Thursday, March 31, 2011

Salt & Pepper

New battery powered S&P grinders!

I've been wanting some of these bad boys ever since I saw some my sister (and or) mother had.

The salt is from friends on Kauai in Hawaii and tastes super good.

Mahalo Bert and La'a.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who are The Marshall Brothers?

I was wondering who these Americanos were surfing in front of Nonkey late last year. Some guys from Tokyo out for the day with their logs I figured. Turns out they come from Malibu, L.A. in California and are readily recognized for their nose riding abilities at First Point, Malibu! I stumbled upon one of the guys photos in a local surf mag I was flicking through at the store and remembered his face, googled his name and saw some of the pics from that day on a website 'secretpoint.' I guess they have their own company 'Firstpoint!', too. Anyway, they were just goofing around having a laugh and getting some photos/video but obviously made an impression as a few of the locals asked about them, assuming (since they were foreigners) they must have been friends.
Chad Marshall

Trace Marshall

Colton Skips School from jake burghart on Vimeo.

"Reset" & Today's Sunset

 Well, it's been a little over two weeks now since life as we know it took an unexpected turn, and I thought it was time to shed my shell a little. With nerves worn thin, rattled and on high alert for any aftershocks and possible tsunamis as well as constantly monitoring the situation unfolding in Fukushima and resultant radiation levels, we've kept a pretty low profile. This weekend the sun was out and the weather was nice and settled. I decided the best way to shed my cabin fever and the stress that had built up was to wash it all away with a quick surf. It was great to be back in the water, see familiar faces, and just talk about what's been going on with various people.
Then today, it was my wife's turn. We went for a drive into Tsudanama, to Yuzawaya (a craft shop with loads of material, etc). Now she's stocked up and got some projects on the go to keep her occupied and is all smiles. We also swung by Costco, grabbed some goodies and saw some of the liquefaction problems that have closed Tokyo Disneyland recently and plagued Chch in NZ.
We got back to Kamogawa just in time to witness a very welcome picture perfect beautiful sunset. Feeling GREAT!
Reflections on freshly filled rice paddies

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Japan earthquake HERO story!

 For one quake survivor, self-help in the face of seeming helplessness was the least he could do. His actions and story are just one of many inspirational stories that people can draw strength from in order to rebuild Japan. The story is courtesy of the Follow the link below to read about it.

Japan earthquake: For one quake survivor, self-help in the face of seeming helplessness -

Friday, March 25, 2011

Life goes on...

Some semblance of normality today. The sun was out and the wind was calm, so we went for a walk down to the newly open Nonkey Cafe and had a coffee on the balcony. It was good to feel the warmth of the sun on our backs after being cooped up recently and the flowers along the Seaside Promenade were blossoming accordingly.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

E-mail ALERT

For those who don't have the time to check blogs regularly or just can't be bothered, I've added the 'FOLLOW BY EMAIL' gadget on the right.

Just enter your email address and you should receive an email each time I post something with a title and link attached for you to follow.

Bill, I know you were asking for something like this. I hope it comes in useful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

菜の花 キムチ

Thanks Yukio!
菜の花 キムチ, or Rape flower Kimuchi, is a seasonal specialty that can only be found in early spring. I love my Kimuchi and each year I'm lucky enough to get to eat some of this, which is made down in Wada by 'Kimuchi Koujou' near the station. They have a variety of Kimuchi, a traditional Korean side dish, to choose from and you can't go wrong! It's all GOOD! It's also available from the Odoya Supermarket in Emi/Wada. Go get some while you can!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cedar Pollen Allergies

Public Enemy #1
Every spring millions of Japanese suffer from hay fever, or more specifically cedar pollen allergies. It's been reported that upward of 40% of people under 15 years old suffer the itchy eyes and runny nose symptoms associated with it, which can make life a misery. UNBELIEVABLE!! Somebody chop them down please! Apparently some states in the USA have made it a federal crime to plant Cedar trees because of the huge impact they have on health. The trees pictured are meant to be green. All of the yellow pollen you can see is like poison to me and many others. That's the real reason why so many people in Japan are wearing masks right now. Bring on Summer!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stylin Ride!

Me & Mum
 It seems camper vans are all the rage these days in NZ. Mum has got in on the action with a sweet little number herself. Although I didn't get to use it this time (it only has seat belts for two and there were four of us), I wouldn't mind checking out some of the country in one of these someday. It sounds like she is getting great use out of it and loving every minute! I'm jealous, but there's no way it would fit down many of the narrow streets and in the small parking spaces here in Japan.
Welcome aboard

Shinya checking out the canopy for BBQ potential

Sunday, March 20, 2011


 A few weeks back, my father in-law, an avid 'BONSAI' enthusiast, made the trip to Tokyo with his wife to see a display of the top bonsai from the Pacific. The majority naturally were from Japan, but there were a few entrants from Taiwan and Hawaii as well. We tagged along and got to see and experience some true Japanese culture first hand. For me, the image of bonsai trees epitomises the extreme pride and care that the Japanese take in presentation. The detail is amazing. Some of the trees were well over 100 years old and had been passed down the generations from grandfather to father to son.  Definitely worth seeing once!
Me at the entrance. No cameras inside!

 The Bonsai event was held in Asakusa, a popular tourist area and one that boasts a pagoda and temple as well as a street selling traditional wares. It seemed like everyman and his dog was there. Good thing I'm tall enough to breath easy amongst the throngs.

Contrast between new and old with the new Sky Tree nearing completion in the background.
 After checking out Asakusa we went looking for a MONJAYAKI restaurant and came across this one, owned by a well known comedian. Osaka is famous for Okonomiyaki, a kind of savory pancake, but Tokyo has a different version of it called Monjayaki, which is almost impossible to describe. It's far from appetizing when you cook it but it tastes great, especially with an ice cold beer!
Outside the restaurant.

Signed spatulas from famous guests adorn the wall.

Looking forward to Tokyo cuisine.

Before it's mixed and cooked on the hot plate.
 After a late lunch we made our leisurely to Ginza. Ginza is where the big European brand stores are located and where the well-heeled shop. Only window shopping for me.
In front of the most expensive piece of real estate in Japan!


A common night scene on a back street with drinking holes under the train tracks.

 A hot coffee and a chance to reflect on an interesting day in the city with the family before busing home across the Rainbow Bridge in the Tokyo Bay.

Just in case...

My father in-law did a round of the stores down in Osaka and sent some supplies including water and instant noodles just in case. Thank you very much! Hopefully it won't come to that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A touch of Spring

A slice of serenity amongst all the chaos.

Stage 2: Christchurch Appeal

 There has been a lot going on in this little old world of ours and while everyone here still sympathizes with what the people of Christchurch have been through and continue to go through, our attention has been abruptly bought to our own backyard following the huge Tohoku Earthquake on March 11th which was subsequently followed by the devastating Tsunami and the Nuclear Power Plant drama unfolding as I write this.

As a result, I felt it only right that the donation boxes that I had placed around town be collected early so that Japanese can focus on their own disaster relief fundraising. After much thought about whether to put the donations collected toward the Japanese Cause or not, it was decided that people had donated to Christchurch, New Zealand and that those same people would no doubt donate to Japan. It was not a decision I made lightly and I took on advice from several friends with vested interests.

Again, it was a fantastic effort by one and all and we managed to raise ¥83,600 which amounts to about $1,300NZ which is amazing!
Donations made and collected at Kamogawa supporters stores and school.
That makes a GRAND TOTAL of ¥355,144!!! 
or just over $5,500NZ
The receipt for ¥83,600 to Red Cross Japan
 I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all those companies and individuals that supported me in this effort.

I hope the local people get in behind and support their businesses, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stage 1: Christchurch Appeal

What we collected and how it tallied up.
The name under which it was deposited to Red Cross Japan.
Yae-san's concert in Kamogawa.
The guys from Kamogawa City Office that helped make things possible!
Kamogawa City Mayor was impressed and donated himself.
The receipt.
What an amazing response!

With the help of friends we collected donations for the Red Cross Japan Christchurch Earthquake Appeal on Sunday, March 6th. We went to the Vitamin Walk Kamogawa event where Yae-san performed a live concert and announced to those in attendance what we were doing and although I had no personal connection with the majority, as they were visiting from Tokyo, they opened their hearts and gave generously. From there, we moved to Kamogawa Aeon (formerly Jusco) where friends from surfing, hula and work gathered to help. I met a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a long time who had read about our appeal in local newspapers and wanted to contribute. Again, people were extremely generous, from young to old, and I can't say thank you enough.

In total, we managed to collect ¥271,544 which equates to about $4,000 NZ. I've no doubt that the people of Christchurch will be very grateful for the kindness exhibited by all.

There are still collection boxes out in Kamogawa which can be found at all Surf shops and some restaurants/cafes/bars around town (a list can be found in an earlier post below). These will be collected on March 21st so don't delay.

If you wish to donate directly to the Red Cross Japan, that's possible too. Just go to there website and follow directions.

I'll keep you posted on what the final tally is. Fingers crossed we can get it up to $5,000NZ! Either way, it's already far exceeded any hopes I had when I started out on this project.

Arigatou/Thank you/Mahalo/Tēnā koutou

Newspaper reports can be seen at the following links:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mum's a LEGEND!

Mum's an absolute LEGEND! I was so busy when I ws back in NZ that I didn't have time to step inside a shop other than to pay for gas, buy a pie, some coffee or beer. So she stopped by the supermarket on the way to the airport and gave me this just as we were checking in. It tastes sensational and goes great with almost anything. I had it on a chicken pizza I made last week and it 'broke da mouth'!

Saturday, March 5, 2011



As most of you know, there was a terrible earthquake in Christchurch, N.Z. on February 22nd. It was an absolute tragedy, with many unfortunate people, young and old, losing their lives. Among the dead are a number of Japanese that were in N.Z. studying English.
 As an English teacher here in Japan and as someone with close links to Christchurch, with a Grandmother and Uncle living close to the city center along with many friends, I felt an urge to do something to help those survivors through these tough times and their hardship.
(Kamogawa City Mayor, Mr. Katagiri, pledging his support)
With the support of the Kamogawa City Office and the City Mayor, We have arranged to collect donations this Sunday, March 6th. Donations will be collected at two points. The first is at the Community Center by the beach park where the 'Vitamin Walk' event will conclude with a live concert by Yae-san. This will take place from around 3:00pm -3:40pm. Following that we will be collecting donations at the entrance to AEON (previously Jusco) Department store/Supermarket from 4:00pm-6:00pm. All donations collected will go to the RED CROSS EARTHQUAKE APPEAL.
(L-R: Irie-san, City Mayor, myself, my wife)
We would love to see you down there in support. If there is anyone that would like to volunteer to assist us, they can contact me on my cell 090-9803-9831.

Further details of the donation collection will be available in the local Bounichi Newspaper on Saturday March 5th thanks to Mr. Ishii whom I did a quick interview with.
For those unable to make it on Sunday, collection boxes (see below picture) have been distributed to local businesses in Kamogawa. These donations will be collected until March 20th, so you'll have to act quick.
Below is a list of the businesses supporting the cause. Their help and cooperation is greatly appreciated.





鴨川市市民福祉部 市民交流課のみなさんとサーファー仲間にこちらもまたご協力いただいて救援金募金活動を行います。
これらの活動を通して集まった募金はすべてニュージーランド大地震救援金として日本赤十字 社へ送金します。