The first Shakuhachi solo performance ever…

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I suppose some of you folks, my dear readers, may realize by now, how much I love playing the Shakuhachi flute…
Each night, after dinner, and before hitting the futon, I play the Shakuhachi for about 30 minutes to one hour…

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Fate had it that, one of my colleagues made me a proposal that I could not refuse or escape from…
He requested that I play the Shakuhachi, and introduce ‘Japanese culture’ to a group of professors from three Indonesian universities who came to our university for a seminar last September…

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I was really not sure if I was the right person to ‘introduce Japanese culture’ to others…
Surely, there must be a Japanese person who can do the job better than me, I thought…
And, of course, in the first place, I was not even sure if I could pull through the solo performance…
There will be over 80 people in the audience, and they included university presidents, professors, colleagues, and graduate students, etc…
I have played Shakuhachi on stage a few times before, but it was always with other players…

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On that fateful mid September evening, I managed to churn out three numbers, two Japanese autumn songs (Momiji and Sato no aki), and Bengawan Solo…
The party took off from that performance of mine…
First, a President of a Japanese university came to sit with me after my performance…
It turned out that he is also a Shakuhachi player, but had not touched the instrument for the last 20 years…

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The next minute, the MC announced that this university president was going up on stage, with my Shakuhachi on hand, to play a song…
And before we realized it, the president of an Indonesian university joined in to sing along on stage…
Shortly afterwards, a group of Indonesian students came to me to ask permission to go up on stage to sing Bengawan Solo ‘a cappella’…

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What an experience it turned out to be…
Technique-wise, perhaps 50 to 60 points out of 100?
But satisfaction-wise, may I say, close to 100%?

PS: All photos taken by my colleagues…
I thank them very much as these are the only photos we have of the performance…

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Underwater life at Pulau Weh, Indonesia…

Made a trip to Pulau Weh (off Sumatra Island) many moons ago, with my ‘sweeto-haato’ aka dive buddy…
This location is known for the tsunami that happened in December 2015…
Incidentally, we were there during the 10th anniversary of the disaster..
Locals refer to Pulau Weh as ‘Sabang’, which is actually the name of the biggest town in the island…
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The weather was horrendous throughout the whole time we were there…
Strong gales, heavy rains, choppy seas, huge surges, you name it…
Still, we tried our best to enjoy the trip although I almost threw out in one of the outings…
My missus was smiling away while I agonized…

This anemone fish is a lovely specimen no doubt, but I was more attracted to those ‘nipples’ that house the fish…

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This rose-like specimen is the egg of the nudibranch…
I have seen this on numerous occasions and I still marvel at how pretty some eggs can look like…

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A very friendly Emperor Angelfish… Size was about 40 centimeters…

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Could this be a Golden Damselfish?
They are small but are quite aggressive towards ‘intruders’ coming into their territory…

PC230613aThis Coral Grouper caught my eye as it was moving about, looking for some crevice to hide…
This is a very popular table fish in seafood restaurants in Asia…

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Am not so sure, but I think this is a Squat Lobster…
It was hiding comfortably in some kind of barrel coral…
Not too big… perhaps twenty centimeters?

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Collared Butterfly-fish are often seen in pairs, and sometimes in large groups…
They feed on coral polyps…

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This starfish looked like a stuffed pillow to me…
Not too often that I came across such a specimen…

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Arc-eyed Hawkfish perched on top of a coral head…
They like to dart around, but I think they are very photogenic subjects…

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Freckled Hawkfish looking very pretty…
They feed on small fishes or shrimps…

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I believe this might be a Red-cheek Anthias…
They congregate in large schools, swimming against the current…
They are one of my favorite fishes to photograph…

Lovely blog award…

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Wooh, how time flies…

Before I realize it, it has been too many moons since I last made a post…

And while I was lazing away blissfully, a dear blogger-friend, Connie, emailed me with a proposal… would I accept the Lovely Blog award?

It would be ok if I were to break the rules, said she…

And, a few more moons would pass by me before I could actually get out from my lazy state of mind to put up a post…

First, I would like to offer my gratitude to Connie for thinking so highly of my blogging initiatives…

Next, I would like to say ‘gomen nasai’ as I am going to respond through this blog rather than the other blog (Potager Y @ Japan) that was nominated…

Thirdly, I apologize with my body bent at 90 degrees, in that I am unable to nominate any blogs for the award…

As for the seven ‘secret-secret’ things about myself…

1. I am, or was, a certified a commercial pilot with instrument rating. Yeap, that was way back in 1981, when I managed to scrap through the training and was awarded the license. Was due to fly commercially for a major airline but, fate is fate… and one thing led to another and before I knew it, I found myself slipping out of the airline industry, and subsequently parachuting onto the world of academics…

2. And yeap, I am a certified Rescue Diver although I would not say that I am capable of rescuing anyone in the water…

3. And yeap too, I play the Shakuhachi, just for fun. I play this Japanese bamboo flute almost every night before hitting the sack, and I love it… In fact, my normal blogging time slot (after dinner) has been taken over by Shakuhachi time…

4. I am running barefoot these days, and I am training myself to run the half marathon barefoot hopefully within a year or two. If all goes well, I plan to further train myself to run the full marathon barefoot in the future… Too ambitous?

5. Continuing from Point 1, I never dreamed to be an academician in a university. Not that I am complaining… For many years now, I have been teaching in English and Japanese, to both Japanese students and non-Japanese students. It is fun…

6. I should be learning the Mandarin language soon. Been telling myself for decades now, but I have yet to find my marbles to get on with it. But I know, one day, I will do it.

7. Finally, ever heard of a ‘meat-eating herbivore’? You are looking at one…

Oh, the picture above? I shot it a few mornings ago, from the deck on our second floor…

We are lucky to be able to enjoy the sunrise views from our home…

I have grown to adore the beauty of the Japan Inland Sea very much…

Re-discovering the joys of running…

Yes, my dear friends and readers, you are looking right at a man who is about to celebrate his 57th year this July…
Body weight in the morning, 62 kilos; in the evening after dinner: 64 kilos… body fat ranges from 8 to 10 percent…
And yes, that is the outfit that he is using to do his runs lately…

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Well, we can say that, I sort of, re-discovered the joys of running… sometimes with shoes, other times, barefoot…
My ‘suweeto haato’ had decided to pick up running about a year and half ago…
In that one year, she has ran in several ‘little’ and half-marathons, culminating in her first full marathon last March at Tokushima, a prefecture adjacent to Kagawa…
I was impressed that she finished the full marathon at 4 hours 38 minutes…

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And so, I was kind of like, ‘influenced’ by her running…
See that picture above?
I captured it after one of my fun runs last weekend when I did an 11 kilometer run right inside those woods, amongst the blooming wild sakura trees…
The feeling was, super refreshing, with a temperature hovering around 17 degrees…

Oh yes, that tank-top I was wearing…
I bought it as a gesture of support for a running project of a new friend I made (through my missus’ Barefoot Running Club)…
Known to his friends as simply, ‘K’, Atsuyuki Katsuyama is a runner, a vegan, and a resident of Bangkok…
He is planning to run on Route 66, across the USA, starting from Santa Monica, via Chicago, and all the way to New York…

He intends to complete the 5,200 kilometers run in 80 days, starting from 25th April, and ending on 13th July.
Readers may look up for more information here https://krunusa.wordpress.com
It will certainly be adventure of a lifetime, and quite a feat if he can successfully complete the run…

I wish him the very best of luck, and stamina to pull through…

Shrine by the cliff…

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Crawled up one early morning…
And decided to take some shots of the shrine a few minutes walk from home…

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These are some of the mini statues of the ‘Lucky Seven Gods’…

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I believe they can be found all over Japan…

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This shrine is built on the face of a cliff right by the sea…
It offers a pretty nice view of boats passing by…

Happy holidays and happy 2015…

11th year blogging anniversary…

October 28th signals the start of the 11th year of my blogging…

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My cough has very much subsided, thank god for that…
I think it may be due to the raw ginger that I have been chewing on for the past few days…
The taste of raw ginger is quite yucky, but the after-taste is really nice, and I feel that it is beneficial and soothing for the throat…

I have read somewhere that illness presents an opportunity to take a good re-look at life…
For my case, I have started to take walks early in the mornings, barefoot, and before breakfast…
I get to view the early sunrise, which is simply heavenly, and the air is super fresh…

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Back at the house, woah, was lucky to catch a Japanese kite frolicking just in our garden…
The bird stood there for many minutes, flapping its wings as if dancing, and posing for my camera…

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October is the festive season for the three Shinto Shrines at my neighborhood…
The shrines are rather smallish, but they have their own charm…
This particular festival took place at night, which was a bit unusual, I think…
Was tempted to purchase some ‘takoyaki’ (octopus snacks)…

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The main event of that particular festival was the Lion Dance…
It was a rather simple affair, as the performers were local residents…
Still, it was not too bad as a ‘celebration’ to mark the beginning of my 11th year in blogging…

Birth, aging, illness, and death

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There is this saying, or should I say, teaching in Buddhism: 生老病死 (しょうろうびょうし), literally meaning, ‘Birth, aging, illness, and death’…

I am no expert in things Buddhism, but I imagine this to be phases of life that ‘normal’ human brings go through. These phases are the so-called ‘four inevitables in human life’.

It has been ages since I last wrote a post. For a big part of August and September, I had been on the road, both for private and official matters. While overseas on my last leg, I fell victim to a vicious virus that eventually had me coughing horrendously, and occasionally in spasms.

The medicine given to me at the overseas hospital (a major, reputable one) was discounted as not really appropriate when I looked up a doctor upon returning to Japan. My family of course, and my colleagues at work were/are concerned. I was on medication for about a month. Luckily, the cough subsided, but still, I am not fully recovered as yet.

The body felt/still feels weak. The mind, wondering and unsettled. On several occasions, I suffer a loss of appetite. Worse are the nocturnal bouts of coughing. Interrupted sleep was/is the least of my concern. For soon, it dawn upon my missus that I might just be inflicted with asthma. Yes, I experienced difficulty in breathing, and it felt like I was suffocating. Luckily, these experiences lasted for a very short period of time.

Tried to do some meditation before sleeping. It helped, actually. As I had experienced before, with meditation, I could fall sleep faster, and I enjoy better sleep quality.

Today is 13th October 2014, Monday. A massive typhoon (in Japan, we call it Typhoon Number 19) is scrapping over the Japanese archipelago. Luckily, Shikoku is not on its direct path. Still, the winds in particular, are fierce enough. The Japan Inland Sea, visible from our house, is a huge shade of gray, with choppy waves smashing against the rocks.

The only option on such a day is to spend time inside the house. Which is a good thing for me as I need the rest. It is a good opportunity for me to play the Shakuhachi and to reflect upon life.

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On a brighter side of things, despite my not-very-exciting condition, I managed to clean the chimney of our wood stove. I had to climb up the rooftop to reach the topmost part of the chimney. I could not have done this without the assistance of my missus and a neighbor who was kind enough to come by to provide help. This neighbor who lives in the hamlet next to ours, built his own house and fixed the wood stove all by himself. So, under his watch, I was able to climb the roof with confidence.

Plus, I started to do barefoot walking. I am influenced by my sweeto-haato who is running, first with shoes on, and then, barefoot. She had been running for several months by now, and she does about 10 to 12 kilometers each time. She has taken part in mini-marathons, and is poised to take part in bigger events. I do not foresee myself to take that path. She is in fact encouraging me to join her Barefoot Running Club but we shall see.

The third bright news is that, we got ourselves two new chickens. They have adapted very well to their new home, and they are giving us eggs regularly.

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Typhoon 19 is set to be closest to Shikoku late tonight. By then, I imagine myself to be laying on my warm futon, contemplating about the four phases in life… hopefully without the nocturnal cough attacks…

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