June 15, 2010

Japan 2010 Day 1

Our first half day. My only goal was for us to get to Beer Club Popeye in Ryogoku and drink beer while watching sumo.

We watched a few matches at the hotel and then took off.

Here's my view in BCP:

And the menu...I think I had one of the beers with crown next to it, each of which came with a little bite to eat.

My choice for extra bites at BCP for the the rest of the trip became tofu tomato salad, which was served like a caprese, but with a feta vinaigrette. Delicious. I keep meaning to make this at home.

Last time we went to Beer Club Popeye, we forgot to try the hop pizza, so we made certain to have it this time. It turns out that it is a pickled hop shoot pizza. Pizza is a broad definition of what this was, but it was tasty. We will also be making this at home.

Mrguy wore his suave Surly Brewing shirt to Beer Club Popeye, and made a new friend with it. The young brewer who served us that night was so sweet. He's thinking of coming to attend a brewing school near to us. I hope he does and gives us a call.

Having fulfilled our mission, we headed home. 

The train station is feet away from the Kokugikan (sumo stadium), and it was nice to be able to see it on that first day. This also might have been the night that when we got home mrguy bought the refreshing grapefruit drink out of the vending machine, only to find that it had hootch in it!

I miss that beverage. So tasty!

Japan 2010: The Flight

Let's begin.

mrguy *loved* Japan when we went in 2008. He immediately began plotting for our return. Frequent flier miles were the thing that was going to get us there.

Let's just say we charged a lot of stuff and worked all the angles. By this year we were ready. Thank you, United Miles.

We flew economy. I was a little wary, because I have knee problems *and* back problems and hadn't flown economy overseas in six years (thank you, Hammerslag). I have to say, due to slick seat choices by mrguy, the flights weren't bad.

The food was sufficient in quantity. 

The movies were far away and not when you wanted them, but I watched parts of "Leap Year", "Young Victoria" (did something occur in that movie or not?) and a travel show where a young american engaged in a form of wrestling native to some northern clime.

It really was not long before we arrived, and I had day one already mapped out.

June 13, 2010

New Additions

I know what you're asking: where have I been? Why no news of Japan?

Before we went to Japan I maxed out my iPhoto, crashed my computer, and I have been sorting through photos. Moving ahead, I will learn to use iPhoto Manager. In the meantime I feel stranded amongst my photos with so much to say. It's like wanting to dance but being encumbered by a leg cast.

I'm going to start us off easy with an update on some collections. On our first Friday in Tokyo we went back to Ueno, to visit the denim stores that crowd under the train tracks of the Ueno station. Mrguy found the rare denim he was looking for, and I found a record shop with bins and bins of 45s outside of it. My idea of heaven. Also significantly less expensive than the denim.

I went through all of the bins, secretly hoping that I would find more Japanese Tobacco Singers, but knowing that I probably wouldn't.

Right away I started finding them. What a score! Then I also found 45s depicting men in kimonos with their hair dressed in a mage. Could these be singing sumo wrestlers? Too good to be true.

The owner of the store, probably in his late 60s, came out at one point to make sure that I understood that there were records inside those sleeves, not cds. I followed him inside to ask a few questions (by which I mean gesture and awkwardly mispronounce a few nouns):

Me (pointing) "Mage!"
Nice Man: "Hai".
Nice Man "Hai". As I brought out my notebook he told me the guy's name. Kitanofuji. Sounded familiar.
Me: "Yokozuna? Ozeki?"
Nice Man said he didn't know. He told me the other guys' names.

I went home with the sumotori and the smoking singers, and am quite happy.

I brought the 45s with me when we went to see friends in Yokohama. They filled in the gaps.

The smokers are Frank Nagai and Takashi Hoshigawa.

One of the sumotori was Kitanofuji. He reached the highest rank of sumo and is a stablemaster now.

The other, Masuiyama II, reached the second-highest rank in sumo and is also a stablemaster now.

The names of some of the songs (as translated by friends) are fabulous: "A Story at a Bar", "A Mutter of that Lady" and "The Chanko Song" (chanko is a stew eaten by sumo wrestlers).

Now that I've written this, I'm heading to the turntable to give these records a spin.

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