Author Archives: mindofryan

Making of the Katana: Behind the scenes with a Master


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A few days ago I had the amazing opportunity to meet, speak with, and watch the famous Japanese blacksmith Masahira Fujiyasu work during a special event at the Minka-en grounds in Fukushima City, thanks to the hard work and planning of Andy Coombs and the Fukushima City Tourism and Convention Association. This type of event hasn’t been held for over a decade and the majority of Japanese people never get this opportunity, let alone a foreigner.  Mr. Fuhiyasu’s master was a national treasure of Japan and I am told that Mr. Fujiyasu is the last classically trained blacksmith that has mastered techniques of making Kamakura and Muromachi period styled blades. What added to this even more was the opportunity to speak with him and his students during lunch and while he was taking a break in the afternoon.
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How to Advance as a Martial Artist (3)


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Part 3 of the How to Advance as a Martial Artist:

Be open minded

Try new (more…)

How to Advance as a Martial Artist (2)


enzouji-in-fallPart 2 of the How to Advance as a Martial Artist:

Record yourself, and Read the rest of this entry

How to Advance as a Martial Artist (1)


Featured Image -- 980A friend of mine recently asked “How can I become a better martial artist?” That’s a pretty general question, so I said Read the rest of this entry

How to Advance as a Martial Artist (1)


This is my new page called Aizu Arts, I will be focusing on Japan, Martial arts, and more. Check out my first post in the new series!

Aizu Arts

A friend of mine recently asked “How can I become a better martial artist?” That’s a pretty general question, so I said 

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Iaido Experience


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Last night I had the amazing experience of trying out Iaido for the first time with a weapons master and a national champion of Mugai-ryū 無外流, a Koryu (traditional sword style). The experience was even better than I had expected. Read the rest of this entry

Flu Vaccines in Japan


The Flu season here in Japan is coming to an end as spring is slowly arriving. There are still a few students out with the Flu, but that`s a major improvement from the 10-20 percent of the students that were out due to the flu a few weeks back.  That percentage was pretty consistent from elementary schools to Middle schools in my area. I thought that was an alarmingly high number, but the reaction was more of “仕方がない” (it can’t be helped).  From there the students that have the Flu are to stay at home and the students remaining are to wear medical masks and should be extra vigilant when washing their hands. You also can`t forget about “うがい,” the act of gargling tea or water.
I had not thought much of it recently, but it came up again in conversation and an interesting but basic question was asked.
“Does Japan have the flu shot?”
Yes, Japan has and uses the Flu shot, but it`s apparently a bit expensive and not covered by insurance most of the time.  This was a bit of a surprise as the health insurance here in Japan is usually pretty solid.
The Flu shot is free or cheap to the elderly, but can be 4,000 yen (~$35 USD) or more for anyone else. There seems to be the mentality of it`s too expensive to do get done yearly, but if you get the Flu and go to the hospital for treatment, it`s covered…

What is Kung-Fu?


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A while back I had the opportunity to watch a Chinese presentation led by a martial arts master regarding kung-fu.  When I started watching, I was expecting a lecture on historic lineage leading up to today.  Luckily it was anything but that.  The master started out by asking the question “What is kung-fu?” A few people did in-fact reference history and martial arts styles.

After listening for a few minutes he shook his head and everyone was confused.   Read the rest of this entry

The CIR Interview Perspective


First things first- you really need to prepare. The best thing that you can do to pass the interview is intelligently use the time that you have before the interview. With the interviews coming up really soon (maybe some of them already happened?) you’re going to want to already have at least a couple weeks of anticipating questions, and preparing and rehearsing your answers under your belt. In my case, I studied with my parents, my girlfriend, Japanese teachers at my university, my roommates and by myself for 3 weeks before my interview and I probably could have used another week or so. Read the rest of this entry

JET Application (Part 4): The Interview


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Hi all, by now they should have announced (or will soon) who made it to the interview stage. Congratulations to those of you that made it to the next stage, and for those of you that did not,  don`t give up! Try again next year!  Now there are a few things to do before your interview, and the requirements could change, but what I remember is needing to have a passport photo attached to a sheet with my general information on it that you hand in upon arrival.  If you already have passport photos, but don`t like what they look like, retake them,and not the morning of the interview … like I did… that is one headache you don`t need! Read the rest of this entry