Panty Snatchers

It’s been an interesting past few days.  I’ve had the distinction of enjoying a few “firsts” this week including an earthquake.  I have also started a new workout routine and nutrition schedule with the plan to lose another 20 pounds on top of the 30 pounds that I’ve shed since February.

A few of my “firsts” this week:

1.  Experience my first earthquake.

2.  Met the reigning junior WORLD CHAMPION of mens figure skating.

3.  Saw my first panty snatcher.

4.  Deployed my first web site.

It really wasn’t an earthquake – more like a loud bang that shook everything and caused me to crap my pants a little.  The anticipation of another earthquake or aftershock kept me sitting in a chair looking around the room impatiently waiting for something to sway back and forth.  Nothing happened.

Being Canadian, like most Canadians I consider myself an expert on anything involving frozen water.  This kid was good and I think that when the next winter Olympics are in Russia he stands a very good chance at taking gold there as well.  I saw him at a practice session along with two of the children of one of the teachers at Tohoku International School.  The only thing that was missing was the mediocre taste of Tim Hortons coffee.

So there I was at 2am on the balcony, looking out onto a crisp autumn night in Sendai, when I spot this man walking slowly up the street.  I sipped my coffee, saw a Skyliner go up the street, then tried to find the man again without much success.  Then I spot some movement on the balcony of one of the houses across the street and see this guy jump from the balcony and go tearing up the street with his arms full of panties – they were strewn over the street.

The web site was nothing special.  Once it’s fully functional I’ll release the address.

Looking forward to sushi and sake tonight!

(On a side note the panty snatcher story is not real – just bored and having issues falling asleep – plus I like the sound of the word “strewn”)

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I Hear Music!

I finally threw back the curtains this morning (yes I’m 14 hours ahead of Toronto) at 5:50am to find a dreary, wet, misty, wet, cloudy, wet morning.  A perfect day for a long slow run.

I should note here that I’ve stopped jogging.  Jogging in my mind is the flat footed pursuit of running – noisily slapping your feet on the pavement, half-assed flailing your arms back and forth, incoherent breathing and stopping every ten minutes to rest for a minute.  Now, I run.  It may be a slow run, but it is movement with purpose.  Running is your feet hitting the ground on the balls of your feet, knees high, arms pumping, rhythmic breathing, a full body movement.

I don’t know if you realize this, but Japan is a mountainous country, so there are no long strides.  Even on a gentle incline here (6% gradient) my calves start to cry out.

The route that I chose today was based on time, not on distance.  I pick a direction, run until I get lost, then try to make my way back.  Everything was going nicely until I realized that I had been running for 30 minutes downhill on a winding road.  Knowing that I did not want to go back up the way that I had come down, I opted for a continous route of right turns.  I finally came to a T juntion, turn right.  Slow run up a steep incline, then a long run along a flat part (pausing to take a panoramic video of Sendai), then hitting another T junction.  Pausing at the lights, I looked to my left (sweet sweet downhill) and then looking at a 12% incline up the hill.  I smiled and started the rhythmic run up the hill.  Panting hard 30 minutes later I reached the top to find the Log Restaurant (for sale) that had an amazing view of the city, then I started the slow run down the hill at a gentle 6% gradient.  I finally hit a road that I recognized, found the giant daikanon statue and ran home at a decent pace.  It was the best 90 minute run that I’ve had since I’ve been here.

Now I’m going to sleep.

Oh the music part.  For the first time in years I started singing in the shower.  Turns out I missed doing that.

Video of Japanese Garden

 

Panoramic View

View From The Log
The Log Restaurant
Ok, this was at the top of the hill and I was getting tired of running uphill.

Players Gotta Play, Haters Gotta Hate

Well I’ve been pretty quiet recently – so much so that my parents got a little worried. I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking and reading and working the past little while. I’m looking forward to enjoying downtown Sendai and doing a day trip or two outside of Sendai if the weather holds out (yes it’s still 12C here) this upcoming weekend.

I’ve come to the realization that Japan is like any other country with one major exception – it goes to such extremes when it comes to people. The freaks are freakier, the businessmen are salarymen, corporate culture is machoistic and entrepreneurship appears to be non-existent. Whereas in North America private schools are coveted above the public school system – it’s the exact opposite here. Everyone strives to fit in and when people rebel, they take it to the extreme. I’ll find some examples and post them up here when I have access to a computer again (which should be soon).

That’s it for now and I promise to be posting daily again this week.

The Calm After The Storm

It has been a very quiet weekend.  No day trips, no shopping, no hunting, no meeting new people – just a whole lot of thinking.  And reading:

  • Book of Negroes by
  • Lonely Planet – Japan
  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • How To Be A Fierce Competitor by Jeffrey Fox
  • A book on Stoicism

Throw in a hike, a long jog and some yoga – I would call it a productive time since the last post.  I’ve managed to answer a few questions that have been nagging me for a few years and I’ve moved onto some more recent ones.  When I feel I have a good grip with everything I’ll throw up a post on it.

Today I’m looking at possible things to do at Christmas and the two that stand out are a ski trip to Hokaido and a trip to Thailand for some sun.  Any thoughts?

There’s A Storm Coming…

You know the feeling you get when a storm is approaching – the hairs raise on the back of your neck, the wind picks up, and your gut is in turmoil.  I have a feeling of restlessness – constantly moving around, itching to be out in the world, to be doing something.  And the smell of a storm just before it approaches…I know this will be a big one.

I’ve been asking a lot of questions of myself lately.  Creative questions that start with “what if…” and soul crushing questions that start with “why”.  I find myself at a crossroad and gaze at two choices – to hold back or go for it all.

There are pros and cons to each.  If I hold back and play it safe, then I am guaranteed some modicum of success.  I will not be sticking my neck out for anyone else and I will not have to change.  If I go for it all, I am risking everything that I have left of myself.  I, as I stand right now, will cease to exist and I do not know what will become of me.  I will be standing in front of a great abyss – peering into the darkness – looking for a faint beacon of light.

I know what I must do as the past two days have dealt me a double blow – one being the passing of a great man and friend.  In both situations I know that I have no control over them at all yet they both affected me greatly.  It is because of this that I know what I must do.

On a much lighter note, the feedback that I got back on the post titled “Hunting” left a lot of people confused.  I merely sat on a stool at a counter (in Starbucks) that faced the escalator in one of the major department stores, placed my blackberry up against the windowpane, and hit record (I was working on my laptop at the time).  I was aiming to demonstrate the fall fashion in northern Japan (way too much plaid) and the high number of pigeon toe women.  I was hunting for the piegon toe woman and elusive Victorian style dressage that pops up from time to time (yes the poofy dresses with corsets and crinoline, topped with a bonnet).  I hope this clears things up.

It is what we do intensely in private that we get complimented on in public. – TR

Storm blowing in from the north

Yamadera – The Temple with 1000 Steps

This past Sunday I took a day trip to the small town of Yamadera.  Taking the train to this quiant tourist town took just over an hour winding through the mountainous area of Tohoku region (northern part of the main island of Japan).  While on the train we stopped at Sakunami (another resort town that has a famous ensen(traditional Japanese hot spring and spa)) for soup.  Now this soup was amazing for two reasons – one it was free (the train stopped and everyone got out to enjoy the free soup) and two it was gorgeous out (18C and sunny).  Plus there were a few ladies dressed up in traditional Japanese kimonos.  As the train made its way winding through the mountains, I managed to take some videos of the view from the train to show the hilly terrain and the autumn colors.

The town of Yamadera is quiet and peaceful (there were a few tourist buses) and there was a continuous stream of tourists heading up to the top of the mountain to see the temple (both foreigners and Japanese).  We managed to snag a table at a traditional Japanese restaurant (sitting on the tatami mats on the floor) with bowls of noodles (mountain mushrooms, seaweed) and giant mugs of beer.

Delicious!

The climb up the mountain was slow due to the volume of people and the narrow winding steps.  However, it did force me to stop, take some pictures and videos along the way.

The view from the top was spectacular and breathtaking.  There was a shinto ceremony being performed at the temple and being my spiritual self I light some incense and said a prayer.  There were two oddities that I noticed at the top – one was a post box and the other was a paved path winding up the rest of the mountain with telephone and electrical wires strung up beside it.

The climb down was much faster (less people as we spent more time than most at the top exploring the various buildings, paths and gardens) and we rewarded ourselves with some zonda ice cream and a tour of a famous pottery shop.

In reality this was more the temple of 500 steps due to my long legs.

Photos of Yamadera

Videos

Before Boarding The Train

Train Ride (video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4, video 5, video 6)

View from Yamadera Train Station

Traditional Japanese Restaurant

Halfway Up

View From Lookout Tower

At The Top

Facebook Video (courtesy of Greg – yes I fell asleep on the train ride there – it’s par the course of working nights)

Scotch at the top!

A Day of Hunting

I woke up at the crack of dawn, the bright sunlight blocked by a half foot of prefab concrete wall, rolling over while hitting the snooze button and falling back asleep.  Finally rising from bed thirty minutes later, I rushed through the shower, threw on some clothes and headed out to Jusco.  I opted for the biggest bottle of sake that I could find, stashed it into my bag and hopped onto the bus for the trip downtown where I would catch a ride to go hunting.

The bus ride was quiet and uneventful (there’s a rule on the buses – heck all public transportation – that you should not use your cell phone to talk to people) and since there was no traffic I was downtown in no time.

We set out walking to find the perfect spot for hunting.  The two others selected for a spot farther away, closer to where the action would be and in a more comfortable position.  I opted for a position that provided the best vantage point and camoflauge.  This being my first hunting trip, I did not want to miss out on anything.

So there I was – perched in the blind that I had setup – and I waited patiently.  Every so often I would have to adjust my position so my arms and legs didn’t fall asleep, and I would conspiciously take a swig from the big bottle of sake (not wanting to attract any unwanted attention) trying to make as little noise and movement as possible (I didn’t want to disturb the natural habitat).

Here are some of the videos that I managed to snap off while I was there.

Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4, Video 5, Video 6, Video 7, Video 8

I’ll tell you, if it wasn’t for the sake it would have been a very boring and painful experience.  I got a few odd glances every now and then from the local wildlife (and local law enforcement) but overall I found it to be a very humbling experience.

T-shirt I found close to where I was setup for hunting...