Sunday, May 30, 2010

Zero Trash Today!!!

Unfortunately the weather was rainy yesterday and still cold and overcast this morning with a chilly Nor-Easter blowing (surf tomorrow??) which may have been a deterrent for some but there was still a good turn out. When I woke and checked the beach from the balcony I saw a couple of small groups of local older ladies cleaning up. It was still only 8am and the official clean up project wasn't scheduled to start until 10am.

I feared that perhaps the fickle weather was going to put pay to the ambitious project. Aiko and I donned our jackets, got our tongs and hit that spot I came across the other day. It was even worse than I had thought with all sorts of things (lots of it castaway fishing line and ropes from the fishing boats I guess). We did our best and can proudly say that it is far far cleaner than before. However, whenever I looked up there was another plastic bag, PET bottle or cigarette butt a few paces away. It was beginning to feel overwhelming when out of the blue came all the volunteers right on time!
This is just what we picked up but they filled the back of a small truck!! Thanks to everyone who took part and gave up some of their Sunday morning for a worthy cause.

For more pictures of the event see DAVE YAMAYA'S BLOG HERE.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kermit da froggie

Stumbled across this little fella today hiding in an Aloe plant near my pad. He must be the dude that's been making all the noise at night recently keeping me up! He looks pretty well fed and had a good spot in the sun so I forgave him his boasting and we left him to it.

May 30th

In Japan, as in the States, the date is written Month/Day/Year as opposed to the British way Day/Month/Year. Anyway, what this means is that May 30th is written 5/30 which in turn can be read an alternative way in Japanese to say GO(5)MI(3)ZERO(0). That translates to ZERO TRASH/RUBBISH/GARBAGE (call it what you like).

It's a very ambitious dream and one that seems nigh on impossible at times when a few people seem completely ignorant of the impact their stray cigarette butts, abandoned coffee cans or polystyrene bento trays can have on the environment and the beauty of nature's playgrounds, while at the same time being naive to the efforts of many to clean it all up!

So, this Sunday, there is an organized Beach Clean going on in Kamogawa starting from 10am at Maebara Beach. Hopefully it raises awareness of the problem that we face and goes some way to achieving the goal, albeit for a day or two only.

For anyone interested in participating and helping out, the organizers can be contacted at;
ph: 04-7092-0086

Today I went out for a walk by the Marina with the intent of enjoying the morning and armed with a bag and tongs to pick up a few butts.On closer inspection, the trash was far worse than I had anticipated. I filled two bags with an array of trash and then came across this!
This is Sunday's task. Wish me luck. Hopefully come Sunday, I will have a couple of helpers so it'll be that much easier.

Remember, you can do your bit too. You don't have to be in Japan or wait until May 30th to have an impact. Take a little bag with you when you walk the dog, go for jog, head down to the beach or wherever and pick it up, take it home and recycle it. It doesn't seem like much but together we can make inroads and help restore our planet to what it was and should be like. Let's do it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kamogawa Mt. Fuji

This trail to the top of Kamogawa's Mt. Fuji was recently re-opened after it had been left to ruin over the years. I'm very grateful to the group of people who put in the effort to open this to the public and wish there were more. There's so much beautiful nature on our doorstep here and yet, unfortunately, a lot of it goes unnoticed and under utilized. Perhaps the local city office could do more to promote these kind of attractions and attract more environmentally minded tourists to these parts. Anyway, I digress...

It's only a couple a kms away from where I live which means that it is super handy. The trail zig-zags it's way to the first lookout winding through a variety of bush and trees with the cedar very prominent in the lower areas with a generous splattering of ferns and wild ginger covering the flooring which makes for a very tranquil setting (once the bleating of the goat that stands guard to the entrance subsides). From there it traverses the ridge, at places only a meter or so wide with very steep embankments falling away on either side, before reaching the summit, a mere 208.7m above sea level but with magnificent views in all directions. From the summit, the track weaves it's way back down on the Hanabusa side where we were met with bamboo, rice paddies and very narrow track on which some brave driver had recently squeezed his kei-truck along.

The trail itself is not overly exerting and doesn't take much more than an hour to complete from one end to the other, but does require some decent shoes. A pair of jandals won't cut the custard I'm afraid and it pays to take a nice cold drink to enjoy at the top as you do manage to work up a bit of a sweat.

Enjoy the photos,
Here's me at the start with the mountain behind me.Aiko walking up through the cedar trees.
Some wildlife on the way up. We were watching for snakes but didn't come across any thank goodness!The first lookout and time for a drink. you can just make out my place in the background by the beach.A few of the trees were blossoming which made for a nice picture. This is from the second lookout.
Me at the top with the signpost for confirmation. Kamogawa Mt. Fuji 208.7m.
Looking back up Nagasa valley toward where the real Mt. Fuji is. I bet on a cool crisp day it would be visible!
The view toward Kameda Hospital and Amatsu.
On the way down.Another beautiful day in Kamogawa comes to an end with the sun setting over the Kamogawa River.

Sunday @ Seaside

I've unfortunately been suffering from a cough this last week and thought better of going for a surf until it improves a bit. It didn't stop Aiko though and she was out there. So, with time on my hands, I wandered down the beach and shot a couple of pics. Good to see all the families out there, mums, dads and kids enjoying the waves together.
Aiko stretching before heading out
Catching one of the many lefts/goofys that were gently rolling through.One of my new students running down to the water to catch up with his big sister
Making the late drop after a nice push from dad. No fear! This kids going to grow up and charge I'm sure!After hitting the beach we both had worked up an appetite. (taking photos is hungry work)
We have some coriander that is growing outta control on our balcony so we decided it was Mexican for dinner and we wrapped some soft shell tacos. Lots of lettuce, coriander, chicken mince with onion and mushrooms with taco seasoning, some salsa and a little cheese to top it off.....MMMmmmm.....delicious!!


99 years old and still going strong!!My Nana has been through a lot in her 99 years and seen many changes. She is still as bright as a spark, challenging the daily crossword puzzles and loving life. Next May she'll be 100!! In New Zealand, as a member of the commonwealth, citizens receive a letter of congratulations from the Queen on their 100th birthday and let me assure you, it's a pretty rare feat. Have a wonderful year Nana and I hope you've recovered from the celebrations for your 99th party!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Decade!!!

It's been TEN YEARS to the day since I first laid foot in Japan. It doesn't seem like so long ago since good friend Andy Shannon and I braved the trains and crowds of Tokyo as we battled our way in the humidity with surfboards and our life possessions to a Guest House somewhere just outside Ikebukuro where a friend of a friend had promised to house us until we found our feet ...... only to be greeted by a piece of A4 taped to the door saying "sorry guys, NO ROOM". She eventually showed up and helped us find a place to stay at the Tokyo Youth Hostel in Iidabashi and the rest is history.
Things still amaze me on a daily basis and the spot I've landed in and settled and the friends and family I've made really make me feel at home and comfortable in my surrounds.
Thank you everyone for going out of your way to help in whatever way, big or small, over the years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hair today, gone tomorrow????

Well, after almost 2 years, I decided to get my hair cut. I didn't start out with any intention of growing it but as time passed it just got longer and longer. Then when it got troublesome I complained to wife about it and she said that she wanted to cut hers too but couldn't as she was in the middle of her Uniki Course (and Hawaiian traditionists believe that knowledge is stored in one's hair so when undertaking study, etc one shouldn't cut their hair or else valuable knowledge will be lost). So, as a sign of solidarity I swore to myself to put up with the daily tangles and hassles as long as she had to and once she had completed her course I'd go to the hairdressers.

Anyway, this is what it looked like on SundayYesterday I went in to Chiba for a variety of reasons and while I was there I dropped in on a friend, Takkan, at her workplace, Stilla. The staff got to work shampooing, massaging and combing the knots out before Takkan stepped up to the plate. She cut my hair when I got married almost 4 years ago so was down with it when I told her I wanted it short. The rest of the crew working there were all like 'what a waste'. I guess it's fashionable in certain quarters to have long hair at the moment and in the Men's fashion mags the only examples I could find were of foreign actors like Hugh Jackman and Sam Worthington. Fashion was never my forte, so it was off with the lot.

Here's Takkan just getting started (nice shiny forehead!)And this is the finished product (just need a shave and even my mum would accompany me out to a restaurant)I'm sure my bosses will be sighing with relief as, they never said so directly but, their faces told their true feelings toward a 'look' that didn't fit the stereotype they seek in teachers. Much more 'professional' now...hahaha

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hidden Gems

Ahhh....the serenity....
Up in the hills behind Kamogawa there are several dams and waterways often frequented by fisherman chasing Black Bass. With perfect sunny weather and a little help from some friends we were able to spend the last day of our GW vacation exploring them. Hiroshi from Indian Summer Pension in Kamogawa had shown me some pictures he had taken up there previously, those and some pictures of my sister's family out in their kayaks, piqued our interest and led to our pilgrimage into the hills on a mission. Armed with a Canadian Canoe and a three seater Bic Kayak, six of us were able to get out on the water and enjoy the scenery. It was extremely tranquil and satisfying being able to relax and absorb the nature around us. The only unnerving aspect was when we came across a snake swimming along the bank, only to disappear by the time I had retrieved the camera from the waterproof bag.
(L-R: Mai, Aiko, Aya)
James and Hiroshi

Hiroshi, Junko and Aya in the Canadian Canoe
Without the generosity of CETUS Cafe and Canoe Sports lending us equipment it wouldn't have been possible. They are able to rent out gear or take people on mini tours whenever the shop is open (perfect for those hot sunny flat days when surfing is out of the equation). If anyone is interested they are located next to the Kamogawa Fire Station across from Kids Italian Restaurant on the main street in and out of Kamogawa.Lovely Sunset to cap off a beautiful day

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Congratulations Aiko!!

Aiko's Hula circle, Luana Hula Girls, and families had a little get together and BBQ to celebrate Aiko's achievement. Blessed with good weather again the kids were all having a ball running amok outside while the Hula girls chatted indoors and prepared food and the lads tended the BBQ. Everyone was pretty busy over the GW period not everybody was able to make it with the likes of Enishi busy with their annual "Family Sale", Jun giving surf lessons, Asami looking after her very recently born daughter and some others having to leave early for work, etc but it was still fun. My skinny white arms, while remaining skinny are at least a little less blinding than they were as I sat outside in the sun BBQing and eventually toasting marshmallows with the kids before donning my sweater and heading inside to the warmth.I just want to reiterate how thankful we are for such great friends and support and offer a big MAHALO to each and everyone of the people that has helped and given their support to both Aiko and I during these last several years and made it possible. ほんとにありがとうございます!

Dinner with the Nagao family

Aiko's back and in fine form. Fortunately the weather really turned on for her arrival and for the whole of Golden Week for that matter so there was no trauma from the cold weather that was here when she left. It has gone from wintry to summery in the space of a fortnight. Just hope I haven't spoken too soon as I've been enjoying hanging out in the sun!

After a couple of days settling in and adjusting back to Japanese time zone, we had a quiet dinner with the Nagao family. Little Yashi (28 months) was running around the place and having a great time. His eyes really lit up when I pulled out a slab of chocolate (Trader Joe's Pound Plus) that Aiko was given and bought back!! Good times had by all talking story with some nice pizza for a change and salads hitting the spot. And every time someone lifted their glass of wine, Yashi would gather everyone together and say "Everyone Cheers!!", it was classic.
Thanks Nagaos, let's do it again

A Gift

A very kind student bought in a couple of these jars for myself and my workmate. She told us that it was extremely popular and that it had sold out across Japan. Apparently people had been searching for the last available jars and offering them on Yahoo Auctions for a small ransom!!
Anyway, today when I was watching TV, it was one of a number of items referred to during a program for it's astounding meteoric rise to stardom!!! Of course it is delicious and can supplement a number of dishes from fried rice and noodles to gyoza, but it gained most of it's notoriety of the back of a celebrity endorsement!!!
Wow, the power of the media is never to be underestimated!!!
Thank you very much!!!

Plus 4

4 KG that is!! Sitting on my butt for two months with wires sticking out of my finger preventing me doing too much other than walking as well as eating breakfasts like this one while Aiko was away has meant that I'm back up to 'MAN' status.

Good friends of mine in University used to pay out our 'lighter' surfing buddies after an article ran in a popular surf mag at the time about power surfing (MEN) V's tail flickers (BOYS) which referenced 80kg as the weight required to lay it on rail and surf like a MAN. Many people may disagree and there are lots of smaller guys surfing with a bunch of power but it's the one bright side to gaining weight. Not to sure how long it will last though...