Monday, February 19, 2018

What I Learned In Katsuura I - Conscious Choice

Friends, I have to confess that I have been a little bit lazy, and intentionally so.  Part of posting pictures (and I still have at least 3 rounds to go) is that I have been trying to verbalize what I learned in training.

It is odd.  I have come back a different man from when I left.  The difficulty seems to be that I cannot fully verbalize how I am different.

Oh, I learned more about the art - mostly what I do not know.  I learned that I have a much farther road than I ever dreamed of before I get there.  And I learned that I have chosen to get there.

Which brings us to the first point in my learning:  Conscious Choice.

One thing that I did come back with is the sense of consciously choosing - in this case to go to training and (apparently) continue to pursue the art at higher levels.  It was just a thing that I arrived back in the US with.  I cannot tell you the point at which it happened, just that it did happen.

My life, for the most part, has been a series of unconscious choices.  Most things I have managed to blunder into or start as a lark - for example, Iaijutsu itself (I cannot even remember where I found it online) or cheese making or throwing or the harp (Walking by the music building:  "Learn to play the harp."  Okay...) or a plethora of things that have happened to me.  But just as easily I have chosen things essentially unconsciously at well - The Firm (yes, I consciously chose to do it but unconsciously chose not to consider the consequences) or financial decisions (multiple) or simply the amount of items that currently crowd my house, things I thought I might like to pursue and then decided not to or hobbies tried once and then abandoned.

But when I came back I was possessed by a sense of consciously choosing - initially my art, but extending to more and more aspects of my life.

Randomness has a certain thrill to it, but randomness does not allow one to increase one's skill level or decrease one's clutter in life.  And I am past the point where more activities or more things are going to create the thrill they once did.

The outcome?  I am choosing what I allow into my life and what I choose to practice.  Ultimately it will decrease the amount and number of items there, but I have come to understand that then everything that is in my life is there because I consciously desired it to be in my life, not just because "it sounded like a good idea".

Friday, February 16, 2018

Back From Japan: Tsutokoyamakosho Temple

This is the smaller of the two Buddhist temples near where we trained:

The playscape is a nice modern touch:

Many Buddhist Temples have associated Shinto Shrines:

Japanese graveyards are amazing.  They are very much a sort of miniature necropolis:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Back From Japan: Shinmei Shrine

Shinmei Shrine is a shrine on the hillside behind the training center.  It is sort of this random temple, up on a hill.

The Torii, the gate that separates the sacred from the ordinary: 

Views of the Lower Shrine:

The Upper Shrine:

Guardian Dogs and Lanterns:

 The Purification Basin:

The Upper Portion.  This is where the kami (spirit) dwells:

And some very cool brooms:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Back From Japan

Hi Friends!  I made it back around midnight local time last night. I had a wonderful and meaningful time.

Our schedule, which was not as bad as it could have been, was as follows:

0400  Wake Up
0500-0700  Train
0700 Breakfast
0900-1200 Train
1400-1630/1700  Train
1630/1700  Shower/ Hot Bath (Ofuro)
1800 Dinner
2000  Bed (Typically)

I fear I am still a bit strung out by lack of sleep, but here at least are some pictures of the facility we were in:

The Outside:

Places to remove your shoes:

Our room.  Four to a room (could fit eight on the floor). The bunk was a tatami mat:

The showers, including the Ofuro:

Two of the dojos we trained in:

Sunrises and sunsets were beautiful:

And the general daytime views were nice too:

Sunday, February 11, 2018


"If for your food
you have been given gall,
if in your thirst 
you have drunk vinegar,
remember that Jesus suffered the like."

- Gilbert of Hoyland (Fl. 1153-1172) from The Way of Simplicity (Esther De Waal)