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Raising Funds!

23 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

I had another exciting weekend.  This time I went down to a town called Lemoore (about 3.5 hours from where I live) to judge the boy’s state championships.  I was super impressed with the level of gymnastics at the competition and I’m looking forward to seeing the boys doing well at the Regional Championships in a couple of weeks! Hopefully I’ll get to judge that as well.

Wanted to send a quick thanks to the parents and staff of CCGI for putting on such a great event. The venue, the hospitality, and the hotel they put the judges up were all great!  They even helped me with fundraising for my training needs, and also for the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan.  We ended up raising a total of $335.60! My plans is to send this money out to the Red Cross to help with the relief effort in Japan.  Thanks to all that donated!  I have another opportunity to raise funds this weekend when I go to my friend’s gym in Santa Cruz for a little exhibition.  Definitely hoping to add a little more to that total!

Home-made donation box. Thanks to Mike for helping me with this!

On the training side, things have been going well.  My body is feeling good so I’m hoping to keep this up.  I definitely need to since I’m planning on doing some upgrades for my routines for the summer!

Off to States

18 Mar shonakamori 2 Comments »

I’m traveling down to Lemoore, CA tomorrow to judge the NorCal Boy’s State Championships.  The same gym that hosted the meet down in Visalia about a month ago (here’s the link to that post) is organizing the event.

As you can see from the picture below, it’ll be another far trek (3.5 hours to be exact) but I’m excited to be able to judge some good gymnastics.  I’ll be judging floor this time around.

Route to Lemoore

I’ve also asked one of the ladies that is organizing the competition to put up a donation box to help out the victims from the recent earthquake/tsunami in Japan.  From watching the news, it looks like Japan is still suffering from the aftershocks and radiation. I’m hoping that whatever collected will help those in need!

Long Days

16 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

Had another eventful weekend judging a boys gymnastics meet.  This time around, it was the level 4 state championships.  Judging is always fun, especially the younger boys.  They always remind me that regardless of how serious you have become with the sport, at the end of the day, gymnastics should be fun.  This is something that I often forget.  Being able to judge, seeing the kids, and chatting with coaches and old friends seem to be a great stress reliever.

With the time change on Sunday, I nearly missed the first session of the competition (yea terrible I know).  Although I changed the time on my cell phone (which also serves as my alarm), I guess I forgot to change the time on the room clock.  When I looked at it in the middle of the night, I I tricked myself into thinking that I had more time than I actually did when I fell back to sleep again.  In the morning, I got a frantic wake-up call from one of the judges but luckily they were able to stall the meet enough (5 minutes to be exact) for me to get there.

While judging was fun, I feel like the last several days have stretched on forever.  With the sad news of the quake and tsunami in Japan, I’ve been feeling emotionally drained and slightly frustrated.  Although I was relieved to hear that that none of my relatives and friends in Japan were harmed, it still pains me to think that there are so many other people that have lost pretty much everything.  I wish I could just pack up my stuff and jump on a plane to go help, but it seems like the situation is so bad that warnings are going out for travelers to reschedule their trips to Japan.  I’m hoping that things will start to turn around for them soon.

Here is another link for all of you that are interested in helping:  I also donated to the Red Cross the other day!

Red Cross - Japan

Pray for Japan!

11 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

Just wanted to shoot a quick update about the earthquake in Japan.  Luckily none of my family, relatives, and friends were hurt.  Tried getting a hold of them last night but phone lines were out pretty much all day.  Thank goodness for the internet and social media, which helped me get a hold of them.  However, there are a ton of people out there that have lost their homes and their loved ones and my heart goes out to them.  I’m also praying that the people missing are safe and alive.

My friends that train close to where the center of the quake was, were able to evacuate in time.  Apparently they are taking cover at the gym but I’ve been told that they are without food and electricity.  Hopefully help reaches them soon.

It’s scary to think that I might’ve been in Japan at this time.  I was supposed to be there for family reasons but had to change plans at the last minute.  It makes me shudder just thinking.

I know a lot of people are behind Japan as they begin to try and rebuild.  I’m also sure that they’ll rebound stronger than ever as the Japanese are a resilient bunch.  Please continue to pray for Japan!  Here’s also a link for those of you that might be able to help with their rebuilding process:

Pray for Japan!

Stay Safe Everyone!

11 Mar shonakamori 7 Comments »

Just learned that an 8.9 magnitude quake just hit Japan.  I’m sending out my prayers to my relatives and friends in Japan, and horrified about what’s happening while I watch the news.  I called my relatives but phone lines seem to be down.  Especially worried about my friends up in Sendai, which is close to the center of the quake.  Hoping everyone is staying safe…

All-Star Cast

10 Mar shonakamori 2 Comments »

Checked my mail today and found that I got a package from Japan.  Checked the content and realized it was a DVD full of videos and pictures from one of the Japanese coaches from when the U-21 team came to Stanford to compete (Thanks Koichi!).  Man, that was a fun time. It’s been a couple of weeks since they’ve left but I hope they’ve adjusted to their lives in Japan again.  I know most of them liked the US so much that they didn’t want to go back to their home country.

Speaking of the Japanese guys…while the team was made up of the best collegiate gymnasts from top universities, the coaching staff was an “all-star” cast as well.  For those of you that don’t know, here’s a little clip on each of them (when they were still competing).  Oh, and on a side note, I’m proud to say that all of them were at one point, my coach.  They all came to Stanford for about a year through the JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee).

Koichi Mizushima:  The first routine in this clip is of Koichi.  He was on the ’88 Olympic team that won a bronze.

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Yoshiaki Hatakeda: Yoshi won a bronze with his team in ’92 and also competed in the Atlanta Games.  He’s the current coach of World Champ: Kohei Uchimura

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Mutsumi Harada: Mutsumi was on the 2000 team in Sydney.  He was an assistant coach to the 2004 Olympic team that won gold.  He coaches at Juntendo University in Japan with former world champ, Hiroyuki Tomita

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Catching Up and More

04 Mar shonakamori No Comments »

I feel like ever since the Japanese team left  last week, I’ve been playing catch up with my work.  It was tough given that my weekend was filled up with a judging assignment.  However, I’m happy to say that I’m finally caught up (maybe even ahead)!

On the gym end, training has been going really well.  I think it was great that I got the chance to train with the Japanese guys while they were here.  It was refreshing to be able to train with some new people and I think that led to some rejuvenation in my workouts.  I can’t wait to be able to see them in future events again!

On an unrelated note, today (or yesterday in Japan) was “Girl’s Day” (it’s called “Hinamatsuri” in Japan), therefore, I decided to do a special lesson for my tutoring session for the kids that I teach Japanese to (for those of you that don’t know I’ve been a private tutor for quite some time now).  The mother of the kids, even brought home a “Girl’s Day” cake and we had a fun time!

Girl's Day Cake!

At the end of the lesson, the kids asked me an interesting question, which I could not answer.  If someone has an answer to this please let me know.  Why is there a designated girl’s day but no day to celebrate just the boys.  While May 5th generally celebrates the boys, the official holiday groups boys and girls together and calls it “Children’s Day.”

See Ya Soon Japanese Friends!

23 Feb shonakamori 2 Comments »

Although I was quite busy, being able to train and hang out with the Japanese guys over the last ten days was really fun.   I’m also glad that the younger guys on the Stanford team were able to train with them.  I’m sure that being able to observe a different type of training style was very educational for the guys.

By now, they’re probably already back in Japan or at least almost there.  Seemed like the last 10 days flew right by.  When I asked the athletes how they felt about going back to Japan, most of them told me that they wanted to stay in America.  If you’d ask me, I’d like to be in Japan.  The food is good and it’s just a fun place to be.  I guess the grass is always greener on the other side :)

Surprise birthday celebration for Hiroshi!

Since the competition ended on Saturday, the Japanese team were able to spend a couple of days to sightsee and hang out.  On Monday night we had a surprise birthday party for one of the guys on the team, and on Tuesday, we had a farewell dinner.  I’ll definitely miss them and their coaches but I hope to see them in the near future at some international competitions. Hope the athletes will continue to train hard as I’ll be doing the same!

Good Work Japan!

21 Feb shonakamori No Comments »

The Stanford Open never disappoints and is always one of the most exciting meets in the country, especially since the competition involves a good mixture of some of the top collegiate teams and junior gymnasts in the US. However, with the under-21 Japanese National Team with us this year, the competition was a lot more exciting than usual.  There were a lot of mistakes from all teams, but in the end, the Japanese team came out on top.  A huge congratulations to them!

The U-21 Japanese Team, Me, and Josh

Following the meet they told me that the atmosphere in the gym during the competition threw them slightly off their game.  It’s totally understandable since Japanese meets are oddly quiet, almost to the point where you can hear a pin drop.  I’ve experienced competing in Japan myself, and I’ve realized that I’m actually more comfortable in a loud and rowdy environment.

Anyway the Stanford team and the Japanese team got together after the meet for a little get together/party.  We’ve done this with them the past two years, and as always, we all had a blast.

The Japanese team will be in the area for a few more days before they have to head back to Japan again.  They went over to San Francisco for a little touring yesterday and went to Sacramento (State Capitol) today.  I’ve been enjoying this past week and being able to spend some time with my Japanese brothers.  It’s too bad that it was rainy the entire week so they couldn’t enjoy the nice California sun.  It  looks like the weather will be pretty clear for the next few days though.

On a slightly different note, I just got the results back from the Level-1 (the highest level) of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) that I took a couple of months ago.  To my surprise, I had passed.  The result was a huge surprise given that I barely had the time to study.   I went in not knowing what to expect but luckily it seems like I did ok.  Definitely glad I did because I can now donate my study materials that’s been collecting dust in the corner of the room!


The Japanese Team Comes to Town

18 Feb shonakamori No Comments »

With the under-21 Japanese national team coming to train with us, the last several days have been fun and exciting.  They’ve been training at Stanford all this week as they prepare to compete at the annual Stanford Open this weekend.

As always it’s great seeing old faces.  Some of the guys I know from competing internationally and others from when I went abroad to  study in Japan last winter.  Not to mention all of the coaches that are with them were at one point, my own coaches.

Japanese U-21 Team!

Looks like they had some minor issues adjusting to the time change and American equipments, but they seem to be all settled now.  Stanford Open should be an exciting competition as some of the best collegiate teams in the US will battle it out against the Collegiate All-Stars from Japan!

On an unrelated note (or maybe it’s related…), one of the guys on the Japanese team got an infection in his wrist and I ended up having to take him to the emergency room.  Luckily after having some IVs put into him, he should be ok. I’m glad that I was able to help out as an interpreter as there was a bit of a language barrier between the hospital and the Japanese delegation.  Unfortunately, looks like he won’t be able to compete, but  on the bright side, he’ll be able to share some of his American hospital experiences with his friends once he goes back to Japan!

Poor dude in the hospital.