We know you have anxiously been awaiting the arrival of some really great big fat guys, and it would be mean to disappoint you readers any longer…. We know you couldn’t wait to see these large men in thongs bum shots, so here they are! The day started out really lucky, as when we had initially tried to purchase seats to sumo at home we were faced with having to buy all four seats in the stadium box. Seats at this event in the lower bowl are a box with four cushions on the ground that you sit on cross-legged and that get very crowded with all four people in them. Research before the event had told us that ticket sales were the lowest they had ever been, primarily because the sales were fed by tourists, and tourism has been down since the tsunami. So we were very lucky when we came to purchase Sumo tickets because we happened to get fifth row box seats for the price of two, and did not have to share the box with anyone.
The sumo events themselves start off slow with the lowest on the sumo hierarchy wrestling first, and we had grand delusions that we could seriously take these guys on! But the title fights did not disappoint us, with the grand yokozuna weighing over three hundred pounds, and winning the match in his category. It also surprised us to see that many sumo wrestlers were not Japanese but Mongolians, Europeans, and many other ethnicity. The sumo we found most comical was a sumo from Czech Republic in the top, makuuchi division. He must have only tipped the scales a bit over 200 pounds and the crowd loved him. The Japanese man in the booth next to us used our Japanese Language book to tell us that this man was his favorite but never wins because he was very small. This time was no exception and the Czech did lose his match again making him 0 and 4 for the tournament so far. We also felt a warmth from the Japanese people here that was lacking so far in our trip, we couldn’t really get many locals to talk to us and felt rather discouraged with the Canadian-Japanese relations.However at the Sumo fight we were making friends on both sides of our little box and might we say milking it quite nicely! The people to our left shared a bottle of Sake with us and the people on our right kept giving us food and glasses of beer. We learned the Japanese word for cheers, Kampai.
Lastly, there was an opportunity to try a favorite dish of sumo wrestlers, chanko nabe. It was served hot in the basement and at 250 yen it was a steal of a deal. It turns out that sumos and grannys everywhere cook alike because sumo food was no different from grans homemade turkey soup. It had mushrooms, and carrots, and turkey, and veggies. Hardly unhealthy… we were told that it was not the soups unhealthy properties that made the sumos so large, but the sheer amount of it that they consumed. Gran had better buy a bigger pot to feed these hungry men who eat two meals totaling 20,000 calories per day.
After the sumo festivities wrapped up we had a chance to fulfill one of Jessica’s dreams in Japan. We finally met Lisa Uno!!! Lisa is like many Tokyo hard-working women and works late into the evening. Interested in fashion, as many women here are also (picture new york with black hair) Lisa works at a clothing store as the manager and was just finishing up work as we were finishing up sumo, so at 8pm outside a sushi restaurant in Shibuya we met Lisa. It was probably most boring for one of us (Aaron) as we laughed and caught up on old times reminiscing about Throhild and Alberta in general. There were some jokes made about squirrels, or squeels as Lisa used to call them. But the thing that stuck out the most was that time might pass by, but friends are friends, no matter the country or the time zone. It may seem like forever when your apart but once your reunited nothing really changes between good friends, you just pick up where you left off, and that was comforting to know, especially since we left so many good friends in Canada to come on this adventure.
On the way back from sumo and dinner with Lisa, Jessica walked over to a couple of gentlemen outside the train station from our hostel. It was a father and son from Oklahoma who arrived late at their hotel and were turned away. Here they were at 11pm trying to find a place to sleep for the night, and it just so happens Kanalian had some openings that night! We all hopped in a cab and headed that way. The two American’s were grateful and Lee was his usual hospital self and cleaned them a room ASAP!
Later in the week we had the chance to visit the Ueno zoo and see the giant pandas. Lisa was able to spend her day off with us and she came to the zoo as well. The pandas were very cute and the zoo had many other cool exhibits worth seeing if you ever make it to Tokyo. These included dwarf hippos, A full terrarium of snakes, lizards, turtles, and geckos, and many species of birds.
The toucans were one of our favorites.After the zoo wewandered in search of some food and found a japanese farmers market with many interesting foods that could be purchased. We had just moved to our new hotel in Tokyo, and no longer had a kitchen so it was not practical for us to buy food here but the fresh fish was so reasonable and delicious looking that we opted to eat supper in the market. The place we chose was a stand that made donburi bowls with chirashi on top, which basically means sushi just not assembled. Jessica had a tuna bowl, Lisa had a salmon, and Aaron had a BBQ eel. We also tried takoyaki, which was a fried ball of dough filled with octopus and covered in BBQ sauce, mayo, and fish flakes. Delicious and cheap! Then we all walked back to the train station to end our evening and head back to the hotel.
Things from here kind of slowed down for a bit, Jessica wasnt really feeling well and wanted to stay in for the morning in the hotel so Aaron went on a solo adventure to a free government tower to see the rooftop view. Later that evening, we both went in search of some cheap camera lenses in the Shinjukuarea, but as we were on a budget we didn’t purchase any. (cheap turned out to be 600$ yikes!) As Jessica had missed the towers earlier we decided to go back up them on our way home and ended up with some great night shots of the city. Then we went to bed to rest up for our night out Tokyo style, at a club that Lisa was so kind to take us too.
The expense of taxis in Tokyo makes the nightlife crowd rather interesting. In Tokyo party goers head to the clubs around 12am, with things heating up at about 2:30 and the club winds down at around 5:30 am when the first train starts running again and can cheaply take the party goers home. Who are we to mess with Japanese tradition? We met Lisa and two of her friends down in the Roppongi area at midnight, we were dressed to impress and wearing our runners (good for dancing, who brings heals backpacking anyway?!) Jessica was really worried about wearing runners to the club because of all the Tokyo women who suffer in their heels, even on the train because they are all about looking good. She had told Lisa earlier in the week about her green sneakers, and was so happy and touched when Lisa showed up to meet us in her sneakers as well, so Jessica didn’t feel so silly. Once we paid the incredibly expensive cover charge, 3500 yen for men 1500 for women (haha Aaron), we drank our two free drinks and we danced all night! We thought the club was very cool, with four floors and an elevator between each one. The top floor had sit down cocktails and drinks, the 3rd floor had carpet with velvet walls and electro music, the second floor had top 40’s and a huge crowded dance floor full of pushy people, and the bottom floor was hip hop. We opted for the less crowded über chiquevelvet electro dance party and by 5am we were ready for some food!
Lisa took us to a udon noodle soup place that was owned by a famous Japanese actress and she said that this udon was done just right, in true Osaka fashion (as it is an Osaka food and Lisa is from Osaka originally). We all ordered our own bowls and they were MASSIVE and delicious. Jessica’s was a suyaki beef with mushrooms and Aaron’s was a hot and sour with chicken. We all finished our soups, except Aaron (lies), who was mercilessly teased for eating less than girls (true). disapproving Head shake Aaron (girls are better at flabbingtheir gums anyways).
After soup it was time to head to the subway, which was comical in itself because people were going to work, mixed with scantily clad, drunk, party goers heading home. Who was scantily clad and drunk? But the saddest part was that it was time to say goodbye to Lisa. We were leaving Tokyo, the next day and Lisa had to work. Jessica was not very good at saying goodbye, but in the end we both know that it is only see you later. Besides, everyone loves a good excuse to travel to London! Right Lisa!!?
On our last day in Japan, we woke up early to catch the highly anticipated fish market where the giant Tunas are sold. We grabbed a taxi at 4am (as the train does not run yet) and paid the stifling 3800 yen charge. Things seemed awfully quiet in the area and we wandered around trying to find the actual auction place, but were sadly informed by a sushi vendor that today was a national holiday and the auction was closed for the day. He told us we could come to it tomorrow but as we were leaving that day it was not possible. We decided to cut our losses and enjoy a no holds bar sushi breakfast and the man invited us in to eat. He had tanks full of live fish and shrimps and any other thing you could possibly want. It was sad to see the little fish lose their friends and life, but they were honestly too delicious for either of us to care. Even Jessica. The favorite of Aaron was a tuna plate filled with all different cuts of tuna, and the favorite of Jessica’s was a salmon roe sushi that was put on rice and wrapped in salmon.
After our feast we headed back to the hotel packed up, and took the train to the airport. We can report that we are safely arrived in Bangkok, Thailand and are now at our hotel plotting the next leg of our adventure!
P.S. The public holiday that prevented up from seeing the fish market was the national day for old people. Thwarted by them old buggers again!