September Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo

21 09 2009

We had already bought our tickets from the Loppi machine at Family Mart but still got to the sumo early by train. We got to the Kokugikan for the 8th Day of the September Grand Sumo Tournament around 8.30am. Drummers high on a wooden tower drew people into the arena where we watched some of the low ranking sumo compete.

Before each match a singer calls out the names of each competitor in a high pitched, poetic voice while opening a fan single handedly. Then the sumo wrestlers climb onto the dohyo (the clay stage), clap, lift each leg, stare each other down (for up to 4 minutes) before they start the fight. Some of the fights were over quickly, with the opponent being pushed out of the ring without any dificulty. Other matches were longer as the opponents came to a standstill, trying to get a grip on the other’s arm or mawashi (belt). A few fights were very impressive, with the winning sumo throwing, lifting or flipping the opponent.

The arena was fairly empty from 8 until 1pm so we were able to sit down the front in the first few rows or in the first row of the balcony. We also looked through the sumo museum, had our photo with a wrestler in a cotton robe and ate our gyoza bento for lunch. After 2 it started filling up a little more as the Juryo ranking sumo competition started. By 4pm it was packed (it was a sell out night) full of people watching the Maku-uchi ranks enter and compete.

There didn’t seem to be too many Japanese sumo in the Maku-uchi ranks. We listened to the English radio broadcast from 4-6pm and the commentary told us that the sumo came from South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Estonia and Bulgaria. One Mongolian, Tokitenku, had his 300th career victory over Aran from Russia. The judges were called onto the stage when Tochinoshin and Aminishiki fought as the landed on their sides at the same time. Kotomitsuki entered his bout on a 7 win 0 loss winning streak but then lost to Kisenosato. The final match was most exciting – Asashoryu, the current leader (8 to 0), defeated Kotoshogiku after much ‘cold warring’ (squatting, standing up, throwing salt, wiping face, squatting, pacing, shouting etc).

We had dinner one station away at Kinshicho eki at a Taiwanese Vegetarian restaurant called It’s Vegetable. We had sweet and sour v.pork, v.chicken with cashews, spring rolls, v.chicken nuggets, jasmine tea and almond soy milk jelly (that tasted like marzipan).

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A rather large sumo wrestler…

20 09 2009

… although not the largest by any means.

fatsumo





Sumo in Tokyo

20 09 2009

The 8th day of action at the Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, September 20th 2009. More to come later, but for now here are some photos.





Wallace and Gromit bento

17 09 2009

Inspired by my new Japanese bento book I made not one but two bentos tonight (Benno insisted he get one too).

Capybara and the sheep from Wallace and Grommit with some carrot flowers.

Capybara and Shaun the sheep from Wallace and Gromit with some carrot flowers.

Capybara, the world's largest living rodent, made from inari, rice and nori. We saw real capybara at the Osaka aquarium (they weren't in the water with the whale sharks though).

Capybara, the world's largest living rodent, made from inari, rice and nori. We saw real capybara at the Osaka aquarium (they weren't in the water with the whale sharks though).

The sheep from wallace and grommit made from hand-shaped rice, nori and potato.

Shaun the sheep from wallace and gromit made from hand-shaped rice, nori and potato.

Benno's bento featuring another capybara and grommit made from rice, nori, carrot and potato. The chef's hat is totally the wrong shape but...

Benno's bento featuring another capybara and gromit made from rice, nori, carrot and potato. The chef's hat is totally the wrong shape but...

Interestingly enough, the capybara, which looks furry and round like a cute little rodent, is called a fish by the Catholic church, making the eating of it’s meat permitable in a Lenten diet. They are quite popular in Japan as a cute animal, and you can find stuffed toys of Capybara in all sorts of places (Apita, for one). We haven’t seen capybara meat for sale here though, not that we’ve looked.





School bus

16 09 2009

Possibly the cutest elementary school bus:

I had to stand out the front of our house and wait until just past 8am for the bus to drive along by.

I had to stand out the front of our house and wait until just past 8am for the bus to drive along by.

The kids were wondering what this stranger foreigner was doing taking photos of their school bus... and so were all looking out the window.

The kids were wondering what this stranger foreigner was doing taking photos of their school bus... and so were all looking out the window.

This weekend we are going to the sumo – should be fun! We have also organised our overnight bus to Kyoto and back during the next school holidays. Kyoto Vegan Festival here we come!





Picnic by the port

13 09 2009

We had lovely weather today so we decided to ride our bikes and have a picnic lunch. First of all, we had to do all the dishes that were clogging up the tiny kitchen. Then we had to eat pancakes for breakfast and have a shower. It was already midday by the time we had finished breakfast. Then we made our picnic lunch of marinated tofu salad mini sandwiches, ume onigiri and inari and cucumber sushi.

We rode down to the Port, which is mostly a heavy industrial area and not very pretty. But the water and the sky were blue so we rode over the red bridge to the green grass on a little island park. We had our picnic lunch in the shade of some trees then rode over to another park on a different island. Lots of people were playing tennis, going fishing, playing baseball and riding their bikes around the recreational park on the north side of the island.

We rode home again when it was getting cooler and dark. We had red bean gyoza as a snack with guacamole and chips, watched “Ponyo” (on a cliff by the sea) and ate tofu stirfry ramen for dinner.





Sumo and Rice

10 09 2009

We now have tickets to the O-Sumo Grand Tournament in Tokyo this month. Yay! We have arena tickets for the 20th September. When we first bought our TV we watched a bit of sumo so it will be good to see it live in Tokyo. However we’d better be careful that we don’t get swine flu as many sumo wrestlers have come down with swine flu recently.

Also, I bought 2 winter jackets for under $30 total from the Second Street store which should keep me warm in the snow, ice and freezing wind that we’re anticipating over autumn and winter. Spring in April this year was cold enough, so winter is bound to be FREEZING, especially if we head to Sapporo.

The rice was all harvested in Kisarazu by the first week of September. Here’s what the fields look like now with the tops of the rice cut off.

harvested_riceAlso, more wooden-stump statues appeared outside the rice farm across the street from us. In addition to the big Totoro there are baby Totoro, Pooh, Anpanman and more!

The Totoro family, Pikachu, Anpanman, Doraimon.

The Totoro family, Pikachu, Anpanman, Doraimon.

totoro_and_friends

Doraimon

Doraimon

Anpanman

Anpanman

Pooh

Pooh

Pikachu

Pikachu