Tokyo Part 2

June 17, 2010 at 3:58 am | Posted in Japan | Leave a comment

One of the things that we both wanted to do was see some sumo. A sumo tournament lasts for about a month and consists of each wrestler competing in 17 bouts (one a day); the wrestler with the best record at the end of the tournament is crowned the yokozuna. These bouts last about 5 seconds and involve each guy trying to push the other outside of the ring. We went for the whole day and got to see a wide range of abilities, from juniors to amateurs to pros; they were all pretty big though. It was especially fun when the real big guys fought and the crowd got behind them.

The opening ceremony. aren’t their outfits crazy?

this was later on in the day when the crowd really started picking up – earlier in the morning we were able to go right down in front. i’m usually not a huge sports fan, but watching sumo really was so much fun. we got to see lots of bouts and there’s a nice rhythm to the stretching, stomping and chalk(?) throwing the wrestlers ritualisticly go through before fighting.

Kelly was desperate for a picture with one of these guys, but it took a bit of courage for her to go up and ask. she was a little disappointed that these guys weren’t fatter. yes, they were really nice about taking the picture, but i was hoping they’d ham it up a bit – maybe pick me up over their heads or something. oh well.

they did wear traditional kimonos and wooden flip-flop type shoes that were cool to see. the patterns and colors of each wrestler’s kimono has symbolism and is made especially for him.

the

The Tsukiji fish market is the biggest in the world. This market was crazy and not set up for tourists even though many go. There are large carts moving around and nearly plowed us down a couple of times. I guess you can’t blame the guys for not slowing down as they have a job to do. we also had to dodge giant fish heads and fishmongers wielding humongous knives.

there was every type of seafood you can imagine (and others i had never heard of). individuals can buy whatever, but there is also a wholesale auction that goes on every morning for restaurants, etc. We were bummed that tourists can’t really go inside the auction, but after seeing the market, it’s definitely for the best.

They had loads of fish there and some of them were huge. this tuna would of been great to eat, but the majority of the large ones go to auction and get sold for big bucks.

while the inner market is all about fish, guts and insanity, the outer market is more sedate and sells fish that is packaged and on a smaller scale. there are also small (but amazing) sushi stalls, knive and kitchen gear stores and other cool little delicacies.

These are the knives/swords used to hack up some of the beasts. wouldn’t it be cool to slice of a giant tuna head with one of these swords?

we had to try some sushi. it was superb. definitely the freshest fish possible prepared by the best sushi chefs in the world.

like many japanese professionals, the sushi chefs seemed to take a lot of pride in their work.

these hand-crafted knives are so cool. they ain’t cheap, but i couldn’t resist buying one for my dad who loves to cook.

after the market and sushi, we wandered around and found some gardens. like in suzhou, china, there are fees to get into the gardens. we found a cheap one and proceeded to take a two hour nap. a funny thing about tokyo, which you can see in this picture (above), is that opposites constantly clash together. whether it’s eastern/western, old/new, or nature/city like in this picture, there are interesting juxtapositions all over tokyo.

We went to yoygi park on sunday – this is the weekend hangout for lots of the tokyo youth.

free hugs? i think these guys are the equivalent of american hipsters. there is also a big trend in japan (and china and hong kong) of girls dressing up in a goth/lolita combo, complete with theatrical makeup. some of the fashion i saw in tokyo was over the top, but very cool and refreshing to see. both guys and girls put together some crazy combos and don’t take fashion too seriously.

Japanese greasers. i dont really know what these guys were about. i didn’t really get it.

we also walked around the Roppongi area, which is really posh and known for good night-life. there were some cool shops and bars; the more you got off the main drag, the cooler the environment became.

nice view in the Roppongi area.

Eating at our local hangout. this local street in our neighborhood was such a good find. we stayed a bit out of the city in the Shinagawa area, which meant riding the expensive subway everyday (or very cheap if you pretend to be ignorant foreigners). however, our neighborhood had some good food places and bars and was nice to walk around. also our room was nice and pretty cheap by tokyo standards.

This car was a prototype for nissan. I don’t know whether it will ever reach the market, but the coolest feature was the fact that the middle section swivelled round so that you never have to reverse.

there is a big contemorary art museum near the imperial palace, but there are also a few smaller museums all over the city. i went to one of these and had a lovely time. more of a large gallery than museum, there were several exhibits – i thought the traditional japanese screens were the most beautiful.

the museum also contained a large garden, which was really it’s best feature. this boat (maybe you’d call it a boat sculpture?) is just one of the art pieces to be found when you walk around the garden.

the garden itself was really beautiful and colorful.

eating a pauper snack of cup-noodles on the street curb.

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Tokyo Part 1

June 17, 2010 at 3:57 am | Posted in Japan | Leave a comment

When we booked the tickets, Japan was one of the countries I found to be most intriguing and I’d wanted to go here for a long time. The only problem was that it is one of the most expensive countries in the world and being one of our final destinations meant we were pretty low on cash. So, unfortunately we decided that a week in Tokyo would be a good start and hopefully we’ll return and travel around Japan at a later time.

Our first impression of Japan. these toilets are crazy and have a lot of features. I must have pressed a female button at one point as it gave me a bit of a shock. My favourite feature has to be to the fake sounds available to hide any real sounds.

yes, i (kelly) have seen so many nasty toilets on the trip. sometimes they were so horrendous i wanted to take a picture as proof, but i decided that would be disgusting. however, i just couldn’t resist taking a pic of a nice toilet.

while we were walking around the outside of the Imperial Palace gardens, i spotted a photo shoot going on with the model dressed in traditional geisha clothing. so beautiful. i was really interested in the geisha culture, but it seems that nowadays, most geisha teahouses are either super touristy or more like red-light districts.

the imperial palace gardens are cool to walk around, but the palace isn’t actually located here. there are some nice pathways, buildings and a really pretty garden.

the japanese seem just as fanatical about gardens with fish-filled ponds and peaceful pathways as the chinese were.

since japan was our last country before heading back into the U.S., we took loads of pictures.

Yasukuni shrine is a shrine dedicated to all that lost their lives in battle.

There is also a section for all the animals that lost their lives in battle. At first glance we thought people had left their rubbish at the base of the sculptures, but then we realized the water bottles and bits of food are meant as offerings to the animals. There are dog, horse, and bird monuments.

another quiet little garden near the shrine.

The busiest crossing in the world. it was so much fun to see the main shopping district, but we were a little overwhelmed.

really cool billboards everywhere.

We found a great little sushi stall near to our hotel down a sidestreet. we enjoyed numerous snacks at this little sunny corner. there is also a deep-fried stall with amazing chicken and a czech cook – a combo that really won over hudson.

colorful flags outside of the sumo complex. we also went to the tokyo museum that is nearby. the museum is kind of a strange mix of things, but we enjoyed it.

samurai costume from the tokyo museum

samurai swords

japanese lantern. there is an entire traditional japanese building inside the museum.

i think this style of japanese art is really lovely, especially the different patterns.

The japanese have a really unhealthy fascination with anime cartoons. These cartoons are dodgy to say the least and are focused on young-looking girls who have these enormous breasts. There are loads of shops selling all these magazines and girls dress up on the street to advertise them. it was really disturbing.

akhibara is tokyo’s famous electronic town where there are hundreds of shops selling absolutely everything electronic. we thought we’d see some great deals here, but the prices are similar to the U.S. – it’s more the selection that is uncomparable.

there are also these giant arcades where the japanese play video games; it would be a 12 year old’s dream. yes, we went into one of these arcades and it was ridicuous. there are at least 7 stories high and some floors had themes. i saw one strung-out gamer that had passed out right in his chair. weirdos.

we had a nice walk through the shopping district. there is a nice lake nearby as well. although tokyo seems bigger, busier and more hi-tech than the large chinese cities, it also seemed more accessible. more of the japanese knew english and in many ways the city of more westernized than chinese cities. i was reminded of nyc and felt at ease walking around. would have been nice to compare tokyo to smaller japanese towns, but we’ll have to do that another time.

it was nice that there is a pretty lake and park right in the city.

even in downtown/shopping district, there are a bunch of cool streets to get lost in. this street looked cool, but as we walked down we realized it was mostly restaurants and dirty comic/porn type places.

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