July 25, 2010

Japan 2010, Day 4

This was a big day. Mrguy and I went to see sumo at the sumo stadium in Tokyo.

But first, the Tokyo Edo museum. We had wanted to go there because it has dioramas of early Tokyo, and that sounded interesting to see. It was, but lack of much English signage made it harder to appreciate. There were tour guides who would give you a full tour in English, but I didn't want to commit. The best sight of the day in the museum was school girls in uniform giggling and taking pictures as each one of them got inside a reproduction of a litter. And I was proud of myself later when a display about the Tokyo earthquake of 1855 showed various namazu-e and I knew what they were despite lack of translation.

From there we walked over to the sumo stadium. I wanted to walk briskly but mrguy held my pace, warning me not to make any quick moves because there were "seriously old people all around". True that! I didn't want to knock anyone over, so I moved slowly.

We paused at the corner just in time to see Aminishiki and Kakuryu light from their taxis and enter the stadium. Aminishki is one of our favorites. We call him the Japananese mrguy because he reminds us of the *other* mrguy, mrguy south.

We had our picture taken with the sumo mascot, as these people did.

Then we entered the stadium. I didn't know what to do first. Shop? Find our seats? The matches for the lower ranks were in progress, so anything we did would mean missing sumo. Argh. We checked out our seats and then saw people with vanilla soft-serve cones coming from upstairs. Suddenly that was my focus. The soft-serve was so weirdly delicious. Dairy tastes different in Japan, and these cones tasted somewhat like evaporated milk. I tried to be very cool and not stare at the young sumo wrestlers in summer kimonos lapping at their cones nearby. Awesome.

More shopping, beer purchasing and then off to our seats. We splurged on a 4-person box seat. It would have been perfect were it not for the ugly American two boxes away. He was being treated by business colleagues, it seems, and this guy had a voice like Caruso. I didn't need to hear him flirting with local girls and making hundred yen bets on matches based on which wrestler is fattest. At one point I looked his way and yelled "Dude! Do you mind?" and mrguy asked him to hold it down. Eventually we moved to empty seats farther away and closer to the ring (many people do this, btw). We could still hear this guy, but not as much.

I find it hard to concentrate while watching live sumo. It was so much fun just to be there and eat a rice bowl and some beer and cheer for our favorites. That was the best. Toward the end of the day we heard women cheering for Kisenosato in a way that told me that at least one of them was American. I looked in that direction and recognized someone from the sumo forums. No way. I introduced myself after the last match of the day. She was extremely kind and friendly and helped us buy some swag we wouldn't have known about otherwise.

After sumo we went to Beer Club Popeye to sample beers and eat hop shoot pizza. My notebook is full of scribbles that say "green tea and potato" and "floral on back end" and cardamom.

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