain Cedar Pollen

The pollen is very buoyant and may be carried by the air for miles. Among all the junipers, the mountain cedar has received the greatest attention as an allergen source. The toxic nature of the mountain cedar pollen may lie in its chemical nature. The allergic reactions to mountain cedar pollen appear to be attributable to a single, stable, glycoprotein, with high carbohydrate and low protein content. This contrasts with the majority of known allergens in pollen grains, which tend to be a mix of allergenic glycoproteins having much lower carbohydrate content. The high carbohydrate content in combination with high density make the pollen of Mountain Cedar unique in causing allergic rhinitis.

In addition to making a person feel ill due to allergies, this condition can interfere in a variety of ways with carrying out one's day to day responsibilities. Loss of sleep, limitation of activities, diminished productivity, poor concentration, emotional distress, irritability, fatigue, and practical problems such as repeated nose blowing and nose rubbing, all impact negatively on ability to carry out physical, social and work/school responsibilities effectively. Similar to other pollen allergens, mountain cedar pollens contact the lining tissue of a person's eyes, nose, and lungs. Therefore reducing the duration of exposure to these pollens is important.

For more than 3 million Tokyo residents who seasonally suffer from sniffly, sneezy kafunsho (pollen allergy), the sight of Gov. Shintaro Ishihara applying an ax to the trunk of a pollen-producing cedar back in 2006 was enough to bring tears of joy to their already itchy eyes. But it seems that kafunsho sufferers have little to look forward to beyond an unpleasant, annual three-month bout of blowing runny noses and rubbing itchy eyes. The mountains of cedar currently idling so allergenically on their doorstep appear set to remain idling there for a while longer until market prices entice landowners to harvest their investments.

News photo
Air conditioning: Two of Tokyo's millions of pollen-allergy sufferers use masks to aid their plight. SATOKO KAWSAKI PHOTO

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kamogawa Power On-Line Mag

Good friend and talented surfer/artist/teacher/you name it, has been working hard behind the scenes to put together this on-line style magazine, KAMOGAWA POWER (Vol 2.), for one and all, with an emphasis on travel and life experiences in Japan, notably Kamogawa. At this stage it's all English, but there are plans in the pipeline to make it bilingual in the future. It features a few pics taken by me and in the future, perhaps an article here or there (got to get my thinking cap on and finger sorted!). This month has stories on Grace Surf's Hokkaido trip, our snowboard trip to Kusatsu and some photos from Hiroshima as well as profiling some local groms with big futures and restaurants that hit the spot. Check it out HERE and feel free to send Dave or I suggestions or ideas for future volumes which I can pass on.

This mirror is another example of his handy work. It was a house warming gift from him and his wife!! Super stoked and it looks great in our entrance way. No more excuses for having bad hair when I rock out the door!

Much Mahalo guys

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Had a cruisy Sunday with some warmer weather so it was off to JoyFul Honda in Kimitsu and their expansive gardening section. Actually, Aiko was looking for some things for her Hula, but I was busy eying-up the garden section. So many things on offer with a variety of herbs, veges and fruit vines and trees including Kiwifruit!! Unfortunately, I only have a limited space on my balcony so we settled for some Spring Onions and Coriander seedlings and when we got home we potted those and planted some seeds I kept from the last of the Okra harvested from last summer. Hopefully they take seed and we'll have plenty this summer, too.

While there, I saw this woman on her bike and couldn't resist a photoIt's pretty funny I thought. There are so many 'Freudian slips' on T-shirts but this is telling it straight!I guess, if nothing else, you know what to expect...classic.

After that we swung by Uniqlo and I got a couple of work shirts and finally, we stopped by the Odoya Supermarket in Emi, just south of Kamogawa, and picked up some of my favorite Kimchee (Thanks Yukio!! Your mum makes the best Kimchee!!) and headed over to friends for dinner, Soy Milk Nabe!!! Oishikatta!! While there, I helped fix his garage door which just needed a little fine tuning (English manual...but still confusing, hahaha).

Roadside trees in blossom...

Finger Update

Went to see the Doc on Monday, took another x-ray and changed the dressing. It all looks good with the bones all aligned and no sign of infection as you can see...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Behind the Rock

I must be the "sacrificial lamb" as the surf was pumping the day after my Op.
Kiyoshi riding one of Taro's break through designs. These boards are super popular!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Finger!

Well, our much vaunted and looked forward to snowboard trip ended up being somewhat of a flop snowboard-wise as the weather didn't co-operate...TOO WARM!!! more on that later though as it's been a busy few days.

A couple of weeks back I fielded a distress call from friends at basketball in search of a 5th player for their league game. I willing stepped forward and had a fun time, only to snag my finger in an opponent's singlet as he brushed past my "screen"in the final quarter. Anyway, it didn't seem so bad and I played on for a few minutes to see out the game (which we narrowly won). After the game everyone was hungry so we hit a Family Restaurant in Kimitsu on the way home and I just dangled my finger in a glass of ice's cool I thought, maybe just a sprain.

During the week I was surprised at the slightly unusual shape and continued swelling but didn't say anything as I knew it would put an end to my trip away snowboarding with the boys. I even went for a surf and a SUP. Then last Saturday, good friend and Doctor H (visited NZ with family a few years back) dropped his son off for English lessons and I sought his quick opinion. He advised me to come in first thing Monday for an x-ray which I did and a fracture was noticeable. From there a decision was quickly made to OPERATE!! So it was back to the hospital again Tuesday (before work..thanks for covering the first two lessons D)

It was the first operation I've had and was thankful that my friend was the Doctor. It made things that much easier. I went through the whole ordeal of being sanitized and monitored throughout. Very thorough and professional indeed. Funny enough, right before the first local pain-killer injection my heart rate started to race a little which was a tad embarrassing as the machine beeped away for one and all to hear.

The actual procedure was painless enough but it hurts now!! We had to put two pins to hold the pieces of bone together as the tendon had pulled the fractured part too far away to bond which required a drill (the sound of which was the only squirmish part...just like being at the dentist).The fracture is noticeable on the top of the joint (above)
The two pins inserted holding the bones together are visible (below)

Looking pretty chipper but not really feeling anything at that point. Six weeks or so of being encumbered with this and I'll be raring to go again. Fingers crossed the pins don't get infected!!!

Thanks Doctor H

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flashback to Hiroshima

Just a little slide show. Some cool places and memories
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Hiroshima
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize your own slideshow design

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pumping out front!!!

Local, Kazuki, made this sequence barrel clean as a whistle @ Seaside this morning. Lots of raw swell and power coming in pretty clean and hitting the banks with only friends out, BUT also a bunch of debris from the river to watch for....It's all fun and games 'til someone gets a bamboo stick poke in the eye!
Pics were courtesy of Kawaii-san's wave info link.