Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Ware Tada Taru (wo) Shiru"

Written on a tsukubai (stone water basin) at Ryoan-ji temple, Kyoto.    It means "one already has all one needs".

At Ninna-ji, Kyoto

I am resuming posting to this blog...

Until next, sweet sailing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Trombone Happiness - Loopy?

A very cool version of Pharrell Williams' "Happy" on the trombone!


Hat tip to 'Zen' of http://zensekaijapan.wordpress.com/ .

Until next, sweet sailing, and happy tromboning...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Life Can Be A Bear

Kumamon is Japan's most popular mascot. 

Kumamon represents Kumamoto Prefecture which is located on the island of Kyushu, just across Shimabara Bay from Nagasaki Prefecture.   When the Kyushu Shinkansen was completed a few years ago, Kumamoto Prefecture decided to create a mascot to promote tourism and trade.  Kumamon was born.  Kuma is the Japanese word for "bear", so naturally, Kumamon is a bear.

The character has become very popular throughout Japan.   He has been such a success that he brought in over US$1.25 Billion in just two years!

Here is a video song about Kumamon with English subtitles.  It was filmed at Kumamoto Castle - one of the three best castles in Japan.   Warning: possible "cute" overdose.   :)

Until next, sweet sailing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bluesette Colored Glasses

The weather was warm, winds light and variable (confused), and the sky was gray. Never mind. We were seeing the world through Bluesette colored glasses and it looked wonderful to us.

Our "Slo Sail & Canvas" boat cover has worked beautifully - fits perfectly and keeps Bluesette dry and her topside out of the UV rays.  I will have to write them a letter of praise.  Great service too.  If you need sails or a cover check them out at slosailandcanvas.com .

There was a Seahopper on the lake as well as Y-san in his ComPac cat boat. We're not the only ones to believe that a gray day on the water beats any day ashore.

As the wind was light,  we had time and free hands to enjoy a snack of edamame (young soy beans boiled in the pod).

Edamame girl.

There was more wind on the north side of Lake Hinuma.  There are also lots of bamboo poles to navigate through which was a little tricky as the wind frequently shifted.   We call this area "stake city". 

Stake City

I didn't get much in the way of pics this day.  I misplaced the "shoe" that is used to attach the camera to the Camzilla mount, so had to hand hold it.

Last year the launching ramp was chewed up by typhoons and we made due with some steel plates laid over what was left of the base of the ramp - steel extrusions, rebar with bits of concrete.

Ye olde ramp.

Now the yacht harbor has a new launching ramp, rebuilt from scratch with a big solid base of concrete.  I don't think this one is going anywhere any time soon. 

It was past two by the time we left the harbor and the hotel restaurant was closed, so settled for convenience store soba.   Even that was fine.  We were wearing Bluesette colored glasses after all.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sailing Before The Storm

K steers from the lee side of the boat while I snap some pics.

Our first opportunity to sail in 2014 turned out to be Sunday, July 6th.   By the end of the week, typhoon number 8 "Neoguri " threatened with wind and rain.

Laser/Sea Hopper sailors were busy holding trials for the Japan national races.  Sadly for them there was not much wind, so only four boats were competing.

As I had mislaid the little pad thingy that attaches the camera to the mount, pics had to be done by hand.  K took the helm to allow me to take some pics of the racers.

Three Sea Hoppers and a Laser attempt to start a race in light winds.

In honor of my youngest daughter I wore a Notre Dame shirt and my newly acquired Boeing cap.

The wind was gentle and only reached about seven knots.  A nice breeze for our first time out this year.    

A new radiation monitor was in the lake's center.  It sported a wind speed and direction monitor.   Monitors of the ocean bottom have shown that in ridge and slope areas there is little radiation, while in low muddy bottoms the radioactive particles have settled.   Glad I gave up sea food due to other health issues!

One of two radiation monitor stations in the lake now.

K took a couple of embarrassing pics of me after we docked.  Here I am undoing the downhaul/cunningham before lowering the mainsail.

After sailing there was no "Mama's" to go to for lunch, so we visited Ikoinomura Hinuma (the neighboring resort) to grab some lunch.

Miso soup
Soba (buckwheat) noodles

On the way out, I noticed the large lotus ponds that hotel has in front of it.  I took this pic which coincidentally showed the back side of what used to be Mama's restaurant.  Sigh.  

Lotus flowers are so beautiful and the root is a delicious veggie.  Lotus also has a long history in Asian culture as a religious symbol.

Nice to finally get out on the water this year.  Looking forward to more such days.

Until next, sweet sailing!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vapour Trails

We watched the Miyazaki movie "The Wind Rises" tonight.  It's a fictionalized biography of the life of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

As my own father was an aeronautical engineer who did a lot of design work on aircraft during World War II (in particular a famous American bomber), it struck a deep chord with me.   Most especially how it must have felt to be an engineer endeavoring to produce a work of art - a thing of beauty - which was ultimately to be used for destruction. Not that such people are not happy to contribute to the war effort (unfortunately), but rather that war is not the point of their work. Love of flying is.  

Pandabonium with the Mitsubishi A6M Zero at Yasakuni Shrine October 2012.

The song at the end of the movie is quite lovely.     In the film, Jiro's wife is dying of tuberculosis, which adds a poignant meaning to the words.

Here is BEBE performing it with an English translation of the lyrics following:

Vapour Trails
The white slope continued on to the sky
Wavering, ephemerality envelops her
Unnoticed by anyone, all alone,
She is ascending
She fears nothing, and soars up high
She admires the sky, is dashing through the sky
Vapour trails are her life
At that high window, even before her death,
She looked to the sky, and now they don’t understand
Other people don’t understand
They only think that
She was too young, but she is happy
She admires the sky, is dashing through the sky
Vapour trails are her life
She admires the sky, is dashing through the sky
Vapour trails are her life

Like many good stories, it makes me cry.

Until next,  sweet sailing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Most recently, I had the most amazing week in a very long while.

For the first time in nearly a decade, I boarded a plane that took me outside of Japan. What you may ask could pry this old transplanted opihi (Hawaiian limpet) off his Japanese rock?

Hawaiian opihi, looking like a miniature Mt. Fuji,  clinging to a rock.
The trigger was the wedding of my second daughter and the chance to see her, meet her groom and his extended family, and see my own extended family - most especially my two precious granddaughters.

The trip began ominously. I was given the wrong gate number at Narita. Bad weather slowed the traffic and my flight information got buried behind the many delayed flights, such that (even though I asked for help and verification) my only warning of a problem came with a final boarding announcement to a gate two football fields away from where I had been directed - cue Pink Floyd's "On the Run".

I just made it to the gate by the 6 pm deadline. The door was closed after me, I settled into my seat, and waited. Twenty minutes later one of the guys up in the pointy end of the plane came over the PA to let us know that due to a THUNDER STORM sitting right on top of Narita Airport, our clearance was delayed. Perhaps we could get under way in ten minutes or so. Uh huh. Similar announcements followed every so often as outside lightning flashed, thunder rumbled and rivers of water cascaded over the aircraft; and inside, cabin attendants smiled, poured orange juice, apple juice, and passed out rice crackers. A few passengers got edgy wanting to know why we couldn't just take off.  I was thinking, "trust me, you are really a whole lot better off right here on the ground than flying through this storm.  You REALLY don't want to be up there."

At 8 pm we pushed back from the gate and got in line behind many other delayed flights. After 45 minutes of taxiing in cue we took to the air. It was 8:45 PM. Poor cabin crew. How do they do it? I lost track of time, but something like eight hours thirty minutes later, we landed at Seattle-Tacoma. The flight was smooth. The aircraft experience itself was awesome, for I was aboard one of ANA's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner (many parts of which were made in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries).

Ain't she purdy?
Spacious cabin with ceilings lighted to match the time of day; extra large windows made possible by composite fuselage construction with touch control electronic shades; and a cabin altitude of about 5,000 feet instead of the usual 8,000 feet with more filtered air circulation. You get much more oxygen and cleaner air which means you feel less fatigued upon arrival.  All the while, she burns 20% less fuel than other aircraft of her size.

Coincidentally(?), my daughter whose marriage was the primary reason for the trip, is an engineer who works for Boeing.  Yes, the plane has had its teething problems, but the final product is outstanding and ANA's low density seating arrangement offers plenty of shoulder and leg room even in economy class.  (Also, the washlet toilet feature in the lav is not lost on those of us living in Japan who have become spoiled by such things.)

The unexpectedly long trip meant that I made it to my hotel with just enough time to get ready for a gathering at my daughter's house.  The yard is backed by a woodland and a curious deer came into the yard, soon escorted back to the woods by my daughter's dog Hoku.

Hoku (Hawaiian for star), was actually in the wedding and stayed in one of the resort's pet friendly cabins!

Two days later I rode with my other daughter, son-in-law and my two granddaughters through snow topped Stevens Pass along the Skykomish, Tye, and Wenatchee Rivers to the town of Leavenworth and up the valley along Icicle Creek to Sleeping Lady Resort where the wedding was to be held.  

The Sleeping Lady rests on the mountain ridge facing the sky.

An organic garden provides food for the resort's restaurant along with selected locally sourced food.  I wanted to roll up my sleeves and plant something.
The wedding and reception took place out of doors, overlooking Icicle Creek.
I went for an early hike the following morning and found two osprey soaring around their eyrie in the canyon.  A little shopping in town with my granddaughters and it was back to Seattle to pack for the return trip.

In a bid to save the town, Leavenworth reinvented itself as a Bavarian style village in the 1960s.  Apparently successful, it is now a major "TT" - (tourist trap) with wall to wall shops, restaurants, beer garten, outdoor band stand, nutcracker museum, and plenty of parking for America's oversized motor vehicles.  ;)
It took a lot to pry me off my Japanese rock, but I was richly rewarded with the family reunion, wedding, meeting new friends and family not to mention the natural beauty of Washington State.

Naturally, the the following weekend it was time for some sailing!

Until next, sweet sailing and happy travels.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Harajuku is Happy

When we went to NHK Hall for K's graduation ceremony, we got off the train at Harajuku.  The station is in front of Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park.    A part of Shibuya Ward,  Harajuku is known for its youth and fashion culture.  One is always sure to see lots of interesting people there.

Perhaps that is why Harajuku is Happy!  Full screen recommended.   Enjoy.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ann Hampton Callaway

Bluesette!  Through the platinum voice of Ann Hampton Callaway - sweet.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

One Word: "Plastics"

In a famous movie that starred Dustin Hoffman, a character approaches him and says "I have just one word I want to say to you. Plastics". Do you remember that line?

It was in the 1968 classic "The Graduate".

Well, that's not my advice to K, but some 'ump-ditty-ump' decades after getting her associate degree, she has - with just two years of late night studying, weekend lectures, exams, and numerous online classes (all the while working, mind you) - attained her liberal arts bachelor's degree from the University. She is a new graduate.

It was a challenge that she gave to herself.  To prove that she could do it.   As Tim Allen's character, Jason Nesmith, said in the movie Galaxy Quest (1999), "Never give up, never surrender!". She may kill me for posting this, but I am in total awe of her for this achievement.

Here is "the graduate" right after her graduation ceremony which was held in NHK Hall (Home to the NHK -Japan National Radio- Orchestra) last week.

My "one word" of advice for K? "Education".   You are awe inspiring, K!

Until next, sweet sailing.  And learning.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wear Green, Be Green


Until next, Happy St. Patrick's Day, and sweet sailing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

So Long Mama's

Heading to the harbor last Saturday to install the new cover on Bluesette we decided to stop at Mama's Kitchen for lunch as it was already 1:00 PM.  As we approached we noticed - couldn't miss - a rather large flatbed truck parked in front of the entrance and as we got closer we could see cardboard boxes stacked inside the restaurant.    Mama's was obviously closed and moving out.

So we went to the neighboring hotel - Ikoinomura Hinuma - and had an acceptable soba lunch.  We've eaten there before - even stayed overnight a couple of times - and while the food is OK and the lakefront view very nice, it obviously isn't Mama's where we have enjoyed having lunch regularly since the beginning of our sailing adventures in 2009.

Mama's Kitchen - April, 2013

Later, Mrs. Hakuta at the Yacht Harbor informed us that Mama's couldn't make enough to keep paying the rent.    The restaurant business is a tough one and the earthquake/tidal wave/nuclear accident of 2011 severely impacted tourism to the area.  Even the yacht harbor has seen considerably reduced business as fewer visitors come to fish and schools cut back on sailing programs.

We will miss visiting with Mama and her family and the special way they prepared and served our lunches.     Every time we pass the building we will be reminded of the good food and good times we enjoyed there and wonder how they are getting on.   Our last visit was on November 24 of last year.

Always fun to have lunch at Mama's Kitchen

Special requests, such as all plant based meals,  no problem.
Scrumptious dessert made with Mama's special touch.

There will not be a new restaurant attempting to replace Mama's Kitchen.  Rather, as Mrs. Hakuta at the Yacht Harbor informed us, the new tenant will open a karaoke club (just what we need - not).  
So long, Mama and family.  Your customers will miss you.  May good fortune smile upon you in whatever you do next.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gotcha Covered

I got tired of having to bail water out of Bluesette every time we uncovered her.   A few weeks ago I went looking for a new cover.    The original one was good material - Sunbrella - in terms of wear, but proved unreliable when it came to weatherproofing and became a home for mildew. The fit was a bit loose and it sagged in rear of the cockpit and I had to use line or bungee cord to support it.   Japan's climate is tough one for rain and mildew and despite my best efforts at cleaning and re-waterproofing, the mildew always returned and lots of rain always found its way into the boat.

I came across SLO Sail & Canvas, makers of sails, boat covers, and catamaran trampolines, who are located in San Luis Obispo, California, and ordered a cover made of Top Gun Fabric.    SLO was fast!  I placed my order on the 15th of February, and in less than a week they completed the cover and shipped it to me USPS Priority International.  It went through Japan customs and was delivered on the 27th! 

Here's a clip of SLO Sail and Canvas making a cover for a Sunfish:  

We took the new cover out to Hinuma, removed the old cover, bailed out Bluesette again, cleaned up a bit and installed the new cover and mast socks.   I ordered attached straps which clip into place.  The fit is nice and tight with no sagging. 

 The new cover from SLO Sail and Canvas

As the yacht harbor's dock was closed for repairs, it was quiet with the only movement coming from ducks on the dock and about ten Black Kites (as in the bird of prey) circling overhead. Since we had not been out there since November 24th we took some time to catch up with Mrs Hakuta and her two grand children over some green tea in the club house.  

Perhaps in a month or so we'll go sailing again.  Until then, I trust our new cover will keep things nice and dry.

And until next, sweet sailing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Boat!

No, we don't have a new boat.  We just found something to do until good sailing weather arrives...look at some new boats.

Japan International Boat Show 2014

March 6th through the 9th at Pacifico Yokohama convention center and Yokohama Bayside Marina.  

 Until next, sweet sailing.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Treat or Treat

Last sail of 2013...

It was a short season last year.  Busy schedules, some really vicious weather, and a little bad luck conspired to keep us off lake Hinuma on far too many occasions.    But when we did sail, (and once motored electrically),  we had great times.

Our last sail of the year was astonishingly early - October 13th.  The weather that day was glorious with beautiful skies and pleasant winds.

We prepped Bluesette, but as we were getting a late start decided to go for lunch at Mama's before sailing.

 Our favorite sailing day cooks were in fine form.   We started with salads.  Mine with no seasoning or dressing.  Salt, oil and sugar tend to get in the way of the flavor of the veggies. 

 Moved on to pasta - mine with zucchini, tomatoes and herbs.

Dessert....grapefruit, mikan, grapes, cherry and kiwi. 

K's was similar but featured sweet potato pie instead of kiwi.

Then it was back to the harbor to cast off.  We were the only sailboat on the lake, but not alone - there were some jet skis, a water skier, the Yacht Harbor's power training boat, and some wind surfers around.

The winds were a little light at times, but enough to keep us happy on such a beautiful day.  Besides the water was getting chilly and I'm sure K was glad not to be getting splashed.

K took  some beautiful pictures toward Tsukuba-san which provided a majestic background for the lake and windsurfing sails.  Click on the photo below to see the full sized version. 

A lone little cumulus cloud appeared to float above Mt Tsukuba like a smoke signal.   I think it was telling us that our sailing season was coming to a close on this idyllic day.

Or perhaps it means...

Until next, sweet sailing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Everybody's Gone Surfin'

Surfin' Japan!

Through October, we'd been trying to get together with our "Viking" crew member Martin for an afternoon on lake Hinuma, but weather (mostly in the form of typhoons) had thrown a monkey wrench into the works each time.   We even had two, count 'em two, typhoons just hours apart.  Then it seemed that all was well and we scheduled the following Monday.  Well, all was well with the weather, but I didn't know that the the first storm had wrecked the launching ramp at Hinuma Yacht Harbor and as the second one was on the way there was no point in trying to repair the damage.  As a result, they closed the yacht harbor for a week following the second typhoon to fix everything.

Once again things were arranged for a Monday (the 4th of November).  This time, the weather turned sour with high winds forecast and we had to cancel. 

K and I were expecting to go sailing on Sunday the 3rd of November, and K had notified the harbor.   But checking the weather that morning it was evident that there would be practically NO wind.  Awe (Hawaiian for ouch)!  What a bummer.  Well, we've gone out in such conditions before....    but then I reflected that we hadn't taken Momo the Wonder Dog to a park in long while, so maybe rather that drift around Hinuma, we should spend the day with Momo-chan.  Good call.  Perhaps the god of K-9s was working on Momo's behalf. 

So we went to Kashimanada Seaside Park, which is about 20 minutes or so from home in K's car. We've been there before, but it had been a while since we've taken Momo to this park  - 2009 in fact! The sky was a little hazy, but otherwise the weather was perfect. We stopped at a 7-11 store (7-i in Japan) across from the park and picked up lunch (I found a nice robust salad, some no-oil dressing, and some tofu with shouyu and ginger).

The park itself is very large and well designed with a wide undulating grass field where families can play and high school bands sometimes rehearse. There is commercial area with a farmers market, a huge playroom for kids and a building for putting on events like nature talks. A large mound with a spiral ramp to the top gives an excellent view of the area.  A bricked pathway leads from there down a slope to the beach-side area of grass with animal shaped sculptures, benches, boardwalks, and another lookout. There is even a "UFO" flying saucer climbing structure (see my "Alien Encounter" post from 2006 on Pacific Islander; or Momo's own post "Beach Blanket Momo" the same year.).

Pandabonium's beach slide album on Photobucket

Lots of pine trees line the boardwalks and cover the hillsides. Some damage occurred during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, but mostly was limited to the concrete lining along the beach which has had to be reinforced here and there. Everything else is still pretty much intact thanks to the steep rise of the land.

Pandabonium's surfin album on Photobucket

Momo had a great time as did we.  There were lots of surfers out as well as other couples with dogs and/or children.   I don't know why we don't go there more often.  It is always fun.

This song came out in the summer of 1992 and was a hit in Japan.

Until next, sweet sailing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Make It A Good One

Akemashite omedetōgozaimasu!

Pandabonium & K

Until next, sweet sailing.