Thursday, May 31, 2007

a day at sumo

In my whole life, I had never gone to see a sumo match. Last week, I decided to change that.I talked Kayo into going with me, and we went fairly early in the morning and got there at about 11:00. Although this was many hours before the main matches would start, the cheap upper row tickets were already sold out. We got the next cheapest ones (about 3000YEN) and went inside. The minor wrestlers were already going through their rounds. Not that many people were watching, and it was fairly easy to get real close. It was fun to be so close to these semi-religious (shinto) pro wrestling power pushers. We decided to go try the sumo style soup, which can be had for 200 YEN next to the sumo rink. It was good, and filling. If you ate a big bowl of that everyday you would definitely beef up. We went out of the stadium (and got a hand stamp so they would let us back in) and walked around for an hour or so. When we got back, the action was starting to pick up. So we went to our seats way above the rink, and watched. I took a million photos and videos. There was something surreal about being in a rink that you have seen so many times on TV. Near the final matches we sneaked down and found a seat near the ring that wasn't taken and made bets between each other about who would win which match. We opened a few cans of sake and I began to yell support for some wrestlers, just like a lot of the other drunk salarymen around me. The final match was with the grand champion Morning Blue Dragon, and he regretfully lost. As could be expected, the crowd through their cushions into the air and towards the ring. I took a million photos, but somehow I misplaced my memory card (stupid!) so right now there are only a few online, plus a video which I will paste as a embedded player below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

revolutionary critical mass

As I sit eating my microwavable cheese and ham and egg naan I can't help but think about the impending revolution that is reaching critical mass in Japan. Some Japan-watchers might think I'm talking about the coming militarization of Japan that the prime minister and his companions are pushing for at the moment. That is frankly a little scary, and it will ultimately lead to a change in the way Japan sees the world. But, no, I mean a far deeper change I can see all around me. Tokyo, and thus by some extension the rest of Japan, is on the cusp of becoming a truly international city. I can hear that in the myriad languages I can come across down town, I see it in the faces of the millions of foreign people streaming past me in the train stations with a look of wonderment on their faces, I can sense it in my kids classes that seem to be quite full of multiethnic children these days. In most countries in the world, seeing a huge mix of the world mingling on the streets, and children of different ethnic heritage in a classroom shouldn't be and isn't surprising. Japan has been stereotyped as a homogeneous society, but the foreign population is reaching critical mass. When you can see a white guy working at McDonalds in front of your house, you know its about to happen. A Japan that truly begins to become a new country with a new culture that will lead to a new way of seeing the world. Change is coming.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

trip to immigration

My friend in Korea is getting married but as a quasi-member of this society I currently reside in, I had to go to the immigration office today to get permission to travel. Although I find it kind of weird that I can't travel internationally unless I get permission, thats the way things roll, so thats what I went to go do. I woke up a little late, because I had a special day off and wouldnt be going to work today. The sky was getting darker, even though it was day, so I decided I should rush to the station before it began to rain. And thats when the sky decided to down pour. Litteral buckets of rain smashing down. Heres a direct link to a 7MB (I didnt have space on my card, so its lo-res) quicktime video of the rain turning some stairs into an urban waterfall. My socks, and pants were totally soaked. Well, I got on the train and head to the immigration office in Shinagawa... and since this wasnt my first time, I got the required "revenue stamp" at a convenience store before going up to the immigration office. For some reason, they wont take cash and require these special stamps but dont post any information about it. So a lot of people just wait forever and get upfront and are told they cant be helped with out the stamps, or that was my experience anyway my first time there. Today I heard some lady complaining on her phone in English about how she wasnt sure what to do but she was just waiting anyway. When she got off the phone, I asked her if she had revenue stamps, and explained what they were... and immediately like flys attracted to sugar water, I was swamped with several other inexperienced foreigners who wanted more details. I also noticed that English speaking foreigners are noisy. While I ended up waiting for about 2 and a half hours, I noticed that a baby crying in one corner and the white guy talking to his wife on the other side of the room had about the same level of vocal output. Who would have thunk it. So after the loooong wait, I go up to the counter and say almost nothing, hand over my passport and get the permit in literal seconds. You'd think it would be more efficient if it was built into my visa, instead of requiring me to wait for it. But oh well, thats bureaucracy. As I walked out of the office, the sun was beaming bright on the freshly bathed earth as if signally a movie-style change in moods.

Friday, May 11, 2007

i admit it

OK. So I saw Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision today. And if you are a fan of high quality movies, dont even try to watch it. But if you are a fan of good quality bad movies, sloppy B movie freakzones, this one doesnt disappoint. On the honestly good side, not bad acting for this kind of "direct to dvd" kind of movie, and the martial arts weren't so bad... fun to see a few detailed kick 'em ups outside of the realm of kickass hong kong theater or (shudder) walker texas ranger (if you dont know what i reference here, you might want to count yourself lucky). The plot and the special effects on the other hand were amateurish but fun. The prerequisite "time travel" effects looked like someone painted on some colors with photoshop. Though when mentioning the time locations traveled to, one should point out that they were fairly good... on par with a fairly decent TV show. Too clean, and the signs in nazi germany looked like they were printed off with a printer, and the costumes were all too "rented" looking... Although the locals (temporals? haha) all spoke the correct language or accent of their time ("correct" is used loosely here, because the Japanese used was so mangled it was funny-cute), which I prefer. Speaking of time zones traveled to, they hit almost every stereotypical zone, nazi germany and wild west, etc although they forgot the 1950s, but I guess the trip to the 1980s, was equivalent just more hip for people who would feel nostalgia for the 80s not the 50s. And oh god, the plot was juicy! There were some major plot holes that really tear through the mind of a rational thinker, in a good way if you enjoy odd movies. To give you an idea about how minor this movie was, it didn't even have a Wikipedia page until I added one. Come on, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch had a major page on wikipedia (including a section detailing "Continuity issues" ... which is kind of scary actually, that someone(s) cares so much about the continuity issues in a kids cartoon.) Anyway, thats my movie review I guess!
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