Thursday, September 29, 2011

SUMO!!!/相撲!!!

This past Sunday I was lucky enough to watch the final day of matches of the Tokyo sumo tournament! HUZZAH!

I honestly wasn't all that excited to go. My friends were all pumped, but I was sort of meh about the whole thing. I think I've mentioned before that I'm pretty meh about most things. I was going along for the ride, maybe buy some things for people back home. Pretend to be cultured. Go once so if people ask me if I ever saw a sumo match I could say I had.

OMG HOW DUMB WAS I??? I LOVE SUMO. IT'S SO GREAT. HOW IS THIS SPORT NOT MORE POPULAR???

Seriously, if I could buy the sumo equivalent of season tickets I'd have already bought them. I went to the tournament not knowing squat, and now I want to learn EVERYTHING. I kept track of who won each match in the Makuuchi round and I'm gonna have to Google all of them. I spent almost an hour on Wikipedia reading some of the wrestlers' pages. I might even Google some of the Juryo round wrestlers, a few of them had very loud, very proud fans in my section.

Click to enlarge the photos.


Dots indicate big white dudes (they were the obvious foreigners)
Stars indicate the winners
Arrows indicate wrestlers who had significant vocal support from the crowd


We spent all day watching matches. I told my grandmother student we were there from the beginning, and she said I was crazy for staying so long. I think it was totally worth it, only because I don't think I would've appreciated the higher ranking fighters without seeing some of the newbies first. The Juryo and Makuuchi matches were far more interesting to watch.

I remember seeing this dohryo on TV when I was a kid. In the 90's there were two very popular high-ranking wrestlers from Hawaii, Akebono and Konishiki, and they always showed their matches as part of the nightly sports report on the news. My grandfather was apparently a big sumo fan, even though I don't remember watching sumo a lot at my grandparents' house. I'm not sure that he ever got to see a sumo match at an arena like this, so I'm very glad I had the opportunity to do so.

Beginning of the day - empty arena.

Aoiyama's match.
Four judges discussing who should win.


At one point, two wrestlers fell at the same time
ONTO THE HEAD JUDGE.


Of course that got discussed.


Makuuchi time!


Hakuho receiving his big sumo Stanley Cup thing.
The prime minister and an assistant gave it to Hakuho...

...who then single-handedly gave it to someone else.

video

I recorded Baruto vs. Kotoshogiku and a few other matches, but I think this was one of the best fights of the day. Sorry for making all kinds of stupid noises but it was super exciting!

And of course I came home with some sumo loot! I bought a hand towel with Kotoushu on it not knowing he wasn't going to fight that day. I thought between the Baruto towel and the Kotoushu towel, I should support the gaikokujin with the hairy chest! Although now I'm kind of sad that I didn't buy any cool Baruto merchandise, especially after that awesome fight.



Super cute sumo exercises towel.

I'M TOTALLY GONNA WATCH SUMO AGAIN IN JANUARY. BARUTO BETTER BE FIGHTING AND GETTING PROMOTED TO YOKOZUNA.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

!!! Cup Noodles Museum

Friday was a holiday and I had to make the most of a glorious random day off, so off I went to the Cup Noodles Museum!!!


Instant ramen and Cup Noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, who is probably one of the greatest men to have ever lived. Ando was originally from Taiwan, and I find it kind of ironic that one of the things this fairly xenophobic nation is most famous for was created by an immigrant to the country. Most of the museum is in Japanese and doesn't really cater to the foreign crowd, but it's still very well done and reminds me of modern art museums.

The second floor is dedicated to telling the story of Ando and instant ramen, which thankfully I already knew since we studied it in Japanese 301 (for real, we did). In the days of postwar Japan, Ando wanted to create a food product for the masses that could be prepared easily and quickly, while still being able to satisfy the everyday working man. His first creation was the brick-shaped "Chikin Ramen," and some years later on a business trip to America he witnessed some brute white guy break up the ramen noodles into chunks, put them in a cup, and add hot water. I'm sure it was the most epic light bulb moment ever. The rest is history.



Most of the second floor kinda looks like this,
but has a better white balance IRL.

Amazing projection room exhibit

So artsy~

Serious question: WHY IS THERE NO SPAM RAMEN?
We can have BACON AND CORN, BUT NO SPAM.

WHY CAN'T I BUY THIS TODAY???

Eco-ramen: Porcelain cup with ramen package.

After you explore the museum and work up an appetite for noodles, you can head to the fourth floor Noodles Bazaar and eat little bowls of noodles from all over the world! All the bowls are 300yen each and the ones I sampled were delicious.

PHO!

I couldn't read the kanji but
it was spicy and beefy and WONDERFUL.



I did not get a chance to make my own Cup Noodles or Chikin Ramen, since it was a holiday and there were kids everywhere, but I'm definitely going back to get the full experience!

WHERE: !!! Cup Noodles Museum
STATIONS: 10 minute walk from Minatomirai Station, 20 minute walk from JR Sakuragicho
COST: 500yen admittance, additional fees for certain activities


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

JLPT!!!

A little while ago I was looking at job postings around the internet out of curiosity. Seems like there's an abundance of English teaching positions, but I was also looking at other industries. "I have my journalism/advertising degree sitting in a frame or folder somewhere in Hawaii," I thought, "maybe it's time I try to use it."

To my dismay, I need business level Japanese for most of the positions I found. My Japanese is terrible and I hate kanji, but I need to study all that in order to get out of the English teaching profession.

With that in mind, I'm going to torture myself and study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test! HUZZAH.

The JLPT is a biannual exam, although only those of us living in Japan have the opportunity to take it twice a year. As for everyone else, you get one shot in December to prove your J-skillz.

Uh oh.

The total cost for the application and fee will come out to 6000yen for me, don't know about overseas. I bought the 500yen application at a bookstore and I have yet to send it in, but I will! I have until September 30 to get that thing postmarked and on it's way to whatever magical place processes them.

If you're like me, living in Japan and sucky at Japanese and really wanting to get better, I encourage you to take the test! I'm taking the disgustingly easy N4 (kanji/laziness hold me back from higher levels) and I hope I can get up to N3 by next July when they have the next one.

LOOK I EVEN BOUGHT A BOOK AND EVERYTHING TO STUDY.

OMG KANJI.

And now that I put this on the internetz I HAVE TO DO IT OTHERWISE I'LL LOOK LIKE A BIG IDIOT. GO ME.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

3/11 and 9/11

It's a big anniversary day for awful things that happened in the world - six months since the Tohoku earthquake and ten years since four planes were hijacked and forced to crash into three buildings and a field in Pennsylvania.

Much of my Four Months Later post still holds up, but there some updates. There are still a number of people in shelters, but more of the temporary housing units were completed and the government has moved most of the survivors into them. All of the household safes and other cash and documents that were found during recovery efforts were actually returned to their owners; it's not much but I'm sure those people appreciated it. The CEO of Softbank is still sticking to his word to put some obscene amount of money toward helping those affected, I believe it's something like his own salary for the next forever and then some.

I was surprised to read that mental health care services would be made available to the orphans of the earthquake/tsunami. According to that article there are only 300 child psychologists in all of Japan, which doesn't surprise me. Mental health care is one of those things you don't talk about, and if your kid has problems you ignore them in hopes that they'll go away (I have stories and I've heard stories). The fact that the government earmarked specific money to deal with it is a big deal.

As for 9/11, I think we're finally seeing the forest and not just the trees. I have a lot of jumbled opinions on various aspects of 9/11 that I can't coherently form into a nice paragraph, so I'll just forgo what I have to say and give you some videos. These are three cartoons from StoryCorps, a group dedicated to recording the oral history of everyday people in America. All them are very well done and I wish they had more than 13 available to watch, but the 9/11 ones are touching and important to share on this day. Get your tissues ready.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hanabi + L'Arcafe~

Yeah, I haven't updated this thing in WEEKS. Terrible. I felt like I was getting hit in the gut everyday for a while. Stress at work, stress from boys, stress about money, I GOT SICK. Bleh. None of the things I was stressing out over have been completely resolved, but I'm trying to do my best at getting back into studying and blogging and not letting shit get to me.

I visited my non-cousin last week at his home again. I had mentioned to him during Obon that I hadn't seen a Japanese fireworks display since coming to Japan, so he planned a whole party for me! I got to meet two more of his kouhai and another one of his friends, who thankfully was super chatty and didn't let the language barrier get in the way.

I brought along lomi lomi salmon.

Chef would KILL ME for the unevenness of those chunks!

The true King of the household.

The King enjoys receiving raspberries.




The next day Marissa took me to the L'Arc-en-Ciel cafe, or the L'Arcafe. I don't know much about the band, I went more to amuse Marissa since she loves the group and Hyde and grew up listening to them. I only know Hyde is this rock singer dude and he was in a supergroup with Miyavi and Gackt and some other guy whose name escapes me at the moment. Yoshiki from X-Japan? I forget.

The food was all right, buffet style BUT GASP ON PAPER PLATES HOW TACKY. The place was super L'Arc-en-Ciel'ed out, pictures of the band covering every inch of available wall space. We don't read Japanese or anything useful, so we went in assuming they'd play live concert footage or have some kind of show. It was a dinner buffet with videos and interviews playing, not super crazy. But if they ever have a similar cafe for Arashi or Slutty Jin or J Soul Brothers, I'D GO NO HESITATION. 

They give you concert tickets when you reserve your table~



Marissa was all OM NOM NOM.






TV screens everywhere so you can enjoy PVs of L'Arc-en-Ciel
while you stuff your face~


Tour merchandise from every tour they've had.
Acchan was later replaced by Hyde being hot in his youth.

PAPER PLATES WHAT.


Everyone went home with a plastic orange cup with the band's logo and a box with goodies representing each member! We thought they were desserts at first but Marissa later reported Hyde's having mayonnaise in it, so who knows. Ken's looked like goya... IDK!

Hopefully I won't go another two weeks without posting again. GO AWAY STRESS.