Saving my Soul

I will need a car so I contact Naoko, who rings in the evening of the accident to tell me that she has fixed for a car to arrive at OIST at 10:00 the next morning, Sunday. She is super efficient. She will pick me up at 9:30.

My new car

Naoko is a very spiritual person. She is very worried about me and explains that I have left part of my soul behind during the accident. I must go through a ceremony to restore that part of my soul otherwise the rest of my life will be damaged.

Okinawa has its own system of spiritual beliefs based on ancestor worship, which is still very much respected. Naoko, is a very good friend and we worked gleefully together for about 6 years. She is a priestess, her title is Kaminchu. She is not able to do the ceremony herself and asks Miki san, who is an Uta, to take charge.

Naoko takes me to a quiet place overlooking the sea, outside the OIST campus where she sets up an altar with incense, sake, and rice sweets. Miki san is on the phone giving instructions.

View from the altar
It takes some time to get the arrangement of the altar exactly right

So, my attempts to describe and explain the ceremony will probably fail. I do not think the vocabulary necessarily exists in English, even the concept of soul is probably not accurate. However I hope to remain completely respectful.

Miki san’s spirits are in communication with both Naoko’s and my spirits. She explains I was seconds from death but was saved by a very powerful intervention by my Mother’s spirits and also spirits of Nature. My Mother’s spirit was there and guarded me.

Miki san explained that I had travelled around the world walking in and looking at Nature. My presence had been beneficial to Nature, the Nature spirits wished to protect me.

She told me that I had been thinking of death immediately before the accident – true. She continued that my soul had been damaged three times and not healed. These three wounds to my soul manifest as different colors, green, blue and translucent. The green and blue were the two car crashes, one in California 5 years ago and the blue, the crash yesterday. She had no information on the translucent.

Both Naoko and Miki san feel strong pain in their left temples.

Naoko kneels in front of me, I am seated on a bench. The atmosphere is very intense and there is not the slightest hint of chalatanry. Suddenly Naoko catches an invisible but clearly heavy weight. This she slams onto my chest over my heart. The weight is the green, blue and translucent wounds to my souls. These had been left behind but were now restored.

I had to place the rice sweets in a location designated by Naoko and also sprinkle the sake. The incense I had to take with me.

Naoko then prepared packages of salt, one she kept, one I keep, one stays in my rental car. We then drove down to the wrecker’s yard where she sprinkled salt on what is left of the car.

The final act in the ceremony.

Thank you Okinawa. I feel honored that you cared enough to heal me.

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Double Whammy

Driving slowly down the expressway because the rain is lashing down, I find myself musing on a car crash I had in California 5 years ago.

The next thing I know a car overtaking me skids and swerves broadside in front of me. It takes a millisecond for me to slam straight into it. The shock is immense, the bang and crumple is very loud. Some physics vector catapults me across the expressway, I think my foot is still on the accelerator as it happened so fast and I smash into the crash barriers. The second shock is worse than the first and bits of car spray off in all directions. Physics takes over again and we career down and across the expressway luckily in the direction of the hard shoulder. The car is now lurching from side to side with the wheels loosing contact with the road. I am so scared that it will flip. I have no control over the car, the steering and brakes have been wrecked. We grind to a halt some 70 meters from the point of original collision. The car is steaming and hissing and the alarm has gone off. This was utterly terrifying. I thought I was going to die.

However miraculously I am unharmed!

Not good.

Liquids pour out, I fear fire.

Please do not catch fire.
I was so lucky that other cars did not smash into me.

People stop to make sure I am Ok. I ask about the other driver and apparently he is Ok too. Thank God.

Debris scattered all over.

The thing I liked best about the dead truck was its numberplate.

The police arrive quickly and are super efficient. A fire truck and ambulances also show up. I am not hurt but I am very shaken. A police man asks me to write down my phone number but I can’t. My hand is shaking too much! There are language difficulties but I have already called Arisa who arrives quickly. She is wonderful and the police are as pleased to see her as I am. The other driver is taken off in an ambulance. He has just phoned me to apologize. Nice guy, he has to stay at home for a week but will be Ok.

Photo from Arisa showing long tail back on the expressway.

With Arisa’s help we establish what happened with the police and then they call a tow truck.

Tow truck driver.

Arisa drives me home. Thanks Arisa.

I have a little lie down.

On the bright side, I never liked that truck. It was too big, heavy and clumsy for Okinawa and guzzled gas. I was also going to buy a new set of tires this week, so the crash saved me a lot of money!

Good luck has followed me throughout my life. Well, not so lucky to be in the accident but given the shocking violence and power of the crash, I am certainly lucky to be alive.

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I saw a strange thing this morning; kids going to school. Okinawa is pretty much back to normal, no state of emergency, no new cases.

I rather miss the lockdown, doing very little with no guilt. One thing I did a lot of, was shaving.

I had a beard for many years but shaved it off in Mexico. I fiddled around with disposable plastic razors but they went blunt very quickly and were environmentally unacceptable. Just before I left San Francisco, I bought a traditional safety razor, made in Sheffield. It is wonderful. It has a real sense of purpose and great heft. The blades come from Japan and are very sharp and long lived.

My favorite thing at the moment

I remember as a very young boy having to carry my Father’s boiling hot shaving water in the designated shaving mug from the kitchen to the upstairs bathroom. I recall the dread of stumbling on the stairs and scalding water splashing over my legs. I wore shorts until I was 13.

Anyway, I have designated a shaving mug. I have a shaving brush that I bought in Asakusa nine years ago. I have English shaving soap.

I have the kit.

Previously I have always shaved in haste, late for work, stuff to do. During lockdown, I spent hours shaving with exquisite sensuality.

I pour the boiling water into the mug and lather up my face with thick shaving soap and repeated dips of the brush into the very hot water. This goes on for at least 5 minutes. The internet told me that the secret to successful shaving is the same as painting a boat, preparation is everything. The more liquid the whiskers absorb, the softer they become and so fall before the slicing Japanese blade with no resistance.

I start on the neck with relatively long strokes, exulting in the slight rasp as whiskers are sectioned. Then the cheeks, this is easy stuff compared to the care that must be taken on the upper lip and the curve of the chin, which take great patience and delicacy. If everything goes well the face is super smooth and clean with no blood.

Anyway, the whole process takes about 30 minutes and I enjoy it immensely. I wonder if I will go back to slapdashery now that lockdown is over.

The dentist has reopened and this morning I go for the first of what will be many visits as the teeth in my lower left jaw have disintegrated. On the way home, I stop at various birding spots.

Great joy, a Little Tern, I have only seen this bird once before.

I get a personal letter from Donald Trump. He also sends me a cheque for $1200.

What a gentleman.
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I Repair the Table

As you can see from the great excitement generated by the title, I have not been doing much. This I have been enjoying as I find I am naturally lazy and very good at amusing myself.

However the state of emergency has been called off in Okinawa, one case in 20 days I think, and I shake off dull sloth a bit. Readers will remember the many wonderful picnics that have been had on the boat. Future picnics were endangered as the table became unstable and dipped alarmingly.

Sleeve play

The problem was a sleeve in the supporting arm had worn out allowing considerable play resulting in the end of the table moving up and down by 20 cms or so. As the Chinese proverb says, “You can’t eat off a moving table.” I am very pleased with myself because I was able to track down the Swedish company that made the table and found replacement sleeves on their website. I order 4. They cost 12 euros. Shipping is 50 euros! I have no choice, I must picnic.

All the way from Sweden!

The new sleeve does not fit! I sand and grease. Finally the sleeve slides in, er with the help of a hammer.

Solid as a rock.

I am so pleased that my table is stable again!

I had a colonoscopy at Chubu Hospital. This is always fun and I appear to be cancer free. Hooray!

No state of emergency, we have a dinner celebration, suitably distanced, for two birthdays and the opening of a new pottery studio. A wonderful evening with 5 star food.

We eat a fish and drink champagne.
Beetroot salad
Clam pasta

My friends tell me this is the high season for Bonito, Katsuo in Japanese. The next day I rush down to Toya fish market, which has re-opened and buy a beauty.

Super fresh Bonito.
Flying fish

Not sure how i will cook mine yet.

We are now in the rainy season so probably little boating, but I worry not as the boat is safely covered and I have got used to doing nothing at all.

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The Inner Introvert

So, about 2 weeks of, sort of, lock down. I find I quite like it. It is the best excuse to do nothing at all without guilt. The Onna Village Office send me a package containing masks and cute separation guidelines.


I find that a 700 Mbs internet connection allows you to watch every rugby match, cowboy movie, sailing video, concert, etc immediately. I have not suffered, as we can go to buy amazing food and drink. There is no shortage of anything.

Suddenly, it rains like crazy. Showers were predicted and I had not covered the boat but not so, it was full hose drenching. I rush down to the Marina. The boat is already pretty full of water but it is raining so hard that I, not having waterproofs, shelter in the cabin hoping that the rain will cool it,

I fall asleep, it is so cosy ,but am awoken by Kiyuna san, who has come down to see if the boat is OK. He is a good friend.

I am shamed into action and bail, pump out the boat and rig the cover in sensational rain. I am so soaked.

I take out the phone to take some pictures but the screen is psychedelic. I sense that something is wrong! The phone then heats up such that it is almost impossible to hold. It utters a moan and passes away.

This is just to break up up the narrative.

A Japanese friend comes to my rescue and we go to a second hand electronics shop. She is the best shopper, comparing all phones and prices, whereas I would have bought the first one. We get an I Phone 7 for 29,000 yen. She switches out the sim card and sets up the phone. I am in awe and also back in business. Aregato.

Everywhere there is Getto
Wonderful time of year.

Anyway a lot of rain is predicted so I re-rig the cover. She is very snug.

Notice the color of the water in the marina.
I love my cover
Rear view

Stay well everyone. Okinawa has had no cases for 10 days. Fingers crossed.

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Pump Frenzy

I give esoteric names to my posts, which is stupid, as it is very difficult to find former posts. I am sure that I wrote about water gathering under the cabin floor and a nifty scheme to pump it out but I can not find it.

Mysteriously, water gets into the bilge under the cabin. I do not know how. It is not a leak because when the beautiful cover is on this does not occur. Nonetheless I have be unable to track down how the water gets in there. The problem is that the water eventually overflows into the cabin. This detracts from the luxury yacht feel.

It is very difficult to get this water out as, the only access to the bilge is very small and awkwardly placed. I set up, last year, a nifty system with an electric bilge pump that I can drop into the bilge.

After recent rain, the cabin bilge is overflowing, the cabin sloshes.. The wonderful system I had devised does not work. The pump seems dead.

Are you still with me?

Amazon is amazing! I buy a manual and an electric pump to drain my cabin bilge.

Mega pump

The pumps arrive yesterday. I am very excited.

We are allowed to go shopping and I decide that the supermarket next to the marina would be best. I take the opportunity to test my pumps and great joy, they both work very well and the boat is dry again.

Manual backup.

The marina folks say that there is no restriction on sailing but crew should stay 2 meters apart. Hooray, but unfortunately miserable weather is coming in and I think I will have to to cover her up and wait. This week is Golden Week in Japan, a string of public holidays that effectively gives everyone a week off. Not so Golden this year with lockdown and dreadful weather forecast.

I like this new toy
The Japanese are so good at naming things! This is washing-up liquid.

Stay well everyone.

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I Am Sailing

Well, that should really be I used to be sailing, as Okinawa locked down last week and the drive down to the boat and larking around on the boat seem morally weak.

However, a couple of days before the lockdown, Simon-san and I went for a great sail. Great wind, great weather, we howled out to sea strangely overhauling a 35 yacht belonging to Captain Toru, a perfectly genial neighbor at the marina. He sent me great photos.

Still far back.
Move on up
She loves the wind
Coming into the berth. Thanks Captain Toru

It was a wonderful sail. We rushed out into deep water and then turned North to sail up the coast of Okinawa. Before I know it, we are near Cape Zanpa. Local knowledge is needed here. I chicken, as I know we will have to sail against the wind going back to Ginowan and I anticipate lots of tacks. Not so, we rush, close hauled, back down the coast. One tack and we sail gloriously into the marina. She is a good boat.

On a different tack, I eat a lot of fresh octopus.


Stay well.

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