2014 Japan week 2

2014 Japan Diary week 2

June 11 — 17


Wednesday, June 11 – Narita Hilton Recon & Misc

Today my JR Pass is active and after some preps I went to the station and started getting familiar with trains again.  Got on the sobu (blue train) for Narita City.  Then got off, wandered about inside the station, then back on the platform for the train to Narita 2.  Found the #26 bus stop for Hilton bus just in time to be picked up.  Took about 15 minutes to the hotel.  Compared to Hakusen Ryokan the Hilton was in a waste land just off an expressway linking the airport to a major highway.  I saw nothing but a few gas stations on the way there & back.  Verified my reservation, had them fill in their address in the transportation form for my suitcase, got a printed shuttle bus schedule, had lunch there (2800¥ buffet), and rode the bus back to Narita 2.  Wandered about Narita 2 a bit before heading back to Chiba.  Had wanted to go to Bōsō no Mura, but it’s too far out and I had no time.  Wandered about Chiba station and bought some cherries (including a box for okamisan) and other food stuff & drinks before walking back to ryokan.  That night worked hard on translating and understanding the Chiba station train schedule so I would know before leaving when my trains leave.  Got a lot of email done.  Also contacted SoftBank and had the issue with the phone resolved (simple matter of turning 3G back on).  Yay!  Then notified folks re the fixed phone.


Thursday, June 12 – Kogushi-Sensei, Keisei Rose Garden, Gokoku Jinja, Chiba Kōen

Woke up too early at 6 AM.  Still tired.  Decided this would be a day of rest with just local trips on foot, when Kogushi-Sensei called on my iPhone and says he will pick me up at 9, so I hurriedly get ready for his arrival.  Since I had no idea where we were going or when I would be getting back, I cancelled the dinner plan.  He arrived late, almost 9:30, due to traffic.  He took me to the Keisei Rose Garden located in Hanamigawa, I think.  We talked about the article about his dojo in the Seitokai yearbook.  At the Rose garden we walked around the grounds in the soft rain looking at the roses (so many!) and other plants they had on display and for sale.  We chatted about herbs and this and that,  Everything looked very wet and fresh.  It was past the prime rose blooming season, but I didn’t mind.  I bought a small rose flavoured honey jar for okamisan.  After the garden we had lunch at a soba restaurant.  I noted his new smaller car has an old driver sticker on the front and back.  We mostly spoke in Japanese.  After lunch he took me back to the ryokan by 2.  However the door was locked so I walked to Chiba Kōen and Gokoku Jinja.  Bought omikuji and omamori (2 ema, safe driving sticker, and a school studies talisman).  Wrote a wish on one ema & hung it, but couldn’t find the omikuji to tie it on before a wedding party started to arrive so I left.  Then walked back to the ryokan and it was open.  Took a nap then ate dinner.  Ended up eating in after all.

Tonight I am trying hard to get caught up on this journal. Including Iaido notes from practices.  However I had to stop when it got near 10 to go to the ofuro & then bed.


Friday, June 13 – MeugaYa for Tabi

I slept in until about 7:25.  It’s hard to sleep when it is so light so early and no black out curtain on the window. I’ve been using a towel to cover my eyes after the sun rise so I can continue to sleep.  I spent so much time getting my effects ready for this trip  that I neglected, until too late to plan just what I wanted to do and where to go in Tokyo and other places outside of Chiba during my Iaido down time.  I thought hard about the main purpose of my trip, Iaido, and decided not to try to get out to the Apple Store opening or go to nearby Meiji Jingu (been there anyway).  I made a list of places to go related to or supportive of my Iaido endeavors such as the tabi shop in back of Sensō-Ji, the sword museum, SakuraYa near Yasakuni, and the new location of the main TIC (for information).  I spent all morning thinking about this, making a list, studying maps, and figuring routes.  Shortly after noon I left for the station, stopping at the neighborhood combini to get some onigiri and drinks for lunch (planning a lunch on the move).  The majority of the places were best accessed directly by taking the yellow line into Tōkyō.  However I forgot that the yellow line is slow and it took almost an hour to go from Chiba to AsakusaBashi where I got on the Toei subway train for Asakusa.  Once there I walked to the temple, keeping on the left side behind the shops of the main shopping avenue, trying to remember how Tanida-Sensei brought me four years ago.  Fortunately I thought to bring the tabi  wrapper which had a map on it.  My memory couldn’t get me there, but the map did!  In celebration I bought new tabi, a new bag, and new setta.  By then it was 2:30 and time to play Escape From Tokyo, i.e., get out before the rush hour begins.  On my way back I scored a kurogoma ice cream hambaga (ice cream sandwich) and also got a small present of soybean balls for okamisan.  Back at the subway station I got on the wrong train,– correct direction but some kind of express train which skipped the station I needed.  So I had to exit then reenter to go back to the next station.  Then I could get back on the yellow line back to Chiba where I arrived about 4:00.  Today was a warm and sunny day so I was wet with sweat by the time I got back.

Since Wednesday my iPad has been unable to get email.  The iPhone is fine.  Tried power cycling, reset, and reentering the password with no result.  [The iPhone developed the same problem the day before I left Japan.  This was fixed after the trip, when I had some time to do the research, by deleting the G-mail account and then adding it back in.]


Saturday, June 14 – Migraine & Evening Practice

Woke up with the start of a migraine headache and recalled that I didn’t drink much yesterday during that hot trip to Asakusa.  Took Excederin with a full bottle of water soon , but not soon enough.  After breakfast I rested hoping it wouldn’t get worse.  Took more Excederin at 1 PM with food (ate up all my snacks) and napped for a while.  I did a little bit of practice to see if I could do tatehiza and was satisfied that I could.  I was feeling better, I thought, and got ready to go to practice.  Okamisan knocked at the door as I was halfway through tying the hakama.  Chikamoto-San was already here.  I quickly finished, grabbed my gear, downstairs, and out the door where he was waiting in the car.  We chatted about where I went during the week as he drove to the Chiba Ken Budokan where the parking lot was quite crowded with young sports enthusiasts (is it this way every weekend)?  I was dropped off and went on inside while he parked the car.

At the practice I told Tanida-Sensei that I thought I could do tatehiza.  Today we did BattōHō1-11 (2 each), TōHō1-5 (2 each), Seiza1-11 ( mostly just one rep), and Tatehiza1-5 (no problems!).  Today’s lesson was about using both hands together.  I was corrected on a waza to use the open space in front,– an example of knowing what to do, thinking I’m doing it, and failing to realize that I’m not.  I made it through the practice OK, and Tatehiza1-5 felt great, but at dinner with Tanida-Sensei and Chikamoto-San at a restaurant the headache got worse and I became nauseous and could barely eat anything.  Discovered there’s a Japanese word for migraine:  偏頭痛 へんずつう。On the way back to the ryokan, Chikamoto-San took me to the Family Mart near the ryokan where I got four onigiri and drinks to help feed me tonight and tomorrow morning before practice.  I went to bed early thinking tomorrow might be a MiToriGeiko practice.  Woke up at 11 and had just a clean-up; still feeling too sick for a soak in the tub.


Sunday, June 15 – Morning & Evening Practices, Geta, Tonkatsu

In the morning I took more Excederin when I woke up, had some onigiri, and laid down until I felt like getting up.  Wasn’t feeling great, but I dressed out, got my things and waited in the genkan.  Chikamoto-San picked me up and we were off to the Hanamigawa Community Center for a 3 hour practice from 9 – noon.  The flow of the practice was solo waza from 9 to 11, then paired practice from 11 to noon.  Solo waza sets were BattōHo1-11, TōHō1-5, Seiza1-11, and Tatehiza1-10.  There were a bunch of lower ranked folks at this practice, so he stopped often to talk about basics, much as he teaches in Denton, except in fluent Japanese instead of halting English.  Would that my Japanese comprehension was as fluent.  Paired practice started with pair drills 1&2, then TUNK 1-7 several times each side, the last one a  straight run through.  Zanshin and fighting spirit was stressed throughout.  No slack.

After practice he took me to the geta shop in downtown Chiba and helped me to buy a custom pair with a selected base and top.  For lunch we went to a shopping plaza near the ryokan, on the road under the monorail, in the direction of the Chiba Ken Sports Center.  There is a KatsuYa  (tonkatsu) restaurant selling inexpensive & delicious dishes.  It was great.  Afterwards we went into the nearby grocery store to look around.  It reminded me of our local Hong Kong market.  He said this was the best place to get inexpensive items. He dropped me off at the ryokan after agreeing to pick me up before 5.  I bathed and rested until it was time to get ready for the next practice with Tanida-Sensei.  Like last weekend I picked out my driest juban and keikogi to don.  This time I was down in the genkan early.  He picked me up and we were off to the Chiba City Budokan.  We were the first to arrive so we went upstairs to the main hall where a large Katori Shinto Ryu practice was underway.  Chikamoto-San spoke with one of them and even introduced me, then we sat at the side of the floor and watched their practice.  Meanwhile Tanida-Sensei and several other students arrived. After their practice was over we bowed in and started the practice.   At this practice we did BattōHō1-11, OkuTachi1-10, and some ma-ai, targeting and timing exercises.  I learned some things watching Tanida-Sensei’s left hand and center.  The exercises were new to me and it took some prodding and serious trying on my part before I could correctly close the distance from the middle distance using the back foot and hips to push me forward.  After the exercises there was some free practice time that I used to practice my 5 waza for the EmbuKai next weekend, and work on items pointed out by Tanida-Sensei.  He continued to teach on a one-to-one level during this time until it was time to bow out.

After our practice we went to a restaurant for dinner where I was able to eat everything on my plate, plus a delicious maccha drink.   From the restaurant Chikamoto-San drove me back to the ryokan where I promptly crashed after getting clean again.


Monday, June 16 – Laundry & Rest & Research

This day was devoted to laundry & rest; I really didn’t want to go anywhere other than the nearby Family Mart combini for some lunch & drinks. Also I needed to reorganize from the chaos of Sunday, and continue to plan my day trips to Tokyo.


Tuesday, June 17 – TIC, Sword Museum

2:44 AM, jishin woke me up, but I went back to sleep.  Woke up by 7:30 alarm.  Staggered out of bed & got ready for breakfast.  Breakfast included a whole roasted fish, which always takes me a while to get through due to skin, bones, etc.  Upstairs I straightened up the room and collected the  brochures & maps I would or might need.  Headed out a little after 10. Stopped by the Family Mart for a drink which I drank on their handy wooden bench in front of the store, then discarded the bottle into the recyling box before continuing to the station.  Hopped on the Chūō local line (yellow line).  Studied maps and relaxed on the long trek to Akihabara.  Used the rest room at Akihabara on the way to the Yamanote line (green).  Took the Yamanote to Yurakucho where I used the map I got from TIC at Narita 1 to find the new location of the main TIC.  I wanted to get the bus schedule for going from Nagoya to Seki City.  This was a brand new problem for the four employees there and they all worked hard to solve it.  I had to tell them which day we would arrive in Nagoya and how we would be getting there.  Also, Seki City apparently is big enough to have several bus stops so they asked where I was going in Seki City.  I told them Noshudō and they were able to find the web site!  From there they could see where it was and suggested 新田(Shinden) as the place we wanted to get off.  In the course of all this research they found out I did Iaido, was from Texas, and wanted to look at shinken with intention to buy.  They wanted to see photos of Iaido so I showed them the library demo photos.  I was there longer than I thought.

Next I went back to Yurakucho and took the Yamanote to Shinjuku where I transferred to the Odakyu line (by Odakyu Depāto).  Before going to the platform I bought some onigiri for lunch, being hungry.  I was careful today to avoid express trains and found a local train there waiting to leave.

In just two stops I was at Sangūbashi.  The station exit was on the left so I had to go up, over & down to get to the other side where the sword museum is located.  Before exiting the station I sat on a wooden bench and ate my lunch and drank my drink.  This was made possible by the excellent luck in weather.  Then it was time to follow the map to the sword museum.  Inside they had an exhibition of award-winning works by current smiths.  It was wonderful.  Unfortunately the museum shop no longer had the tsuba strap or jewelry.  So I just bought the exhibition booklet.   Walked back to the station & waited for the subway train back to Shinjuku.  At Shinjuku I got on the Chūō yellow line for Chiba.  Thought about stopping to do a quick search for SakuraYa, but due to the time and being tired, decided just to head back to Chiba. BTW I happened to get into the lead car and discovered how wonderful it was to look into the driver’s section and past that to the track directly ahead.

Back at Chiba I picked up some maccha goodness including a cake for Okamisan.  Then back to ryokan to have dinner, relax, do this journal and report results.  After dinner I started sorting things to go via takuhaibin to the Narita Hilton.


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