2008 September 16 Tuesday thru September 22 Monday.

2008sep20_shakuhachi The Autumn Equinox is tomorrow, and the weather this past week has been absolutely gorgeous.   

I love this time of year the most of all. 

I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, both day and night. 

Because it is still warm enough to walk around with bare feet and sandals.   

I like to walk slow, and take my alto recorder with me. 

Which got me to thinking again, about my promise to myself, to get a Japanese ShakuHachi Bamboo flute THIS YEAR, and learn how to play it too.   

I was thinking that I may have to pay from between 20,000 yen to 40,000 yen for a beginner's bamboo flute.   

A bit expensive, but I really want to do this, so I decided to go downtown on Saturday afternoon and buy one.   

The only store which I could find, that had any 尺八 for sale, was the OoNuma Musical Instruments Store 大沼楽器 at 2 Jodori 11 Chome.   

When I walked into the store, I saw a very nice looking shakuhachi with a price tag of 100,000 yen.   

YIKES!    I wonder if they have something a bit less expensive.   They did.

The one I bought, is the one you can see in the photo on the left.   

It only cost 9,000 yen because it is made of plastic.   

A very hard and thick plastic, but plastic nonetheless. 

The black band that you can see in the middle of the flute is the place where you can pull it apart into two pieces, making it easy to carry around in a small bag.

The shakuhachi is not easy to play.   

It has no reeds in the mouthpiece, in fact it has no mouthpiece at all. 

Just an open hole at the top with a very small v-shaped cutout at the front.   

It is like blowing across the top of an open bottle in order to make a sound, only much more difficult.   

I has a total of five finger holes.   

Four on the front and one on the back.   

The easiest sound to make, is with all of the finger holes open.   

Even this took me a good 30 minutes to learn how to make a steady musical sound.   

After practicing for 3 days straight, I was finally able to make a sound with all 5 finger holes covered.   I say make a sound, but not music.   Not yet.   

This is by far, the most difficult musical instrument, I have ever tried to play.  (I have never tried to play the violin or the clarinet, or the trombone, etc.)

I really love the sound of the Japanese Bamboo Flute 尺八, and I am confident that I will be able to make it sound nice, after several years of practice.

I know for a fact that anyone who really tries hard to do something, that they really want to do, will be able to make it happen. 

Even non-Japanese people can learn how to play the shakuhachi well.   

Click here to see a YOU TUBE video of  Todd Barton  playing a song called "AKEBONO" on a very expensive flute.   

I want to become that good too, someday.

2008sep20_jomonguide_2



Another thing which I bought on the same day, was a book about 15 historical sites of the Jomon Culture, which are in Hokkaido and the North northeast area of Japan 北東北.   

I saw an article about it in the Hokkaido Newspaper a few weeks ago, and decided to buy it right then and there.   

I have already been to most of the Jomon sites in Hokkaido, in fact you can see a photo slide show which I made of the Oofune Site that I visited on 2007 August 9.   

It is located in Minami Kayabe Village which is now a part of  Hakodate City.  Please view this photo slide show by clicking here.

The main purpose of this book is to show the reader how to get to each of these 15 sites, and what they can see once they get there.   

Also, the cover of the book says; "With the aim of having these historical remains registered as World Heritage Sites.   I totally agree.   

The Jomon Civilization dates back from 12,000 years ago up to about 3,000 years ago. 

That is a very long time.   Unfortunately, they did not develop any writing system so we have no written record of their daily lifestyle, and no clue as to what kind of language they spoke.   

Was it the original Japanese Language?   Maybe so.   

The Japanese Language as only 5 vowel sounds, which is a very small number by modern language standards.

I have already studied quite a bit about the Jomon Culture, and will continue to do so from now on.

Human Beings living in total harmony with the earth.

That was the Jomon People.

2008sep20keimeiartsfesta

On Sunday morning of September 21, I went to the KeiMei Elementary School 啓明小学校 to watch their School Arts Festival 学芸会.   

The only reason I went to this event, is because 5 of the students who come to my classroom, also attend this elementary school and they invited me over and over again to come and see them perform. 

So, I made a special trip out to their school, to see them on stage.   

I enjoyed it very much, but the sound system wasn't very good, and I couldn't understand what the actors on stage were saying.

Finally towards the end of the event when the 6th graders got up on stage to do their performance about the beginning of this school 80 years ago, I was able to move closer to the stage and hear what the actors were saying.

It was a lot more interesting for me than the previous performances of their younger classmates.   

The event was finished at about 12:30 and I quickly got back into my van, so I could drive on over to the next event that I wanted to attend, on that day.

2008sep21livehaulingscrap

The next event that I wanted to go to was a free outdoor music stage, right in front of the Marui Imai Department store on the pedestrian shopping mall 買物公園, that was scheduled to start at 12:00 and end at about 17:00.   

I couldn't find any free parking, so I drove my van back to my house, and walked from there back into town. 

I arrived at about 13:30, just in time to hear a Rolling Stones Cover Band crank out some wicked sounds, at high volume.   What a treat!

In total, there were about 13 different bands, playing different kinds of music.   

The photo on the left is of a band called "Hauling Scrap" which was probably the most dynamic of all the bands.   

Also, it was one of the youngest of the bands in terms of the member's ages.

About half of all the other bands were composed of older guys about the same age as me.

There was a large crowd gathered around for each performance, with people drinking beer and dancing to the music. 

A very peaceful and enjoyable afternoon, with not one policeman in sight.

I met many people near the stage area, whom I have known for many years, and I even made a few new friends as well.

I play music too, so I can really appreciate what goes into making a band sound good.   A lot of practice.

It has been several years since I have played on stage at one of these events, but I hope to do so again in the very near future.   

Nowadays I am concentrating on the electric bass guitar the most, of all of the instruments that I can play.

Oh yes, let's not forget that I just started learning how to play the Japanese Bamboo Flute 尺八 only 3 days ago.   

It will most likely take me about 3 years to learn how to play even one song, well.   

Yeah, so what!   I have enough time to do that too.

Lifelong learning is my greatest pleasure, now that I am 52 years young.

There is always something new to learn.   

ALWAYS.

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2007 September 7 Friday.

Since about one month ago, I have been planning to go back to Minami Kayabe 南茅部, which is now a part of Hakodate City 函館市, and attend the 2007 Jomon no Michi Forum, which starts at 13:00 tomorrow. 

See the photo above/left for details. 

Unfortunately for me, and a lot of other people as well, Typhoon Number 9 is working its way up to Hokkaido from Southern Japan, and is scheduled to hit Hakodate City at 9:00 tomorrow morning.   Bummer.   

I know enough to respect Mother Nature, and not try to impose my will upon it.   

The coastal road to Minami Kayabe is very narrow and winding.   

Not only could a big wave splash up onto that road and pull my van out to sea, but the possibility of landslides 地すべり、土砂崩れ, are also very high during times of heavy rains. 

So even if I did start my drive towards Hakodate, the chances that I would not make it all the way, are very high.   

I am by nature, a risk taker, and have lived through some very close calls in the past, but today's decision, to not  go as planned, was a no-brainer 考えなくても解るはず. 

TRIP CANCELLED.   

The way I was planning to make this trip is as follows:    Cancel all of my Friday classes after 17:00 and hit the road soon after that time. 

Drive as far as I could, about half of the way, and stay overnight at a 道の駅. 

Then, get up on Saturday morning, and continue my drive to Minami Kayabe.   

Attend the forum from 13:00 until about 16:00, then drive about half way back to Asahikawa, and stay overnight at one of the many Roadside Rest Stations, along the way. 

Wake up on Sunday morning, and drive the rest of the way back to my home, arriving at about 12:00 noon.   

Wonderful plan, bad weather.   

Maybe next year I can attend this event. 

I really want to go and participate in the activities, and meet many like-minded people, who will elevate my vibrations, up another notch or two.   

Life is about Learning.   

Learning something NEW everyday. 

I LOVE LIFE.   

I am not afraid of "death" because "death" is simply a REBIRTH into another WORLD.   

Or wavelength, or vibration, or however you choose to label IT.   

Is there really only ONE LIFE and then comes the JUDGMENT DAY?   

NO WAY.   

That is total BULLXIT!   

If you believe in that crap, you most certainly do need to be saved.   

SAVED FROM YOURSELF.   

Wake the phuck up. 

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2007 August 30 Thursday.

Last night after I finished my last class at 20:00, I went outside to mail some postcards at the postbox in front of the 道の駅 あさひかわ which is right next door to my classroom. 

Just out of curiosity, I went inside the Roadside Rest Station to see what kind of posters were pasted to the walls of the long hallway there.   

One poster in particular caught my eye.   

You can see a photo of it above/left.   

It says; The second annual Master of Hokkaido Tourism examination to be held on 2007 November 23, Friday and National Holiday. 

Over on the right side of the poster it says; Because I Like Hokkaido.   

Wow!   

They must have made this exam just for me!   

I hurried back home and took a look at the official website which you can see here.   

After reading the entire contents of the website, I decided right then and there, to take the exam.   

I will stop by the Asahikawa Chamber of Commerce tomorrow morning, after I finish my 9:00 class at the Dokan Nursing School, and buy the textbook which I need to study for the test.   

I can't wait!   

By the way, I also finished a new auto-playing photo slideshow that I made of GaRou No Taki 賀老の滝 which is located in ShimaMaki Village 島牧村.   

You can view it by clicking here.   

Enjoy! 

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2007 August 27 Monday.

First lesson of the day started off at the Mebae Kindergarten めばえ幼稚園 at 10:00.   

Today, the principle of the school, asked me to sit down with each of the three groups of kids, and show them how to draw a simple picture on a sketch pad, with pastel crayons, while talking to them in English.   

I use this very same method in my own classroom from time to time with the very young students. 

It is enjoyable for all, and they remember English Language words along the way.   

After that was finished at about 12:00, I came back to my place to eat a quick lunch before heading off to the 神楽公民館で英会話を楽しむ会.   

Today, one of the lovely young ladies showed us the 4 pages of her very detailed travel plans for early September.   

She and her husband will be driving on almost the exact same route around Southern Hokkaido, that I took during August.   

Just like with my written plan, she had the route numbers and the locations of all of the Roadside Rest Stations 道の駅, written down. 

However, unlike me, she also had exact times of when she thought they should leave and arrive at each and every location!!!   

Wow, I am impressed.   

I am also glad that I will not be the driver on this excursion.   

I always plot out a very specific route before I depart, and I know where I will be staying overnight, but I don't care what time I leave, nor what time I arrive at any particular location.   

I might see something unexpected along the way, and stop by to take a closer look. 

I just let it go with the flow. 

Like a river.   

Other members talked about various things until about 14:30, when I headed back over to my classroom for straight lessons from 15:00 until 20:00. 

After that, it was back to reading the Japanese Language books I have about the Jomon Era.   

Fascinating stuff.   

The photo above/left is another fine example of Jomon Pottery.   

I really love the simple beauty of it all.

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2007 August 26 Sunday.

Another photo of "useless" stone tools that were made, not for real use, but for ceremonies and rituals.   

The 4 long and flat specimens starting from the top left corner of the photo, are known as SekiTou 石刀.   

The two round specimens in the lower right-hand corner of the display case are called SekiBou 関棒, and are thought to be representations of the protruding male sexual organ, the penis, and were probably used in fertility ceremonies and other such ritual events. 

I very much doubt that they were used as "adult toys", but one never knows for sure, in such matters of private conduct.   

Again, this is an example of what can be created out of NOTHING SPECIAL, and transformed into SOMETHING SPECIAL.   

AIR into WATER.   

WATER into CLOUDs.   CLOUDs into RAIN.   

RAIN into RIVERs.   RIVERs into SEAs.   

SEAs into OCEANS.  OCEANs into CLOUDS.   

CLOUDs into RAIN, and around and around we go, where it STOPs, nobody knows.   

WHY?    Because IT NEVER STOPs!   

THAT is why there is LIFE, HERE and NOW, still again.   Even to this very day.   

Are you anticipating the END OF THIS WORLD.   

Are you actively PRAYING for it?   

If so, you need a COLD HARD SLAP in the FACE.   

You, yourself might be doomed, but the EARTH is HEALTHY.   

Global Warming is caused by SUN CYCLES.   

NOT by the puny farts of humankind.    

WE, are not that important. 

WE are merely OBSERVERs, still alive because, and ONLY BECAUSE, the planet EARTH has not become too hot, nor too cold, for the majority of US,  as of THIS MOMENT in time.   

NOT YET.   

Cycles come and cycles go.   

Infinite Intelligence is ALWAYS THE SAME.    

Back to Basics.   Back to Jomon.   

Sunrise, Sunset.    

A FULL ECLIPSE of the MOON will happen on August 28, from 19:00 until about 21:00, Japan Standard Time.   

I'm looking forward to OBSERVEing IT.   

How about you?

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2007 August 25 Saturday.

More stone "tools".   

These are not really tools used for chopping as their shape might suggest, but were thought to be used in "religious" ceremonies, as the representation of such tools.   

Real cutting tools had to be made from sharp glass-type rocks such as obsidian  黒曜石.   

The largest amounts and best quality of Japanese Obsidian, is found right here in Hokkaido.   

The main point here is, that it required a great deal of time and loving effort, to shape these stone "tools" into their respective shapes.   

Why would they take so much time to do this, if these "tools" were not practical?   

They must have had a deep sense of spirituality and felt it necessary to, have rituals to honor the abundant environment, within which they were living.   

Believe you me, there was never any shortage of food during this ancient era. 

It was literally right there for the taking. 

The Jomon people were smart enough to realize, that all these good things were a gift from some much higher power.   

And they made it a point to say thank you every day, and even display more gratitude at certain times of the year, with rituals and ceremonies.   

When was the last time you said thank you to what it is that you are eating every day?   

If you are eating greasy and fatty junk foods most of the time, it might be better just to say; NO THANK YOU.

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2007 August 24 Friday.

This is a photo of some of the jewelry that the Jomon People made.   

The necklace is made of jade.   

The only place jade can be found in Hokkaido, is in the Hidaka Region 日高管内.   

This area has many steep rock cliffs, and rough rivers running swiftly towards the nearby Pacific Ocean.   

I want to go back again to the Hidaka Region, and look for natural jade along the rivers and river banks.   

All I need is a rock hammer, and a lot of time and patience to find what I am looking for. 

The lady who was working at this museum on the day I visited, told me that there isn't any jade in Hokkaido, and that researchers think that the Jomon People who lived in Hokkaido, traded with other Jomon People who lived in Honshu, where jade is more plentiful.   

You can see from the photo, that the jade beads on the string, are quite small, requiring a lot of time and a high level of skill to make.   

Also, they found asphalt at the Minami Kayabe Site which was determined by chemical analysis, to have come from the Akita 秋田 area of Honshu.   

Asphalt in those days, was the common glue, used for many purposes such as repairing broken pottery. 

Asphalt was melted near fire pits, and applied in its liquid form. 

They have even found clay jars filled with hardened asphalt, indicating that it was stored as a valuable commodity. 

Nowadays, we pave our roads and highways with it. 

It is still a useful tool, even in this wacky day and age.

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2007 August 22 Wednesday.

Another photo which I took at the 南茅部縄文遺跡群 国指定史跡 大船遺跡.   

As you can see, these are various stone tools used for cutting, scraping, crushing and polishing.   

These were the tools of their daily lives. 

Every morsel of food they ate, every piece of clothing they wore, every dwelling they ever built, all came from just ONE SOURCE.   

Mother Earth.    

It still does today.      

Nothing has changed except the thinking of humankind.   

You can't defeat the laws of nature (COSMIC LAWS), you can only defeat yourself, while trying to do so.   

It's time to wake the phuck up. 

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