Capel Curig revisited

Last year, I returned to the UK for a bit of a break. Being a complete knob, rather than opting for a nice restful time I decided to go hiking in Snowdonia, spending 4 days lugging an 18kg pack up and down mountains, whilst being rained on and blasted by gale force winds. In case…

The fragility of the sakura

Spring is now well on its way in Tokyo. This morning I extended my Sunday morning run out to 15km along the Zenpukuji and Kanda rivers, sweeping round in a wide loop to take in a few of the local parks along the way. The local authority has done a splendid job of creating a…

The road to third dan

This Summer has been really great. But it’s not all been lounging around on beaches and having impromptu barbeques in our car parking port here at Beerhound Mansions. There was also the small matter of my iaido third dan examination that took place in September. Regular readers will know that I failed the first attempt…

Worlds in motion

Sometimes, because the scenery changes so slowly, it’s difficult to gauge just how far you’ve come in life.  But every so often you have a kind of flashback to a former existence that brings the contrast between “then” and “now” into stark focus. Me and Big M’s married life together has not been easy. In…

A moment of clarity

I am presently going through one of those revelatory periods in my iaido practice where some small insight into the deeper significance of the art has become clear to me. This has come at the end of a reasonably despondent period of training where I don’t seem to have made any progress at all. After…

Relaxation and reflection

I am sitting in the rather agreeable bar of the George Hotel in Rye. I haven’t been here for 15 years at least. In fact the last recollection I have of this place was coming here with my father, so that must be over 15 years ago. Needless to say its changed quite a bit…

Warmed by the prayers of others

Well, here we are at the end of another year and once again I find myself with the family queuing on a cold and clear night to clang the temple bell of our local shrine and offer a prayer for good fortune in 2010. Afterwards, we are treated to a cup of sake and a…

No luck in Tama but philosophical in defeat

I have just returned from competing in the 27th Tama taikai, but my return is alas – as expected – sans l’argent. I’ll quietly admit to being a bit disappointed not to have even won the first round. Although, in mitigation, I was unlucky enough to draw one of the semi-finalists as my first opponent…

Desiderata Mages 2009

A good friend of mine recently sent me a poem she’d written. It’s an update on the famous Desiderata that achieved much popularity in the 60s. The author is an exceptional person; someone that has faced and overcome many problems. I feel traces of some of the scars those battles have left behind can be…

A lesson from Confucius

I have been reading lots lately about Japanese ethics and morality, and in particular Bushido – Japanese chivalry. I bought an excellent book to read on the plane back; I actually nearly finished it before even getting on the plane! The work, entitled Bushido – The Soul of Japan – is an extremely thorough examination…

Some thoughts on war & peace

Last Sunday saw the first iaido class of 2009, an event marked with a wonderful party at a fellow student’s house afterwards. What I thought was going to be just a quick tin of beer and a chat turned out to be a whole afternoon of eating, chatting and watching videos of past iaido competitions…

Time to go

Well, it’s finally here: After months of planning and weeks of relentless struggle and heartbreak, I’ll finally be on my way tomorrow morning. Assuming the taxi turns up, and there’s no screw-ups at the airport, of course. It’s always unwise to underestimate this country’s ability to scupper the best-laid plans, so until my bum is…