Monday, July 28, 2008

Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament RoundUp 2008

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament ended yesterday.Hakuho had wrapped up the Emperors Cup on day 13 so the only real interest was whether he could end with a 15 win 0 loss record.Which he did by beating Kotooshu in the last bout of the final day.Kotooshu who won the last basho and had earlier hopes of promotion to the rank of yokozuna ended up with a 9-6 record.Baruto finished 10-5 and ozeki Kaio with a 9-6 win loss record.

An eel and rice bento available in many shops at this time of year.Eel is seen as giving people stamina and energy in the hot,humid days of summer.Today with the temperature again in the mid 30s Nagoya had thunder and lightning throughout the day.Intermittent showers meant that carrying an umbrella was necessary.

Mad as a Box of Frogs...

Sometimes you have to shake your head.Some ideas are best unsaid.Case in point,the idea that on the last day of the month students will be given wine to drink in classes.Apparently the CEO,Mr Inayoshi is taking the credit for this.
Once again the leadership of GCom is betraying its origins.Theres a world of difference between running a so-called language school organisation and a chain of restaurants.The motivations and expectations of language learners and diners are not the same.For one thing the investment in time and money made by students is hugely more significant.

Apart from the simple fact that there wont be enough space on a table to balance glasses in a five student lesson I have a number of problems with the concept.
My first and major objection is that it doesnt seem professional.I never thought learning and the consumption of alcohol made for good bedfellows.A language school doesnt seem the appropriate environment to be drinking.Sour grapes on my part.Possibly.But theres a time and place for everything.
Secondly,if students drink alcohol a whole set of responsibilities suddenly come into play.Is the instructor liable for any injuries sustained by students or others on their way home?Is the instructor responsible for finding out the ages of students and their method of transport to the school to prevent underage drinking or traffic accidents.
Thirdly,from a practical point of view what happens should alcohol be spilt on the carpet.As a parent I wouldnt want my three year old child sitting on a wine soaked carpet square.
As seems the way with my employers there is little hard information available about this new idea.Maybe when the details filter down to the branches things will seem clearer.At the moment I remain unconvinced its a good idea.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Flash..Watermelon KitKats

Another addition to the KitKat range I spied in a local supermarket.Again its a limited edition i.e only available for a short time.The packet comes with the suggestion that you put the mini bars in the freezer.Not a bad idea considering the last week the temperature has hovered in the low to mid 30 degree celsius range.

As to the contents,the bars do indeed taste of watermelon.As well,they are a little salty as indicated on the packet.Not sure if I would buy them regularly if they were available year round but they do make for an unusual summer treat.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Marine Day Monday July 21 2008

It was Marine Day today.A public holiday that celebrates Im not sure what.Maybe it marks the start of the national water accident and drowning season.More likely its a sign that the summer festival season is upon us again.
The annual fire works display at Nagoya Port is on later in the evening but Im too lethargic to catch the crowded subway down there to see it.
Trying to avoid the heat of the day I did however venture down to Tsuramai Park and took refuge under the shade of the trees near the lotus pond.
It is deceptively quiet.In fact its teeming with activity.Large blue dragonflies dive bombed me as I sat contemplating the newly sprouted lotus blossoms.
Below the lotus flowers,small fish in large schools twist and turn between the roots.Meanwhile,knee deep in muddy water,frogs bask and brood in the afternoon heat.

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament rolls on into its second week.Kotooshu's chances of rising to the rank of yokozuna have been extinguished after two early losses.NHK sports news had been doing a special spot on his attempt to gain promotion but this has been discretely dropped and the focus has turned to other wrestlers.Kotooshu stands at 6 wins and 3 losses and should end up with a winning record.Hopefully.
Asashoryu,one of the two Mongolian yokozuna dropped out of the competition,ostensibly due to an injured elbow.Realistically after two losses however he had little chance of catching Haukho the other yokozuna who remains unbeaten at 9wins 0losses as I blog.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Flash..More from the Nagoya Sumo Tournament

A couple of shots from the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament I attended earlier in the week.Below is a photo of yokozuna Asashoryu performing the traditional dohyo-iri or "entering the ring" ceremony.Accompanied by two lower ranked wrestlers and a judge,the yokozuna goes through an elaborate ceremony.After clapping his hands to get the attention of the gods he extends his hands to his sides and turns his palms upward to show he isnt hiding any weapons.He next rises one leg in the air then the other.Finally he stomps each leg down onto the the surface of the ring or dohyo symbolically driving evil away.
After he has finished and his attendants have left the other yokozuna Hakuho repeated the ceremony.

The second shot shows some of the merchandise and souvenirs available from the stalls outside the gym.Various towels,cloths and handkerchiefs were available.A multitude of Hello Kitty goods was also on sale.Pens,cookies and cloths bearing Hello Kitty figures in sumo garb were displayed in each stall.There were also autographed palm and hand prints of various wrestlers as well as the usual calendars,magazines,posters and collectible items.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament July 2008

I dragged myself up early and along to the second day of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.There was a line of people already waiting when I arrived at the ticket office.After standing in an orderly fashion for 10 minutes in the rapidly rising heat I purchased my ticket.And escaped into the air conditioned chasm of the Nagoya Prefectural Gym.In time to see the first bout of the day at 8:35pm.

There were two shock results from the opening day.First Kotooshu,the ozeki from Bulgaria,who won the last tournament and is looking for another Emperors Cup to gain promotion to yokozuna,lost.Not surprisng really considering that his opponent was Aminishiki.His record against him now stands at 0-6 including one loss by default.

The other surprise was Asashoryu's loss to Toyonoshima.Asa's record against him was 5-0 until yesterdays bout when Toyonoshima narrowly avoided touching the dirt before Asashoryu.
The photo above shows a bowl of chanko nabe.Its a key dish in the diet of a sumo wrestler.It contains vegetables such as potatoes and bits of fish and meat.Despite the fact that it was near 35degrees celsius outside there were still many people willing to queue up at 1pm for a bowl of this filling boiling broth/stew.

The Gym didnt really fill until after 2pm when the higher division wrestlers in the juryo and makuuchi division begin.That said,by the final hour it was still only three quarters full.While all of the more expensive seats were occupied there were still large gaps in the cheaper areas.

While the more expensive seats themselves are often no bigger than the size of a cushion or zabaton people still manage to make themselves comfortable in the confined space.

For the record both Kotooshu and Asashoryu won their respective bouts today.Kaio lost his match while the other Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho retains his lead in the race for the Emperors Cup with his second victory.
All in all an enjoyable day out again.A nice friendly atmosphere and on another baking hot day an ideal place to chill out and relax.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Flash..Triple Berry KitKats

A recent addition to the KitKat range are these triple berry kitkats.They come presented in a shiny box that glitters with small stars as you move it.
As for the contents they are pink and striped.The KitKats combine the berry flavours of strawberries,cranberries and blueberries.Needless to say they have a very berry taste.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sumo Practice

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament is due to start this Sunday July 13th.Last week sumo wrestlers descended upon Nagoya and have been practicing in various beya or stables dotted round Nagoya in preparation for the 15 day competition.
I tagged along with a friend early this morning to see the wrestlers at ozeki Chiyotakai's stable go through their paces.
Members of the public can watch the workout provided they remain quiet and they dont use their flash when taking photos.There was one amusing incident when a man arrived with a small pit bull terrier.The animals asthmatic wheezing reverberated around the courtyard much to the other onlookers amusement.Of course it was only a matter of time before the owner and dog were told politely to depart.
The photo above shows umbrella bearing onlookers gathered outside the building that houses the practice sumo ring where the wrestlers practice.The stable occupies quite a large area of land and there are a number of buildings and structures on the block.

Although we arrived just after 7am it was obvious that the wrestlers had started some time earlier judging by the amount of sweat.When we left at around 10am some three hours later they were still working on their fighting moves and holds seemingly oblivious to the humidity and heat.

After the initial lengthy series of stretching moves and exercises the wrestlers had a number of low contact bouts with each other.The winner of each of these low intensity bouts got to choose his next opponent so eventually all the wrestlers were involved.
I was surprised by how flexible and fast moving even some of the heavier wrestlers were.
One of the spectators,an elderly woman,told me that there were 24 wrestlers in that particular stable with ozeki Chiyotakai being the highest ranked wrestler there.All but one of the wrestlers was Japanese,a lower ranked wrestler from China.She also said that we were fortunate this morning to see Chiyotakai as he sometimes practiced at other stables.

Chiyotakai can be seen in this final photo below near the back of the practice dohyo or sumo ring.He's holding a towel and wearing a white mawashi or loincloth in contrast to the black ones worn by his more junior stable members.He appeared in the practice area around 9:30am and rather than join in the practice seemed to be supervising and advising the other wrestlers.The final part of the practice we witnessed before departing due to a rainstorm involved more practice bouts.They were more intense and high contact than the earlier ones.
Wrestlers practiced their intial charge or tachi-ai and various techniques again under the eye of Chiyotakai who encouraged their efforts.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday Flash...Another Concrete Mt Fuji

Another example of a concrete Mount Fuji in a local park.This one doesnt look that safe or maintained compared to the other example I posted last week.

The paint on this one has faded and in places bare concrete can be seen.The surface is very smooth and provides little grip or traction when attempting to climb it.

If you look closely you can see several large cracks and fissures that run down the sides and near the top of the structure.As with the earlier example,one side has stones embedded in it.Due to the rain and wet weather,climbing up this side of the structure presents a tricky proposition unless you are sure footed.