Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Speech contest

Yesterday was the Speech Contest. Here is the story. When I first got to Japan Jackie and I spent everyday working with kids on their speeches for the big speech contest. Each school got to submit one star student. So Jackie and I met with each one, we recorded ourselves reading their five min. long speeches, (which were actually the English teachers’ speeches, for they are the ones that translated them into English, and then We had to rewrite many of them because of all the errors). So, The teachers write it, we correct it, tape it, and then the kids memorize it and recite it on stage in front of everybody. So the contest went well, even though it was a little ridiculous. At night I went to another welcome party for me, and I have now mastered the beer pouring ritual. IN Japan, at a dinner party, if you want to talk to someone at another table, you go sit down next to them and pour them a beer, then they pour you a beer, and then you talk. Also, if you want your glass filled, you pour someone else’s, and then they fill yours. It is a ritual. I pour, you pour. I drank a lot, but very slowly so I didn’t get drunk. But imagine an eager Japanese man, eyes twinkling, wanting to practice English, and seeing that your cup is already full, so he cannot do the ritual, and thus, he cannot talk to you.
I learned form one of my favorite fellow teachers that The Prime Minister Koizumi last year told all business men to start wearing short sleeve button up shirts in order to reduce the amount of energy consumed by air conditioners, for he thought it might help slow down global warming. Well, my teacher friend said it worked, and decreased the energy consumed by air conditioners by 50 %! That figure must be wrong, but I am glad the prime minister is at least making suggestions to solve this problem.
Same teacher said she hates the bush administration for not joining the Kyoto accord. We had an interesting conversation about that. We also talked about Niihama, my city, and how it is the “armpit of Japan” because it is a new city founded by the chemical plants. I don’t think it’s too bad, though. A bike ride away from the mountains, the temples, the train station. Nothing wrong with that! It does smell bad thought. Sometimes in the morning my apartment smells like burning plastic.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Zen temple today

Today at the Zen temple I could hear kids singing and laughing and shouting thoughout the entire program. This is because there is a kindergarten and grade school right next to the temple, and today was some sort of festival at the school. So that was interesting, listening to kids playing while meditating.
Afterwards, the monk gave his little talk while we all had cake and tea, and from what I could translate the monk was telling us not to take a vacation from our zazen (meditation) practice. He said when we walk during the week, walk a little slower, and be aware of your breathing. I couldn’t figure out if he wanted us to see every step as a vacation, or if he was just telling us again not to take a vacation. Either way, it was a great lesson, a great reminder. I, of course, speedily and rather mindlessly biked home, eager to paint on my new painting, stopping only to take a picture of a wildflower for my mom. (these flowers are eveywhare right now!)

Friday, September 23, 2005

new image

this is a new little painting.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Today's school and today's tattoo

Today I taught at a boarding school out in the country that houses kids who were kicked out of home or abandoned by shitty parents. The kids were great. So great. There were about 17 of them, all ages 12 to 14. We all ran barefoot in the morning around the dirt track, and played softball after lunch. Some of the older kids had homemade tattoos on their arms and hands, which were all the same color green, so they must have don’t them together (gang related perhaps). Anyway two kids, who were really lovely and cheerful, had swastikas on their arms. Swastikas are very popular in Japan. Traditionally they represent the Dharma, or teaching of Buddha, and can be found on any city map representing a temple. So I asked one “why that symbol” and he said “it means temple” and I said, “oh that is very cool.” (As many of you know I have actually pondered getting a swastika tattoo, refraining for obvious reasons). So a teacher heard me tell the boy “oh that is so cool” and she said “no. Bad. We don’t say those are cool. Kids are not supposed to have.” And I said, “Oh, im sorry. “ and I thought, “shit! Woops!” And then I thought, “Well, they are permanent, so maybe it's better to support the kids in befriending themselves and their tattoos instead of reinforcing regret.” But then I thought “however, I bet these teachers are trying to persuade the kids to not get any more tattoos.” And so went a tiny glitch in the day and in my life.
The last hours of the day were spent in the Gym practicing Taiko Drumming. I haven’t been able to beat on a drum since I left Kansas, so this was heaven on earth for me.
on my journey home i saw some beautiful rice fields covered in white netting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The last few days

Well, first of all, I had Monday off work because it was "respect for the aged day" and appropriately two friends and I went hiking into the mountains to help the old lady that lives there, who we called “grandmother.” (Note: all old people in Japan are called grandmother or grandfather). We spent the whole day trying to move a tree that had fallen across the only path up to her house. We couldn’t move the tree, so we sawed off some of the roots and build trail over it instead, using rocks and dirt. She rewarded us with Udon (Japanese noodles) and green tea.
Tuesday I taught at a center for kids that refuse to go to school. These 8 kids probably got picked on something, maybe some had adhd, I don’t quite know, but we had a lot of fun playing games with them. The pic is of us playing the “who am I” game. Everyone writes an animal or famous person on a sheet of paper, and then sticks it on the forehead of their neighbor. We all go around and ask the group yes or no questions, like “am I a pet?” Great fun.

Today in class, during the jeopardy game, I casually did the finger trick where it looks like a worm is wiggling through your hands (see pic) and all the kids saw me and were trying to do it for the rest of the day. After school I went to the art opening of a show by a local artist, whose daughter is a teacher at one of my schools. The art sang to me. I felt like I was looking at the art I longed to be making, or that earth mother longed to be creating though me. I might study with this guy twice a month. He epitomizes the wise old Japanese man archetype. (seen sitting in picture). He gave me the catalog and poster as a gift. Inspired, I rushed home and painted all evening. Here are some things I worked on.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


so i got some horrible news yesterday: my painting professor, who i fell deeply in love with, has cancer. Impermanence is so real and so painful. when i heard this news i immediatly picked up my beads and paced back and forth in my appartment chanting and sending blessings into the world. I dont quite understand why i felt the need to do that, but i did.

here is a pic of a new painting i am working on. would love your comments. tonight I am camping in the mountains and helping that old lady who lives there. I have school off on monday because of "respect for the aged day."
i just recieved a package from Eli and Leigh, both of which made me tear up and long for one more hug, one more conversation, one more glance into the eyes of my preciouse friends. impermanance!

oh, and i have started a blog site displaying pics from India. www.davidsindiapics.blogspot.com.
here are some thoughts about beauty...

When beauty happens, all the tiny deatail in things become visable. This is why beauty contains truth.
Beauty and love go hand and hand (love and truth go hand in hand, love adn god go hand and hand, etc.etc.). You Love what you see as beautiful.
Beauty can only happen whith a certain typeof conciousness. Agitated, frustrated, angry conciousness cannot appraciate beauty. The only type of conciousness that can even see beauty is a conciousness that is fully, and I mean fully, or radically united with pure presence of being. Without this type of conciousness Beauty is imposible. And this easy, soft, opoenness, this appreciative awareness, is Love. It is merging presence, pure awareness. It is the light of awarness, and that light is love.

To be aware of beauty, and I mean beauty in any form-from a falling leaf, to the sond of the leaves, to the sound of water running over dirty dishes-in order to see any beauty the mind must be still and open. Your total attenciotn is required, and this striking moment of pure attentions or presence is such a moment, it is breath taking. It is…ah.

Also, it points to the invisible flowing benieth the visible, the light beyond the form, the design and sycronicity permeating all forms. And, because every sensation is a projection of the mind, all perception is, then the beauty you see out there is actually in you! Your mind is projecting the beauty onto the objects and colors. It is in the eye of the beholder.
I think that beauty is spirit darkening into matter, reflecting its devine nature back onto itself, and then extaticly and madly loving its reflection. did that make sense?

Monday, September 12, 2005


The principal of the school i went to today is also one of the few Shorinjikenpo masters in Japan, and i asked him if he would teach me the martial art, and he hooked me up with one of his students for lessons twice a week. This martial art is the oldest, supposedly, and was created by Daruma himself, the founder of Zen. It is like a mix between aikido and karate. I saw a video of my principle at a tournament and it looked amazing, like Jackie Chan. Lots of grabbing and throwing, as well as punching, kicking and blocking. it was beautiful as well. My principal/ the ninja master said I could be a black belt in three years. what the hell am i getting myself into.

more ishizuchi photos

this is a pic of a little boy mimicking my coin trick.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I climbed the monster today. The largest mountain in western Japan, it took three hours to get to the top, and that included many dangerous rock climbs with the aid of an iron chain…
Richard, another first year jet from New Zealand, and I woke up at 6, walked to the meeting place by 7, only to find out that the climb is canceled due to rain. Tired, we sat a bench for a while talking about meaningful things, and suddenly two guys approach us and ask if we still wanted to climb. I guess even though the climb was canceled a group was going to go anyway. We said absolutely.

As we were climbing the very last of the rocks to the top, I could hear a faint pulse of chanting, like a haunting love song murmuring through a mist. What I did not know is that one of the 88 temples on the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage was at the very top of this mountain. Climbing over the edge, I saw a handful of pilgrims, all in white, some with hats, one guy with a humongous conch shell, all on their knees chanting.

When I looked into the largest shrine I saw inside it a life-size standing deity holding a large circular mirror reflecting my entire body. Thought that was pretty cool and profound. There was a little café at the top as well, and I was handed an ice-cold beer the moment I entered. We ate lunch there, drank some coffee, and then began the clime down. Richard and I talked about books, our favorite short stories, eco-feminism, sexuality, the earth goddess, and happily told each other great stories about our homes, adventures, and schools. We became great friends. At the base we rested in a musty room with years of accumulated Japanese cultural memorabilia decorating the walls, my favorite was a Tanuki clock complete with swinging testicles. I am so tied now.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Today i woke up at 4:00 to leave at 5:00 to climb a mountain with my three new friends, Yasu, Kieran (from australia), and Steve (from england). we took a three hour hike up a mountain (in a light rain) to an old lady's house. she lives alone because her husband died three months ago and people go up and check on her every once in a while. We learend about her from Yasu. She needs many things done because of the typhon, such as her roof fixed, a bridge fixed, her phone fixed, etc. so we are going to help her next weekend with things. She is just some nice old lady who lives by herself deep in the mountains. (notice the solar pannels. very hip old lady). She invited us in for some tea, and told us that every moment nature has something to teach us so we should always pay attention, and that the most important thing in life is connecting with other human hearts, and that when we work hard, we can understand others who have to work hard, and thus we can develope more understanding and love for others. I gave her some oranges.
afterward, keiran and i went to a bathhouse and met an old japanese guy (in a bath) who was in the war and showed us all the places he got shot. He spent two years in an american hospital, and told me to thank america for everything. Also, i met another guy named steve from St. Louis (pink shirt), who went to KU as an Art HIstory major. he lives in niihama and teaches english with NOVA. Crazy world.
now i am going to Toyo, a city next to mine, where i will spend the night with my friend richard and clime another mountain, the higest in shikoku, early tomorrow morning.
much love

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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