Sunday, February 28, 2010

My bro Len in Okinawa and his earthquake experience!

My younger brother Len lives in Ginoza, Okinawa. It's hot all year round down there and he has been hitting the surf a lot recently.

Len upside down in the surf about 2km off the coast of Ginoza, Okinawa.

Okinawa experienced the largest earthquake in over a century on saturday morning. I thought Len's description of what happened was very funny. Irish people have no idea about earthquakes. We are not used to them at all. When I experienced my first earthquake back in August only about a 1.5 or 2 on the scale, I thought I was loosing it from chemicals I had been using the night before to clean my bathroom. Another Irish friend of mine also woke up that morning in her apartment to the same shaking and noticed the main light above her swaying and she first thought, "oh the air conditioner is blowing very strong this morning"!
However when Len woke up to a 6.9er on the Richter scale hungover I think he knew what was going on!

I wrote this short blog entry on


I nearly forgot I'm Mortal!

Eighteen days ago on wednesday the 10th of February I broke my foot judo training. I threw my opponent, he held on to me and pulled me to the ground. I was near the wall in the dojo and instead of rolling out of it I stopped myself quickly without thinking and broke my foot. I heard it break but then I second guessed myself. I looked down expecting the worst but everything looked normal. Sensei taped me up and a fight later I decided to call it a night. This happened only four days before my first black belt grading or shodan as it's called.

X-ray taken four days ago. Still not fixed!

Over here the first belt is black. You have to be 14 years old to enter, there are no weight limits and you have to win three fighters and perform 9 or 10 kata techniques. This would have been good fun. Better luck next time.
In Japan some Judo clubs are also a physiotherapy clinic, like my club. So when you break or get injured they help put you back together. Judo is good for business! I have already had acupuncture, electric massages and the likes which is all very helpful and free. Judo has to be one of the most injury prone martial arts.
Anyway this all happened the day before a national holiday. I went to the hospital the next day only for the receptionists to say sorry we're closed today come back tomorrow! What? Is this Japan I asked myself! In times like this, I phone a friend for a second opinion and help with the language barrier. Derry my older brother was on speed dial and a fluent Japanese speaker. He sorted it out as usual and they reluctantly decided to treat me. With no wheel chair or crutches, I hobbled behind the doctor who lead the way for about 500 meters to the x-ray room. Then back across the entire hospital to the x-ray development computer room. He finally confirmed it was broken and only then handed me crutches. I thought that was very backwards!
I have an avulsion fracture to my 5th metatarsal bone. It's connected to a tendon at the tip where the bone cracked. My foot doesn't hurt much if i walk on the inside of my foot but if i put weigh on the outside it's sore and the tendon will pull the bone apart. Lovely! Basically no walking or it won't heal properly.

Break point

Getting injured really makes you appreciate the times when you aren't. I have missed out on snowboarding, mountain biking and kayaking but i have caught up on watching movies and chilling out. I can't wait to get back in my kayak, on my mountain bike and onto my snowboard. But I'm having second thoughts about Judo! :-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A day trip to Ishikawa Prefecture - December

Photos and info, with thanks to Daisuke.

Saturday the 5th of December. I'm different; I'm a foreigner or guijin as we're called in Japan. I've gotten used to the staring at this stage but when you're carrying a kayak down the street and onto the subway it really takes it to another level.

Totori River or (手取川:てとりがわ) is in Ishikawa Prefecture found here

Japanese beauty shot,136.642027&num=1&sll=36.477223,136.481552&sspn=0.017945,0.032015&brcurrent=3,0x5ff85d7f6e4f7609:0x23afc01ad76b3eaf,0&ie=UTF8&ll=36.303298,136.654816&spn=0.047451,0.076132&z=14&iwloc=near

I'm lucky to have such good friends here in Japan. Daisuke invited me on the trip and he introduced me to his lovely girlfriend Yuko and Macky, another cool and friendly Japanese kayaker who also shared the driving. They didn't trust me behind the wheel so I was basically chauffeur driven there and back in one day. Over 600km round trip!! Thanks guys.

To my right Macky, opposite me, Daisuke and Yuko.

I had been out the night before and I wasn't feeling very well that morning. When we finally got to Ishikawa Prefecture I just wanted to skip the kayaking part and go straight to the onsen and warm up. It was freezing out and raining heavily. Daisuke said that we were going to a very delicious noodle restaurant before going kayaking. I'm not a big fan of noodles and so I wasn't very convinced by their description of Soba(蕎麦:そば) as a type of noodle. We stopped at the restaurant which looked like someone’s house on the side a valley with no other buildings around. We entered the restaurant which looked very traditional. It didn't strike me as being a restaurant at all. Everyone was very quiet and the place was like a yoga room. They brought soba tea out first which is now one of my favorite teas. I just had to buy some there.

Soba Restaurant - Ishikawa

I wasn't in the city anymore and so there was no English or katakana on the menu. I just copied Macky and got "soba tempura" and then copied how he ate it. I'm such a copy cat! I wasn't feeling warm enough to try the cold soba like Daisuke did. Next time!

Buckwheat noodles in soup with battered vegetables...


Soba tempura is buckwheat noodles and battered vegetables in a soup. I can not describe how delicious this stuff is and how happy this meal made me feel afterwards. I haven't had soba like it since. This is the restaurant in question. Check it out if you can

The tempura or batter is also very different from our Irish batter.

Ok getting to the river. As usual the scenery was beautiful and we saw lots of cool tributary water falls.


However it was freezing and the water level was low, but we made the most of it. It was a day for my dry suit for sure and I was glad to have one.

Random tributary

Piss break - caught

I feel so small and overweight for this EZ...

I love kayaking with the Japanese. They kayak hard for the day, then they warm up in a natural onsen (hot spring) followed by food afterwards. It's a great combination.


The onsen in question was of the highest quality, so I was told and is one of four in the country with such high quality water. It is called Shiramine Onsen(白峰温泉:しらみねおんせん) and it's very good for the skin.

I'd like to thank Daisuke for an unforgettable day packed with Japanese culture and to Yuko for running shuttle and to Macky for advising me to order the best soba tempura ever!

All warmed up and ready for bed after the onsen...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally got internet

Wow I started this blog post back in December. It's now February, where does the time go?

I finally got internet after six months! It’s been way too long since my last update. Lets see a brief summery. Influenza, Mr.Miyagi arm wrestles, Thailand, lots of Onsen’s after cold kayaking sessions, judo beatings, cycling and random stuff in there that would only happen in a place like Japan. e.g. I saw a guy standing straight up on his chopper motorcycle doing about 50mph down the road, one foot on the handlebars one foot on the tank. Maybe that happens in Ireland too but I’ve never seen it.

I’m not sure about other people that have had N1H1 but I was having cool vivid dreams that would make million dollar movies! Yeah that good! I’m telling yeah. If you haven’t had N1H1 yet you’re missing out. I had a great time when I was asleep!!

Mr. Miyagi...
I met japans kayaking version of Mr Miyagi aka Master. The guy is 61 years old and still kicks ass in a kayak. He is a professional and teaches regular private one on one classes. He owns Chapel kayaking shop and it has writing and signatures on the walls from the likes of Ken Whiting from back in 97’, and then some posters with Rush Struges, Yonton and Jay Kincaid’s names from when they were there a few years ago. Master gave me some very detailed coaching on the river not holding back from telling me how faulty my skills were. It was motivating to hear what he had to say. Everything he said was translated for me by my good friend Nanae. She is a cool kayaker that has prefect English who actually made the whole weekend possible and invited me to go kayaking. It was also nice to see a 61 year old man school me in an arm wrestle with both arms I must add. One of his arms had been busted in a judo accident he showed me, but he still followed through and schooled my “sick” ass!...;) I was sick ok! You can see the red fever face I have in the photo on his blog found here.

Two birds with the one stone...

I decided to go shopping in kobe’s Ikea and get some stuff for my apartment! For a while I thought I was turning into a materialistic fool but I was getting fed up of the old bed sheets, cutting with blunt knives and of using the kitchen table as an ironing board, so I got that sorted out. But on my way to Ikea I decided to get off at a random train stop with Ikea in sight about a mile walk down the road. A lot of japanese folks were going into a building so I followed the crowd to see what was going on and I found this.....

Just another random day in Japan.

Judo in Japan, a great experience.

The weekend gone by I went to a judo practice on Saturday. My club in Osaka went to another clubs dojo to play a whole range of fighters who were all various levels of black belt.

In my club we do 3 minute flights at a time, but at this club they where doing competition length 5 minute flights. I did about ten fights, with very few breaks. Needless to say I was in bits by the end of the training but I'd learned alot and gained confidence. It was also cool being the only foreigner at the training.

So I started judo on the 4th of September. My teachers in my high school where I work thought I was crazy to join a judo club 22km from where I live. They also said it would be impossible to cycle there for the lesson. But the club is unique in the fact that the Judo sensei is a seventh or eight dan black belt that teaches in both Japanese and English.

Because of this it's a rather international club with a great mixture of judo styles. Next month a judo team from Israel are coming for a month to train with us and the month after that a judo team from Greece are coming to train in the club. I cycle three times a week to and from practice when there isn't some party or important thing that comes up during the week. I used to take the train but have since had my road bike shipped here to save money and increase the fitness. The streets of Osaka are busy and keep me on my toes all the time. But the cycle sure beats the train and I'm not as stiff the next day. Takes about 50-55 minutes each way almost as quick as the train. I think there must be at the least 15 minutes worth of traffic lights.

After the special practice on Saturday we all went to a Christmas party for a few beers. After the intense workout I knew the lads would be on their ears after one or two. You can checkout the pics here...

I was equally as surprised as the seventh dan black belt in the photo above, who I was fighting with (far right in photo), when I got a leg sweep and he dropped to his back. But as a friend said to me afterwards, "even a stopped clock is right twice a day"!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keen cup video footage a bit late....


I borrowed a new red Allstar for the event along with borrowed paddles, helmet and BA. I am slowly sorting out my own gear! Thanks Yagi san for the Allstar, and to PSK kayak shop from Amagasaki!