Local Garden Gazing

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Industrialized Garden with Concrete Wall


The sun was blazing brightly as I headed to my local supermarket.  Nothing special, just on my way to pick up some fruit and milk.  Tucked away in front of a small local office was a quaint urban garden.  A few planted trees, a couple of plastic planter bins, and some well placed rocks.

Just another simple day in my Kasai neighborhood.


Last Scoop and the Long Line Up

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Last Scoop, Shin Urayasu


The Japanese do love a long line up or queue as my British friends would say.  The Japanese will line up for whatever time it takes to get a bowl of ramen, or in this case that last creamy scoop of ice cream.  Yesterday, April 25, 2013 the last HäagenDazs scoop shop in Shin Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture would forever close its doors by 9 p.m. local Tokyo time.  The line was seriously ridiculous as it stretched out the department store around past the Vie De France bakery and all the way down to the dry cleaners.  I guess everyone wanted that last scoop even if it was a cold and slightly dreary afternoon.

There was a time when HäagenDazs scoop shops occupied the poshest of neighborhoods across the land, but those days are long behind.  New brands have opened their doors and just the economy itself isn’t what it used to be.  I guess people here don’t really want to go out for a scoop, they rather just drop in at their local supermarket and bring home a pint.

Sayonara HäagenDazs! It was good till it all melted away.

Inky Reflections of a Shaken Week

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Reservoir Love Tremblor, Nishi Kasai, Tokyo



The earth refused to hold steady this week.  For the first time in many months if not more than a year our cellphones went off warning of an imminent earthquake.  The first large one struck the island of Miyakejima about 180 kilometers south west of Tokyo.  In fact it’s jurisdiction still falls under the government of Tokyo.   By the time the seismic waves reached us the only sensation I felt was a bit of rolling in my home.

Other shakers followed throughout the week with large ones in the Fukushima area, a 7.0 off the coast of the most norther part of Hokkaido, and one just last night on the tip of Chiba prefecture in Choshi.  Way to close for comfort.

On top of all the shaking we have all the turmoil in Boston.  Reading though the comments on some of the news websites, reflect such hatred.  Where my physically body has been rocked by the constant movement of the earth, my soul was feeling the weight of unfolding events.

Now, it is Shabbat.  It is a time to rest the physical and the spiritual.  It is the time that has been given to us to recoup the spirit.  A chance to shake off the troubles and reinvest in our faith.  Our spirits our tried on a daily basis, use the time we have been given to reflect upon the week, and give thanks that we are still here.

shabbat shalom to all


Time Escapes as the Cherry Blossoms Desiccate

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Desiccating Cherry Blossom (Wrapped Around) 02


Eating my breakfast at 7 (6 pm the previous day on the east coast) in the morning in Tokyo I saw Boston’s horror.  Violence has never sits well with me.  I am an emotional empathetic being much in the way of “He Who Feels It, Knows It.”  I’ll admit to being moved to tears when faced with some of the horrors of the world.

My heart is heavy when I witness hate inspired destruction.  It is immaterial whether that hate is against governments, people, or religions.  Hate is hate.

I recall a memory soon after NYC’s 911 when a dear Japanese friend asked me if I feel more when my people, Americans, are victims of hate.  I answered, “no.”  I feel pain whenever I encounter death, destruction and hatred.  I am not sure if it was a conscious decision on my part or if it is my soul speaking to my heart.

There may have been a time in my life when I would have been more moved by the deaths of my countrymen, but that no longer holds true.  How can we as people that inhabit planet earth learn to respect each other, when we constantly label what we don’t understand as other.

Our physical vessels are on this plane of reality for a blink of time.  Why do we choose hate?  Why do he make the choice to disregard other sentinel beings as other, only good to be thrown out with the trash.

We need to be thankful for the life we have been given.  When darkness enters into our lives we need to shine the light higher and brighter.  We need to lend a hand to our brother and sisters regardless of who they may be.

The only way we can conquer hate, is by employing love.  Love yourself first, then learn to love others.  Seek the beauty and the light the creator has given us.  Use our hearts to extinguish the ignorant fears that drive souls to hate.

Our time we are granted by the Most High is precious, let us not waste it with hatred, but we should fill life with love.  The cherry blossoms have come.  Their beauty delighted us that spring has arrived,  now they lie drying, becoming one with the earth from where they came.

Let these two events remind us of the beauty out there.  The love for nature, and the love shown towards complete strangers as people rushed in to help those in need.  We are our brothers keepers, we must be there to support those worst off at all times.

Love over hate.
Desiccating Cherry Blossom 01

Zoshigaya, Other Side of Ikebukuro

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Wisteria (フジ属) Zoshigaya Home


There is a huge swath of Tokyo that lays unexplored to me, and in some ways might as well be on another island.  It is Ikebukuro and its surrounding neighborhoods.  Ikebukuro is one of the urban hubs of Tokyo but it lays far from my home and I have only scratched the surface or this neighborhood.

I met up with an old mate for lunch at a kaiten sushi restaurant.  It was only a few blocks from the the Ikebukuro labyrinth.  The lunch itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but the conversation with my mate had me in stitches.

After lunch we made our way back to his old 2-story Showa era apartment.  We cut a cross a large cemetery to get there.  I was quite surprised to find that the area was quite old and there were some beautiful Showa style homes in the area.  Lots of small gated homes and apartment buildings that only were two stories in height.

It is an area I need to explore more.  It just proves my point that even after so many years here in Tokyo, I still feel like I only know bits and pieces of the city.  The more I know, the more I realize I actually don’t know.

Double Mailbox with Shrubbery and Bicycle

Can’t Stop Spring

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Late Blooming Cherry Blossom with Bicycles


This is the week that the youth of Japan return to school, and if they have already graduated it is the month when new recruits head off to their new jobs. Today in many ways felt like spring.  The morning air was dry and a bit on the cool side for my taste, but it was only a few beats away from a warmer afternoon.

The crossing guards were out in force today making sure that all the little ones made it safely to their classrooms.  They were stationed at busy intersections and crosswalks near schools.  They will soon be replaced by volunteer PTA moms.  For most it is the true beginning of the year.  A chance to make a new path.  A chance to become what they want.

As the day progresses so did the forcefulness of the gusty winds.  They have been steadily increasing in power that I felt if I had a bat cape I could have glided all the way home.

The earth’s cycles cannot be stopped.  The wind will blow the petals from the cherry blossoms, and the dandelions will become puffs balls of seeds scattered across Japan.


Break Out Spring

Between the Storms there is Silence

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Sky Cherry Blossom Earth


There are always storms in life.  Some of them you feel them coming in the depth of your soul.  There is a drop in the weather, unusual cloud form on the horizons, and the wind whips though.  Other times, there is no warning.  One minute you are on a hill enjoying the sunshine, and in a flash the heavens open rain falls and you feel like Noah’s neighbors, unprepared for the storm.

Our spirit and physical bodies need to be in sync.  The more we tune in to the turmoil the more we can be at peace when the unexpected arrives.  To be able to appreciate and love the silence as much as we may fear the storm.

There is enough trouble in the world that we do not need to be out creating storms of our own.  Look for the silence.  Let your spirit seek the peace.





PATH’s Workshop at the Edison Public Library in Little Haiti

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Cypher


I was fortunate to be a part of PATH’s (Preserving Archiving and Teaching Hip Hop) workshop at Edison Public Library in the heart of Little Haiti for Black History Month.  PATH instructor, Natty, was running the workshop on rhyming.

The youth gathered around a table in the back of the library surrounded by books to listen and participate in a presentation on the elements of Hip Hop.  All of the workshop students, except for one, native language was Haitian Creole.

After the presentation the students were handed out a copy of KRS ONE’s You Must Learn‘s lyrics.  The students worked in pairs and underlined the rhyming words and looked at the rhyming patterns.  The next step the students worked on a rhyming hook on the theme of Haiti.  Natty encouraged the youth to use some Haitian Creole in the hook in order to connect with their Haitian roots. After the hook was written, the students again broke back into pairs and each pair wrote two lines of a rhyme on the theme of Haitian freedom.

the hook the workshop wrote is as follows:

     What you see don’t define me

     I will not stop even if you hold me

     I fought for justice and avec liberté 

     Our pouvoir will last for éternité

It was wonderful to watch the students open up and share their life and watch them smile as they all sung the hook.  PATH is out in the community using the elements of Hip Hop as an in to teach life skills to the youth.

Every summer PATH runs a 2 or 4 week program at the Miami Light Box where the youth are instructed in the elements:  Emeceeing, Djaying, B-boying, and Urban Art.  For more information on PATH please visit www.pathtohiphop.org and you can join them on their Facebook group and on Twitter.

I also cut a short video of the workshop for PATH.


PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Sign

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Natty

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Reviewing a Youth's Creole and French Lyrical Notebook

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Teaching the Youth

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Exploring KRS ONE Lyirc Ryhme Scheme

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Teamwork

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Writing the Hook "What You Say Don't Define Me."

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Help

PATH in Miami Public Libary Workshop, Round Table

Cherry Blossoms Just about Gone, but not Forgotten

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Prayer Cherry Blossom, Ichikawa 2013


About two weeks ago back in Miami I started to get a bit nervous as my friends started posting about the wonderful cherry blossoms they were experiencing in Japan.  I had to take a deep breath thinking that this could be the fist time since moving to Japan when I would miss the cherry blossoms.

On average, from what I have gathered, the blossoms arrived about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual.  Would I miss the official arrival of spring as heralded by the tiny flowers?  Fortunately for my mind’s grace and the powers greater than my own the little wonders continued to hang on after I had arrived back in Tokyo.

I desperately wanted to go out with the crowds on Sunday to catch the last of the weekend hanami (flower watching) parties but I was kept shut in by rain, cold, and jet lagged induced narcolepsy.  The weather had cleared up substantially by Monday to the point where I was able to ride my cycle and explore the Ichikawa streets.

The crowds were already gone except for a small group of women and children here and there enjoying the last of the flowers.  Retirees were still out with their tripods and ultra lenses waiting for that decisive moment, and then there was me.  Stepping through the streets and temples with nothing but my little Ricoh GR.

I am thankful to the creator for allowing me to witness the spring with my eyes and heart.  The coming of spring is special amongst all people.  It is the beginning of the year that is commemorated with the keeping of passover in the faith of my ancestors.  Here in Japan it is also the mark of the new year.  The youth will start their new grades by the second week of april just as the last of the blossoms are drifting off the trees.

The blossoms signal new times.  There are new hopes that blossom quickly that if one chooses to pursue will transform into  fruit.

The cherry blossoms are only here for a short time.  Enjoy them before they are washed out into Tokyo Bay.
Chasing Cherry Blossom Petals, Ichikawa 2013



Cherry Blossom Lanterns Flower Park, Kasai, 2013



Skyward Cherry Blossom, Ichikawa 2013



Cherry Blossom with Pond, Ichikawa 2013

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