This past weekend was our Tokyo trip to go see sumo wrestling with some of the other Gunma JETs. We decided to stay overnight as well and make a big weekend out of it, since Shauna and Ken hadn’t really seem much of Tokyo. It was a wild weekend! This is going to be a picture heavy post, just to warn people as well!
Ken giving me a weird look on the train. We rode in the “Green Car” which is reserved for more expensive tickets… definitely worth it though!
Kenji engrossed in the Tokyo book. Thought the train in the background was kinda cool!
So we headed out early Saturday morning on the trains and got to Tokyo at about noon. Met up with the other Gunma JETs (”hey look, a big group of foreigners… think that could be them?” haha) And went strait to the Sumo place to take pictures.
Our seats were high up, but if you go early you can go right down to the front for the less important matches, so the plan was to take pics, go somewhere else for lunch and a bit of sightseeing, and then head back for the big matches at the end.
The banners with the sumo wrestlers names on them… it was a really pretty day!
The sumo ring, which has a little hat on it! It is made of clay a few days before the events.
The sumo officials, the one in pink is dressed in super old traditional gear. The guy in the middle did this weird fan-dance-song routine. We had no idea what was going on, but it was fun to watch!
Getting ready to wrestle…
This match was short, but awesome. The scrawny guy won! It was odd though, he definitely stood out since all the others were really big guys… cool moves, though!
Shauna’s sumo shirt that she was trying to decide if she could get it! Cute!
Last, a video of a typical sumo match
After hanging around, we took off for Yoyogi park to hit up an Indian food festival and to see Lester from Tulane, also a JET, who lives down south. However finding the place took a while, and then we had to wait in line to eat, and Yoyogi is on the other side of the Yamanote line, so we ended up just going to that and coming back to sumo.
Let’s see… where are we again?
Whee, Indian food! It was great!
This is Bob the bug. He stowed away in Kenji’s backpack, so we tried to get him out of the train. Good luck Bob!
Kenji’s on top of the world! …at least until Ken tackles him!
Bird’s eye view… our real seats! At the same time, they weren’t bad at all, we could still see just fine!
And it starts…
I was surprisingly entertained by the matches. I thought that when I first signed up to go that it would be kinda boring, but I definitely think I’m going to go again!
After sumo ended, we split up from the rest of the Gunma people and headed out for some sightseeing before checking into the hotel. First we went to Shinjuku to go to a watch place, which requires some explanation.
So, Kenji collects watches. Up until the trip, it was a source of amusement for me and Shauna to poke fun at him for this. We went to Shinjuku mainly because he wanted to go get a watch band for his most recently bought watch, so we split up and Shauna and I tried on some sunglasses while he looked. We found him at the main watch store upstairs a bit later oogling a watch he really wants, which he later purchased. And then I found… the watch.
Back when I was a kid (oh, like I’m so old now!), I had trouble with watches. All through middle school, I went through about a watch a year. All digital, since I had trouble reading the regular ones. They’d always get lost or break. So in high school, mom got me a regular clock watch. That one lasted me most of high school, but the band was busted, so I had lost that one too by the time I got to college. And during college, I got into the habit of using my phone as a watch, so I didn’t worry about it.
But after forgetting my phone a time or two, realizing I couldn’t use it during classes, and conveniently visiting a watch shop with a watch guru, I decided to think about getting one. And promptly found one I really loved. So I have a watch again, and it is shiny and pretty and I have to relearn how to read it but that’s okay because I like it a lot, yay!
And that is the last I’ll say about it, at least until I post pictures of it from my camera. I can’t make fun of Kenji for his watches anymore, though I only have one and he has nine, so maybe I can!
Right. Back to this weekend. After buying our watches, we ate in Shinjuku and then headed out to our hostel to check in for the night.
Our hostel was in Asakusa, so we walked through the temples to get to it. They are pretty cool at night, when no one is there. We had fun taking pictures and getting lost in the streets, but finally managed to find the place and check in, then went out for a night on the town!
Except we missed the last trains, so we were sorta stuck in Asakusa… which doesn’t exactly have hopping night life. We found a combini and bought some drinks, then headed to karaoke… only to be told we couldn’t bring the alcohol in.
Well, fine then. We’ll just drink in the alley’s! We had a good time, and got rather goofy. There were a lot of murals, so we set about imitating the poses and taking pictures with random Japanese people unlucky enough to show up in our vicinity. We picked a spot right next to a police box too, so we weren’t too obnoxious or anything, but we definitely had fun!
And then we found a bowling place. Oh heaven’s! We were the only ones doing reaaaalllyy badly, everyone else seemed very serious and professional. I wish we could have found the blacklight bowling they have in the US, now THAT would have been awesome! And possibly dangerous, so maybe it was a good thing we didn’t!
The main temple at night… it is HUGE!
The incense holder at the main part of the shrine, completely deserted. If we hadn’t been trying to find our hostel at the time, it would have been cool to look around some more!
Posing crazy in front of one of the murals
We goofed around a little while longer, then headed back to the hostel for some sleep.
The next morning we woke up at a decent hour and headed back out for more sightseeing. Our room was really close to a random theme park thingy and some of the main streets, so we started there. Had a hot bowl of ramen for brunch, since the day was pretty cold, and I even ended up buying this sweatshirt with the funniest engrish I’ve ever heard for really cheap.
The theme park outside our window
Shauna across our room… four bunk beds that were actually pretty comfortable! Bathrooms were community but separated by sex. All in all, it was a really good place to stay!
A street we spent a long time on shopping
A museum we spent some time in about hand made stuff still being produced in the area. They had some great things in there!
After that we headed for the temples we had seen the night before. MAN was that a difference, it was so crowded! The street right before the temple was crowded with shops and people! I saw a lot of fun stuff that would be great gifts, but it was just so crowded it was hard to find the energy to actually visit places. I did get an amazing snack, but other than that passed most things up aside for a few gifts here and there. I definitely want to go back, but I’m sure I’ll have another chance soon!
See? TONS of people… pretty temple, but we didn’t stay long.
The same incense holder from last night, now amazingly crowded. Smelled good, though!
I have no clue what this thing is o_O;
Next up was Harajuku to meet up with Yoshi and to explore a bit. Harajuku on a Sunday is even worse than Asakusa with regards to people. I finally quit trying to walk on the main streets and instead took alley ways, where I found some interesting shops. We finally met Yoshi and then headed to Meiji Jingu, the main Meiji shrine near Harajuku, and then off to eat at a place I found in Harajuku. Next was back to Shinjuku for more sightseeing and window shopping, desert at one of the malls, and finally we headed back to Gunma from Shinjuku after making a rush McDonald’s trip. Fries here are really good!
So that was my weekend. Hectic and fun, didn’t give me a chance to get much of anything done, but it was definitely worth it! It was nice to meet up with Les and Yoshi, spend time with my fellow Fujioka JETs, and have interesting nights in Asakusa. This weekend, though, I think I’d like to relax a bit!