More kyudo


The two arrows you have in hand have names. The first one is haya 甲矢 and the second is otoya 乙矢. 甲矢 feathers tilt  to the left, while 乙矢 feathers tilt to the right.

Entering the dojo

Five people shoot at once. The first person who enters the dojo is called お前 omae. Upon entering, keep your eyes a few meters in front of the end of your bow. There are 8 counts to entering:

  1. Step straight in with your left foot
  2. Step diagonally to the right with your right foot
  3. Pause
  4. Raise your eyes to the judges
  5. Take a deep bow
  6. Hold your bow, then rise
  7. Hold your stance
  8. Step forward with your left foot

The last person is called 落ちochi. There are 5 steps to entering, same as everyone after お前.

  1. Step in with your left foot as soon as the person in front steps forward after their bow.
  2. Step diagonally to the right with your right foot and go into a smooth small bow
  3. Do not hold and rise from you small bow
  4. Hold your stance
  5. Step forward with your left foot

Leaving the dojo

The 5th person farthest from the judges leave the dojo by going behind the next group rather than going forward. This person steps backward one step with their right foot, comes together with their left, turns 90° with the right foot, and walks toward the center line at the exit.

Everyone else moves forward, turns 90° when they reach the front of the judges, walks forward toward the center line of the exit, turns about 180° with their left foot, comes together with their right foot, bows to the judges, then leaves the dojo with their right foot. It should take about 3 steps to cross the exit line.

Always enter and move forward with your left foot. Leave and move backward with your right foot. 


Apple Watch

I picked out an easy reading article about the Apple Watch from the Japan Times ST to get them started on talking about apps. I figured since many students own smartphones, they should be able to talk about the apps they use. Before the reading, I asked them to tell me what they think when they hear Apple (company, iPhone), and what they think “wearable tech” meant, and gave them some examples (Nike+, Google Glasses).

After the reading, I asked them if they would buy the Apple Watch. EVERYONE said no! Why?

  • Too expensive
  • Needs to be charged
  • Not cool (because it looks like a health care product for old people)
  • Unnecessary
  • Already have an iPhone
  • Small display
  • Already have a watch

Then I asked them what they would want their watch to be able to do:

  • Transform oneself into a better body
  • Time travel
  • Keep oneself happy (ie Her)
  • Make one able to fly in the sky
  • Help one to sleep
  • Be a real-time interpreter
  • Make orders (for food, shopping, etc)
  • Death Note

That last one…

Additional ideas, since I did this twice:

  • Makes an umbrella appear on rainy days
  • Makes bento appear
  • Sends 1 yen to your bank account every second
  • Freeze ray
  • Watch TV

The writer

English Cafe brings the best 1st years.

This year, a really excited boy came up. I must have taught a class where I revealed that I liked anime, so he comes along one day and asks what shows I like and asks if I like JRPGs, and that he’s wants to write one in the future. Unfortunately, I’m no fan of JRPGs, but I am so excited to feel such rare passion from a student, so I totally show my support. He recommends to me J-pop groups, like Back-Tick, and recently a horror anime called Kurodzuka 黒塚, a Kamakura period style modern setting based on the story of 姨捨山, the mountain where you abandon your grandparents. At least that’s what I was able to fill the blanks with.

When he first comes up, he would try a few English phrases with me. I would continue the conversation in English, ask him a few questions, and I receive a stream of excited Japanese. I have to tell him to slow down, or explain a few things to me. I told him about a local Game Jam that’s happening at the local university. He hesitates, saying that he’s more of a writer, and will probably focus on that. At least he’s got his priorities straight!


Reading Skylar Lee’s suicide post, I can’t help but feel like it could have been me, or my FTX trans-identified cousin. Every single day, as masculine-of-center women of color,  we choose to be ourselves and legitimize our space by co-existing with a system that offers us the privilege to sit on the sidelines and watch as everyone else plays the game and wins or loses. For a long time, we watch. We have few chances to make the shot, but when we do, we give it our all. Sometimes we do well because we’ve run it again and again in our heads, and we know just how to handle it. Sometimes it feels like beginner’s luck. Other times, we miss because that’s just what happens when you don’t know how to deal with the situation.

I find myself running all over the court trying to find an opening so I can get the ball.

Lee was a leader in the fight against the mainstream, as well as the radical white, thought on gender and race , and I am beginning to consider whether such early encounters are helpful or harmful to queer youth of color.

This radical stuff wasn’t taught to me when I was in high school, and it helped me focus on what I wanted to do. Like the Japanese students I teach, I felt that college was going to get me to where I wanted my future to be, the video games industry. But being who I am, I had no role models or any mentor that I felt safe enough to approach. It didn’t matter so much to me at the time because I felt that it was just part of the learning process. I watched, learned, and created at my own pace, and I found my strengths to be listening and understanding the project and getting the team to function together. I didn’t have time to worry that my identity was holding me back or the privileges that came with it. I was open with what I liked and what I was studying, someone caught wind, and I was lucky to have been offered a chance to work at a video game company through a connection outside of school. I figured I didn’t need the professors at the school so much. I had experience and thought I  was set on my way.

Once I got comfortable, I had time to participate in identity politics and contribute as a supporter, an extra body for a protest, a march, a parade, a flashmob. I had more than an identity; I had a job and I was financially independent.

When my cousin came out as queer, and then later as trans, I was happy for them that they discovered what would make them a whole person. But I also told them that family may not always be there when you want them to be, nor can they provide you the support that you might need. Focus on school, be financially independent, and have a chosen family.  My cousin, though a small, even for an Asian-American, and not the typical white hyper-masculine transman, seems to be doing well these days as a nurse and living close to their family with their beautiful partner in hipster town Portland.

Just like any relationship, being co-dependent on a family is like holding them hostage against expectations that they may take a long time to, or may never meet at all. I think teenagers at Skylar’s age are still dependent on their families, even though they are living their own lives, and may be leaders in their communities. As leaders, one feels like their community expects more from them or wishes they could do more. But teenage leaders are just like any other teenager, just maturing too fast because their families aren’t ready or not sure how to support the cause they are fighting for. It’s a very lonesome experience to have to navigate the world with a radical mindset that’s so different from what you grew up with, and it takes time to endure and find the methods to cope and discover how every part of your identity intersects.

In the meantime, you have to worry about how to pay those bills, or how to take care of your parents when they can’t take care of themselves anymore.

Leaders need a break, and it’s difficult to find the right person to continue a legacy. I wish Skylar could have let go had a place they could have gone to for love and solace and rebuilding themselves.