Monday, February 28, 2011

Fresh Fish

 These guys were dinner last night! The only thing about eating saba sashimi is that there is the rare chance that there may be some 'worms' (parasites) inside the fish that can then cause considerable pain as they latch on and eat away at your stomach. The only cure is a trip to the hospital where a doctor can insert a camera and vacuum down your throat and suck 'em out. Otherwise it takes about a week for the body to flush them out naturally. However, the dinner was good for me. I must have drowned any 'worms' with all the beer I drank.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

From the balcony

 Fisherman have been busy!
 An outrigger canoe.
Out for a sunny Sunday ride.

Friday, February 25, 2011

20 Degrees!

This happened last year, too. Right when we wanted to go snowboarding! However, there were still some waves around so I hit the water again. It was good to make the most of the warm weather as it's forecast to drop back down to 9 degrees tomorrow.

Dave (Kamogawa Power) was down taking pictures and made my gangly, long limbed, uncoordinated self look not half bad. The man has a talent! I was riding my Mackerel board shaped by Junji Sonoda (he shaped it for himself and I begged him to sell it, hence the Volcom sticker). The board is so much fun!!

Thanks Dave and Junji! You guys ROCK!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clearing my head

Reset, refresh, call it what you want, but I've had a lot going round in my head the last few days following the earthquake in Christchurch and I needed to clear my head. Best way to do that is to get in the water. I had a fun surf out front this morning and K-san from Grace Surfboards snapped this picture of me The result, a more calm and settled me.
Thanks for the photo K-san!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Christchurch was devastated by yet another earthquake today. And while it's magnitude may have been less than the one that struck last year, the relative depth (only 5km) and proximity shook buildings to the ground! My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the city and of course my close friends and family. When I was there in January, the city was still recovering from the last quake and many buildings in the central city were boarded up and undergoing repairs. It must be heart wrenching for those victims to have to go through it all again. As further news breaks, it paints a terrible terrible picture, one where fatalities are inevitable. It's so hard to fathom from afar, but our sympathy goes out to all that have suffered in these traumatic times.

 Me with my Nana and Uncle earlier this year. Hope you guys are OK!
 Damage to my Uncle's chimney from the first earthquake. I hope no-one was standing below it this time!
 Aiko, I and a friend's son standing in front of the Christchurch Cathedral, which was toppled in today's quake.
 Historic buildings damaged the first time around are in ruins now.
Punting on the Avon in more tranquil times.

Monday, February 21, 2011


DAVE YAMAYA BLOG: FRAME GRAB: "Grabbed a couple frames from the video I took during our snowboard trip... KEN... JAMES..."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bevan Gooch

We surfed with this guy @ Hot Water Beach in NZ a week before this Australasian LQS contest @ Sandy Bay. He was super friendly and was pulling into a few tubes. He also had some complimentary words for Ken-san's surfing!! I guess his full name is Bevan Gooch, but all the locals out were just hooting 'Go Bev!'

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday had waves

The sun was out, there was still some swell and there was a fun peak with just some friends. Thanks for the pics Dave!!


It's been a packed couple of weeks with a trip back home to see family and the year coming to a close at school which means assessment, reports and self evaluation. But when the opportunity arose to go snowboarding for three days, I grabbed it with both hands as I usually only get to do it once, maybe twice a season if I'm lucky.

This year we went up to Nagano/Yamanashi prefectures and we scored some of the best conditions of the season thus far!

On Friday we got the 5:30am bus to Tokyo, trained to Shinjuku, then took the Azusa express train to our final destination (almost 6hrs of travel and the same returning). We were greeted by Umi who lead us to his dad, Ken, waiting in the car park and then went straight to Fujimi Panarama Ski Field. Conditions were a bit tough with decent snowfall and pretty lumpy trails, but it felt good to be up in the mountains. The following two days we drove about an hour to Koumi Re-Ex Ski Resort and scored some of the best snow conditions I've had! One of the great things about snowboarding in Japan is that there are so many ski fields that lift prices are very reasonable (we paid ¥3,000/NZ$45?) and queues at the lifts are basically non-existent (at least where we were). How good is that???!!!

 The 'Welcome to Kobuchisawa' sign that greeted us when we stepped off the train.
 Ken's homemade MAKI STOVE! For all your home heating and cooking needs.
 Tasty chicken Maki Stove style with wasabi and grated daikon for zest!
 Rina loading up.
 Brewing trouble or trouble brewing...
 Dave and I with Ken and a 'friend' (later in the evening).
 Driving first thing after snow all night.
 Feather-light powder snow balanced delicately.
 Sunrise @ Koumi Resort.
 Our crew: (L-R) Dave, Shinya, Ken, Umi and Rina (absent: Sa-chan) and me.
 Random cosplay family suiting up in the car park area.
 Icicles frozen on the car exterior.
 Icicles on the laminating shed's gutter.
 Rural Japan mid-winter.
 Building a snowman.
 Dave and I sitting with our proud creation, just like kids again.
 The majestic Mt. Fuji from Ken's deck.
Shinya and Dave swapping stories on the train in the only space we could find.

This whole trip wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the great hospitality of the whole Kitazawa family. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING!

For more photos see

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


 While away snowboarding, we met a new friend who just so happens to have his own Soba Restaurant, Okina.
 (Okina set nicely amongst the trees: photo from Dave's blog)

We stopped by and ate at the restaurant on our final day before heading back home and it was a real nice Japanese experience! Great tranquil setting and free flowing drinks meant that a good time was had by all. I ate the 'Inaka' soba which was quickly renamed 'In-Da-Car' which was fantastic and cooked just right! Then as we left our friend presented us with some 'Sara' soba to take home. All of his soba is made fresh on the premises daily and went down a treat with my wife who was over the moon. If you're in the hood, you've got to try it!
 Thank you so much!

Soba (そば or 蕎麦) is a type of thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. It is served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup.

The most famous Japanese soba noodles come from Nagano. Soba from Nagano is called Shinano Soba or Shinshu soba. Ni-hachi (二八, two-eight) soba, consists of two parts of wheat and eight of buckwheat; Juuwari (十割, 100%) soba, the finest (and usually most expensive) variety, consists entirely of buckwheat.
  • Sarashina soba: thin, light-colored soba, made with refined buckwheat
  • Inaka soba: "country soba", thick soba made with whole buckwheat

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day here in Japan has a bit of unique twist to it in that only the women give gifts. But for all those women out there fretting, don't worry as the women get gifts returned, often with interest, a month later on March 14th, which is known as White Day. It's also common practice to give Valentine gifts to work colleagues, friends, etc, not just the 'special' someone in your life, and as such it's quite common for men to receive several chocolates. The news reported that some of the more famous baseball stars and TV celebs get up to a thousand chocolates or more from fans alone. Imagine how long their White Day shopping list must be!

Thank you to everyone that thought of me on Valentine's Day and for your very kind gifts! I might have to start jogging!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snowboard trip!

(The mountainous terrain and winter wonderland scenery is breathtakingly beautiful in Japan. This photo was one I took on our trip last year.)

Tomorrow, Feb 11th, is Japan's Foundation Day. That means we have a long weekend! I'm off to Nagano to do a little snowboarding. The bags are packed and some friends and I will be on the first bus to Tokyo in the morning where we will connect up with the train service. The forecast is for tonnes of snow Friday which hopefully equates to lots of POWDER! We're going to stay with some friends up there that we had a great time and stayed with last year, too. Tanoshimi!

Wairenga/Bridal Veil Falls

A short drive out of Raglan and a short walk through the native bush lies Wairenga/Bridal Veil Falls. We couldn't have had nicer weather to see it in all it's glory as the recent cyclone rains meant there was plenty of water flowing.

Raglan & Ruapuke

We woke up at the crack of dawn and drove thru the dark full of anticipation of scoring some fun sized lefts on the famous points of Raglan before they disappeared with the forecast for a dying swell. Pulling up to the headland overlooking the beach and with great views of the points from Manu Bay all the way to Outside Indicators...we were fully bummed, especially Ken who had been so eagerly anticipating riding the long long lefts.

 FLAT! The stunning, yet disappointing view out over the infamous point breaks of Raglan

Time for plan B....Ruapuke. Ruapuke is another 30 mins or so drive around the base of Mt. Karioi and is situated on a far more exposed part of the coast so usually offers up a wave when other spots aren't co-operating. The road there is a narrow gravel/dirt road that is/was(?) used in the Rally NZ race, part of the World Rally Championship Tour, so is an adventure in itself. It is still such a rare piece of untouched coast, with nothing but sheep and rabbits for company. We scored a couple of fun waves, even managing to get a little shack, but not what we'd been hoping for when we started off the day.  With the swell dying and the tide filling in we headed back into town for some Fish and Chips kiwi style.
 The road down to Ruapuke beach with Mt. Karioi in the background.
 Nobody. Nothing. Pure NZ!
 Smile! The sun's out and there are waves. Go surf!

 Watch out!
 Surveying Whale Bay on the way back into town
 Fish and Chips on the grass by the harbour with a Steinlager to wash it down. Sweeeet!
 Above: Aiko enjoying the sun and warmth. Below: Ken finally scoring a long left.